Thursday, February 27, 2014


This video takes a brief look at the weight/fat related shame felt by overweight people. The feeling of shame is caused by the words of others.   

'#FatMicroaggression', an online hashtag discussion about the issue was instigated by Melissa McEwan . It's purpose is to shed light and open discussions about the regular, inappropriate and often hurtful comments directed at overweight people.



Tuesday, February 25, 2014

'I hate going to the gym'


A colleague recently recounted an exercise related disagreement that she’d had with her husband. The conversation went something like this:

Colleague: “How was the gym?”

Husband: “Terrible. I hate going to the gym.”

“Why do you go if you hate it?”

“I don’t have a choice.”

“You do have a choice. You don’t need to go, you could do something else instead.”

“ No you’re wrong. I really don’t have a choice. If I want to stay healthy and control my weight, I have no choice. I have to exercise. Exercise has to be a part of my normal lifestyle.”

“ I accept that you need to exercise, but why don’t you do something you like? Why don’t you use the bike or swim, rather than rowing all the time?

“I hate all types of exercise. I’m not like you, you enjoy exercise; I don’t. That makes doing it even harder.”

“You really need to find something you enjoy doing ... or at the very least don’t hate. Besides, nothing worth having, particularly if it is long lasting like good health, comes easily”.

“It’s definitely not easy!”

The *NHS lists the health benefits of regular exercise/physical activity as:

• up to a 35% lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke
• up to a 50% lower risk of type 2 diabetes
• up to a 50% lower risk of colon cancer
• up to a 20% lower risk of breast cancer
• a 30% lower risk of early death
• up to an 83% lower risk of osteoarthritis
• up to a 68% lower risk of hip fracture
• a 30% lower risk of falls (among older adults)
• up to a 30% lower risk of depression
• up to a 30% lower risk of dementia

So if, like my colleague’s husband, you dislike going to the gym, what can you (adult) do instead that will enable you to gain and maintain the health benefits associated with exercise?

The NHS recommends:

1. At least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity such as cycling, water aerobics, riding a bike on level ground or with few hills, doubles tennis, pushing a lawn mower, hiking or fast walking every week,
and muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).
2. 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity such as running or jogging, swimming fast, riding a bike fast or on hills, football, rugby, martial arts, aerobics or a game of singles tennis every week,
and muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).
3. An equivalent mix of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity every week (for example 2 30-minute runs plus 30 minutes of fast walking),
and muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).

*Source NHS


Friday, February 21, 2014

Harnaam Kaur's beard

This week Harnaam Kaur went public with her poignant story,  detailing how she come to terms with growing a beard.

23 year old Harnaam suffers from polycystic ovary syndrome. (PCOS), a condition that causes excessive hair growth all over her body.

Since the age of 11, Harnaam has battled with hair on her face, which turned into a beard. Shortly afterwards hair also grew on her chest and arms.
She has been on the receiving end of bullying, cruel taunts from strangers and even death threats from online trolls.

Initially Harnaam conducted a daily hair removal routine, which involved her, waxing, bleaching and shaving her body hair. Unfortunately, her efforts failed and the hair returned even thicker.

She then became very self-conscious and depressed about her appearance to the extent that she refused to leave her home. began to self-harm and even, as a last resort, considered suicide.

In an interview with the Star newspaper:

"I got bullied badly”, she reminisced about that period in her life. “At school, I was called a ‘beardo’ and things like ‘shemale’ and ‘sheman’.

"I can laugh about it now, but back then it affected me so badly that I began to self-harm because it felt better than all the abuse I was getting.

"I'd talk to people with a hand over my face and I wore baggy tomboy clothes to cover up the hair on my chest and arms.

"I didn't want to go outside my house because I couldn't take the stares from strangers so I'd lock myself in my room.

"It got so bad that I just didn't want to live anymore."

However, after being baptised as a Sikh, a religion in which followers are not allowed to cut their body hair; she decided to ditch the scissors and let nature take its course.

"I would never ever go back now and remove my facial hair”, she said, “because it's the way God made me and I'm happy with the way I am.

"I feel more feminine, more sexy and I think I look it too.

"I've learned to love myself for who I am nothing can shake me now."


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Health versus appearance

A study has found that the best way to motivate teenagers to voluntarily wear sunscreen is to tell them that their appearance is at risk.
The prospect of looking prematurely old and wrinkly has been identified as a much more effective deterrent to over exposure to sunlight, than telling teenagers that they need to protect their skin against skin cancer.

The University of Colorado study showed the same group of teenagers:

i) a video detailing the negative health effects (e.g. skin cancer) of sun exposure
ii) a PSA add showing how UV light negatively affected appearance

After analysing the results; researchers concluded that the group only responded to the warning and began protecting their skin when they realised the adverse effects UV light could have on their appearance.

"We see this anecdotally in the clinic”, said dermatologist Dr. April W. Armstrong in a statement. “The teens who come in, often it's because their parents are dragging them. A lot have undergone tanning or never wear sunscreen. You can tell that when we talk about the skin cancer risk, it doesn't faze them.

"If our endgame is to modify their behaviour, we need to tailor our message in the right way and in this case the right way is by highlighting consequences to appearance rather than health."

I strongly disagree with Dr April’s statement. I understand that appearance matters enormously to teenagers; it always has and it could be argued that in our media, digital, celebrity lead culture, that it matters more than ever before.

Having said that, I fervently believe that the focus should be on health first, whether we are talking about skin, weight, dieting, exercise etc.
Appearance should also take second place behind non health related topics such as developing skills/talents and the pursuit of personal goals and happiness. Finally, appearance should have little, preferably no place in determining self worth.


