Today’s Mail on Sunday (UK) ran a feature on the growing problem of type 2 diabetes in people under 40. This is an obesity related condition and is threatening to cripple the NHS in the future as younger people are becoming obese and needing medical care for longer.
The article featured diabetologist Dr Richard Savine who had been part of a recent Channel 4 series ‘The Hospital’. Dr Savine and his team, based at Mayday University Hospital in Croydon, had problems convincing the young patients that they had to change their lifestyles including their attitude to diet and exercise.
Perhaps hypocritically, the same hospital is one of 40 NHS trusts that rent out space to fast food chains such as Burger King, Subway and Upper Crust. In fact, his patients will encounter these when they arrive at hospital to be given advice about healthy eating.
When asked about the decision to allow such places on hospital property Dr Savine said that the quality of hospital food was good and that it didn’t matter ‘whether the burger bar is in reception or next door’.
One of Dr Savine’s patients was also interviewed for the article. She said ‘I’ve lost weight and then gained it back again. I’ve seen dieticians and been given leaflets so I know what healthy eating is. But there is a big difference between knowing what is right and doing it.’
And this really explains the whole obesity problem. On the one hand the answer is simple: eat less and exercise more. On the other hand, people’s individual relationships with food are complex and include physical, mental and emotional reasons so telling them to eat less isn’t going to do it.
So, whilst Dr Savine may be right when he says it doesn’t matter where the burger bar is he is ignoring the NHS’s responsibility in supporting these people. Because there is no doubt that the availability of high calorie fast food is a contributory factor to obesity and, by allowing such outlets into the NHS space they are sending out a very subtle message of approval. ‘If it’s in the hospital it must be okay.’
Jackie Notman is a copywriter, feng shui consultant and e-commerce retailer. This article is from her blog ‘Life – and everything else’ where you’ll find an eclectic mix of articles and information.
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