Wow! What an awesome display of physical fitness as the best female cyclists in the world swept through Saffron Walden! Such grace and power! They flowed effortlessly up hills that I find increasingly challenging each year!
Cycling in Saffron Walden is growing in popularity, with a busy Walden Velo schedule and men and women in lycra taking breaks at Bicicletta. Football, cricket and rugby clubs are also thriving, yet despite their activities almost 75% of 45-74 year olds in England are overweight or obese as are 38% of 10-11 year olds.
It is a health crisis that is putting enormous pressure on our struggling NHS. Almost 4 million of us suffer from type 2 Diabetes at a cost to the tax-payer of £14 billion each year. That’s 10% of the total NHS budget!
Why is this? I believe this is down to our modern diet of Ultra Processed Foods. 70% of our diet is made up of these UPFs, which are essentially foods wrapped in plastic which contain one or more ingredients that you wouldn’t find in an average domestic kitchen. From ready-made sandwiches to Pringles, these are foods manufactured by a highly profitable food industry.
The additives they use make our food ‘moreish’, which means that they leave us unsatisfied and with a craving to eat more. They use the cheapest possible ingredients, enhanced with flavourings, stabilisers and preservatives to maximise profits and increase turnover, not as an act of charity. They have indeed given us ‘cheap food’, but the tax-payer is picking up the bill at the end of the day and there is immense cost in the suffering of those who can no longer even contemplate getting on a bike.
It is surely time to re-think our relationship to food, farmers, supermarkets and cooking. We might not come anywhere near matching those amazing female cyclists, but we will surely get more out of life!
Edward Gildea June 2023