Sophie Wilkinson | Contributing Editor | Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Poor Diet Is Worse For Our Health Than Smoking

Poor Diet Is Worse For Our Health Than Smoking

The Debrief: A tenth of problems with health could be avoided if people just ate that bit better…

If you’ve been watching any of Jamie Oliver’s Superfoods, you’ll have been enticed by the food – eggy bread with berries, sweetcorn pancakes with bacon and banana, fish tacos! – but perhaps a little wearied by all of the references to omega 3 and vitamin B6 and calories and 5-A-Day fruit and veg.

There’s a reason for all of the preaching from the newly slimmed down Jamie, though. Because poor diet is killing people and putting a strain on the NHS.

Using The Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study’s data from 2013 for its basis, Public Health England (PHE) found that while 40% of all health problems come from preventable risk factors, 10.8% of health problems could be avoided by improving our diet.

It might not seem like much, but when you consider smoking – something we all know is so dangerous that swathes of the country have taken up sucking plastic tubes that look like clarinets, also known as ‘vaping’, to avoid its damaging effects – accounted for 10.7% of health problems that could be avoided.

As for other factors, 9.5% of Britons’ health problems are to do with being obese or overweight, 7.9% are to do with high blood pressure and 5.8% are to do with drug and alcohol abuse.

It makes you wonder why we’ve got warnings on cigarette packets, but not yet on the side of takeaways or the frozen food aisle of the supermarket.

Kevin Fenton from PHE, told The Times: ‘The success with tobacco required action at national and local as well as individual levels. When it comes to alcohol and obesity we need to think of a similar approach. We can’t put the burden of change only on individuals and families.’

So, far from just Jamie Oliver preaching about healthy food, will we one day see frozen hash browns, Rustlers microwaveable burgers and Pot Noodles kept behind the counter behind metal shields, to be asked for all hush-hush under a cloud of shame in the way cigarettes are bought?

And if so, will the more fancy fat-and-sugar ridden foods like foie gras, Bonne Maman jam and fancy quiches also be clamped down on?

Watch this space…

Like this? You might also be interested in:

Celebrity Diets: Why Are We So Obsessed With Them?

How Much Sugar’s In The Alcohol We’re Drinking?

Booze All Weekend But Nutribullet Through The Week: Meet Generation Offset

Follow Sophie on Twitter @sophwilkinson

Tags: Food, Body worries, Health