It’s Gastric Surgery All Round by M. Kuehn

I don’t know how many people have been enjoying the BBC2 series ‘Back in time for dinner’ which explores the implications of the introduction of various methods of cooking and buying our food over the decades, but it’s a fascinating watch.

Whilst it’s easy to understand how microwave technology, the introduction of ready meals, working mothers to name but a few have influenced our eating habits, I still can’t get my head round the catastrophic rise in obesity worldwide. Whether it’s deprivation, ignorance, a non-European culture of eating together, depression, frozen food shops that sell four ‘meat’ pies for a couple of quid or any number of contributing factors, I am fast coming to the conclusion that the eminent surgeon Lord Professor Darzi is right – that perhaps for the majority of cases surgery is the only way forward.
He’s been in the business of performing gastric (amongst other types) of surgery for decades, and I suppose if anyone has the right to make such a bold statement it’s him.

And let’s not kid ourselves that it’s only the less advantaged adults (and sadly by extension) their children who are putting their health at risk; starvation diets for the middle classes and upwardly mobile just exasperate me. Companies that will deliver delicious sachets of gunk to your door to be consumed twice a day? Are you kidding me? Oh but wait, they come with a ‘food therapist’ to discuss the eating habits that you can’t break. How ironic is that? Who the hell gets any pleasure or long term benefit out of substituting a meal with a protein shake? That’s a bit like me saying they should be quarantined and fed fish and other brain foods till they see sense.

Expensive boot camps are another phenomenon. You take someone out of their normal environment, you get them up at silly o’clock in the middle of the Amazon to do an SAS workout for seven days and feed them berries. So let me get this straight – you grit your teeth for a week, lose six pounds, then put seven back on in the following month. What a very intelligent plan.

Then again, the business of food is nothing to do with intelligence, is it? Part of it is, as I have discovered more and more, is the deviousness of large food companies, all boasting that the nutritional information of their detritus for food  is listed on their websites. I can just picture the parents – ‘Ok kids, a treat for you today. We’re taking you for pizza – but hang on, let me check the nutritional breakdown online before we go.’ Pah.

We know for a fact that diets don’t work because we’re getting bigger. People deprive themselves and they can’t sustain it. They blow out  and further damage themselves. Then the whole cycle of eating to comfort oneself kicks in and before you know it, they’re spiralling out of control.

I know a couple of people who have had surgery – they had both come to the conclusion that they would never be able to reach and sustain a healthy weight. Lord Darzi is of a similar opinion – he believes that surgery is the answer for the vast majority of people who have been obese for a number of years. The strain on the NHS would be released through lowering numbers of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and strokes. Having lowered the BMI for individuals to allow them to have surgery on the NHS, I can only hope that in a decade’s time the procedures will be almost routine, we’ll become more sophisticated technologically speaking and recovery time will be quicker. In the meantime, I want to see a government that will pressurise big food businesses into lowering the sugar and salt content in their foods. Yes, and I’ll be flying to the moon and playing among the stars……

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