Monday, 27 July 2015

Tuesday Food Blog - BMI. other stuff and reading

As a rather overweight, even obese, person I get sick to death of hearing about how we all need to be thinner, what foods are bad for us, and the list of dreadful illnesses that will befall me in time. It is all about what I term the immortality mentality that pervades society these days.

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Supposedly healthy eatables.

It took me a long time to find a photo with meat, in this case chicken which if I remember when bought at supermarkets is riddled with bacteria, as a representation of how to eat well. BUT there is also cheese(!) bread, milk, and asparagus, which can be rare and expensive.

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Many of the photos I disregarded were more suitable for herbivorous animals rather than the omnivores which we are.
Omnivores are 'built' to eat all types of food, both from animals and plants. It could even be argued that we are less well adapted to digest plant materials as our appendix is vestigial and no longer contains the bacteria necessary to breakdown plant cellulose.

I am not arguing in favour of greed or over-eating. What I am looking for is a little humanity, or perhaps humanness. The news today was about the use of weight and BMI as criteria for dishing out treatment for such conditions as anorexia and other eating disorders. Again I'm no expert but it seems to me that the majority of such illnesses, and they are real, are psychological rather than physiological. So applying a quantitative measure to direct treatment is fundamentally wrong. Even the governments health group NICE states in its advice to GPs and nurses that using weight and BMI solely is not recommended as they are considered unreliable. So what's going on?

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Believe it or not it is all about reading. Specifically it is about doctors and nurses reading guidance from NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence). As with noticeboards people don't read them, in the case of health care professionals, it is probably because of the plethora of material they are required to plough through. As a former teacher, deputy head teacher and banker, it was one of those issues that reared its head periodically. If you look at noticeboards in schools they are presented in bright colours and supposedly interesting and varied fonts to attract people to read what is there. BUT they don't read them. There are a couple of messages - firstly, noticeboards don't work; and, there is too much stuff for us to take in anyway. Much of what we are required to read has come from such bodies as health and safety and the associated risk assessments.

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Too much to read too little time!

The fact of the matter is people have limits. The more supposedly essential stuff that we are faced with, the more likelihood of things being missed and mistakes being made. A professor involved with the health service commented that he was working on how to MAKE people read the information sent out. I'm no professor, and even before I began writing I was aware that task is impossible. You cannot make anyone do what they are reluctant to do and it isn't the recipient's responsibility. It is the 'powers that be' which need to present their essential information in such a way that it is accessible to all who need the stuff.

When we write our books or articles we need to be aware of things such as pace, balance, accuracy and more, in an effort to encourage people to want to read our works. Too many instructional and information articles are dry, boring, littered with jargon and a plethora of acronyms all of which mitigate against grabbing people's attention. So NICE have a job to do to help people with eating issues and in my opinion it has to be done on an individual basis. So throw away the measures and TALK to the patients involved.

And don't forget the Venture Galleries featuring Cessation