"Obesity is crippling the NHS"

The National Health Service (NHS) is a fantastic system and helps millions of people every year, however, there are some down sides.



Many people moan at the Government about a variety of topics every single day, but the reason why there are 'cuts' made, is to save money and to try and 'bail out' the NHS. The truth is, it's in serious trouble, and there are three things that put tremendous strain on it - drug abuse, alcohol abuse, and obesity. All three can be prevented and are mostly self inflicted. Now, being a nutritionist, I am mostly going to focus on the obesity side of things.

In 2015, the figures that I have found show that the cost of obesity to the NHS was anywhere from £6-8 billion. Just let that sink in for a moment - 6-8 billion pounds in a year. I totally respect that everyone should have the choice of what they do in life, but here's an analogy from a PT friend of mine. When you take your driving test, you drive how you drive, everyone has their own style, but as long as you drive carefully, you'll pass. However, if you have to make someone else suddenly slam on the brakes to avoid a collision due to a reckless move you have made with your car, you'll fail your driving test. It's the same with obesity. If you're happy with being obese/morbidly obese, that's fine, but by being obese, you're making others pay. Just look at the amount of tax payers money that is being pumped into the NHS for obesity. The NHS was never setup to deal with this kind of epidemic (I think that word fits...). Yes, people will say "I pay my taxes, so I deserve the treatment I get". While that's true - if you pay taxes, you can use the NHS, but most people who are obese/morbidly obese, will never pay anywhere near the amount in taxes as they receive in treatment - due to the amount of money it costs for surgeries and ongoing medication/check ups etc. Even worse if people are receiving all of that, as well as being on benefits because they are unable to work due to their size.

The public have called upon the Government to deal with the obesity problem that we are facing. I say, "why should the Government have to 'fix it'?". With something like obesity, it's only a very small percentage of people who have a genuine, rare, medical condition which can make it near to impossible to lose weight (with the help from specialists). The rest of the obese/morbidly obese individuals will be able to lose body fat, which not only will make the quality of their lives far better, it will take a big strain off of the NHS.

People think that the Government just has an unlimited bank account, and that's simply not true. So yes, cuts are needed, and one of them has been to the NHS - in terms of salary, benefits and more hours needed. I'm not going to get into politics here, because everyone has an opinion on that, and I'm not here to talk politics.

The main issue with obesity and the the need of treatment, is that it's not just 'one treatment' that people need - obesity causes a large variety of issues within the human body, all of which needs treating. These can range from organ problems, to muscular, joint issues, diabetes, and more!

The only way that the obesity epidemic is ever going to be helped, is if people start taking more of a responsibility. It's not the governments fault that people are obese, but yet they get blamed for it. As we stand today, people have a better chance of being fit and healthy than ever before, thanks to the internet. Yes, there's a lot of crap about fat loss, dieting, fitness on the internet, but there's also a lot of fantastic content - for FREE! YouTube is amazing when it comes to diet and fitness. The amount of videos of cooking healthy meals, home workouts, tips and advice is just insane. What's stopping people from going on that? nothing.

On the flip side of the 'argument', the Government can do a few things better. There can be more education implemented into schools about nutrition and fitness - which will help to tackle the problem at a younger age before it develops into a far more ingrained problem, which is harder to treat. Just as long as it's not garbage like I've read lately - "cut dairy to cure obesity", "drink tap water to curb obesity" - absolute nonsense. Another thing that I think could be beneficial (unlike when I read about the Government teaming up with Weight Watchers - diabolical!) is to offer gym memberships. One of the biggest 'excuses' people use for not going to the gym, is that they can't afford a membership, so give them one. The Government will have to spend money one way or another, so they may as well give people access to a gym. However, even with that, people will need to get up and go to the gym themselves, nobody from the Government will come along to make sure they're actually using their membership.

I'm still shocked at the amount of money that obesity costs the NHS, and it's only going to go up. I've read predictions that it will be over £10billion by 2025/2030. I do believe that the NHS could be 'streamlined' and run a lot more efficiently, but that will take time and money. A 'quick fix' to reduce the bill, could be to remove some of treatments/operations that should never be allowed to be used on the NHS. Cosmetic surgery for one. That should only be allowed when it comes to things such as burn victims or unforeseen accidents that require it. The amount of articles that I've read stating the vast amount of cosmetic surgeries carried out every year on people just because they 'want to look better'. No, sorry, that should never be allowed, if you want to look better, dip into your own pocket. The NHS was setup to deal with accidents, emergencies and unforeseen illnesses - not breast enlargements, nose jobs and botox!! Those people who have those treatments are actually ADDING to the problem, and then they probably moan about the Government when they make cuts.

To finish - both sides can do more; Government can streamline services, provide gym memberships and add nutrition and fitness to education & the public can start taking responsibility and realise that the Government has not caused obesity.

Oh, just one more thing. I do realise that smoking and drugs (as mentioned at the start) add to the never ending NHS bill, so I'm not just picking at obesity, but being a nutritionist, I'm obviously going to focus on obesity. But as stated, those three things can all be prevented. Having a car crash and breaking your legs can't really be prevented, and that's the kind of thing the NHS is for.

Lee Gregory Fitness

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