Lewisham fat-shamed

Lewisham has the 10th-highest rate of hospital admissions related to obesity in England, according to figures released by the NHS.

The rankings are dominated by northern areas, but Southwark and Lewisham take 9th and 10th places respectively. The Mirror reports:

In total last year there were 11,000 hospital admissions for obesity, almost ten times the figure for ten years ago.

The figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre show women are roughly three times as likely to be treated for obesity as men.

The 2013 Health Profile for the borough showed that Lewisham suffers lower than average life expectancy, higher than average rates of heart disease, and perhaps most-worryingly, a higher than average rate of child obesity, suggesting the fat fight will take generations.

40 comments:

AliAfro said...

I wonder if there is a correlation between take away food shop density vs. obesity rates?

Anon said...

A Lard de dah area?

Monkeyboy said...

A mother flipper burger with cheese and bacon (£6) or a Mike+Ollie wrap (£7) from brockers market is probably as fat and calorie laden as a portion of wings and chips - and also excellent. all sorts of factors at play, can't simply point at cheap takaways

terrencetrentderby said...

I blame the increasing normalisation of obesity.
It is like everyone has given up and decided it is ok to be fat.

pluto said...

you're right, people feel neglected and marginalised, one way they believe they can get attention is by 'getting fat' – then someone makes a graph of them and then someone else puts it on a blog . . . the end of the food chain, the bottom feeders - by seeking to publicise an issue they feel they are taking part, whereas they aren't, they are skirting around it for no benefit at all.
Free and plentiful access to education would be a start - and a self-recognition that image isn't worth very much at all compared to many other things.
Next time you see someone who you perceive to be obese don't criticise them, be aware that they are a symptom of our impoverished and narcissistic society and are expressing it in a very visible way - there are plenty of other people who express it in less visible ways.

AliAfro said...

"...all sorts of factors at play, can't simply point at cheap takaways." (sic)

Relax - I'm not the takeaway police!

There are indeed all sorts of other factors at play - I never ruled any of these out... (though I do suspect weekend market stalls are less significant than 7 days a week shops). And I wasn't pointing at cheap takeaways (I never mentioned cheap) - I wasn't pointing at anything, just wondering if there is a correlation...

Interestingly the University of Cambridge wondered exactly the same thing and did find a correlation between takeaway density and obesity (though they are keen to point out that this is not necessarily a causational thing): http://www.nhs.uk/news/2014/03March/Pages/Living-and-working-near-takeaways-ups-obesity-risk.aspx

Brockley Nick said...

So obesity is a symptom of narcissism. Unconvincing analysis. We have free and plentiful access to education already, btw.

terrencetrentderby said...

Perceive to be obese or are actually obese? How about general fatties?


People in impoverished societies can't get fat because they don't have access to cheap food. You would have been great at defending the Nazis at Nuremburg.

pluto said...

well, if you want to go around with a set of scales and weigh people to see if they are *actually* obese, then that sounds like an ideal task for your obvious abilities.
and everybody is entitled to a defence in a court of law, or perhaps you'd prefer a sharia court in the event of you breaking a law?

terrencetrentderby said...

Nope I can tell by looking at them.

PVP said...

I volunteer Catford as a testing ground. Ban all fried chicken takeaways and monitor the results.

Chris Wheal said...

Are you sure those 11,000 are not employed by Lewisham hospital? It could do with setting an example with some of its staff. And then there's our local councillors......

RCH said...

Sadly I don't think this is the worst thing. I read a book recently regarding obesity and the science behind why people get obese. The writer cited early 20th century New York as an example. There was a German Doctor observing the population and couldn't work out why people were fatter in impoverished areas. If they could hardly afford to eat, why were they overweight?

Cheap refined carbs. White breads, rice, potatoes... cheap calories. Go to Tesco in Catford on any given day and look in horror at what people buy.

Luke said...

Do we think restaurant names like are helping the situation?

Luke said...

Do we think restaurant names like this are helping the situation?

Max Calò said...

I think that food is only part of the picture. Lack of exercise and stress are two factors that are just as important and they come together with crap food as a whole lifestyle package.
Lack of time, "convenience" food and worry over money is what a big chunk of our society experiences as a daily routine. Fatten up and die quickly like a battery chicken. Solves the pensions timebomb I guess.

Luke said...

That clearly didn't work. It was Bucketmouth.

Guesty said...

Has anyone been into a Tesco express recently? Bags of those mini chocolates twix, etc enticingly discounted. A chocolate is a little treat, it gives you a quick feel good rush, but then a low, so pop another in your mouth and so it goes on until x amount of calories later and the bag is empty.

Kenny Tinsel said...

Look on the bright side: we're slimmer than Southwark.

Martin said...

People used to worry about the future before obesity became a problem. I personally think that refined carbs are to blame.

Max Calò said...

Yes, they had worries about money but regular meals, that was the norm, now the new normal is a routine of endless snacking on industially produced food (crap).

