The other day I shared the floor with Dr. Hilary Jones, GP, TV Presenter and Medical Broadcaster at the PRCA Education Group.
We all think we know a lot about nutrition. But there are loads of myths out there. How many of us monitor our fat or sugar consumption? Yet many studies now suggest that we may do better to increase our lean protein and fruit and vegetable consumption rather than obsess about fats and sugars. And a recent study funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has shown that salt consumption has a far bigger effect on health than the number of sugary drinks we take. I wonder whether that is related to the salt content of convenience foods and processed meat products, rather than the salt we add to home cooked foods.
Dr Jones and I agreed on many issues. It may seem like boring advice, but a healthy diet is a balanced diet. In order that the population understands how important a balanced diet is, we need more education in schools and more education for adults who have missed out.
I proposed a new curriculum that should include the following:
- Food safety – including how to read food labels
- Sustainability – how to eat for the planet and for our health
- Metabolism – the relationship between calories, exercise and weight gain or loss
- Balance – the nutritional content of a diet for different age groups
- Culture – how different food cultures and commensal eating is important for our social, mental and physical health.
In my practice this is part of the learning that benefits my clients. Obesity costs the NHS £10billion/year. Treatment for diabetes alone in 2015 was 10% of the entire NHS budget. (Source, Diabetes UK) But obesity costs the individual more. A recent study showed that suboptimal dietary patterns are now responsible for more deaths worldwide than any other risk, including tobacco smoking (Afshin et al, 2019). So, it makes sense for all of us to learn what a healthy diet is, and stick to it.
Old-fashioned domestic science is now outmoded, but it is learning to purchase good food and cook it simply that is something from which we might all befit.
Wendy would be happy to give a talk* for your group as part of her work for Say Tomato, a social enterprise. Topics inlcude: