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European obesity trend threatens life and health expectation


jcfp3

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Jun 27, 2004
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1
In Short:


The current obesity trend could undermine the central demographic assumption that everybody will live longer and healthier lives, says the Commission Director General of the DG Sanco, Robert Madelin, in an interview with EurActiv.

Background:

Obesity is one of the greatest public health challenges of the 21st century. Since the 1980s, the number of those affected in the EU has tripled and continues to increase at an alarming rate, especially among children. 7% of total EU healthcare costs are estimated to be spent on treating obesity-related illnesses.

The Commission adopted, in December 2005, a Green Paper on obesity entitled Promoting healthy diets and physical activity: a European dimension for the prevention of overweight, obesity and chronic diseases.

Issues:

"The obesity phenomenon could in 10-20 years time undermine the central assumption about our demography, which is that we're all going to go on living longer and healthier lives," said the Director General of DG Sanco, Robert Madelin in an interview with EurActiv when asked how serious the obesity problem really is in Europe. He said that the situation is already very bad in the Mediterranean countries, where adolescent obesity rates now reach over 30% in Greece and Italy. The worst 'performing' countries in Europe, the UK and Poland, are now catching up with the United States.

"Obesity is clearly a behavioural issue. Ultimately, each individual could be of an ideal body weight - so why are we not?" asked Madelin. He puts the responsibility partly on genes, partly on the way we have learned to behave and partly on our modern life style. Emphasising that "a big part of the problem is environmental" Madelin sees a three-dimensional role for Europe in the obesity fight: EU legislation on issues such as food labelling; stimulation of increased political commitment; and provision of a 'test space' to learn what works and to share best practice.

With regard to the current EU dossier on food labelling, Madelin says that education and information campaigns clearly prevail over regulating. "The philosophy is don't regulate unless you have to," Madelin said, while adding that some regulation is needed, as companies would be distressed if there were 25 regulations on food labelling, instead of just one.

Through the EU platform on diet, physical activity and health, the Commission is currently trying to stimulate NGOs and economic operators to do effective intervention on obesity. "The more effective intervention, the less market failure, less amount of public intervention needed."

For the food sector the business case for healthy food is in sales, and this argument is increasingly understood. Madelin thinks public intervention can urge business to accelerate the move.
 
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It's a big problem. While it is by no means the most important factor, I am shocked that unhealthy food is much cheaper than healthy food: I can go to the supermarket and get 6 beef-burgers for the same price as a single bag of salad; a frozen pizza is cheaper than a bag of oranges; red meat is cheaper than fish. Maybe I am just shopping in the wrong shops but it seems to me that if we want to improve people's dietary habits, we should probably be looking at reducing the cost of good food and raising the cost of high-fat foods. If this involves using changes in VAT or putting taxes on certain foods, then so be it-there is no single issue that matters more than one's health. Our dietary habits are dangerous- processed foods with high salt content and enough calories to heat a small house. Given the prevalence of heart disease and other illnesses that stem from a chosen lifestyle, I think we have a huge vested interest in stamping out obesity- think of the actual financial cost of all of these by-pass surgeries, think of the missed time from work. Most of all though, think of the prsonal tragedies we suffer and think of the sheer wasted potential of all of these people who could so easily avoid these health problems. I think its time to tax junk-food with the same severity that we tax cigarettes and alcohol.
 

Bogwarrior

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More and more Americans are becoming too fat even for x-rays. Too fat to fit in the machines, and too fat for the x ray to penetrate. X ray images from severaly obese people only show what looks like a bad T.V reception.
Irish people were recently mentioned in the Guinness Book of Records (2004 I think)for the most calories per capita in the World, and highest alchohol intake, yet we've managed to escape the severely obese condition inflicting Americans. Anyone know why?
 

david

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Fair comments, ipaw, but hopelessly optimistic. When MacDonalds brought in their 'healthy' salads, they were laden with calories and salt anyways.

Basically, there's a huge body (!) of people who like food that is easy, cheap and belly-filling and 'junk food' can be just that. Apart from which, the food industry has no interest whatsoever in the consequences of their actions, just the money. So anywhere a cheaper ingredient can be substituted, it will be.