Feeling glum, have a snack bar, that'll pick you up, feeling still glum, grab a baguette, and an "energy drink", it'll pick you up. Still feeling glum? Have a...

It's not as simple as refined carbs bad and that's it. It's the amount of calories ingested without a relative calories expenditure, the continuous snacking and its effect on the insulin cycle, it's a diet poor in micro-nutrients... there's a whole list of stuff that's wrong with what the majority of people eat.

But all this is also part of a lifestyle package of which food is only one component, it's mass consumerism of bite-size low-value well marketed standardized products.

But if you can be content with your meals you won't need all the extra snacking, and you'll feel just fine and you'll only ingest the calories you use.

But if you can do that you may also start to feel contented with your shoes, your car, your television, your house, your neighbourood, your spouse.... and then the GDP takes a dip and we're back into recession.

Eat chicken, chickens! It's good for the economy!

pluto said...

thanks Max, you explained my reasoning in a clearer way than I did

PVP said...

Excellent post. Conversation in the pub last week - how come on one hand our eating, health and cooking knowledge is much more sophisticated than 30 years ago, yet as a population health issues and size are increasing? Thank heavens we do not have the corn syrup of the US (yet) otherwise we would be entering blimp territory.
Returning to the Marxism of my youth in recent years as you start to realise almost everything in society is geared around people buying more crap they do not need. A recent visitor to my home remarked how do we manage with just one TV? And how come we do not own an ipad? Clearly I have lost touch with the world. Now I need to get my theory published on how mass consumerism is qualitatively similar to a serious drug habit - short term buzz, long term misery and poverty.

Headhunter said...

Do you think that people are more likely to order more food just because the restaurant is called Bucket Mouth?

Martin said...

Ok, I agree with a large part of what you wrote and my post was maybe a bit simplistic. Nevertheless I think the problem is to some extent caused by having all these unhealthy foods easily available and by not being educated that they are unhealthy. I don't know how to fix it though. I'm not a big fan of taxes and I agree with your point that all these cupcakes and pizza takeaways are 'good' for the economy, so nobody wants to fight them too hard.

Max Calò said...

Ok, and I astrayed a bit... but keeping on the narrower nutrition subject

A lot of the food we blame now is "comfort food" isn't it? If you look at the ranking the places with higer obesity are those where people are in many different ways in need of compensation for the challenges of life and find instant gratification in chocolate, kebabs, pizza. The commuter picking un a ready meal at their local supermarket after a long day of work. Unhealthy and sad, they know it, but it'll be ready to eat sooner and with less effort than if they had to cook it.

And the children deprived of a lot of play time compared to the previous generations make up happiness by downing chocolate bars.

Before the Daily Mail terrorised everyone with the fear of everyone else, kids would spend a lot more time outdoors, and that's calory consumption. Now we give them a tablet and tell them to stay safe indoors, and fry some chips, conveniently already wedged and coated in flavourings.

How come that I as an Italian born in 1969 and all my friends were skinny as pencils eating enormous amounts of refined carbs in the shape of pasta, pizza, potatoes and mid afternoon snacks on white bread with butter and sugar?

The answer is probably a lot more outdoor play than kids get nowadays and a lot more regularity in the meals with only occasional "treats", probably smaller portions and an insistance in having a lot of vegetables as part of every meal.

So in absolute terms refined carbs are neither good or bad (and I eat only wholemeal bread mind you) but it's lifestyle that make them so.

Martin said...

I also was born abroad in a poor country where people eat a lot of bread and potatoes and there weren't that many obese people. There were people who were a bit overweight but no 'super obese' people. Exercising is/was not that common either. Maybe indeed it's about snacking instead of regular meals.

As to Daily Mail scaremongering I think it's a worldwide trend not to let the children play outside. And I again I have no idea how it started. I agree it is a bad thing, both for fitness and social skills.

Basilthedog said...

An interesting discussion as to the possible causes of these statistics. What strikes me is that, whilst numbers 9 and 10 of the list are South East London boroughs, the top 8 are not just 'oop North' but are all from the extreme North East of England; ie Geordie land and it's environs.
So why is that part of England scoring so badly compared with Lancashire, Yorkshire and Greater Manchester, say?

iain said...

Yeah, i just saw this and wondered the same. Without bothering to check, it's probably because the top 8 are near Scotland. Fatmosis. I'm presuming Scotland and northern Ireland aren't included. Different food cultures, if that's a thing.

Also, if I had to hazard a guess about Southwark and Lewisham, it might be because ethnically Caribbean are more predisposed to type 2 diabetes, which may be recorded as a significant factor for obesity-related admissions. So it may be the coincidence of poverty, plus the demographics of age/ethnicity for type 2 diabetes. These would be big 'determinants' of health.

But I don't think it's a coincidence that we're up there with Southwark and the cause of that should be addressed by public health, adequately funded.

iain said...

