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Blog: Our annual Christmas binge & January famine!

Thomson & Bancks’ Head of Medical Negligence, Lucy Sherry continues her monthly commentary on medical awareness and industry findings with an insight into obesity, the Christmas binge and the inevitable January famine.

“Obesity is the new smoking”, said Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England in 2015. “It is a slow-motion car crash in terms of avoidable illness and rising health care costs.”

Results from the Health Survey for England for 2014 had shown that 61.7% of adults were overweight or obese (65.3% of men and 58.1% of women). The prevalence of obesity is similar among men and women but men are more likely to be overweight.

A substantial proportion of obese adults have a body mass index (BMI) of well over 30. Women are more likely than men to have extremely high BMI values.

In England, the prevalence of obesity among adults rose from 14.9% to 25.6% between 1993 and 2014. By 2034, 70 per cent of adults are expected to be overweight or obese.

Obesity increases the risk of a number of health issues, including heart disease, diabetes, musculoskeletal disorders, cancers, depression and anxiety. Severely obese individuals are three times more likely to require social care than those with a normal weight, resulting in increased risk of hospitalisation and associated health and social care costs.

Estimates suggest obesity cost the NHS £5.1 billion in 2006/07, including obesity medication, the increasing use of bariatric surgery and new equipment to accommodate larger people. This is more than the £3.3 billion attributed to smoking related ill health and £3.3 billion attributed to alcohol related ill health. In addition obesity costs social care a further £352 million in extra hours of help.

So as we enter the season of goodwill and eating and drinking to excess, is it wise to starve ourselves in the immediate aftermath to lose the extra pounds?

When you decrease the amount you eat, your body uses up energy stored in the liver and muscles. However, most of this initial weight loss will be water and muscle.

Some diets are so restrictive that you may not have the willpower to stick to them so your food intake and weight yo-yos. Your body’s response to dieting in this manner is to reduce the speed it burns off calories. This means you’re actually slowing down your ability to lose weight.

Most diets are not healthy as they can:

  • Radically restrict your daily calorie intake
  • Miss out entire food groups
  • Slow down your metabolism
  • Prevent you from getting important nutrients and vitamins that your body needs to work properly
  • Reduce your intake of carbohydrates (such as pasta, bread and rice), which are an essential source of energy
  • Increase your intake of protein and fat; too much saturated fat can raise your cholesterol and increase your risk of heart disease and stroke

So use your common sense and if you do binge and add extra pounds this Christmas, lose weight gradually in the following way:

  • At a rate of 230g – 0.9kg (0.5 – 2lb) a week, depending upon how much weight you need to lose
  • By eating a healthy, balanced diet (just smaller portions), combined with regular physical activity

Download this blog post as a PDF here

Lucy Sherry, Solicitor-Advocate; Head of Medical Negligence specialises in medical negligence litigation, previously representing the NHS Litigation Authority and one of the GP Unions. Lucy now works with injured individuals and bereaved families to achieve compensation for adverse outcomes. Lucy has a passion for learning and sharing her knowledge, regularly delivering medico-legal training to lawyers, attending many hours of medical lectures each year to keep abreast of changes in treatments, and gaining an insight into new health and medical findings to share with Thomson & Bancks’ clients and visitors to this blog.

See Lucy Sherry’s full profile
Visit our Medical Negligence page
Read Lucy’s previous blog post on battling stress at work
Download the PDF of Lucy’s Battling Stress at Work blog post here

Catch up with Lucy Sherry’s previous blog posts

Blog: Battling Stress at Work
Blog: The Taboos About Men’s Mental Health

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