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Healthy Living Thoughts – A Blog by Oliver Martin #teamBristol

All local and organically grown fruits & vegetables in wooden vegetable crate held by a woman. Shallow dof, crisp focus across all the vegetables. Crate contains: peaches, green apple, peppers, green beans, rondelle carrots, baby carrots, zucchini squash, tomatoes, basil, fennel, kale, lettuce, broccoli, potatoes and radishes.

The very topical issue of healthy eating was my first consideration when I was approached about writing a blog for our website. As a self-confessed (and proud) healthy living enthusiast I decided to investigate the bigger picture; and what I discovered shocked me to the core.

Public Health England recently published new data detailing the state of the nation’s diet:

The results show some startling statistics into the nation’s health.

Nearly two-thirds of adults (63%) in England were classed as being or obese in 2015. The cost of this is estimated to be over £6 billion to the NHS annually.

Sugar intake in children

Sugar impacts insulin resistance and blood sugar levels in the blood, in turn spiking hunger, causing you to crave sugary/carbohydrate foods. This has lead to many top health professionals claim that sugar is the leading cause of obesity.

Sugar makes up 13.5% of 4 to 10-year olds and 14.1% of teenagers (11- to 18-year-olds) daily calorie intake respectively; the official recommendation is to limit sugar to no more than 5%
4 to 10-year olds consume two thirds of the amount of sugary drinks they did 8 years ago – down from 130g per day in 2008 to 2010 to 83g in 2014 to 2016.

For teenagers, sugary drinks intake is more than double that of younger children (191g) even though consumption has decreased by 30% in recent years; sugary drinks remain the main source of sugar (22%) in their diets.

Room for improvement

The survey confirms the UK population continues to not eat enough fruit, vegetables, and fibre:

Adults consume on average 4.2 portions of fruit and vegetables per day, 65- to 74-year-olds consume 4.3 portions and teenagers consume just 2.7 portions per day.
Only 31% of adults, 32% of 65- to 74-year-olds and 8% of teenagers meet the 5 A Day recommendation for fruit and vegetables. Additionally the average fibre intake in adults is 19g per day, well below the recommended 30g per day.

What the Professionals Say…

Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at PHE, said:

“Poor diets are all too common in this country and, along with obesity, are now one of the leading causes of disease such as cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. It’s clear from these data that the nation’s diet needs an overhaul.”

Some experts believe obesity is responsible for more ill health than smoking. Being significantly overweight is linked to a wide range of health problems, including: Diabetes, Heart disease, High blood pressure, Arthritis, Indigestion, Gallstones, Cancers, Snoring and sleep apnoea, Stress, anxiety and depression.

I am not suggesting that everyone becomes with creating fully prepared meals every Sunday (I like to be organised) or runs marathons every few months (I like a challenge) – but I do think it as good a time as ever to examine how well we take care of ourselves. Both our physical and mental well-being can be impacted by our diets. Working within the social care sector can be demanding, what we put into our bodies can help how well we deal with certain situations. A good place to start would be to look at some of the top tips offered here by NHS Choices.

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