Was in a hurry. Poverty can't be adequately addressed by public health, but by socialism, obviously. It is the biggest determinant of ill health according to the WHO.Relative poverty, that is.

Headhunter said...

I think perception of what fat/obese actually is also has an affect. People judge how fat they themselves are partly by what they see around them. If a large proportion of people around are medically obese, people tend to start regarding that as the norm.


There was an article on the BBC website I think, a few years ago which showed pics of people and asked you to judge whether they were obese, underweight or healthy just by looking at them. A lot of the images of obese people were judged to be healthy because people were used to seeing people of that size around.


Back when I lived in Japan a lot of western women (usually women) felt under pressure to lose weight from the time they arrived as in comparison to the average Japanese women they were large, even though at home they were probably of average size (even though average was probably in actual fact, obese).


Our perception of what is a healthy weight has increased a lot in the past few decades. I often hear people rubbishing BMI as a grade of healthy weight, when in fact it is a pretty good general indicator of what is a healthy (not perfect but good).

terrencetrentderby said...

The bar is constantly being lowered and the media and schools etc are to blame for normalising obesity. The government also does nothing to regulate the food industry.
There was a time when it was not normal and completely unacceptable to be obese, now half the country is badly overweight with sympathy and fat flattery pulsating from the TV.
I agree with your BMI point, whilst not perfect it is a good enough benchmark.

Max Calò said...

But BMI is a deeply flawed indicator indeed!

It's probably excellent statistically but can be highly deceiving for the individual.

And pretty much anybody can lose some fat, why carry around stuff you don't need?

As a tall, skinny guy who swims regularly I was flattered by my BMI, until I had a BIA analysis (BIA = Bioelectrical Impedence Analysis, a test to measure your body composition) and learned that I had quite a lot of hidden fat together with a few other things about my body that I should try to change.

Out of my BIA test I received a detailed diet, a revised fitness routine (working harder than I used to) and a supplements advise that I stick to as best as I can.

I've lost 4kg of pure fat (I had a second BIA to check and I'll have a third soon), I sleep better and as a result I should have boosted my immune system and hopefully next year I'll suffer less when the hey fever season starts which was the reason why I had the BIA test in the first place, not because I was feeling overweight or under pressure to lose any fat at all.

And along the way I have also cut the risk of cardiovascular issues in the future, plus there is a history of diabetes in my family.

Now, you wouldn't have said that at 75kg for 186 cm I was overweight, but I was, not obese but overweight. My BMI was gold but it wasn't telling me anything about how to improve my fitness. My hey fever that started a few years ago was getting worse every year and it was treated only with medications. And a lot of other conditions are the same, inflammatory and low immune response, and can be addressed by lifestyle, and that's why reliance on BMI is a mistake.

notesofanidealist said...

Looks like variation in surgical practice to me. We're talking about stomach stapling and gastric bands, not some general measure of obesity. These are pretty marginal procedures that a lot of surgeons/places don't do. The data seems to come from http://www.hscic.gov.uk/catalogue/PUB13648/Obes-phys-acti-diet-eng-2014-tab.xls. Note that the high areas in the North East are all South of the Tyne, and North of the Tyne has a much lower rate. Also the NE has a much higher rate than the NW, and the three London areas with a high rate (Southwark, Lewisham and Lambeth) are contiguous. The extremes you see are most likely where a high propensity to perform these operations is overlaid on a high prevalence of obesity. Also note that this is data for *England* only.

Max Calò said...

Best debunking ever.

Headhunter said...

That's interesting and BMI is certainly not a perfect starting point but it's a quick and easy way for the average person to find out approximately how much work they need to do. You're clearly not "average" if you were 75kg/186cm and considered overweight...

Max Calò said...

Yes, it is a quick and easy way, but most people think that that's all you need to know and think they're ok, and it's completely wrong in numerous cases.
Sports people with a lot of muscle and no fat at all are considered overweight, but that's not a problem because they know it's wrong.


Who is really deceived are those that are skinny-fat, people light in weight but that carry deposits of fat all around the body and very little muscle, they get a clean bill of health, and there's a lot of them. They are at the same risk of attracting the same diseases than obese people, but they don't know it.


BTW, the BIA test would class nearly everyone as overweight, because unless you've removed all your fat deposits you'll remain so, and it'll only be a momentary status, and basically only extremely fit people are so. It's something that's good to know about yourself and to work towards though.

iain said...

ah, interesting. it did all seem too neat, i'm glad you enlightened us

notesofanidealist said...

In the *real* obesity data (http://www.noo.org.uk/gsf.php5?f=312493&fv=19723), the prevalence for Lewisham (23.6%) isn't significantly different from England as a whole (23.0%). Interestingly enough, Lambeth, which also has a high incidence of these operations, has a comparatively low prevalence of obesity (14.4%). It looks as though we may have at least one very keen surgeon somewhere nearby!

notesofanidealist said...

I've now done a more detailed analysis at http://wp.me/pBfTB-1ss, in case anyone is still interested.

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