NHS ISSUES ALERT ON NEW YEAR ‘QUICK-FIX’ DIETS
‘There is a real drive for people to get fitter in 2020 and setting a target is a great way of staying motivated’
FAD diets and high street weight-loss remedies have a “slim chance of success”, England’s top doctor has warned.
After a period of festive feasting, millions of us make New Year resolutions to lose weight, exercise more and drink less when January arrives. But NHS medical director Professor Stephen Powis said fads such as diet pills, “teatoxes” and appetite suppressants could at best be a waste of money and at worse pose a risk to
our health. He said: “It’s always a good time to try to get in shape, and New Year resolutions are a great time to make a change, but the reality is there’s a slim chance of success with diet pills and detox teas – and people could end up doing more harm than good.
“Making new year goals and shifting a few excess pounds after Christmas can be a good idea but it’s much easier to maintain when done gradually and safely.”
Products claiming to help people lose weight quickly while reducing appetite and fatigue can have damaging side effects, including diarrhoea, heart problems and even unplanned pregnancies caused by interference with oral contraception.
Professor Powis added: “A good rule of thumb is: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
“Modern fads of ‘detox teas’, laxative drinks and appetite suppressant pills also promise the earth but can cost mind and body.
“Get-fit-quick solutions can affect the digestive system and cause heart problems, as well as impacting mental health, by driving people towards seeking an idealised but unattainable body image.” The NHS’s warning follows calls earlier this year for social media firms to crack down on influential celebrities posting misleading “get-fit-quick” adverts.
Kim Kardashian West was criticised in 2018 for advertising appetite-suppressing lollipops to more than 100 million followers on Instagram, in a post which was later deleted.
Instagram clamped down on diet and cosmetic surgery posts in September, announcing new rules that will see some hidden from under-18s and others promoting “miraculous” weight loss products removed.
With one in four young people saying their appearance is their top concern, Professor Powis warned that easy availability of quick-fix products online and on the high street – including buy one get one free offers – could exploit body image anxiety.
There is no doubt that some of us could benefit from shedding a few pounds – with two thirds of UK adults either overweight or obese.
The most recent Health Survey for England found that just 28 per cent of adults and 18 per cent of children ate the recommended five or more portions of fruit and vegetables a day in 2018.
More than half of adults (56 per cent) were found to be at increased, high, or very high risk of chronic disease due to their waist circumference and BMI. The British Nutrition Foundation’s science director, Sara Stanner, said: “To make new year healthy eating pledges last you need to ditch the January diet and take a step back to consider the basics of healthy eating.”
For quick and simple healthy options, Stanner recommended stocking up on certain canned and frozen foods which can help you put together a balanced dish in a hurry. She said: “Despite frequent media attention around the importance of ‘clean eating’, healthy food doesn’t have to mean expensive ingredients and cooking absolutely everything from scratch.
“The term ‘processed foods’ covers a wide range of different foods with varying nutritional qualities.
“While some are not healthy choices, others, like canned pulses or frozen vegetables, can be part of a healthy diet, and can help you to cook balanced meals, even when you’re in a hurry.
“Cost can be a large barrier when it comes to improving your diet but, with some savvy shopping, healthy eating doesn’t need to break the bank.”
Getting fitter is the UK’s top new year’s resolution, according to a new survey from the British Heart Foundation (BHF), which is encouraging people of all abilities to take on its 54-mile London to Brighton bicycle ride in June.
The heart charity’s figures show that improving fitness is a top priority for 40 per cent of Brits in 2020. Its survey also showed that two thirds (65 per cent) of those
who want to get more active are motivated by improving their physical health.
Over half (55 per cent) said they were motivated by the need to shed some pounds post-Christmas, 30 per cent were worried about their health, while one in six (17 per cent) were looking for a new challenge in January.
Barbara Kobson, Senior Cardiac Nurse at the BHF, said: “This survey shows that there’s real drive amongst the British people to get fitter in 2020.
“Setting a target, or aiming for an event, is a great way of staying motivated and following through on that resolution.”
Criticism...Kim Kardashian West