AT every turn we are confronted with images of ultra slim fashion icons. In reality they do not represent the typical body shape of British adults. We as a nation are growing ever fatter. It may well be my 45 years of teaching physical education and training future PE teachers that makes me so obsessed with this topic. 

We are encouraged to have a body mass index (BMI) of between 20 and 25. This is a crude measurement but a useful guide for staying in shape. There are many reasons that have led us to be a fat nation. If children are not educated from an early age about diet and exercise there is little wonder that they put on the excess pounds. In poor homes there is a tendency to have a poor diet. Parents under stress can use a takeaway in a microwave oven to save precious time. Technological advances have seen couch potatoes glued to their phones. For my generation playing in the street all day was the norm. There was a shortage of cars so we could feel safe in the local cul-de-sac. Today that option is no longer viable as parked cars choke up every side street. Too many schools still fail to provide a minimum amount of time for physical education. Learning to swim is now difficult as access to swimming baths is limited by both the number of facilities and the cost of getting to the venue. At every turn there seem to be barriers preventing people from staying a healthy shape. The obese nature of our society is putting extreme pressure on our failing national health system.

What is to be done? Here are some suggestions: More adverts for healthy food; free school meals for all primary school pupils; basic cooking lessons for all secondary pupils; more education about household food budgets; clearer food labels; supermarket displays to put healthy food more prominent instead of sweets at the checkout; Government help to provide sporting facilities that are affordable to all; more television programmes dedicated to healthy living. My obsession with this topic has led me to put in crude verse my concerns:


Fat is fat as fat can be. Hanging and sagging in an ugly fold. Slowly strangling life. It will be the death of me. And thee my hungry greedy soul. Another slice. Another pint of beer. Another this. Another that. Anything to gorge away the fear of getting fatter year after year. Diet tomorrow, training too, running, weights and rowing machine, in the slimmer of the year magazine. But in which year? Which decade dare we ask? Best drown your sorrows in another flask of a full bodied wine. Adipose tissue of middle age. So easy to see across the room it pokes fun from most inconvenient places flouting itself in our faces leaving us all to a fatty doom. Crisp bread, carrots and slimline tonic, low calories meals of cottage cheese! When all you want is to be a steady alcoholic feasting upon egg chips and peas. Twice! Two slices of bread then apple pie, anything just to get fat then die. 

Fat is fat for all to see. Fat is all you will ever be if every time you want to eat you stuff down another chocolate treat. The breath will ebb then fade away

You run, then walk, then sit, then eat, then lie, then die ‑ still FAT.  The choice is simple live or die; Laugh and play or gorge and cry; Eat but a little is the art; For those that want to have a heart; That works. 

Turning to verse is a little overdramatic but it is a serious issue. In a supermarket I watch those who are overweight pick up the wrong foods.