Obesity benefits

The past week I read on Sky News that The UK government are planning to stop the benefits of obese individuals who refuse to diet. This is a very touchy and controversial subject, but one that needs to be addressed more often. Obesity, smoking and drugs costs the UK roughly £10m per week (from what I read) and members of the government say that those 3 causes of that cost can be avoided.

To be on benefits because you are 'too fat to work', means you have to be of substantial size. I have read a lot of comments and articles from personal trainers and nutritionists about this, and I agree with what I have read. You don't suddenly go from average weight to so obese you can no longer work in a year, it is the result of poor lifestyle choices for a number of years. So while the obese individuals may find this harsh and wrong, most of those have got themselves into the position they are in. Yes, there are certain illnesses that require certain medication that can cause weight gain by increasing cravings, but that can also be avoided. I know of someone who has a serious illness who was on very high steroid medication for a number of years, but this individual did not want to put on weight so they changed their diet and was very strict with what they ate and drank.

The country cannot keep paying out that kind of money, especially when we (and the world) have come out of the worst part of a financial crisis. The main part of this government approach to benefits is because 'x' amount of people are actually refusing to diet, meaning they are claiming benefits because they are too fat to work, but yet saying 'I'm not going to diet', so they are only going to get bigger and their lifestyle will continue to get worse = costing the country more money.

People against this change seem to blame everyone else. I have read people who have said that the government should do more, should give money incentives to lose weight, should punish supermarkets for the way they advertise unhealthy food, claiming that obese people can't afford to eat healthy and many other reasons. Whilst the supermarkets are cheeky with the way they advertise unhealthy food, that doesn't mean you as a customer have to buy those foods, it's down to you. People do need to take responsibility, and do everything they can within their control. Let me focus on that last point - can't afford to eat healthy.

Those who are too fat to work eat a lot of food, and even with the cheaper, unhealthy foods, that costs a lot of money. Yes, foods such as chips, crisps, ready meals, frozen meals, take aways, on their own aren't that much money, but eating 5000 calories of those adds up to a lot of money. I work with people who are overweight and those who want to increase sporting performance who are on low budgets, and it is doable, you just have to be smart and organised with your shopping, budget and choices.

The government have made cuts to a lot of benefits, to those who actually need them to be fair, who have suffered severe illnesses out of their control. I have read articles and interviews with people who are angry that obese people can still claim benefits, and I can understand that anger to be honest. As mentioned, to get to the size that you can no longer work, it takes many years, and during that time those people could have reduced the amount they ate, that is the view of many fitness professionals.

The only incentive a severely obese individual needs to lose weight is to live a healthier, more fulfilling life. Some of those people will have children who they can no longer play sports with or do other activities with, that's another added incentive.

The government have said they would cut benefits of those who actually refuse to diet, not just cutting their benefits altogether. So if you are in the position of 'too fat to work', you will continue to get your benefits if you can show that you are actively trying to lose body fat. There are many people out there - personal trainers, nutritionists, doctors, who give a lot of free advice as well as paid services. The help is out there, you just have to go and get it.

Lee Gregory Fitness

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