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Editorials

Corporate responsibility in public health

BMJ 2010; 341 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.c3758 (Published 14 July 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c3758

We're at the tip of the iceberg

I was glad to read this article as nutrition from food and
therefore food policy will be so important when it comes to
future health. Obesity has trebled over a twenty year
period (1).

There needs to be much more investment in how NHS GPs,
primary school teachers and dieticians are trained if we are
to combat an obesity epidemic. The NHS would also be wise
to consider costing personal trainers. There is not enough
emphasis on understanding the quality of fats and
carbohydrates, trace elements, or the exercise needs of the
individual based on ethnicity and body type. One size does
not fit all when it comes to diet and exercise.

As the authors say, some of the unhealthy elements are
latent. The excessive amount of salt in many leading
breakfast cereals for instance is apparently added purely
for reasons of taste.

The cultural norms of eating high calorie /low nutrient food
must be addressed. With all our knowledge as a society, for
the masses, refined carbohydrates and saturated fats are
still the order of the day. The average restaurant chain
or supermarket cafe, (that most people in the UK can afford
to eat at regularly, perhaps too regularly), serves sausage
and mash, spaghetti bolognese, fish and chips or pizza as a
childrens meal. This is something that may take many
years to change. Whilst these foods are clearly all right
eaten in moderation, many of my young patients live on a
diet of such food or more commonly fried chicken and chips
(tds) from those near ubiquitous chicken outlets in urban
London.

Telling children not to eat such foods is often futile. The
ones who feel unwell as a result of their 'fried chicken
habit' do make change and feel better.

The best way to kick start good habits may be to get
children at primary school to act as police when it come to
their parents. This way healthy eating and exercise become
fun, and at least for a few years eating carrots, sweet
potatoes and greens will not seem a chore, even though it
may be hard to order such foods when eating out.

I welcome change to ensure that everyone in the UK can have
access to cheap but nutritious food.

(1)National Prevalence of Obesity
Prevalence of obesity in Great Britain
K. L. Rennie 1 and S. A. Jebb 1
1 MRC Human Nutrition Research, Elsie Widdowson laboratory,
Cambridge, UK Obesity Reviews
Volume 6 Issue 1, Pages 11 - 1

Competing interests:
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

17 July 2010
Ayan S Panja
GP Partner
N4 1TL