Like deaths on roads, you can legislate all you like but after a point you get cries of nanny statism. Actually, it's worse because getting fat doesn't break any law afaik. But in both cases, it's down to the individual to do something.

A truly independent organisation of food and health specialists whose job it is to evaluate foods and eating habits and make non-patronising and informative recommendations would be welcome. And I mean independent. No vested interests, no government interference, no industry funding.

On top of that, favourable tax breaks and support along with rigorous regulation and inspection of small, indigenous food producers (say a turnover limit or employee number limit) who are encouraged to look at quality before profit.

I'd also like to see pay by weight on planes but that's almost another issue.
 

Michael Ryan

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Obesity & life expectancy

Very few understand the factors that cause obesity, and I suggest that readers view http://www.ukhr.org/obesity as a starting point.
On the same site, you can get link to the Washington Post article of 27 September 2003 about the massive savings in the US after they reduced industrial emissions of PM2.5s, ie particles smaller than 3 microns that are small enough ti get into the lungs. The savings, just in reduced hospital visits & fewer days off work were $193 billion [yes Billion] according to Office of Management & Budget at the White House.
"Badger" of Texas dismissed me [21 June 2006] on this site on comments about my research into rates of birth defects as being untrained in epidemiology, and yet he must have heard of Dr John Snow, the father of epidemiology, who was untrained in that field [or sef-taught?] and yet he was bright enough to plot choleras deaths on a map & see pattern of death showing association with water. The medical establishment ignored Snow, but he was right & the rest of the world was wrong. We've a similar situation here in UK with PM2.5s, which the medical establishment prefer to ignore. Dr Dick van Steenis started his research with childhood asthma survey in West Wales [The Lancet, 8 April 1995] finding elevated rates of asthma in zones downwind of the oil refinery/power station complex at Milford Haven waterway. He followed up with cancer admissions data for high & low asthma zones & found tweny-fold differential [high asthma= high cancer] and he also obtained referral rates to Consultant Psychiatrist for clinical depression in high & low asthma zones & found a nne-fold differential. [high asthma=high depression]. The death rates [standardised mortality ratios 1999-2003] in every electoral ward in England & Wales have recently been made available & Pembroke Monkton ward & other wards in Pembroke Dock district [near oil refineries] have highest SMRs [max SMR=149] and yet a few miles north of Milford Haven at Rudbaxton ward, teh SMR is in low 60s, indicating about a twenty year differential in life-span. Anywhere with SMR less than 100 has had a lower than average death rate. The electoral wards near sources of industrial PM2.5s are all high, eg, in the London Borough of Bexley, where I married the best looking girl in 1972, North End ward has highest SMR=128 & "just happens" to be nearest ward to Littlebrook D Power Station. The two wards in joint 2nd highest place each have incinerators, namely Thamesmead East and Sidcup [SMR=114]. Take a look at ward map at Bexley Borough site & see how these wards aren't close to each other. SELCHP is an incinerator at Deptford in Borough of Lewisham & New Cross ward [where incinerator is sited] has highest SMR in Borough. The next highest is Evelyn ward, which is rightnext door on downwind side. What about cement works? Look at CEMEX, Rugby. The cement plant is just upwind of Avon & Swift ward which has the highest SMR for deaths under 85 years in West Midlands at SMR=169. Here in Shropshire, Ironbridge Power Station is major polluter & my asthma survey [www.ukhr.org/asthma] revealed elevated asthma inhaler usage in schools downwind of power station & a brickworks. The school with just 1.9% of Years 3 to 6 children bringing inhalers to school for asthma is in Dothill ward, where there hasn't been an infant death in each of the ten years 1995-2004 according to the Office of National Statistics. Ironbridge Gorge ward [downwind of power station has SMR=149. The power station is at downwind end of Severn Valley ward [SMR=85] and the next ward upwind is Lawley ward, SMR=69. It's noty your lifestyle or social class that determines when you die because the Health Effects Institute proved that exposure to industrial PM2.5s is the main factor in health & life expectancy. "Badger of Texas" shouldn't underestimate Chartered Civil Engineers as we are used to examining data & spotting errors. I shouldn't be doing this research, but I've lived near an incinerator for nearly 30 years and have only realised the health hazards since 2002, even though we've buried two of our children - our ony daughter at 14 weeks in 1985 and our 2nd son [leukaemia] at age 19 years in 1999. I should be back in the land of my ancestors and also my wife's, but property is very dear in your country and you are going for incinerators & ignoring the health damage detailed in the reports by Dr Dick van Steenis at bottom of home page at http://www.countrydoctor.co.uk I hope that this is of use, particularly to politicians who might not realise that plasma-gasification has Nett cost of about £21 per tonne, compared with incinerators costing £63 per tonne plus the same again in health damage. Who wouldn't want to save £100 per tonne in waste disposal & not make people ill at the same time. It's a "no-brainer" & yet even London Mayor Ken Livingstone can't say the word in today's Bexley Times. He refers to "clean hydrogen". The UK government are great at collecting statistics, but hopeless at interpreting them. They've collected birth defect data since Jan 1964 and just look at the graph of heart & circulatory defects 1971-2003 & the upswing from 1995 that's been caused by the burning of hazarous waste as fuel. The cancer graph for most solid adult cancers will have same shape but will be offset by about 15 years. Kind regards, Michael Ryan, Shrewsbury
 

