New Year’s resolutions?

Happy New Year, everyone!

As we embark on 2017, some sobering statistics have just emerged: four-fifths of middle-aged adults are putting themselves at risk of disease as busy lives and desk jobs make it increasingly hard to stay healthy, experts have said. Eighty-three per cent of 40- to 60-year-olds are either drinking too much, are inactive or are overweight, Public Health England (PHE) said.

Officials said that 9 in 10 men (87%) and 8 in 10 women (79%) are not doing enough exercise, exceeding the recommended limits for alcohol or are either overweight or obese.

Figures taken from the Health Survey for England show that 77% of men and 63% of women in middle age are either overweight or obese – with the rate of obesity shooting up 16% in the last two decades.

The diabetes rate among this age group also doubled in this period in England, PHE said. Meanwhile, many are also not being physically active and drinking too much.

What is to be done to prevent us all eating and drinking our way into an early grave? Do let us have your own New Year suggestions for a slimmer and healthier 2017 by adding a comment to this blog. What are your New Year’s resolutions?

Comments (13) Add yours ↓
  1. Jon Rees GP

    Thanks Roger – and Happy New Year to you and all the team at Trends.

    My New Years resolution – to give up having NY resolutions. I think we all know from personal experience how little they tend to achieve, and when you see the stats you quote above, it is clear that there needs to be a fundamental societal change to halt this decline into ‘diabesity’. I am convinced this lies as a responsibility of the DoH and Public Health – we as clinicians can continue to chip away but in reality it won’t be us that change this…

    I will continue to have discussions with patients on a daily basis (a number of times each day) – and will continue to have some patients who respond incredibly positively and overhaul their lifestyle, and some who are not able / ready / willing to make the necessary changes.

    The successes are for me, the most rewarding outcome of my work in general practice.

    January 3, 2017 Reply
  2. Jonny Coxon GP

    Oh Jon, you defeatist! I’m sure you can get out on that bike even more. In all your spare time.

    I always worry a little about these black and white figures about adequate exercise. I’m sure they’re based on the well-known target of 30 minutes a day, five days a week. How many of us really manage that? OK, some of you, but it’s not easy. It would be better to get some sort of sliding scale about how many are at least exercising more than they used to. I get the feeling exercise is actually more popular than it was a few years ago, at least in a certain group of men, but know I might have a distorted view.

    As for alcohol, definitely one to keep working on. Personally, I can wholeheartedly recommend Brew Dog’s Nanny State beer (no I don’t have shares in the company). At last, a low alcohol beer that actually tastes decent – to me anyway. And yes, I have recommended it to patients!

    Happy New Year One and All. I’m going to try to scrape the rust off my bike. Maybe tomorrow.

    January 3, 2017 Reply
  3. Declan Cahill Urologist

    I guess I may be in those alcohol and weight statistics! Although not in this very dry January!
    As regards exercise I certainly do quite a lot and so do most of my friends and generally a lot of patients. All my friends and aquaitances are very very much fitter than my fathers generation. The exercise revolution I think is a great success, more so in the young but very much present in the middle aged. I think the figures are exaggerated for diet and exercise. Zealots looking for a bandwagon.
    Alcohol I think is the current day pest. High quality, affordable and easily accessible. It’s available in the home and very much part of the social structure in which we live. It’s highly calorific and fattening, can have bad social adverse effects and is associated with several malignancies. I think as doctors with patients and socially with friends we have to encourage moderation with acolohol. Cutting out alcohol has very easy to realise physical benefits. 1 kg of fat = 9000 calories. 9000 calories. 1 bottle of wine = 3 beers= 1000 calories. It’s those that don’t drink their calories in alcohol that are difficult to modify!

    January 3, 2017 Reply
  4. Mike Kirby Professor

    Get a step counter!
    Several key papers suggest that owning one that links to your smart phone increases steps by 2,500 a day.
    Combine that with portion control & moderate alcohol, you are in business!!
    Happy New Year!
    Buy one ( Withings is best)

    January 3, 2017 Reply
  5. Mike Kirby Professor

    see previous comment

    January 3, 2017 Reply
  6. Roger Kirby Professor of Urology

    I tell my patients that they need to get to a better PLACE:

    P is Portion control (and no second helpings!)
    L is Lose the booze (or at least cut it back!)
    A is Axe the snacks (no eating between meals)
    C is Cut the carbs (especially sweets, biscuits and fizzy drinks)
    E is Exercise every day (ideally twice per day to keep up the metabolic rate)

    Do they, or I, do this? Probably not, but the mnemonic is fun!
    Happy New Year everyone

