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Category: Obesity

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NHS boss condemns English cricket’s sponsorship deal with KP Snacks

Simon Stevens says ECB’s Hundred tie-up with maker of Hula Hoops undermines fight against childhood obesity The head of the NHS has criticised English cricket for letting KP Snacks sponsor a new tournament that is designed to encourage young people to …

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Why Harry Kane is an inspiration for chubby children everywhere

As an overweight kid, a role model like Kane would have helped me shrug off taunts and kick a ballOne of the lesser joys of England’s glorious run to the World Cup semi-finals has been the resurfacing of pictures of a young Harry Kane – notab…

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British Olympic Association signs bizarre new sponsor: sofa makers DFS

• BOA’s healthy-living message now backed by sofa firm
• Deal joins sport’s list of eyebrow-raising official tie-ups
• Wayne Rooney became the face of Mister Potato in 2013 Continue reading…

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Fat girls do yoga too

Who says yoga is just for skinny people? The industry needs to shape up, says the new (big) girl in class Continue reading…

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Football fans get FFIT through Scottish premiership scheme tackling obesity | Rachel Pugh

St Johnstone fan used to gasp going up stairs – now Football Fans in Training scheme has him climbing mountains

If 26-stone St Johnstone football fan Alastair Christie had been told four years ago that his passion for his Scottish Premiership team would power him to lose nine stone and to conquer 37 of Scotland’s highest mountains, he would have responded with a choice expression from the terraces.

But a scheme run by 13 clubs in the Scottish Professional Football League has helped Christie and hundreds more overweight, middle-aged, football fans to get in shape according to research published this week in medical journal, the Lancet and BMC Public Health.

The research by Glasgow University on 747 men who went through the Football Fans in Training (FFIT) programme found that they lost nine times as much weight as those not on it.

The randomised 12-month study from June 2011 of a health programme delivered in a football club setting (possibly a world first) found that as well as losing weight on the 12-week programme, nearly 40% of men in the study maintained a weight loss of at least 5% of their original body weight a year later.

According to the 2011 Scottish health survey, just under two-thirds (64.3%) of adults, aged 16 and over, were classed as overweight or obese. With obesity linked to heart disease, diabetes, stroke, cancer and other health problems, these results couldn’t come quickly enough for those working in public health. Men are notoriously difficult to engage in health programmes but one of the outstanding successes of FFIT, according to the research, was that it attracted men from across the socio-economic spectrum.

The formula is simple – organise male-only sessions in Scottish premiership clubs and run it “just like going to the pub but without the beer”, capitalising on the men’s devotion to their club.

“From what I was – a great, big, heavy, strongman – to being able to climb mountains, and play football with my son Blair, is like night and day,” says Christie, 43, a prison officer, who used to gasp climbing the stairs in Perth prison. He heard about the programme from a fellow fan. Club-based recruitment was via websites, in-stadium advertising, and FFIT recruitment staff approaching potentially eligible men on match days. Over the weeks, the 15-strong group at the Perth-based St Johnstone FC turned up in their football shirts to learn about a good diet and how to get fitter, with the help of a coach.

Strong relationships were formed that turned into walking groups, 5-a-side teams and Munro-bagging parties.

“For me, it was the banter between everybody and the coaches that made it possible,” says Christie. “It made coming to FFIT fun and not a chore. Doing the programme at McDiarmid Park most definitely spurred me on to change to a healthier lifestyle which I’ve continued.”

Professor Sally Wyke, one of the two principal investigators from the University of Glasgow says: “We now have ‘gold standard’ evidence that the FFIT programme can help men lose weight and keep it off.” Research will now focus on the 60% who did not maintain the weight loss at the 12-month follow-up.

Her team has secured a €6m (£5m) EU grant to develop a similar programme in Portugal, the Netherlands and clubs in the English Premier League.

Fellow researcher Cindy Gray is working with Sale Sharks, an English professional rugby union club, to see if FFIT can work in a rugby context. She is also exploring an equivalent for women.