Sidewinder

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Bogwarrior said:
Irish people were recently mentioned in the Guinness Book of Records (2004 I think)for the most calories per capita in the World, and highest alchohol intake, yet we've managed to escape the severely obese condition inflicting Americans. Anyone know why?
As I understand it (and I'm a computer programmer and definitely not a dietician or health freak) - It's not the calories, it's the type of food being consumed. Complex carbohydrates (unprocessed rice, spuds, pasta, breads) are broken down more slowly and so provide a steady stream of energy to the body over a few hours. If yer reasonably active i.e. you get off the couch at least once a day, you'll burn up this energy as it arrives and so not gain weight.

Processed foods with lots of processed carbohydrates and sugars give you a sudden surge of energy as they are processed by yer guts very quickly, but the body doesn't know what to do with it all and stores it as fat...and you'll feel hungry again sooner because the digestive system is finished sooner and sends a trigger to the brain for more input...and coming down off the sugar rush makes you grumpy and your body associates sugary processed food with feeling happy....vicious cycle

So the difference between Ireland and the US up until recently was that we ate more natural food, fresh and cooked from the original ingredients. Yer ma's home cooking, in other words. In the US they've been eating mass-produced processed crap for 40 years and we can see the result. The same crap hit Irish shops in the last 20 years, and Irish children these days are a lot fatter than they used to be, whereas Irish people that are a bit older ate decent enough food for most of their lives and probably still do out of habit.

So as a nation we'll be as fat as the Americans are now in 20 years once all the older home-cooking eaters have died off.

I actually find it a lot cheaper to cook for myself - to actually spend 40 minutes putting together a chilli, or a spag bol, or leaving a stew or casserole bubbling for a couple of hours, or a bratwurst peas n chips, or whatever (chips made by slicing up some real live spuds). A single person can feed themselves with pretty decent grub, home cooked, for under €20 a week easily.
 

david

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Michael Ryan: you're putting into words what sensible people know instinctively.

Coincidentally, I've just read Living Downstream by Sandra Steingraber. It's a little dated now but but it's just as frightening as your stats. Made more so, really, because of the people she's related to who have died of one cancer or another (with sympathies to yourself).

We're living in an upside-down world where profit is more important than health and information is not just hard to come by, it simply doesn't exist.
 

The OD

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The key to not becoming a fat b@stard?

Eat less move more.

Simple formula.

8)
 

david

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The OD said:
The key to not becoming a fat b@stard?

Eat less move more.

Simple formula.

8)
Out for lunch the other day: baked potato with baked beans and a fresh side salad.

