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Tackling obesity is not just about diet alone, it’s time to get moving

Finding ways to be more active within the new normal is essential if we are not going to continue to see expanding waistlines, writes Selaine Saxby MP | PA Images

4 min read

Finding ways to be more active in the new normal is a challenge, but important, as the combination of exercise and healthy eating is often the healthiest way to manage weight.

The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way many of us are working, eating and moving. Some have used it as an opportunity to get fitter, while for many we have got fatter.

Whilst this might present positive news for the newly reopened clothing retail sector, we know, deep down, that being overweight brings a whole host of other health concerns which will remain with us long beyond the coronavirus pandemic.

We were told to stay at home, and we diligently did. We worked from home and made short journeys to the kettle and fridge.

For many of us, our daily exercise did not replace the more active lifestyles we enjoyed in our journeys to work, lunchbreaks and larger offices. The little treats we all quite rightly felt we needed during the pandemic have unfortunately turned from a few pounds to the odd stone with the extended length of time our exercise is restricted and gyms are closed.

We must promote the healthier choices as more convenient and less expensive

Particularly as we begin to unlock, and once more we have the temptation of our favourite restaurant to look forward to, it is all too often the unhealthy options which are the easiest.

In order to promote healthy eating, we must look at ways which we can promote healthy food also being the most convenient. Whilst we must be free to choose the occasional take out or treat, fast food should not always be the unhealthy option, and we must promote the healthier choices as more convenient and less expensive.

The obesity crisis is one which coronavirus has particularly highlighted.

We have seen how coronavirus particularly effects those with a higher BMI. Continuing to ignore our growing waistlines will not help us beat the coronavirus or extend our life expectancy to live healthy fulfilling lives beyond the new normal.

The pandemic for many highlighted that we eat for so many reasons other than hunger. Whether this be boredom, tiredness, or upset – all emotions which we have probably experienced more of this year. Yet, not recognising actual hunger and how and when we should eat, leads to unnecessary snacking.

If calories in exceed calories out, we are gaining pounds. Our previous daily activity would have been enough to not worry about calorie counting previously, but the inactivity that comes with working from home, for the vast majority of us, is going to need addressing if this is to be the new normal.

In my mind, tackling obesity is not just about diet alone, it’s time to get moving! 

As a former fitness instructor, I am passionate about keeping people moving. The endomorphins generated when exercising alone create a positive reason to dig out your trainers. But finding ways to be more active within the new normal is essential if we are not going to continue to see expanding waistlines.

This is particularly important for children who are missing out on school PE, playground activities and a walking bus to school.

I welcome the endeavours of Joe Wicks, however there are still many children who will not have been active for far too long.

Yet, it is not possible to out-train a bad diet. Limiting calories alone is a far more difficult, and often less healthy way to manage weight than increasing energy expenditure through increased exercise.

It is the two together which go hand in hand, exercise is key to a healthy, happy life.

I hope children get back to their PE classes as soon as possible, and as we start to unlock this summer, we all find an opportunity to burn off those extra snacks we enjoyed during the pandemic.

I hope those of us that did embrace our daily exercise, dusted down our bicycles and took to walking to the shops continue.  And as we all try and move more – we become more active in our everyday lives – as a way to lead a healthier, leaner, greener life.


Selaine Saxby is the Conservative MP for North Devon. 

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