Lord McColl

7 Oct 2011 11:32:42

Tory peer warns that obesity epidemic could destroy NHS while Cameron refuses to rule out "fat tax"

By Tim Montgomerie
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Mervyn King said yesterday we are facing the worst financial crisis since the 1930s. Apparently we also have the worst medical epidemic for even longer. In the Lords yesterday (the Upper House has been manfully meeting during the Tory conference) Lord McColl warned that Britain's obesity crisis would destroy the NHS if ministers didn't change course and recognise that the solution wasn't exercise but, quite simply, people needed to eat less. The full speech of the man who was Professor of Surgery at Guy's Hospital is here but I've pasted key highlights below:

Obesity starts early: "Most obesity starts before children go to school; Professor Terence Wilkin and Linda Voss, of the Peninsula Medical School, have done a lot of work on the subject and found that 90 per cent of excess weight in girls and over 70 per cent in boys is gained before the child ever gets to school."

The scale of the problem: "Obesity is a disease which wrecks the human body; it causes an enormous amount of distress, disease and suffering. In the United Kingdom there are over 2 million people suffering from diabetes as a result of obesity and a further 750,000 have diabetes but do not yet know it. So-called adult diabetes has reached epidemic proportions and now affects teenagers and young children....What else does obesity cause? The arteries become silted up with fatty material, called atheroma. As noble Lords know from their Greek studies, atheroma means porridge. It may be Greek porridge, but it is not Scottish porridge. It silts up the arteries and can cause heart attacks, strokes and blockage of the arteries of the leg, leading to amputation. Blindness is another result, as are high blood pressure and cancer. The excessive weight wears out the joints, so people need their knees and hips replaced. Obesity leads to cirrhosis. We always think of cirrhosis in terms of alcohol poisoning, but now the commonest cause seems to be obesity, so we have a big problem."

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