Are we what we eat?

According to the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation, one in four British adults is obese, the highest figure in Western Europe. Indeed obesity levels in the UK have more than trebled in the last 30 years and if current trends continue, more than half the population could be obese by 2050. Obesity has been linked to an increase in the risk of many serious illnesses including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes and cancer. What has led to this crisis and how can we reverse the trend?
 
These are just some of the issues discussed by experts at a symposium which took place at St Edward’s today. Jointly organised by St Edward’s and the Oxford International Biomedical Centre, the conference was attended by over 100 Sixth Formers from St Edward’s and other local schools. Dr Peter Scarborough and Dr Jamie Hartmann-Boyce (Oxford University), and Dr Andrew Walley (University of London) examined diet, health and sustainability, lifestyle and the genetics of obesity. The conference concluded with Dr Michael Mosley, a BBC science presenter, who invented the so-called 5:2 diet. After training as a doctor he joined the BBC as a director, making a wide range of programmes, from science to drama, from history to comedy. In more recent times he has gone in front of the camera and become known not only for his interest in health and nutrition, but also for his enthusiasm for self-experimentation. He discussed the science of nutrition, exploring some of the more popular myths such as “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” and “exercise will help you lose weight”. He went on to talk about the limitations of current research and why dietary advice seems to be constantly in a state of flux. 
 
Dr Kendall Williams

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