Whilst engaged in consuming this excellent meal - just one of many nutritious, healthy and filling options in this restaurant - a male and a female of the American kind, mid-twenties I'd guess, came in.

They were huge, almost the same in circumference as height. They each ordered cheeseburger with fries and large Cokes. Naturally, their meals arrived with side salad.

They left the salad.
 

The OD

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Sidewinder said:
So the difference between Ireland and the US up until recently was that we ate more natural food, fresh and cooked from the original ingredients. Yer ma's home cooking, in other words.
I actually find it a lot cheaper to cook for myself - to actually spend 40 minutes putting together a chilli, or a spag bol, or leaving a stew or casserole bubbling for a couple of hours, or a bratwurst peas n chips, or whatever (chips made by slicing up some real live spuds). A single person can feed themselves with pretty decent grub, home cooked, for under €20 a week easily.
Pretty good post there sidewinder. I can do as you suggest for in or around €40-50 for a couple and we are quite physical too so burn it off.

Its definitely the amount of crap you eat as opposed to the amount of actual food (yes I know what I said in my last post but what your eating seriously has a bearing on your body rating).

Most people dont even know what their daily calorie requirements are must less by how much they are exceeding it. The calories in some foods are shocking to say the least (I flinch every time I see someone getting a 'breakfast' roll - heart attack roll more like :shock: ) and I seriously hate to hear of people do things like the Atkins diets or some other crapola.

On one hand I believe your own health is your own repsonsibility but as IPAW states correctly above, it seems that healthy eating is made difficult for you before you even try.

Obesity is a terrible problem but the proliferation of it in children is truly horrendous as we see waddling little kids who may as well have a 'life expectancy: 35-50 years' sign on their adult sized t-shirts. Surely people feeding their kids absolute crap is contravening some basic human right, but its easy to just blame the parents. Look at the back of some of the processed foods and they will give you the sodium content of whats in the packet but not the actual salt content itself, spinning b@stards that they are.

Look at the rise of the spar/mace/911 lunch outlets and their menus (example being that a lot only sell tune laced with bloody mayo and sweetcorn), the price of tacky burgers, 'chicken' products etc. As sidewinder mentioned a good 45-60 mins to cook up something substantial whereas I could have a processed meal in 5-7 mins with all the salt and preservatives that go with it? Its extremely frustrating but a little bit of effort pays off in the long run. However, when your cooking for 2 adults and 2/4 children its just isnt so easy.
 

The OD

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Jesus I'm retarded.....double post....
 

david

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Breakfst rolls: I know a guy who gets chicken, bacon and cheese, hold the salad. And then, stand outside a Supermacs or whatever and look at the weight of people on average. Or those coming out of the €2 shops, paper bags laden with cheap sweets.

Labelling of processed food is woeful and will continue to be, so long as Tesco and the likes promise to do it voluntarily. Standardised, regulated labelling of all ingredients is essential.

And of course the dreaded drink adds to our fatness. Even there, remember Guinness saying 'only malt, hops, barley and water'? They don't mention finings, taken from fishes' swim bladders. Nothing to do with fatness, just part of the spin we all swallow daily.

Anyway, a few fresh vegetables take no time at all to prepare. Many of them come with their own packaging as a bonus!
 
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david said:
Fair comments, ipaw, but hopelessly optimistic. When MacDonalds brought in their 'healthy' salads, they were laden with calories and salt anyways.

Basically, there's a huge body (!) of people who like food that is easy, cheap and belly-filling and 'junk food' can be just that. Apart from which, the food industry has no interest whatsoever in the consequences of their actions, just the money. So anywhere a cheaper ingredient can be substituted, it will be.

Like deaths on roads, you can legislate all you like but after a point you get cries of nanny statism. Actually, it's worse because getting fat doesn't break any law afaik. But in both cases, it's down to the individual to do something.

A truly independent organisation of food and health specialists whose job it is to evaluate foods and eating habits and make non-patronising and informative recommendations would be welcome. And I mean independent. No vested interests, no government interference, no industry funding.

On top of that, favourable tax breaks and support along with rigorous regulation and inspection of small, indigenous food producers (say a turnover limit or employee number limit) who are encouraged to look at quality before profit.

