Obesity 'causes more cases of some cancers than smoking'

Is it OK for a charity to shame and blame?

Now we do know that we have a massive global health crisis — both in the UK and the US. Obesity rates are on the rise.

There are the stats quoted in a BBC article today that link obesity to cancer risk:

According to Cancer Research UK, 13 different cancers are linked to obesity: • breast (in women after the menopause) • bowel • pancreatic • oesophageal (food pipe) • liver • kidney • upper stomach • gallbladder • womb • ovarian • thyroid • multiple myeloma (blood cancer) • meningioma (brain cancer)

We also know that OBESITY has fast become a reason, in and of itself, to be the soul subject for referral to a hospital physician. This is a relatively new phenomenon and accounts for something close to 30% of appointments in the UK. (I read that somewhere a while ago)

In the Briefing Paper — Obesity Statistics by Carl Baker (House of Commons Number 3336, 20 March 2018) there are a number of juicy stats ( I LOVE LOOKING AT STATS) …. sorry — I have picked out just some of them for you.

  1. Obesity levels have increased from 15% to 26% since 1993.

2. Obesity levels are highest among ages 45–74.

3. One in ten children is obese by age 5, and one in five by age 11.

4. Deprived children are more likely to be obese, and the gap has risen.

5. Obesity increases the risk of other health conditions, including: • Joint problems • Lower back pain • Hypertension (high blood pressure) • Coronary heart disease and stroke • Deep vein thrombosis • Type 2 diabetes • Endometrial, breast and colon cancer • Stress incontinence • Menstrual abnormalities • Erectile dysfunction • Respiratory problems

So, in other words, if you are overweight or obese, you are effectively digging your grave with your teeth. Well at the very least, there is a higher risk that you will end up flat on your back sooner than those who are of a more normal weight.

All that seems obvious — well it does to me — but then this is my passion and work!

But we don’t know what we don’t know.

So for me, any campaign to do with obesity would be better targeted at education and motivation rather than embarrassing and shaming an already sensitive (growing) percentage of the population.

The new Cancer Research posters use cigarette style billboards. No doubt with the hope that humiliation and fear will drive people to change their eating habits.

I would much rather see information, resources, and classes on the relationship between sugary forming foods, (this includes artificial sweeteners incidentally) and the effect they have on gut microbiome, mood, appetite, cravings, hormones and epigenetics (switching on the genes of disease) especially for the 1/3 of the population who are more prone to sugar addictions.

The irony here also is that cancer charities devote very little of their fundraised income to PREVENTION alone. Cancer Research UK quote £35m as the amount allocated to “research and prevention” which is around 5% of their total income in 2017/18.

When I present my Truth About Sugar workshops, simple facts provide the aha moments that are much more likely to create change and transformation.

The blood sugar rise from 1 slice of wholewheat bread = 1 table sugar

I once approached my local GP surgery to offer to do talks on nutrition and food as medicine— FOR FREE — but they wouldn’t even put up a poster in the waiting room!

Lifestyle Medicine has a long way to go.


Gill Barham