Eat well for life

Incorporating some easy food swaps into your everyday diet can boost your wellbeing and cut down obesity, says Janette Marshall.

Eat well for life

Obesity: why it’s time for us all to get more active

In 2007, a report, Tackling Obesities, said Britain was sleepwalking into an obesity crisis. The Government’s response was the Change4Life campaign, which launched in January 2009 with the aim of encouraging us all to eat more healthily and do more exercise. But today, like it or not, British adults are piling on as much weight as when the campaign launched.

To be fair, the campaign initially focused on children. And indeed, obesity among children is levelling off. According to the Government, more than a million mums say their families are more active, eating better and choosing low-fat milk and low-sugar drinks. 

More can be done to help kids, though, says Richard Watts of the Children’s Food Campaign (CFC). He says: “We have stopped the product placement of junk food on TV and got a ban on unhealthy food ads during kid’s TV, but that’s only 30 per cent of the TV children watch.”

‘Swap it, don’t stop it’

Whatever improvements we may be seeing in children, more adults are becoming obese. In February, the National Heart Forum predicted a doubling in the incidence of type 2 diabetes by 2050, because of obesity – unless we act now.

Enter the ‘Swap it, don’t stop it’ initiative, a newer phase of the Change4Life campaign aimed at adults. Lots of us would like to eat more healthily, but we don’t want to give up the foods we love. That’s why ‘Swap it, don’t stop it’ appeals. It’s designed to help us make healthier, lower-calorie choices when shopping in supermarkets or indulging in takeaways, snacks and drinks.

TV: a turn-off to exercise

“There’s a lot of good stuff in Change4Life,” concedes Richard Watts, but he worries that multinational companies that sell sugary drinks and snacks are partners in the campaign. The Government defends these companies’ involvement, because for every £1 it spends on the campaign, these corporate partners spend £3. But Watts thinks such partnerships get in the way of change. The CFC wants the new Government to introduce a 9pm watershed on junk food adverts.

Whether that happens or not, we can all take advantage of longer summer days to turn off the telly and go outside for walks, cycle rides, jogs and jaunts. Being more active burns off more calories. You’ll feel better for it, especially as new research shows that ‘green’ exercise boosts mood after just five minutes.

For a personalised pack with swaps to suit you, along with other tips, visit


Small changes that make a big difference

As well as becoming more active, a good way to get healthy long-term is to reduce your portion sizes. Here are some tricks recommended by Change4Life:

  • Swap big plates for medium ones – this will encourage smaller portions, yet you’ll still have a full plate.
  • To increase your fruit and veg intake, fill half your plate with veg. Or, swap a large meal for a smaller one and have fruit for dessert.
  • Linger over your food – it takes a while for the brain to register you’re full. You’ll be less likely to keep eating after you’ve had enough.
  • When ordering a takeaway, go for the smaller portion. The same goes for convenience food. And at home, don’t go back for seconds.


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