    January 3, 2017 Reply
  7. Ben Challacombe Urologist

    The obesity crisis is certainly a major issue
    Alcohol is a part of it for sure but is amplified at this time of year.
    For me it is diet and exercise that are the top issues and although, like Declan, my social group are all exercising in a variety of keen ways- as MAMILs (middle aged men in lycra!)- this is not the true picture.
    Obesity is a disease of poverty in the UK currently and we may have a rose tinted view of this as exercising doctors and i agree with John that individual clinicians can only make limited headway.
    Public health has to up its game here. My personal bugbear is “soda” in USA parlance or soft drinks and particularly colas and diet colas which play a very big part in these unnecessary calories. particularly in soft drinks for children. This is where it starts to go wrong and where most can be gained.
    In the meantime i will try some Brew Dog

    January 3, 2017 Reply
  8. Sarah Redston Fast Facts Publisher

    Spend more time with people with healthy habits could be a good resolution, but where to find them…?!
    Lego’s Rule that eating is only allowed on the ninth floor looks interesting https://www.ft.com/content/cc3c188c-a087-3c31-af83-48fff3ccfc1c?ft_site=next

    And from Paula Radcliffe (My Story So Far)

    “At the beginning of each year I often write down my goals and put them somewhere safe”

    January 4, 2017 Reply
  9. Louise de Winter Chief Executive

    Oh come on guys – alcohol is one of life’s pleasures! Although of course it should only be taken in moderation I do think that public information messages about cutting it out altogether and the dire harm it can do make us resent those who pronounce in such a way, as most of us know it’s not harmful in moderation. The problem with public information is that no one wants to listen because we don’t really respect the messenger and it’s not speaking to us as individuals so we ignore it.

    We are, however, more likely to listen to our family, friends and indeed our GP. Peer pressure is the way to go, but how?

    In terms of NY resolutions, I don’t make them, but I’ve started to walk the 2 miles to my train station rather than take the car: it takes me 25 mins so I need to leave the house a lot earlier and it obviously adds more time to my journey. Effectively, it means an extra hour travelling everyday on what is already a four hour round trip commute. Fine while trains are running on time, but since I have the pleasure of living near Brighton and am hostage to Southern Rail strikes, I’m not sure how long I will be able to keep it up!

    Good luck to everyone with their resolutions!

    January 4, 2017 Reply
  10. Angela Culhane CEO, Prostate Cancer UK

    We need to find the formula for converting the knowledge of what’s good for us, into actions we actually stick to beyond our New Year’s resolutions!
    Healthy weight is likely to be an important factor in reducing risk of aggressive prostate cancer and improving survival rates and quality of life for those with the disease, yet many men are likely to do less exercise following a diagnosis.
    And it does make a difference, if the experience of men on a healthy lifestyle programme commissioned by Prostate Cancer UK (with funding from Movember) is anything to go by. 100 per cent of participants reported a positive physical and emotional impact from the course (http://prostatecanceruk.org/for-health-professionals/best-practice/health-with-hawthorn).
    Not many interventions can claim that sort of success rate, yet this one isn’t nearly exciting enough to make a newspaper headline, since it’s so simple and obvious.
    However disheartening it might be at times, I hope the health profession won’t give up trying to help, as there is evidence that men are more likely to participate in physical activity if a healthcare professional recommends it.
    In the mean time, an old friend of mine who lost 4 stone said the thing that helped her was the simple phrase “I want to be slim more than I want to eat pies”. No patent pending as far as I know……

    January 4, 2017 Reply
  11. Mark J Speakman Consultant Urologist

    According to Wiki; a New Year’s Resolution is a tradition, in which a person resolves to change an undesired trait or behavior. I disagree it is better to do more of something good, rather than to try and cut things out.

    Therefore only drink good quality wines; less of a Grand Cru rather than lots of plonk is better. Buy a Coravin device and then you can have just one class of Premier Cru Chablis each night.

    The only way to exercise reliably is to programme it in your diary in advance of other tasks … and get a personal trainer. If you have made an appointment you will keep it. If you don’t, you just go home and open another bottle of plonk.

    With regards to diet, there is a linear inverse correlation between the time you spend preparing food and obesity. Therefore cook good food from scratch and don’t watch MasterChef whilst eating a microvable meal!

    Happy New Year everyone and see some of you on the slopes of Northstar with the RSM soon.

    January 4, 2017 Reply
  12. Simon Lord Man

    So much of this is handed down, unwittingly, by parents.

    Mine were middle-class, pretty-well educated (but not graduates) who believed in stout walks in all weathers, home cooking and a stiff-ish upper lip. We cleared our plates, never had fizzy pop or crisps and my parents drank very little, though both smoked, perhaps surprisingly.

    And that’s pretty much how we brought up our own children, and how we live now (less the smoking – neither of us has ever smoked). Unsurprisingly I’ve never been overweight, and the education my parents gave me, coupled with eight or mine years in uniform has meant that I’ve been running and more recently cycling pretty much since I left school – I’ve had a resting pulse of around 50 for the last 20 odd years.

    So the answer isn’t to try to change men now (see Mike Kirby’s article) but to educate the nation’s children better. While it’s great that they get GCSEs, A-levels and degrees, it’s as important that they have the knowledge to take charge of the health outcomes that they control. Prevention and all that.

    February 9, 2017 Reply

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