Guest Blog by Professor David Hallam, Chairman of the National Obesity Forum
We all know the NHS is under enormous pressure. It requires a near unprecedented cash influx from the Government, while still needing to make tens of billions in savings before the end of the decade.
Lifestyle is a major factor. We’ve just had Christmas, when doubtless you’ve indulged – whether it’s the meal with friends or the extra mince pie on the day itself. It’s easy to rationalise our individual decisions as one-offs. But, for many of us, it’s more than that. We surrender to indulgence on a regular – perhaps even daily – basis. We’re suckers for convenience. And so we take the car when we could walk or cycle. We go for products high in salt, sugar and additives rather than experimenting with ingredients ourselves.
We’re all susceptible to it. What it means is that all of us have at least one, and usually more, way we could be a bit healthier. And by being a bit healthier, we can do our bit for society. But, let’s not kid ourselves. We all put our families and our own lives ahead of others. So, if nothing else, by making what might be a relatively modest change, you can have a substantial impact on your long-term health.
Obesity, overweight, diabetes and heart disease. They’ve all become far, far more prevalent in our society over the past few decades. This isn’t an accident, nor is it simply down to the population being bigger. We’re reaping the consequences of our lifestyle choices. And we’re storing up trouble for the future – whether that’s the pain and discomfort of a serious illness, or the distress that could be inflicted on a family member if we become ill.
So there are some great reasons for us all to think this New Year about what we can do in 2016 to be that bit healthier. And this is what the JanUary campaign is all about.
For the past two years, the National Obesity Forum has run National Obesity Awareness Week. But the need to introduce and maintain lifestyle changes should apply to all of us. So, this year, we’ve renamed the campaign JanUary. Why? Because it’s about doing something good for ‘u’.
What do we mean when making a change? A lot of people will set impossible goals. They’ll want to train for a marathon or commit to a strict diet. That’s gruelling. It can be quite demoralising. And for many, indeed most of us, it’s unsustainable. It’s unsurprising there’s a day in the month January when people are most likely to give up on their New Year’s Resolutions. So the trick is instead to commit to something you can maintain over the course of the year.
This JanUary, I hope you’ll take the opportunity to get involved. That might mean visiting our website www.jan-U-ary.co.uk and downloading our supporter pack so you can run your event. But there are a couple of tangible and easy ways you can do something good for yourself, your family, friends and colleagues.
You can join us in making a New Year’s Resolution by completing the form on our website. Or alternatively, you could download our resolution pledge card, taking a picture of your resolution and posting it on the likes of Twitter or Facebook using our hashtags #healthyjanUary or #dosomethinggoodforu. We’re hoping for the UK’s largest New Year’s Resolution, with people across the country choosing to be a bit more active, to cook healthily, to giveup the takeaways, or curb the chocolate.
The other thing you can do is join us in our sugars reduction challenge. I invite you this JanUary to make simple substitutions and work out the amount of sugar you don’t consume over the course of the campaign week (11-17 January) and hopefully beyond. We’ll of course give you and your friends the information you need to make this work. And hopefully by making what are small changes, you can have big impact on your long-term health.
We all know instinctively that as a population, we tend to be unhealthy. It doesn’t have to be that way – nor does being healthier have to be dull or a sacrifice. It’s about exploration and broadening your choices, rather than sticking with options that, while possibly convenient, are ultimately not doing you any favours.
So join us this JanUary and do something good for U!