60 years ago very few people were aware of the dangers of smoking and decadent diet to your heart. However, these days we know about the risk of saturated fat and not getting enough exercise to men, a traditionally high-risk group for cardiovascular problems as well as women. In recent years we’ve seen more and more people join weight loss programmes such as Weightwatchers, in spite of global obesity trends.
Traditionally, there was more awareness among women about weight loss, but according to a recent article published in the Independent, its more common lately to see men making an effort to lose weight. It’s thought that the main reasons behind why men are joining slimming clubs to lose weight is largely due to health reasons, although a general awareness of appearance may also play a part.
In addition to this, the fact that many slimming clubs can now be joined online has an influence as well, says Zoe Hellman, head of public health for Weightwatchers UK. Slimming recourses are now more accessible than ever. We also have the ability to do our monthly shop online, which means that accessibility to healthy foods isn’t an issue of convenience or time any longer. Yet, we still have an obesity issue in this country, one that has already been classed as a pandemic and has experts pushing for higher taxes on soft drinks and a cap on the number of fast food outlets available near schools.
It would appear that on the one end we are dealing with an increasing health problem, while on the other we are seeing something more positive. Could age be playing a part? We are, after all, seeing a huge increase in the number of overweight children, with many government schemes focusing on family nutritional health as a whole. So could it be that as we get older, there is more of an awareness of health? That our doctors are also more likely to urge us to look after our weight?
In modern Western society we are all for teaching younger people to love themselves no matter what their appearance, something which is positive and should always be encouraged, but are we doing it in the right way? Acceptance is all part of a healthy self-esteem, but so is taking care of our bodies and minds, even if it’s difficult. Indulgence is a very natural manifestation of love for those around us and also for ourselves, but limiting this indulgence is often hard. If there is no immediate pay-off or enjoyment, it’s difficult to justify delaying gratification.
I think the key to dealing with obesity is to start moving back to a more long-term way of thinking. Yes, it’s important to be able to enjoy life’s little indulgences, but isn’t the fact that they are sporadic and ‘earned’ what makes them more of a treat, something that’s worth appreciating? We have all the resources at our disposal; it’s just that we aren’t always aware that we are supposed to use them.