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The Health Paradox: Two Thirds of Adults Are Obese While the UK Fitness Market Is in Fine Shape

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Weight is a problem on the lips of the entire health industry at present. From GPs and medical professionals to personal trainers, the UK’s growing weight issues are both an overwhelming problem and a money-spinning opportunity, depending on where you are positioned.

As we launch ourselves into 2016, the cost of obesity and weight problems to the UK economy currently sits at roughly £50 billion. A staggering 64% of adults are classed as overweight or obese, while more than a quarter of children are considered to be in the same state.

Yet the UK fitness market currently stands at £4.3 billion with the number of health clubs growing and 1 in every 8 people now holding a gym membership. And with over 6,300 health facilities around the country, accessing a space to exercise couldn’t be easier.

So, are we experiencing a health paradox?

A growing problem

At the start of the 1980s when gym memberships first became mainstream, it is estimated that 14% of Britons were overweight. Since that time both obesity levels and gym memberships have both grown steadily. But perhaps more telling are the changes to our eating habits, diet and lifestyle that have taken place over that time.

Sugary drinks, processed meal and the explosion of fast food establishments have all been identified as reasons for the UK’s nutritional deficiencies. And this has come at the same time as the proliferation of computer gaming, the growth of the Internet, the dominance of the desk job and the increasing popularity of social media in reducing our activity levels and making a sedentary lifestyle the norm.

Back in 2003 the director of policy at the International Association for the Study of Obesity, Neville Rigby, said:

“Obesity is a global problem and not one that can be solved through institutional exercise programmes.

“We have lost so much physical activity from our everyday lives that an hour or two in the gym a week can’t possibly compensate. I don’t know of a single society in the world where the gym or equivalent has made any difference to a national obesity problem.”

This is not to say that exercise is not good for us; rather that weight management is a more complex issue than simply holding the keys to exercise resources, particularly for those who lack the willpower or time to make it a part of their daily routine.

Statistically, institutionalised exercise is akin to crash dieting (another popular choice at the start of every New Year) in that it is rarely sustained. Consumer surveys regularly reveal that the drop-out rate of gyms in the first five months of joining is up around the 80% mark – most of those occurring within the first month.

Attending the gym is also subject to a common misconception – that a workout or activity compensates for going home and eating a rich meal or enjoying a calorific drink. In reality, attendance for the gym compensates for the period of inactivity the majority of UK adults spend in front of their desk at work during the day and not the time they will then spend sat in front of a television or mobile device in the evening.

It is now widely accepted that increasing the opportunities for walking or cycling during the commute and working day would have a bigger impact on the epidemic of inactivity than any other single measure. Similarly, improving diet and controlling calorie intake is understood to be a much more effective way of staying healthy.

Seeking medical assistance

Above all, losing weight and improving health must be acknowledged as a complex beast – something which does not happen overnight and requires lifestyle changes, not quick fixes. Often, those who are overweight cite a sense of isolation, loneliness and lack of support as the reason for failing to maintain their routine. But it is important to remember that health professionals are well placed to help through the most difficult stages of weight loss and calorie control.

Pharmacists, as well as GPs, are well placed to offer advice and guidance. And for those facing significant weight issues and in need of additional help, pharmacists are also able to prescribe medications to support weight loss – such as Xenical.

If 2016 is the year that you plan to bring your weight under control, get in touch with us today on 0208 123 0703. Or try our Live Chat facility to gain fast, discreet advice.