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Even prior to the arrival of Covid-19 in Britain we were engulfed by the twin epidemics of obesity and diabetes, weakening people and their immune system.
The coronavirus outbreak has exploited this to shocking effect. A recent study of the outcomes of 16,749 patients hospitalised in Britain with Covid-19 showed people who had a body mass index greater than 30 were 37 per cent more likely to die.
Notwithstanding his own experience in intensive care, these are the figures that are frightening Prime Minister Boris Johnson into action. It is long overdue.
I’ve been a GP in Southport looking after a population size of around 9,000 patients since 1986. In that time I’ve seen a more than nine fold increase in the number of people with type 2 diabetes, rising from 56 to 530.
If there is a positive to come out of this appalling pandemic it is my hope the nation can wake up to the dangers of obesity. We have become the fat man of Europe and that is to our shame.
Lockdown can provide the chance for us all to revisit our health goals. Let’s buy better quality, fresh food, fewer takeaways and snack less! It is an opportunity for families to cook and eat healthy meals together. That old excuse of not having enough time suddenly no longer washes.
My top weight loss tip during lockdown would be to cut out not just sugar but also the starchy carbs that digest down into sugar, in foods like bread, pasta, breakfast cereals or rice. Alcohol is still okay, if drunk in moderation, but I encourage my patients to switch from high sugar drinks like beer and cider to dry wine instead.
Exercise is of course important and in particular exercising outdoors as sunlight on the skin turns cholesterol into vitamin D. But changing your diet makes the most difference to weight.
We have to offer constructive advice and support. I have written the foreword to the newly-published Reverse Your Diabetes Cookbook, while there is an NHS approved Low Carb App produced by Diabetes.co.uk which is also very useful.
In my practise I don’t tell people they are fat. If you are overweight you know that already, instead I offer them help. And it works. Over the past seven years 302 patients have adopted my advice to cut sugar, snacks and starchy carbs. In the process they have lost more than three metric tonnes in weight.
This should be a national priority not least as maybe we will never find a vaccine for Covid-19. By making these changes we are helping protect ourselves against a whole host of diseases and finally fighting an epidemic that has been in our midst for too long.