It might be huge but it isnít clever

Friday 21 Nov, 2014 

  • Have you been classified as Ďat riskí even though you are healthy?


  • Discover why this common diagnosis is a major con


  • Find out why all calories are not created equal

 

Tomorrow I will be arming myself against danger.

Crosses, garlic and the collected songs of Max Boyce will be about my person to protect me from harm during the night.

Much like a vampire hunter of old I am preparing to enter a place of threat and doom...

...but I will do so proudly and openly, defiant of those around me...

Actually Iím quite looking forward to it if Iím honest Ė you see a friend has invited me to Twickenham for the evening game between England and Western Samoa.

Far from entering the portals of this great cathedral to English rugby with trepidation as a Welsh fan, I can enter as a carefree neutral hell bent on a few beers and a fast flowing game.

I feel Iím going to need it as preparation for the rigours of next week and my annual check up at the GP's.

These sessions have become something of a ritual between us, but itís never one I particularly enjoy.

I did my fasting blood test last week and will go in to have my BP taken in the surgery and then three things always happen:

1) Heíll tell me that Iím overweight (even though Iíve lost a stone since last year).

2) Heíll tell me my cholesterol and blood sugar levels are higher than he would like to see them (even though theyíve been at the same level for the last eight years).

3) Heíll tell me that my BP is too high (even though it has always been 140/85 even when I played rugby three times a week). 

This will be a precursor to him advising me that I am pre-diabetic and need to take statins.

And that will make me explode once again!

The con of pre-diabetes

I own a Welsh rugby top, so am I a pre-squad member?

I drive a car, rather well as it happens, which must make me a pre-Grand Prix winner?

Plus Iíve just bought a lottery ticket and now, therefore, a pre-millionaire... 

...this seems to be the logic behind his description of Ďpre-diabetesí but it is not one I hold any truck with.

This logic is flawed and damaging and could make things worse for me in the long run Ė so how does my doc see it?

Well he says that for someone of my age, body weight and raised blood sugar and cholesterol levels that Iím at a heightened risk of developing diabetes... and so I should be taking a prophylactic dose of metformin to control all of this.

He actually wants me to take prescripted drugs when there is absolutely nothing wrong with me! 

I donít have any symptoms, I donít feel unwell (and havenít darkened his doors for the entire year!) and I am active and on a good balanced diet... but it wonít stop him.

Heíll get his coloured chart out which will show that my Body Mass Index is in the amber/red zone and heíll tell me that it's bad news.

When Iím at Twickenham tomorrow I will be watching men who are fitter than most on the planet, powerful and athletic in build and movement - and each of them with a BMI which would tip into the same bracket as me.

Do you imagine that their coaches are telling them they need to lose weight and take a diabetic drug at half-time?

What we are fast becoming subject to is lazy medicine Ė the policy of taking individual measurements and factoring them together to add up to a prescription:

BP+LDL(-HDL)+Kgís/cm=Pill

And letís not forget whose interest this is in. Is it an overworked underfunded NHS?.. No itís not them.

Is it then an ageing and poorly supported population?.. No, itís not them either.

Well then could it possibly be the shareholders of global drug giants?.. Do you know I think you might be onto something there!

The whole thing is a scandal of scaremongering and public misdirection.

Big numbers and bad choices

No-one doubts the fact that as a nation we are getting heavier, and that carrying a bit of excess weight is becoming the norm.

In addition we all know that we should avoid the perils of becoming overly fat and that we need to take care in what we eat and the levels at which we exercise.

I promise you that I am no crusader for an unhealthy lifestyle or a believer that all the information we are given is wrong Ė however, I think there is a growing trend in people trying to simplify the situation and making victims of those who need help.

By simply saying that someone is too fat and that subsequent health issues are as a direct result is both unfair and wrong, plus by getting them to focus on eating fewer calories wonít change the situation... and could lead to further harm.

In the last few weeks arthritis, cancer and heart disease have all been directly linked to calorie intake in the media.

But this ignores the real issue.

Itís not about how MANY calories you eat, but WHERE you get them from.

If you ate 1,000 calories in the form of a nice piece of grilled mackerel with a tomato, onion and feta cheese salad lashed in olive oil it would be better for you than the same number of calories from a burger and chips with a cola drink.

Which was why I was heartened (forgive the pun!) by a report published in the Postgraduate Medical Journal a few days ago where they concluded that a Mediterranean diet reduced the risk of health problems.

Signatories of the piece included the chair of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, Prof Terence Stephenson, and Dr Mahiben Maruthappu, who has a senior role at NHS England.

In the report they rightly criticise the weight-loss industry for focusing on calorie restriction rather than 'good nutrition'.

Itís just a pity that they didnít go further and extend this criticism to our GPs, politicians and media too.

The real culprits behind an increasingly obese nation are food manufacturers and retailers, especially the fast food outlets who load their drinks, food and even salads with huge amounts of hidden sugar.

Sugar is the root of this problem especially that which is used to cover up poor quality food Ė thatís what needs to be tackled.

In my case I will enjoy watching an under fire England get battered by the hulks of Samoa...

...with a beer in my hand and a grilled lamb kebab and salad afterwards at our favourite late night shop.

Iíll just be counting points, not calories!

Yours, as always


 

 

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