Saturday, 11 June 2011

My manifesto for avoiding diabetes

I could have written a blog post about food during Easter and I could have written a blog post about how I can’t seem to get my blood sugar levels down at the moment but quite frankly that all seemed a bit whiney. I would like to say thank you to everyone who has left positive messages for me after my last few blog posts. I’ve basically decided not to worry about it all that much and get on with eating healthily and exercising and waiting on HBA1C tests.

So, as election season is upon us I thought I would draw up my four point election manifesto and see what you thought. I am fed up with often being fooled by how much sugar is in a product. You can buy a tin of soup thinking you’re doing yourself a favour by avoiding bread and then discover the sugar content listed applies if you only eat 3/18ths of the carton. I also feel it’s far easier these days to get diabetes then to avoid it.

I also don’t think we really do enough to promote public health and to push it high enough up the agenda. The Conservatives have said they will rename the Department of Health, the Department of Public Health. This is great but is it any more than a name change, lip service if you will? Well below are four points that I think will give us the information we need to make decisions on what we eat and some to help us make the right lifestyle choices.

1. All food should be labelled with the sugar, fat, saturated fat, and salt content in the most appropriate way, so not for half a can or 100g leaving shoppers getting out their calculators to see what a 40g bar contains. I want to know what each individual Weetabix contains, what a full can of soup contains, or how much sugar is in a slice of bread.

2. I want all restaurants to list on the menu the same four indicators so we all know what’s in the food. That way I can feel comfortable going out to eat without facing something of a lottery. I include within this all the chicken joints, kebab houses and burger vans. No food should be sold without giving the customer the knowledge they need before eating it.

3. Foods high in fat, salt and sugar should have an appropriately high tax on it. This can be on a sliding scale that comes down as the unhealthy contents come down until there is only the regular VAT. This has the duel effects of encouraging food companies to make their food healthier and also means we will eat less of the bad stuff, thereby making it harder to get diabetes. Romania is implementing this right now – Romania!

4. Build cities and towns in a way that makes it easy to walk to the shops, school and parks and difficult to drive there. Stop building out of town shopping centres and cookie-cutter estates off the M4 with no culture and no facilities. Build streets that are wide enough to create vitality such as outside tables for sipping coffee, hosting fruit stalls and German markets – not just roads for cars. Basically start thinking about towns and cities as places we want to live in not drive through.

I would value any comments you have, or suggestions. Maybe if this gets enough support we’ll submit it to Diabetes UK and ask them to take any appropriate manifesto points up as part of their campaigning work.

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