I'd also like to see pay by weight on planes but that's almost another issue.
Yeah that's right about MacDOnalds- it seems that the salad dressing actually led to the salad containing more calories than the burger! You are also correct when you say I am hopelessly optimistic, especially when ther are so many vested interests to contend with. As for the cries of nanny-statism, which would be inevitable at some point, I would put up with it- if we see fit to tax smokes and booze, it is no crazy thing that we might want to do the same for other causes of the same illnesses.
I think another good way to make a dent in the problem would be to try to indentify actual or potential fat b@stards when they are still in school and when they still have time to change. Get them off to the dietician or send them to fat camp; give the parents a whole bunch of hassle for being so neglectful of their kids- maybe introduce a fat tax!(I might not be serious about the last point). I would say though that childhood obesity should be taken seriously as a form of neglect and it should lead to some kind of state response.
 

Michael Ryan

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Obesity & life expectancy

Life expectancy is an issue that it's uncomfortable to think about too much, but this is the reality:
Look at your local paper's obituary notices for a few weeks and think about those who have died in their 90s or above. If you are related to one of the deceased, it's reasonable to think that you'll be sure to live to the same old age & maybe a few years longer. The reality is that those who are dying aged over 90 years now have had at least half their lives on a fully organic diet. They will not have had the range of vaccines pumped into them that children have nowadays. They will not have been exposed to any radioactivity at all until the 1950s at earliest [ie when UK started releasing radioactive materialfrom Sellafield to air & sea as "an experiment"] and, most importantly, they will not have been exposed to industrial PM2.5 emissions to anywhere near the extent that we are today. When BP showed a map of range of PM2.5s from UK oil refineries, there was hardly anywhere that was free from such emissions. I'm one of 8 children & my parents never had to bury a child. The incinerator at Shrewsbury Hospital [near my house] was forced to close in August 1995 because the EU decreed that "Crown Immunity" no longer applied to hospital incinerators for their lack of emission controls and those bereaved parents who might have wished to bring legal action for the deaths of their children. What happened when the incinerator closed? The leukaemias tailed off by about 2001 and the infant mortality & heart attack rates fell. The cancers haven't declined at all and will not start to do so for some years as there is a 15-year lag from exposure to diagnosis of most solid adult cancers [think about Tony Blair's mother who was in Adelaide when UK exploded atomic bomb at Maralinga in Oct 1956 & died of thyroid cancer in 1975, having been diagnosed some years before. The thyroid glands of sheep were routinely analysed as radioactive iodine is selectively taken up by the thyroid, see 4-page article in The Bulletin, Sept 2004, or enter "Blair, Maralinga" into google] and therefore there's a similar period of "tailing off". The incinerator near my house burnt clinical & radioactive waste, but that's now sent up the road to Wrexham [Euracare] which is one of 34 incinerators in England & Wales authorised by Environment Agency to burn radioactive waste. You send your radioactive waste from Cork to be exported to Euracare at Wrexham according to their website [when I last looked] & when wind is in right [ie wrong] direction, it will blow over Shropshire instead of Cheshire plain etc. Thanks for that. Countries need to be good neighbours and the UK isn't one as the complete disregard for radiocative contamination of Irish Sea & beyond has shown. My late son wasn't only leukaemia victim at that time as a lad in same class at St George's Copthorne [see 'Engineer warns of landfill site', Western Mail, 16 Jan 2002, www.icwales.com for article about when I thought school being partly built on tip was to blame] died of the same acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in Oct 1998, whereas my lad died March 1999. It ws after that article I first spoke to Dr Dick van Steenis and found that leukaemia is known to be caused by exposure to organophosphate pesticides, benzene and radioactivity. The benzene link has been known for decades because munitions workers were especially prone, being users of benzene. I don't know if many read The Ecologist in Ireland, but take a look at latest issue, pages 44-48 "The lethal consequences of breathing fire". Dr van Steenis is mentioned, as is the unpublished [by Office of National Statistics] birth defect data released to me by the same ONS on instruction of Ruth Kelly MP. Check Sandra Gidley MP, who requested the infant mortality rates by Primary Care Trust for years 2002-2004 inclusive. BLISS, the children's charity, did press release March 2006 & gave the ten highest & ten lowest PCTs. The hadn't noticed that the ten PCTs with the highest infant mortality rates were all subject to PM2.5s from incinerators and the ten PCTs with the lowest infant mortality rates were all free from high PM2.5s. It's not "The Bad Fairy" that's going around killing these children before they reach their 1st birthday. In the Ecologist article, you'll read about White Rose incinerator at Sidcup, that applied to be allowed to burn unlimited amounts of radioactive material. That's not going to improve matters. If this long post makes you long for a cigarette, remember that over 50 years ago, all tobacco was organically grown, just like the ingredients for alcoholic beverages. Kind regards, Michael Ryan, Shrewsbury.
 

