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Survival of the fattest


A SNAPSHOT from a car park beside several GP practices and a small hospital in a northern market town. A beautiful sunny summer’s morning. I’m here for an hour or so while a minor accident victim gets some treatment (of course I am not allowed to enter).

This is a comfortable area, where the working men and women largely vote Conservative. There is no genuine unemployment. Many businesses are short-staffed. The area is dominated by a historic feudal mentality derived from the surrounding stately homes and large estates, but many commercial and business premises of the modern era thrive along with an incoming newer population from the South. The location is top-notch in geographic terms. There is a fair bit of tourism and a huge spread of infrastructure-based businesses and operations.

Life expectancy across the area is very high, exceeding ninety in some villages. Many across the whole age range are superbly fit and active in the outdoors.

The parking is free but the design of the car park and the dreary municipal architecture of the hospital and health centre leave something to be desired. Architects take note – health, education and behaviour are inspired by the intangibles of beautiful architecture. Real stone, real wood, long-lasting materials in well-designed classical shapes.

The patients attending their appointments at these NHS establishments arrive in relatively new vehicles, most heavily advertised as hybrid, luxury or environmentally virtuous. There are some smaller or older less ostentatious cars, but the modern vehicle retains the badge and cachet of aspirational status.

As the attendees are released from their vehicles, it becomes clear the vast majority are seriously overweight. One wonders at the hairstyles, clothing, handbags, accessories and shoes chosen to enhance appearance, yet cloaking a body fit only for a cartoon show.

For sure there are some distinguished older citizens who are raging against the pressures of anno domini – they hold their heads high and maintain some style and standing. The majority however, the middle-aged fat ones, are poorly dressed and turned-out, with appalling posture, old before their time. One wonders how the nurses, doctors and GPs cope with this daily flow of unhealthy humanity. Upon this, the health service will certainly fail. The prescription of numerous drugs, medicines, surgical procedures, knee and hip operations, are hopeless sticking-plasters on the blobs of ill-health hiding beneath.

The simple prescription of exercise, good diet, fasting or less food, better postural strength and activity would be orders of magnitude more useful than what the medical staff dole out in ‘healthcare’.

The idea that a course of statins or other long term ‘life-saving’ medications could make as much difference as preventive therapies or strategies is plainly wrong. Patient, heal thyself! I know of one local GP who wants to give a talk (but daren’t) entitled ‘What your GP would really like to say to you’.

The black hole that is the NHS will never survive this wave of ill-discipline. For those who look after their health, who stay fit and slim, their future care in old age is being abused by those who are eating their way through the NHS resources. It is a bleak prospect in each case. Our genes will switch us off at some unpredictable point in time – that is written into our DNA regardless of environmental factors, but in the meantime, there is no pay-off for the virtuous who save the health service resources. For a fit ninety-something with maybe a good few years left, the DNR will come quicker than for an obese sixty-something who may have cost the health service millions.

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Dave Cumberland
Dave Cumberland
Dave Cumberland is an independent researcher in energy, climate and the environment. He lives and loves rocks and climbs in the Lake District.

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