Peter Elson speaks to JASON HALFORD, the Liverpool professor leading the fight on obesity
HAVE you ever wondered what it would be like to live in a country where children are likely to die before their parents?
Well, wonder no longer – you’re living in it.
That’s the belief of obesity specialist Prof Jason Halford, who is Head of Department – Experimental Psychology at the University of Liverpool.
There is now an identifiable trend of British children aged under 12-13 suffering from obesity which will cause irreversible cardio-vascular damage.
“We’re looking at children who may not outlive their parents,” said Prof Halford.
“Obesity can shorten life by nine years and is a big driver for other conditions like diabetes and cancer.
“In fact we’re facing a diabetes timebomb about five or six years down the line.
“And a further four of five years after that we’ll be facing a cardio-vascular timebomb.
“Tragically all the cardio-vascular benefits we’ve gained by getting people to give up smoking will be potentially lost by them eating the wrong foods.
“So we’re trying to stop the overweight person going down that line.”
Prof Halford is also director of the £6m European-funded five-year Satin (SATiety INnovation) Project, led from Liverpool and now in its eighth month.
It aims to develop and test new healthier foods with better satiating qualities – more filling, satisfying and longer-lasting in their effect.
The project is working with 18 partners from nine countries, such as leading scientists, international food companies and smaller producers.
Its main focus is to learn how to control appetite, manage weight and combat obesity.
“Our known food problems date from the post-war period. As soon as we came off wartime rationing the food industry took off and became an international business,” said Prof Halford.
“The food industry says it provides consumers with what they want, namely appealing and affordable products.”