Blair Says Britons Must Improve Their Own Health

Reuters Health - LONDON

Prime Minister Tony Blair urged Britons to take more responsibility for their health as he warned that poor lifestyles were putting a huge financial strain on the health service.

"In the future, health care cannot be just about treating the sick but must be about helping us to live healthily. This requires more from all of us, individuals, companies and government," Blair said.

Blair said the most pressing health problems were more related to individual lifestyles - obesity, smoking, alcohol abuse, diabetes and sexually transmitted diseases.

One in four adults and children in the UK is obese and the figure is rising, Blair said. According to parliament's health select committee, the full cost of obesity and overweight people to Britain is in the region of 7 billion pounds per year.

Blair said the government was banning the sale of junk food and fizzy drinks from vending machines in schools. He said if voluntary moves to limit advertising of junk food to children had not worked by 2007, new laws would be introduced.

The government was also encouraging supermarket chains to adopt a single-system of labelling to identify healthy options.

"It will be much better if the industry comes together voluntarily around this scheme but once again, we are prepared to act if the voluntary system does not work," he said.

More Americans Too Fat 

By Maggie Fox, Reuters Health - WASHINGTON

More and more obese people are unable to get full medical care because they are either too big to fit into scanners, or their fat is too dense for X-rays or sound waves to penetrate, radiologists reported on Tuesday.

With 64 percent of the U.S. population either overweight or obese, the problem is worsening, but it represents a business opportunity for equipment makers and hospitals, said Dr. Raul Uppot, a radiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital.

"We noticed over the past couple of years that obesity was playing a role in our ability to see these images clearly," Uppot said in a telephone interview.

Radiologists have their own term for it when writing up reports: "These images are limited due to body habitus."

"It essentially doubled over the last 15 years," Uppot said.

"It is a major issue because ... the patient may still have a tumor, the patient may have appendicitis, the patient may have other inflammatory processes," Uppot said.

"If you tell a patient 'I am sorry - we just can't sit you on our CAT scanner (table)', that is devastating to hear."


Kiwi Food Causes Weight Gain, Says Expert

By KELLY ANDREW Dominion Post MONDAY , 03 APRIL 2006

The Government must make healthy food more affordable to avert a mounting obesity problem, an international expert says.

Professor Philip James, chairman of the International Obesity Task Force and a former chief food safety adviser to Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair, met Health Minister Pete Hodgson, doctors and Maori health groups.

He said there was an enormous and out of control public health crisis relating to being overweight.

"You've manipulated, with Government approval and huge grants in the past, the whole of the industry, and the way in which you work, and live, and the foods you serve up in New Zealand are beautifully designed to guarantee that most people are putting on weight."

Maori and Pacific Island communities were particularly at risk, with many being struck by type 2 diabetes at a younger age and having obesity rates on a par with the United States, he said. Ten per cent of New Zealand children and 21 per cent of adults are obese, and health experts estimate 1.5 million Kiwis can be classed as overweight or obese.

Professor James said if nothing was done, hospital services would eventually not be able to cope with the number of casualties from the obesity epidemic.

Policies and regulations should be introduced to protect children, including restricting advertising of unhealthy food, and preventing schools selling soft drinks, chocolate, and other junk food.

Mr Hodgson agreed that action on obesity was urgently needed. Success would come from community and family measures.

Recipe of the Month

Walnut Oat Patties

3½ cups rolled oats
1 large onion (finely chopped)
1½ c soya milk
1 t mixed herbs
1 t marjoram
1 t garlic powder
2 T sunflower seeds
1 c walnuts (finely chopped)

6 T soya flour
2 t salt
½ t sage
1 t basil
2 T sesame seeds
1½ T soya sauce

Mix all ingredients. Form into patties, and bake for 30-40 minutes at 180°C or until brown.