Thursday, February 13, 2014

BT Sport’s body image survey

In January, BT Sport’s published the results of it's body image survey. The survey was sent to elite female athletes, para-athletes and others who had just retired from a variety of sports e.g. swimming, cycling, tennis, golf, athletics, and weightlifting. The results (below) are collated from 110 responses; percentages reflects answers to each question (some individual's omitted some answers). 1. Do you feel under pressure to conform to a certain type of body image? 2. If yes, where does...

Read More "BT Sport’s body image survey"

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Adult obesity survey

The latest local authority adult obesity survey's findings are detailed below.

The authorities with the lowest levels of overweight or obese people:

1. Kensington and Chelsea - 45.9%
2. Tower Hamlets - 47.2%
3. Richmond upon Thames - 47.6%
4. Hackney - 48.7%
5. Brighton and Hove - 49.2%
6. Hammersmith and Fulham - 49.7%
7. Camden - 50.1%
8. Lambeth - 51.8%
9. Wandsworth - 52.2%
10. Westminster - 52.6% 

The authorities with the highest levels of overweight or obese people:

 1.  Copeland - 75.9%
 2.  Doncaster - 74.4%
 3.  East Lindsey - 73.8%
 4.  Ryedale - 73.7%
 5.  Sedgemoor - 73.4
 6.  Gosport - 72.9
 7.  Castle Point - 72.8
 8.  Bolsover - 72.5
 9.  County Durham - 72.5
10. Milton Keynes - 72.5

Source: PHE release local authority adult obesity data


Friday, February 07, 2014

Valeria Levitin 'world’s skinniest woman'

Every now and again you see something that alarms you, something that has a deeply emotional effect on you, something that makes you want to take action that would help a fellow human being. Yesterday's interview on Channel 4’s Supersize versus Superskinny had that effect on me.

The programme highlighted the plight of 40 year old Valeria Levitin, who has been labelled the world’s skinniest woman.

Valeria developed anorexia as a teenager. She believes she developed the illness in response to her mothers close monitoring of her weight.

“We are not designed to be skeletons”, she said talking about her weight… “Being this thin is not the greatest feeling in the world, because people are repulsed”.

“People think there is an anorexic look”, Valeria told a group of parents seeking advice on how to spot the signs of an eating disorder. “There is no anorexic look just anorexic behaviour, which leads to the anorexic look. Weight is a mere symptom; it is not the cause or the root of the problem”.

Valeria then advised parents to look for, “any kind of obsessive behaviour with food. You know all of a sudden they start selecting very carefully or cutting out certain things”.

Responding to a question by a parent, on how to approach a child if they were worried about their eating she said:

“I think it should start much earlier, it should be a part of upbringing, A part of a healthy upbringing. Not focusing you know too much on food or appearance; don't focus on the negative.

“It is important to tell children that they are the best, that they’re good, they're smart, they're beautiful. The best medicine in the world is prevention.

In an interview with Emma Woolf, who herself suffered from anorexia for 10 years, the conversation centred on Valeria appearance and health.

“Do you care when people stare at you”? Emma asked.

“You get used to it, but I like to be left alone”.

“Do you think you've gone too far”, Emma asked, “but you just can't get back to a normal weight or do you think that you will gradually?

“I will”, Valeria stated adding: “The longer you damage your body, even when you want to become normal it is difficult.

“There is food that I like and there is food that I can't eat right now, because of the state my body is in”.

Next the pair discussed why Valeria had decided to go public and her attempts to discourage those asking for advice on how to look like her.

“I want to educate that you don't want to look like me”, said Valeria. “You don't want to go down that path.

“I just tell them it is the wrong path to starve yourself. Self destructive behaviour it will eventually isolate you, destroy your life and you'll not be the person that you want to be."

We wish Valeria success in attempts to regain her health.


Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Eating disorder survey

The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) has published the findings of their recent eating disorder survey.
The data covering the period October 2012 to October 2013, is detailed below:

Increase in Eating Disorders
In the 12 months to October 2013, hospitals dealt with 2,560 eating disorder admissions, compared with 2,370 admissions in the previous 12 months.
8% Rise

Length of Hospital Stay*
20% of eating disorder patients were admitted and discharged on the same day, compared to 66% for all types of patients.
6% of patients with an eating disorder stayed in hospital for longer than six months, compared to 0.03% of all admission cases.
* 2,189 cases

Age of Patients
The majority of the 2,560 hospital in-patients were aged:
- 15 (Girls)
- 13 (Boys)
- Much younger children in the age groups under 5 ‘s and 5 to 9’s were also admitted.

Eating Disorder Statistics
Patients were admitted with:
Anorexia – 75%
Bulimia – 20%

Patient Gender
As in previous years, the vast majority of patients were female.
There were 9 times as many females (2,320) as males(240).

True Figure Much Larger*
1.6 million people in the UK suffer from eating disorders.
One in five will die prematurely, sometimes from the consequences of their illness and sometimes through suicide.
"The vast majority of people will be treated as outpatients or in private clinics," said Rebecca Field of Beat. "Some won't be treated at all.
The statistics that exist were not a true reflection of what was going on”.
* Beat (Eating Disorder Charity)

Regional Breakdown
The highest rate of admissions with 6.5 admissions per 100,000 population was the North-East & South-West

The lowest rate of admissions with 2.8 admissions per 100,000 population was the East Midlands.

The data could be interpreted as :
i) There are fewer people with eating disorders or ii) The availability of treatment varies across different regions.

Kingsley Manning(HSCIC chair)
Commenting on the findings,Kingsley Manning (HSCIC's chair) said:

"Today's report shows a national increase in the demand placed on hospitals by patients with an eating disorder. Hospitals not only dealt with more patients with an eating disorder than last year but compared to other admission types patients with these disorders tend to stay longer in hospital, which will be of significant interest to staff caring for these patients and those planning services."