Doctors slam Britain’s obesity policy

Writing in the Observer, the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges has attacked the government’s policy on obesity, demanding bold and tough measures to put an end to ‘irresponsible marketing’ by major food and drinks firms.

Since the disbanding of the Food Standards Agency the government have sought to partner with major food and drink giants to voluntarily cut fat, sugar and calories and to fund campaigns advising healthy eating. This is like asking the tobacco industry to be in charge of a campaign to stop smoking! 48% of men and 43% of women in the UK will be obese by 2030, a trend that will significantly increase the prevalence of strokes, heart disease, diabetes and cancer, and cost both the NHS and tax payers a fortune.

■ A ban on firms such as McDonald’s and Coca-Cola from sponsoring major sports events such as the Olympics.

■ A safe area around schools where fast-food outlets are not allowed.

■ A prohibition on the use of celebrities or cartoon figures to sell unhealthy food and drink to children.

■ A legal obligation on all food and drink manufacturers to publish on their products clear guidelines about the amount of calories, sugar, fat and salt.

■ Consideration of “fat taxes” similar to those being implemented in Scandinavia, designed to penalise the buyers of food and drink high in salt, sugar and fat. I wholeheartedly agree, but I do also think that doctors must take responsibility for being ineffective at encouraging weight loss.

Firstly, the evidence is now overwhelming that it is not fat, but too many carbs that is the main driver of obesity. Consequently, low glycemic load (GL) diets work better. Also, low GL diets as opposed to low fat diets lower cholesterol, high blood pressure and reverse diabetes. Few doctors are recommending this kind of approach. Also, since you cannot inspire weight loss in a 10 minute conversation, GPs would do well to team up with nutritional therapists, such as those that offer Zest4Life groups.

The patient attends for 10 weeks and learns what to do. One enlightened GP surgery did just this, referring 21 patients. They lost, on average, over 1 stone (7kg) each in twelve weeks, but also their cholesterol, tryiglycerides (blood fats), blood pressure and blood sugar levels evened right out. Glycosylated haemoglobin (HbA1c) dropped from 6.9% to 5.9%, reversing diabetes risk. The GPs had hoped for a 10% drop in HbA1c and got a 14.5% decrease. These are very significant indicators of a big improvement in health, and a sustainable weight loss.

If you’d like to find out more about Zest 4 Life groups throughout the country visit My book, The Low GL Diet Bible, explains how to do this. I am also doing nationwide seminars on low GL eating for weight loss, diabetes and heart disease prevention this month and next. Click here for details.