'We have a national problem with addiction': GP on shocking realities of UK obesity

15 July 2021, 15:37

By Fiona Jones

The UK has a national problem of addiction, GP Dr Dean Eggitt told LBC, revealing that in his area of Doncaster a shocking one in four ten year olds are obese.

It comes as the National Food Strategy warns what we eat, and how it is produced, is doing "terrible damage" to the environment and health, contributing to 64,000 deaths a year in England and driving wildlife loss and climate change.

A tax on sugar and salt and vegetables prescribed by the NHS are two of the measures put forward in this major independent review of food policy in England.

Dr Eggitt told Shelagh Fogarty that diet is a highly popular topic in his consultation room and of the 300,000 local residents, one in four ten year old children are obese.

"It does contribute to heart attacks and strokes and early degeneration of joint problems amongst many other conditions," he warned.

Dr Eggitt explained: "There's certainly a familial thing here, in that the environment in which you live has a consequence on how you live your life. So if your parents live a certain way, it's very likely a child will live a certain way too, unless there is an outside experience that teaches them there is a different way to live their life.

"It's much much wider than that, it's a societal problem, it's a global problem, because a lot of this is built upon industry which is designed to get us to like the food to get us to buy it."

He reiterated that not only is it designed to get us to buy it, 'junk food' encourages the consumer to eat more as it "doesn't fill us and you go back for seconds."

"Essentially it's a national problem, or an international problem, of addiction."

Shelagh cited food policy research fellow Dr Kelly Parsons who earlier told LBC it is a "systemic" issue within society; "the system that is advertising, the system that is food writing, the system that is programmes about cooking, what are they showing us?"

Dr Eggitt agreed, telling Shelagh that when he sits down with patients with, for example, type two diabetes to talk about how their diet affects their condition, "for some it's an absolute shock, some of the basic fundamental stuff that I'm saying."

"They ask me why is it on sale in the shops, why do they advertise it as a healthy thing, why is it on the TV? So there is this constant battle between us in the health service [and the industry]."

He gave an example of a jacket potato and beans which "most people turn to because they think it's a healthy thing to eat" - however, potato is just a "big fat lump of sugar."

"It's going to go on to your hips and into your arteries and into your brain and into your heart and have consequences."