rockofcashel

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what are ye all bothered about. This is God's way of counter-acting the life enhancing properties of pharmacueticals.

People have to die. Accept it.

And burgers taste good. Chicken wings in barbaque sauce taste good. Hell if sewer rat tasted like pumkin pie, i'd eat the filthy mutherfuker :lol:
 
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rockofcashel said:
what are ye all bothered about. This is God's way of counter-acting the life enhancing properties of pharmacueticals.

People have to die. Accept it.

And burgers taste good. Chicken wings in barbaque sauce taste good. Hell if sewer rat tasted like pumkin pie, i'd eat the filthy mutherfuker :lol:
ROC, thanks for making me guffaw like an idiot in the middle of the office!

priceless!!

:D
 

MacCoise

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Bogwarrior said:
More and more Americans are becoming too fat even for x-rays. Too fat to fit in the machines, and too fat for the x ray to penetrate. X ray images from severaly obese people only show what looks like a bad T.V reception.
Irish people were recently mentioned in the Guinness Book of Records (2004 I think)for the most calories per capita in the World, and highest alchohol intake, yet we've managed to escape the severely obese condition inflicting Americans. Anyone know why?
I wouldnt be sure we have.

A German friend of mine visited Ireland recently and her only opinion was that the people were really, really fat (especially women she said). She was amazed at the type and size of food people ate so I think we're well on the way to catching up with the yanks and shouldnt fool ourselves into thinking we're not
 

FutureTaoiseach

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I have lost around 4 st using the Lipotrim diet. I started around 20 stone and now am around 16 st. I would recommend it to people trying to lose weight. I started in June. You lose weight rapidly in the first few weeks but then it settles down. I intend continuing till I get to 11-12 st.

I agree we face a crisis. I have heard new types of chocolate stripped of fat content are on the cards and hope this sort of inventiveness will help in the future. Maybe a fat-tax should also be considered. However personal restraint is also needed here. And that is not easy. Maybe a crackdown on junkfood ads would help too.
 

The OD

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FutureTaoiseach said:
I have lost around 4 st using the Lipotrim diet. I started around 20 stone and now am around 16 st. I would recommend it to people trying to lose weight. I started in June. You lose weight rapidly in the first few weeks but then it settles down. I intend continuing till I get to 11-12 st.
:shock:

Jesus H Christ, is that even healthy? According to a FAQ I read on it, you only take in about 800 Kcal per day? That is definitely not healthy and according to the FAQ, you 'use up your fat stores' to complement your intake of some sachet stuff? I would be careful with this as your body breaks down muscle first for protein before it starts in on the fat.

And finally, 4 stone in less than 2 months?

Sounds risky?
 

hiker

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I was doing some comminity stuff at the weekend that involved sitting for about three hours in a shopping center mall collecting names.
From my vantage point I could see all and sundry entering and exiting then local supermarket.

You know what its like when you see something that is astonishing and yet not suprising because you are aware of it thru the media.

Obesity.

After the three hours I went home feeling quite disturbed. I had not realised how many fat people there are out there. I've rarely had the oppurtunity to stop, sit and just look. There is no doubt that there are a huge number of overweight people out there.
 
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