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Obesity is ‘greatest threat to the nation and a ticking time bomb’ says Gregg Wallace

2nd Nov 2023 - 10:12
Gregg Wallace
During his keynote speech on day two of the Public Sector Catering Expo MasterChef TV presenter, writer and former greengrocer Gregg Wallace described obesity as a ‘ticking time bomb’ and the ‘greatest threat to the nation’.

Gregg opened his speech by saying: “Absolutely delighted to be here. Congratulations on a brilliant job. You are on the front line of the biggest threat to the nation… Obesity.” He praised the public sector catering attendees who he believed had the skillset, knowledge and passion to combat obesity.

He highlighted the four biggest causes of obesity were alcohol, snacking and takeaways as well as a lack of cookery knowledge which he cited as the most important factor. Gregg noted that 85% of people who lose weight put it back on at some point.

During the keynote speech Gregg highlighted some statistics:

  • One quarter of people in the UK are obese
  • 23% of children aged ten are obese
  • The £17Bn spent on vegetables in the UK is dwarfed by the £23Bn spent on takeaways every year
  • 57% of people who have takeaways have at least three a week
  • UK has highest obesity rates in Europe and only second to America in the world
  • 58% of Brits snack in between meals with 86% of these snacking at home

He said that obesity costs the NHS £6.5Bn a year and that just one fifth of children are eating their recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. Obesity causes numerous health related issues such as higher blood pressure, cancer and cardiovascular problems. 

According to a Government paper, it is predicted that by 2040 71% of the UK population will be obese. He called obesity a “ticking time bomb that no one is addressing.”

Through his company Show Me Fit, he says he has helped around 11,000 people lose weight in the last three years. Gregg noted that most of the people he helped were too embarrassed to say they couldn’t cook, instead they used the excuse of not having enough time to cook.

He claimed that ‘diets are not the way forward’, saying most people who tried them and lost weight ended up putting the weight back on. By contrast, he said his cooking-based and no snacks approach had seen 83% of people lose two stone and keep it off.

He has been working with Loughborough University on a project that focuses on habitual changes that will help people lose weight and keep it off. At Loughborough University, Gregg is working with several doctors to teach people how to cook healthy recipes. Gregg and his team have put together 500 filmed recipes that are available on the Show Me Fit website.

He says he would like to see children receive at least one hour of cooking lessons a week from aged five to 15 to ensure that people can cook healthy meals for themselves. He concluded: “I believe education is the key [to tackling obesity in the UK.]”

Written by
Edward Waddell