Long Live Britain: Good health rests with us

Monday 22 July 2013, 12:31

Dr Phil Hammond Dr Phil Hammond Doctor and Presenter

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Long Live Britain aims to get us all to pause and think about our health.

In the series we focused on the big causes of premature death and restricted living such as Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and alcohol-related liver disease, but these tend to creep up on us slowly and secretly through years of over-indulgence.

We all know that we should try to eat less, move more, not smoke and drink in moderation.

To illustrate why these things harm the body I reconstructed the effects of over-indulgence on the heart, liver and pancreas through stunts with Jodie Prenger, Crissy Rock and Ricky Grover including using footballers, dustbins and lots of lard to demonstrate how Type 2 diabetes makes it much difficult for our bodies' cells to work efficiently.

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Crissy Rock: ‘Everyone wants to look OK on the outside but you don’t know what’s going on on the inside’
We also met patients with advanced disease who told how restricted their lives had become and how they wished they'd taken steps earlier to prevent the diseases or slow their progression.

We offered a risk assessment to 400 rugby fans and Manchester locals at a rugby match, allowing us to target middle-aged men who are often the least likely to visit their doctor.

The majority of those tested were at risk of Type 2 diabetes and close to half at risk of alcohol-related liver disease. Most said they would try to make changes in their lifestyle and if they do they could add years to their lives.

We only see our GP or nurse for 10 minutes at a time so the responsibility for our health rests with us. No matter how much money we put into the NHS it will collapse under the weight of chronic disease if we keep relying on doctors to fix us and don't fix ourselves.

The simplest screening test for men is: can you see your penis? If your belly's in the way, you have a problem.

Your waist size, measured at the level of your belly button, should be half your height or less.

It is not the same as your jeans size. Many of us have 40 inch bellies poking over 32 inch jeans.

phil_jodie_1024.jpg Jodie Prenger: ‘With my family’s history of Type 2 diabetes, I didn’t want to bury my head in the sand’  

Our programme used more high tech screening, but work slowly on getting down your waist size and you'll reduce your risk of any number of diseases without having to visit a doctor.

Making the programme certainly inspired me. Although I've always felt healthy, my blood pressure has crept up to alarmingly high levels.

As a doctor, I initially hated being a patient but I've got a brilliant GP, my blood pressure is well controlled and by following Long Live Britain’s advice on portion size I've lost a stone.

No diets, no fasting just simply reminding myself what food my body needs and in what amounts.

A portion of food should fit in your cupped hands, and you only need three of them a day, with a balance of protein, carbohydrate, fruit and vegetables.

Stick to that, eat slowly enough to savour the taste and nearly everyone will lose weight sensibly.

But being thin doesn't make you healthy per se. Mental health is crucial to physical health and most of us need to slow down, step outside, and reconnect with the beauty, joy and peace of nature.

If your life feels empty, don't fill it with food, go to your favourite outdoor place, sit down and think it through. Then get walking. It works for me.

Dr Phil Hammond is a doctor and co-presenter of Long Live Britain.

Long Live Britain was not broadcast on the originally scheduled date of Monday, 22 July due to extended BBC News coverage. Episode one will now be broadcast on Monday, 5 August at 9pm on BBC One and concluding with episode two at 10.35pm.

If you would like more information about the health issues raised in this programme, please see the information and support page for details of organisations which can help.

Comments made by writers on the BBC TV blog are their own opinions and not necessarily those of the BBC.

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  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    I tuned to see the new programme on BBC1 and what do I get ridiculous coverage of interviewing all the dopes and the mad.

    The BBC have a rolling news programme so why force this tripe onto BBC 1.

    What a liberty!

    Yours truly,
    Reggie Side

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    How very annoying! I was really interested in these two programmes!!
    When are they now going to be shown?

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    The health of the nation is obviously not important.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    Most annoying to replace this program with that dross.
    Worst of all the presenters kept repeating the same thing every 5 minutes.
    Clearly there was no need for this extra news program as 30 seconds would have covered it on the main news.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    I was so looking forward to watching 'Long Live Britain', I am so disappointed that it was not screened and I've not watched any of the News programmes since the Royal Birth - it has, in my opinion, been over done. I'm at screaming point with the coverage and will not switch on again until this has died down.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    Recorded these two programmes last night. Only to find its full of tripe about a 'miracle' birth. Or at least it's being reported that way.


