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Wednesday, 11 December

Middle Age and Modern Life - Obesity the New Normal

PHE’s (Public Health England) One You campaign was launched at the end of January to help middle age people live more healthily by asking ‘How are you?’ and providing free support and tools.

Eight out of 10 of the middle aged either weigh too much, drink too much or don’t exercise enough, as new analysis from shows modern life taking its toll on health.

PHE’s One You campaign is reaching out to the 83% of 40 to 60 year olds (87% of men and 79% of women) who are either overweight or obese, exceed the Chief Medical Officer’s alcohol guidelines or are physically inactive, to provide free support and tools to help them live more healthily.

 

The new normal

Modern life is harming the health of the nation: 77% of men and 63% of women in middle age are overweight or obese. Obesity in adults has shot up 16% in the last 20 years. Many also can’t identify what a ‘healthy’ body looks like, suggesting obesity has become the new normal.

The diabetes rate among this age group also doubled in this period in England. Obese adults are more than 5 times more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than those who are a healthy weight (a body mass index between 18.5 and 25). Ninety per cent of adults with diabetes have Type 24.

People are being urged to take a moment to consider their health and the simple steps they can take to improve it by taking the One You online quiz. The quiz, called ‘How Are You’, takes lifestyle information, gives a health score and then links to free localised, personalisable information, apps and tools.

More than 1.1 million people have taken the quiz so far and where appropriate, been directed to download apps such as Couch to 5K, Alcohol Checker and Easy Meals. Nearly a quarter of a million people have subsequently downloaded Couch to 5K.

These sit alongside PHE’s other online tools such as the Heart Age tool which provides a ‘heart age’ based on age and lifestyle.

Professor Kevin Fenton, Director of Health and Wellbeing at PHE, said: "People are busy with work, with families, with the daily grind and sometimes their own health is the least of their priorities. The How Are You Quiz will help anyone who wants to take a few minutes to take stock and find out quickly where they can take a little action to make a big difference to their health."

Professor Sir Muir Gray, Clinical Adviser for the One You campaign, said: "The demands of modern day living are taking their toll on the health of the nation. It’s those in middle age that are suffering the consequences most, as their health reaches worrying new levels. Over 15 million Britons are living with a long term health condition. Busy lives and desk jobs make it difficult to live healthily. Just making a few small changes will have significant benefits to people’s health now and in later life."

Dan Howarth, Head of Care at Diabetes UK, said: "We know that people often bury their heads in the sand when it comes to their general health but the consequences of doing nothing can be catastrophic. There are an estimated 11.9 million people at increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes in the UK because of their lifestyle and more than one million who already have the condition but have not yet been diagnosed. Type 2 diabetes can lead to serious complications such as amputation, blindness, heart attack, stroke and kidney disease. We know how hard it is to change the habits of a lifetime but we want people to seek the help they need to lose weight, stop smoking and take more exercise."

Dr Ellie Cannon, NHS Doctor and media medic, said: "Lots of us spend our lives working very hard, not sleeping enough and not always having time to exercise, so it can be really difficult to prioritise our health. But it’s vital to find out how you really are, so that you can get the advice and support you need. It’s never too late to improve your health and making small changes now can have a huge impact on your health in the future: it can even help to reverse preventable diseases. With 2017 just begun, there’s no better time to start living better and enjoying the health benefits that will bring."

Picture: People need to eat better, be more active, stop smoking and consider their drinking

 

Article written by Cathryn Ellis

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