Be Strong on the Obesity Crisis

Mixed messages from health and news sources leave UK adults confused about nutrition

New research from the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) reveals that 43 percent of adults surveyed admit that they find it difficult to find reliable information on healthy diets, with changing information, messages and advice from media and experts being the biggest causes for confusion (76 percent and 61 percent respectively).

The survey, conducted as part of BNF Healthy Eating Week, questioned almost 500 adults across the UK and found that social media platforms (37 percent) are the most common reported source for nutritional information for adults. Under a third (30 percent) of respondents said that they use the NHS website, a quarter visit other health websites and 14 percent said that they gather nutritional information from a doctor, hospital or health clinic.

The problem with relying on social media platforms is that your messages can be more than just mixed, they can be totally unreliable, unfounded, costly and sometimes dangerous. The well respected financial adviser Martyn Lewis has been a victim of fraudsters who claim that he endorses their products, as has the entrepreneur Peter Jones from the Dragons’ Den.  Don’t forget, people are motivated by quick wins which require very little effort on their part whilst avoiding hunger. We have still to meet anybody who lost weight that way and kept it off in the longer term.Rick Wilson and Rachel Wilcock

Two thirds (68 percent) of survey respondents reported that they are motivated to eat healthily to control their weight and, when shopping for food, 61 percent of adults said they always or often check nutrition labels on food. Two thirds or more of people surveyed said that the calories (64 percent), sugar (68 percent) and fat (60 percent) are the things they look for on nutrition labels.

Almost half (48 percent) of adults surveyed say that busy lives and stress play a large role in stopping them from eating healthily. 40 percent of adults said that being too tired after work is the main reason for not being active.

It’s really encouraging that people are starting to recognise that understanding calories are the key to eating well, avoiding over-eating, stopping weight gain and moving into a healthy weight range. We haven’t really experienced a difficulty with people moving more. The outcome of this is some don’t focus enough on changing their eating habits as they come to rely on exercise alone. This can work in cases where there isn’t significant over-eating. However, it will rarely work at all with those who have a considerable amount of weight to lose. In almost all of these cases exercise will need to be combined with healthier eating, portion control and the introduction of a daily calorie ceiling. Rick Wilson


The survey also showed a number of different factors that affect people’s food choices when at work or university. A third of adults said that high workload makes it difficult to eat well and they find it difficult to take a proper lunch break, and a quarter said they do not have enough time to prepare healthy foods when at work. 24 percent of respondents said there are limited healthy food and drink options available at work or close by and 28 percent said there were too many unhealthy snacks available in their work setting.

You know what? We totally get this, We lived this life for so many years. It’s difficult, of course it is but it can be done. This is a prime example of why achieving, and maintaining, a healthy weight is more about lifestyle change than a traditional ‘diet’. You will need to change your routine, do some things differently. Can you be disciplined enough to take a lunch break to eat the great food you prepped the night before? Can a lunch time walking group be set up – possibly even by you? In our case we mix up most days with exercise immediately before or after work, lunch time runs, gym classes and we take a lunch break every day. Remember this. If you don’t do anything differently, how can things possibly change for you?Rick Wilson & Rachel Wilcock


Be Strong are passionate that families take action to play their part in tackling the obesity crisis. We are contacted so many times by families who are worried about the health of their children who have already followed in their parents footsteps and are overweight at a young age.

The only real solution to the obesity crisis is if people start to change behaviour. I lost 6 stones so my children wouldn’t grow into their versions of the old me. The government are doing their bit through labelling and taxation but is it really down to them to force us into responsible parenting? Overweight children are often victims of teasing and bullying which can have a huge negative influence on their emotional health and well-being. It may also lead to health problems in later life and their is a much increased chance of them living significantly shorter lives. If you’re a parent with an overweight child then please do something about it today. Letting your children overeat and under exercise simply isn’t acceptable.Rachel Wilcock

Starting Point

The over-eating at home battle is usually won or lost in the supermarket aisles.

Write down your usual shopping list, include everything you would normally buy. The look for the items that you can cut out completely, or cut down on. If there are sugary drinks in their then swap them with non sugary versions. if there are sweets, crisps, confectionery or biscuits – can these be struck off? Do we need cheese and butter or margarine?  Will you really eat all that bread? If you overeat bread then ask yourself if you can abstain from it for a while. Other things to look out for are the grab and eat foods, usually found in the fridge. If you have items such as these then swap them for things that take time to prepare.

Is fruit such as bad snack? It tastes really good to us! Could a bowl of overnight oats with summer berries really taste that bad? Is making a 250 calorie omelette with chicken and peppers really too much effort? I’m sure we can all boil a pan and cook pasta for ten minutes, stir in pesto then add a tuna steak and a side dish of vegetables? We can drink 750 ml of water before each meal to leave us fulfilled mid meal?

Once you have completed this task you will have a new look shopping list. Let us know how you get on.

Rick and Rachel x

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