    BBC's quality of output is not consistent enough to justify £12/month. 5% worth watching. 95% tripe. Suggestion. Put all 'intelligent' programmes on BBC4 (and I don't mean endless re-runs of TOTP 1978), and allow us to pay only for those channels we want to watch. In my case - BBC4. 5% of £12 means abut 60p should cover it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    I was looking forward to watching this and hopefully having a longer healthier life. But if royal baby coverage is all I have to look forward to book me a one way ticket to Switzerland fast.

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    +1 very annoyed - set to record the shows came home to watch them late last night only to find they had not happened. Please put them on iPlayer NOW.

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    Just checked the episode guide and there is no information about when this show will be on again. Just says it's not currently on iplayer. This is pretty poor bbc. Surely you have enough employees to add details to a webpage. Were they all glued to the repeated news of the royal birth? I think the next television awards should give one out for the most extended programme with the least content. How the bbc thought they could go on hour after hour about one line of news is beyond me. But itv had a crack at it as well.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    Like many above I was looking forward to Long Live Britain. and what do I Find. Extended coverage of a Royal Baby. The News special from 8:30-9:00pm would have been fine. Re-schedule this soon

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    Yet again the BBC has proved that is completely disorgainised. I would expect most broadcasters to have fallback plans in place as the whole world was aware that a royal birth was imminent, but this programme was dropped with no information as to when it will be shown - clearly they have no idea. Particularly annoying as we've had to put up with their intrusive & constant self advertising for weeks leading up to the air date. remind me again why we pay such an extortion licence fee?

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    Why such an extended coverage of the birth of a future king ? Are you trying to match the number of hours that Kate was in labour with this stretched out coverage ? This would have been ideal material to pass to the RED button for those that wanted to listen over and over to the same chat while those who tuned in to watch LONG LIVE BRITAIN could have got what they expected. I'm very disappointed with the BBC and ITV weren't any better !

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    Hi, I’m the researcher on the BBC TV blog. Just to let you know, episode one of Long Live Britain will now be broadcast on Monday, 5 August at 9pm with episode two following at 10.35pm that evening.



  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    Is the cupped hand portion food before being masticated or after

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    Well, the first part this evening was fine, but the second part has gone downhill. The Doctor showed one of the female participants all the fat she had eaten and said it was that that had caused the diabetes. Wrong. Fat doesn't cause Type 2 diabetes; it's caused by too many carbs. Fat may add to the risk of circulatory problems but not diabetes. So, the usual focus by the docs and dieticians on fat and salt and largely ignoring the elephant in the room; carbohydrates. How about the fact that sucrose is 50% fructose and that is stored in the liver as fat.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    How can Jodie P pretend that she doesn't know what to do to manage her weight and it's potential health related issues. Winner of the Biggest Loser series 2!!!! Yes, some of us do remember.

    You knew what to do when you had a personal trainer and a nice cheque to focus your attention on.

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    In 1998 the Nobel Prize was awarded for work showing that Arginine can prevent and reverse cardiovascular disease. It has also been shown to help with the vascular complications of diabetes. The sad failure of "Long Live Britain" to mention the value of Arginine supplementation reflects the fact that there is no drugs patent available for L-arginine, unlike the expensive, inferior, risky and frequently prescribed statins.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    Watched the programmes last night. Absolutely brilliant, such a shame BBC chose not to show it on the original date. These programmes will definitely save lives. Please can we have a follow up to see how people changed their lives, health and life expectancy as a result of this excellent screening.

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    Great that you make people aware of these diseases, but unfortunately you forgot to find the true culprit - SUGAR- (yeah all carbs) and choose to blame saturated fat, is it to much to ask for that you're updated on the lasted research and not political correct, read a bit from Dr Briffa - http://www.drbriffa.com/2010/01/15/two-major-studies-conclude-that-saturated-fat-does-not-cause-heart-disease/

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    Ah yes! Usual outdated advice that fat is responsible for all our ills. Funny that since 'healthy eating' has been promoted, with all its emphasis on low fat and plenty of carbs, obesity levels have soared along with diabetes. Just google Dr Briffa for some decent advice on how to change your diet for good health. He's not the only one either - low carb & high fat/protein is definitely the way to go.


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