Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 15th 2015 Contents A28
body & soul
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Tuesday, December 15, 2015
Obesity is the biggest threat to women s health
and the health of future generations, warns Eng-
land s chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies.
Her annual report, which focuses on women this
year, said tackling obesity should be a national pri-
ority to avert a "growing health catastrophe".
She said the food industry needed to do more
or it should face a sugar tax.
Dame Sally is also calling for better treatment
of ovarian cancer and more open discussion on
England s top doctor said obesity was so serious
it should be a priority for the whole population,
but particularly for women because too often it
shortened their lives. In England in 2013, 56.4 per
cent of women aged 34-44 and 62 per cent of
women aged 45-54 were classified as overweight
or obese. Obesity increases the risk of many diseases
including breast cancer, type 2 diabetes and heart
Dame Sally warned that if the food industry did
not clean up its act then new taxes may be the
She told the BBC: "I think it is inevitable that
manufacturing has to reformulate and resize, that
supermarkets and others need to stop cheap pro-
motions on unhealthy food and putting unhealthy
food at the check-out, and limit advertising dra-
"I think we re at a tipping point. If industry
won t deliver then we ll have to look at a sugar
Elsewhere in the report, the chief medical officer
• clinical staff be better trained to recognise and
respond to violence against women, including
female genital mutilation, domestic abuse and
• more research is needed to improve maternal
and child mental and physical health
• more research on screening tests, preeclampsia
and foetal growth is also needed
• children should receive integrated personal,
social, health and economic education (PSHE) with
sex and relationships education (SRE) at school
• a full range of contraception services should
be available to all women, at all reproductive ages.
Dame Sally highlighted the fact that women had
to look after their physical and mental health during
pregnancy for the sake of their children and grand-
children. If a woman is obese during pregnancy,
research indicates there is an increased chance of
miscarriage and premature birth.
A woman s overall health during pregnancy also
has an impact on the health of the child in later
life, the report said.
A pregnant woman s health affects the conditions
inside the womb which in turn can have life-long
consequences for the health of the child including
the risk of obesity or type 2 diabetes.
Dame Sally said she wanted to "bust the myth"
that women should eat for two when pregnant,
adding a healthy diet with fruit and vegetables and
avoiding alcohol was important.
Prof Nick Finer, from University College London s
Institute of Cardiovascular Science, said obesity
was now "the most pressing health issue for the
"Estimates of the economic costs of obesity sug-
gest they will bankrupt the NHS. Elevating the
problem of obesity to a national risk could help to
address the current laissez faire attitude to this
huge, angry, growing health catastrophe," he said.
The British report makes 17 recommendations
across a range of women s health issues.
In her report, Dame Sally highlighted the
need for early diagnosis and treatment of
eating disorders, such as anorexia, bulimia
and binge-eating, which are more common
in women than men.
The report also called for better treatment
for ovarian cancer, which kills more women
in England than any other gynaecological
cancer. With survival from the cancer among
the lowest among developed nations, Dame
Sally recommends longer operating times to
increase the likelihood that all the cancer is
removed during surgery.
Training in specialised surgical skills to
remove gynaecological cancers and an audit
of treatments are also highlighted in the
There should be more awareness of
women s problems "below the waist" and
more discussion of taboo topics such as
urinary and faecal incontinence and the
menopause, the report said.
More than five million
women suffer from incon-
tinence in the UK, a con-
dition that can seriously
affect the quality of their
YOUR DAILY HEALTH
News and Advice
Obesity 'biggest threat to women's health' in England
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