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Too much food for thought

Dr David Turner

‘Living with obesity’ is how we now describe being overweight.

The way we describe a condition may help to destigmatise it, but there can be a concern that it if an issue is overmedicalised, it may disempower patient to help themselves.

Perhaps though, there is another way. Instead of blaming or excusing patients for being overweight, we could look at one of the most important reasons they become overweight – the fact that cheap, unhealthy food is too widely available.

In my local town centre, a fruit stall was recently replaced with one selling donuts. The council must have granted this business a trading license. Why was this allowed? I doubt that the council would have thought it acceptable to allow the fruit stall to be replaced by a tobacconist.

Have you walked down Oxford Street in London recently? I have, and every third shop now seems to be an American candy store. Do we really need more confectionary brands in this country? I won’t even start on the environmental impact of shipping processed sugar across the Atlantic.

Why do hospitals still have vending machines filled with junk food in their waiting rooms?

Why does the density of fast-food shops increase inversely with the wealth of an area? Again, some local authority is granting permission for these establishments.

It doesn’t take too much of a stretch of the imagination to see if you’re short of money and your nearest shop is a takeaway selling cheap fried chicken, you’re going to be tempted to fill up on it.

I fear, though, that expecting the multi-billion pound food industry to voluntarily reduce the marketing and selling of the products that make us fat and it very rich is unrealistic.

Councils though, could be made to limit the number of outlets selling high fat and sugar food in their area.

The medical profession needs to push the Government to act on this issue, because what we as individual GPs can do to help obesity is having minimal impact.

The BMA backed the minimum pricing for alcohol in Scotland. Maybe they could now concentrate their efforts on pushing for similar minimum pricing for high sugar and fat content foods?

Dr David Turner is a GP in Hertfordshire


Patrufini Duffy 5 July, 2022 4:11 pm

The words “you are fat”, are actually scientific, evidence-based, honest, non-judgemental, organic and educational all in one.
Entirely agree.

Like the phrases “you’re a time waster”, and “this clearly isn’t a problem is it”. Almost taboo.

Simon Macartney 6 July, 2022 8:37 am

I think you will find the American candy stores are a front for money laundering – please do a little research

David Turner 6 July, 2022 12:18 pm

I think you will find the American candy stores are a front for money laundering – please do a little research…

Yes I had heard that. But that does not detract from the fact that every few paces along Oxford street people are being tempted by highly processed sugar products. The existence of these shops. particularly in the numbers there are, cannot be justified. Westminster council needs to take responsibility for this problem.