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Eat Yourself Healthy? - Tonight

Eat Yourself Healthy? is on ITV at 7:30pm on Thursday 14th June Photo: ITV/Tonight

Britain is bulging, we are now officially the fattest nation in Western Europe with one in four adults being overweight or obese. In a report for Tonight, Helen Skelton investigates our nation’s expanding waistline and finds out how we can we eat ourselves healthy?

We travel to Boston, Lincolnshire which is officially the UK’s most obese town, to discover just how much the British public know about the foods we consume and how that might relate to exercise. Ever wondered how many minutes you’d have to skip for, to burn off that Doner Kebab? Tonight finds out.

Helen tests the people of Boston's knowledge on calories and exercise Credit: ITV/Tonight

A lifelong battle with weight

Losing weight is never easy and somebody who knows that better than most is 38 year old mother of two Liz Clarke from Cheshire. She has been battling her weight for the past 2 decades. Liz is the classic yo-yo dieter and she has tried them all, from slimming pills, crash diets, meal replacements and even slimming injections…

“They are apparently used to treat diabetics. They regulate like your blood sugar. The side effect is you stop feeling hungry. But I ended up in hospital with palpitations. The doctors told me I needed to come off them .. straight away”

– Liz Clarke

Liz’s weight has fluctuated dramatically, she has been as light as 8 stone but now weighs in at around 17 stone and with a BMI of 41 she is classed as very obese. Liz is ready for a change, she is done with the fad diets and wants to change for life, with the help of a dietician can Liz change her eating and life habits in order for a brighter healthier future?

Helen meets Liz, who is ready to change her health after a life of yo-yo dieting Credit: ITV/Tonight

How to stop the yo-yo cycle

Helen meets actress Lisa Riley who at her heaviest weighed 22 stone. Recently she’s changed her lifestyle and her relationship to food and has shed a whopping 12 stone in 16 months. Helen speaks with Lisa to find out how she did it and what tips and tricks she has for other people:

“There is certain aisles I will genuinely will not even go down. Like crisps will always be my heroin if you were. It’s always going to be scratching on my shoulder forever and a day so I would never go down the crisp aisle.”

– Lisa Riley

Is the Government doing enough?

We also speak to the people on the frontline of Britain’s obesity crisis. Professor David Kerrigan who is chair of the British Obesity and Metabolic Surgery Society discusses the health implications of being overweight and also are we doing enough to try and help obese people in this country?

“I think if there was ever a case of a kind of invest to save for the NHS it would be treating obesity aggressively...if you can lose weight, whether you do it on a diet or you do it after a bariatric operation, or whatever, there is a great chance your diabetes will go away, and diabetes type two diabetes costs the NHS, at the moment, a million pounds, every single hour of every day, a million pounds, an hour.”

– Professor David Kerrigan, chair of the British Obesity and Metabolic Surgery Society

An NHS England spokesperson said:

“While bariatric surgery has its place, it is no substitute for taking effective action to cut obesity in the first place. Prevention is preferable to cure.”

Lisa meets Lisa Riley to find out how she shed her weight and if she has any tips and tricks for everyone else Credit: ITV/Tonight

And what about our children?

Professor Paul Gately is a leading expert when it comes to childhood obesity, he believes that the government aren’t doing enough. Things like sugar tax and banning junk food ads on kids TV are preventative measures but what about the 1 in 3 children who are already obese in the UK?

“We get contacted by many many families that outline to us, they have an overweight or obese young person that they are trying to help. They are desperate. They are facing teasing and bullying on a day to day basis, and they are saying to us they have been to their GP, there is no help, they have been to school. There is no help; they’ve been everywhere in the system and there is no help.”

– Professor Paul Gately, Professor of Exercise & Obesity, Leeds Beckett University

Children like Alfie from Belfast who at 8 years old already weighs 50kg. His mother Vicky feels like she has nowhere to turn for help in order to get Alfie’s weight under control and if things don't improve is worried about the consequences for his future.

“I would welcome someone coming in and saying to me right: try this strategy or have you heard about this technique? It just seems bananas I can’t .. I can’t quite sort of fathom how its, you know, the Government says all the time, oh we’re getting better kids are getting obese we must do something about it and then there’s nothing there.”

– Vicky
Helen meets mum, Vicky, who feels like there is no help or support for her overweight son Credit: ITV/Tonight

A Government spokesman told this programme:

“We know overweight children are more likely to become overweight adults - which is why our world-leading childhood obesity plan is taxing sugary drinks and helping children to exercise more.

We’ve always said that our 2016 strategy was the start of the conversation, not the final word on obesity.”

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  • Eat Yourself Healthy? is on ITV at 7:30pm on Thursday 14th June