Obese hypocrisy: The NHS & its fast food outlets

 

The NHS is a trusted organisation. Regardless of your political beliefs or even if you do not hold any at all, each and every one of us has either used or had something to do with the NHS, whether it’s a family member or you yourself. It does play a valuable part in every day life. NHS staff are in contact with over 1.5 million people each and every day and over a 10 day period it will perform some 10 million operations, both minor and major. Of course, it does spend well, for example – the NHS provides structured care for people with diabetes of every type and a great deal of the NHS budget is spent on diabetes, equating to £286 a second. … estimated a total cost of £3.5 billion per year, or over £9.6 million each day.

But it is not all juicy: We see endless media reports on the health complications of fatty foods in our diets and how we should get more exercise, eat more fruit, fibre, vegetables etc and eat less of what could be construed as enjoyable but naughty. A few months ago we even had Andy Burnham calling for the culling of sugary kids cereal – remember how crazy people got when they heard? Also, you should probably know that the government spends a huge amount of money on promoting the idea of a healthy lifestyle to British citizens – £14m in 2011, no less… Why then you may ask does the NHS allow fast food chains into its Hospitals? 

‘Nom nom nom.’ But the taxpayers are not happy, as their money is taken by the government to promote a healthy lifestyle on the one hand, whilst on the other the NHS sells and makes profit off of fast-food chains…

Over recent years we have seen Burger King, Subway and Starbucks opening up in various Hospitals. I should be hard pressed to find a single person in the UK who does not enjoy something from one of the menus available in the stores of the three I have listed. The point is though, is this not large scale hypocrisy on behalf of our beloved and much needed health system?

On the one hand, it spends vast amounts of taxpayer cash helping obese people return to some form of fitness, and thousands of operations a day take place across the UK that could possibly be attributed to fatty or unhealthy foods. We have already talked about the budget for diabetes which they advise is on the increase, particularly in young people. All the while, the other hand is taking from these global fast food outlets to boost its revenues. From a business perspective, no-one could argue with the NHS trying to generate more revenue, but why not rent out shop space to health shops or fitness clubs, or maybe a Specsavers?

Latest obesity statistics reveal:

• A quarter of women (24%) and just over a fifth of men (22%) in the UK are classed as obese

• The UK now has the highest rate of obesity in Europe with one in three children overweight or obese by Year 6 (aged 9)

• Obesity in children under 11 has risen by over 40% in ten years

• Based on current trends, half of children will be obese or overweight by 2020

• Obesity could be costing the NHS £10 billion a year by 2050

Of course, I do suspect that pressure from the three I have listed played a rather large part in why they happened to get franchise inside a Hospital. Mostly though, I suspect that the weakness and lack of vision by NHS managers was the greatest reason.

And as such, it is ridiculous that the public should be lambasted with aggressive politics – such as a curb on kids cereals – to control obesity levels when our own state-run hospitals play host to the exact same fast-food companies and products which politicians vilify.

 

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