Skip to main contentAccess keys helpA-Z index

 
You are in: Home > General & Business English
News about Britain
Intro: Fit or fat?
 
Doctors in Britain are warning of an obesity time bomb, when children who are already overweight grow up. So, what should we do? Exercise more? Eat less? Or both? The government feels it has to take responsibility for this expanding problem.
 

SEND IN YOUR COMMENTS
 
Tell us your suggestions for keeping fit. Share your ideas on diet and exercise.
 
blue arrow Send in your comments
 
 
blue arrow Listen to some comments
 
 
blue arrow Read these comments
 
The cheerful Mr Pickwick, the hero of the novel by Charles Dickens, is seen in illustrations as someone who is plump - and happy. In 18th century paintings beauty is equated with rounded bodies and soft curves. But nowadays being overweight is seen as indicating neither a cheerful character nor beauty but an increased risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

So what do you do? Diet? Not according to England's chief medical officer, Sir Liam Donaldson. He says that physical activity is the key for reducing the risks of obesity, cancer and heart disease. And the Health Secretary John Reid even said that being inactive is as serious a risk factor in heart disease as smoking.

So, having bought some cross trainers, how much exercise should you do? According to Sir Liam Donaldson, at least 30 minutes of moderate activity five days a week. Is going to the gym the answer? Luckily for those who find treadmills tedious, the Health Development Agency believes that physical activity that fits into people's lives may be more effective. They suggest taking the stairs rather than the lift, walking up escalators, playing active games with your children, dancing or gardening. And according to a sports psychologist, Professor Biddle, gyms 'are not making the nation fit', and may even cause harm.

There's new scientific evidence that too much exercise may actually be bad for you. Scientists at the University of Ulster have found that unaccustomed aerobic exercise releases dangerous free radicals that can adversely affect normal function in unfit people. The only people who should push their bodies to that level of exercise on a regular basis are trained athletes.

So, should we forget about gyms and follow some expert's advice to reduce sedentary activities and increase exercise in our daily life? After all, getting off the bus a stop early and walking the rest of the way can't do any harm! One final thought. How come past generations lacked gym facilities but were leaner and fitter than people today?

 
 
 
obesity time bomb
 
here, a problem which will happen in the future caused by people being too fat now
 
take responsibility
 
has decided it is appropriate for them to act
 
plump
 
overweight - a neutral word
 
overweight
 
weighing too much - a negative word
 
heart disease
 
any of the diseases that affect the heart and circulatory system
 
stroke
 
where a clot of blood reaches the brain and may cause partial paralysis
 
diabetes
 
a condition where your body can't control the amount of sugar in your blood
 
physical activity
 
also know as cardiovascular (CV) activity - getting you heart to beat faster
 
being inactive
 
not doing anything that raises your heartbeat
 
risk factor
 
something that makes a problem more likely to happen
 
cross trainers
 
shoes which you can use for different sports and exercise
 
moderate activity
 
defined in terms of the increase over resting heart rate when you're not doing anything
 
gym
 
a place where you can find exercise machines such as bicycles, and maybe a swimming pool
 
find treadmills tedious
 
think that running machines are boring
 
physical activity that fits into people's lives
 
using as exercise what you always do
 
active games
 
games which make your heart work
 
gardening
 
improving your private garden for pleasure by planting flowers and vegetables. One of the top leisure activities in Britain
 
unaccustomed aerobic exercise
 
CV exercise when you're not used to it
 
free radicals
 
by-products which happen during exercise and can cause damage to the wall of the cell
 
push their bodies
 
go to the limit of their performance
 
that level of exercise
 
as much exercise as that
 
regular basis
 
if you do something on a regular basis you do it at equal intervals over a long period of time
 
sedentary activities
 
doing things which involve sitting down
 
 
 
YOUR VOTE
 
I believe I take enough exercise

yes
no



Results so far:

1: yes
(39%)
 
2: no
(60%)
 
Total votes so far: 5606
 
 
RELATED LINKS
 
blue arrow
 
Do gyms make you fit?
 
 
blue arrow
 
Daily life is good exercise
 
 
blue arrow
 
Devon: Swimming
 
 
blue arrow
 
Wales: Big Fat Problem Roadshow
 
 
blue arrow
 
Northern Ireland: Sporadic exercise can harm
 
 
blue arrow
 
Free radicals
 
 
OTHER STORIES
 
blue arrow
 
Archive