The FFIT concept has gone into two Scottish prisons – Perth and Castle Huntly, near Dundee – as a result of Christie’s success. A PE instructor colleague spotted that the man known as “Big Al” was approaching half his original size and he decided that Al’s secret might do some of the prisoners good.

Kevin Fenton, national director of health and wellbeing at Public Health England, is interested in FFIT’s success. A quarter of adults in England are obese. “There is growing evidence that physical activity has a key role in preventing cancer, coronary heart disease, type-2 diabetes and high blood pressure; therefore getting more men physically active is key to improving the health of the population.”

A note of caution is sounded by professor Jason Holford, chairman elect of the UK Association for the Study of Obesity, who says: “The football industry itself – and other sports like rugby – need to take it a stage further and wean themselves off alcohol and junk food sponsorship, as they did with smoking.”

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Olympics fail to create healthier and more active population, says survey

Health Survey for England finds a nation that fails to understand obesity problem and whose children fail to get enough exercise

The promised Olympic legacy of a healthier, happier and more active nation has failed to materialise, according to figures from the Health Survey for England.

The 2012 survey of 8,000 adults and 2,000 children also found that the majority of children are not getting the daily exercise recommended by the NHS.

Only 16% of girls aged five to 15 get the recommended level of an hour of exercise a day, despite a nationwide push to get more playing sports. Boys are exercising even less than four years ago, the survey reveals, with 21% get the required amount of exercise compared with 28% in 2008. For 13- to 15-year-old boys 14% are getting enough exercise, half the figure in 2008.

Toddlers fared even worse, with only 9% of boys and 10% of girls between two and four meeting the requirement of three hours of activity a day.

The data reveals that, in 2012, 67% of men and 55% of women over 16 met recommended guidelines of at least two and a half hours a week of moderately intensive exercise. The researchers made inactivity a focus of the survey – which was conducted in an Olympic year.

They state in the report: “One of the planned legacies from the London 2012 Games was an increase in sports and exercise participation, including active travel (walking and cycling), by the general public across the country.”

But the report concludes: “Among both men and women, the proportion meeting the recommendation was similar in 2008 and 2012, with no Olympic legacy yet apparent.”

Inactivity among the UK population is estimated to cost the NHS £8.2bn in direct and indirect costs.

The survey also sheds light on the stubborn obesity problem facing the UK, and suggests there is a lack of public understanding of the problem, with many overweight people not aware that their weight was problematic.

About a quarter of adults (24% of men and 25% of women) were obese, while 67% of men and 57% of women in England were either overweight or obese. More than a quarter of overweight men and a third of overweight women described themselves as a healthy size.

Childhood and adolescent obesity was linked “directly to middle-age mortality and morbidity”, according to the survey yet child obesity rates remain high.

Fourteen percent of both boys and girls aged two-15 are classed as obese, and 28% classed as either overweight or obese. Children from poorer households were found to be significantly more likely to be obese with 19% of boys and 17% of girls in the lowest income bracket deemed to be obese compared with 8% and 7% respectively of children from the richest households.

The survey also noted that “most adults in Britain drink alcohol, at least occasionally, and alcohol has an established place in British social life”. It found that 67% of men and 53% of women drank in the last week, with 18% of men and 10% of women drinking on five or more days in the week. It also found that those in richer households were more likely to drink, with 81% of men, and 69% of women in the highest earning households having a drink in the last week compared with 51% and 39% in the lowest.

Eric Appleby, the chief executive of Alcohol Concern, said: “These statistics show that there are still far too many of us drinking too much too often putting us at risk of serious health problems, like cancer and stroke.

“We’re facing historically high levels of health harms caused by alcohol misuse, with over a million alcohol related hospital admissions each year; and we’re one of the few European countries where liver disease is on the increase.

“If we’re to turn this health crisis around we have to take action on alcohol sold at pocket money prices, its constant availability and get tough on alcohol advertising.”

Problems related to alcohol abuse cost the NHS £3.5bn a year, he added.

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