Britain is in the grips of an obesity epidemic with health care professionals predicting life expectancy could even begin to fall particularly as a result of childhood obesity. One response is an anti-obesity pill will soon be available to buy at chemists without prescription. But is this the right way to deal with Britain’s weight problem? An anti-obesity drug will soon be available without prescription over the counter – but only if the pharmacist thinks you are fat enough.
Orlistat, which is marketed under the name alli, will cost about £1.45 when it goes on sale after it was given final clearance by European regulators on Wednesday. The drug will be placed behind the counter in pharmacies so staff can question patients to make sure they are sufficiently overweight.
However there is a growing concern that the Drugs Industry is trying to create a drug dependency amongst people medicating for lifestyle issues (smoking, weight loss, type 2 diabetes) which would be better dealt with by changing lifestyles. In this vein health campaigners have urged commuters to walk between Underground stations instead of using them. Ministers and doctors trying to combat obesity are backing the drive.
A new map has been released detailing the number of steps that an adult walking at medium pace would take to travel between each central London station. It shows, for example, how alighting at St Paul’s and walking 947 steps to Bank would burn almost 30 calories – equivalent of a double vodka.
The shortest walk is between Cannon Street and Monument, which takes 99 steps, while the longest is King’s Cross to Farringdon, which takes 2,438 steps. People in search of a real workout could attempt the entire Circle line at 31,536 steps.
The map, compiled by insurance firm PruHealth, was calculated by volunteers using pedometers. Chief executive Shaun Matisonn said: “Taking 10,000 steps a day can help protect you against a wide range of diseases including strokes, diabetes and some types of cancer.
KEY: Numbers show how many steps were taken by PruHealth volunteers to walk between each Tube station. Walking 1,000 steps at a medium pace burned off about 30 calories. Walking 1,000 steps at a medium pace took about 7.5 minutes
Judy O’Sullivan, a cardiac nurse for the British Heart Foundation, said: “If you work near Covent Garden and catch the Piccadilly line then get off at Green Park and walk briskly for 15 minutes each way then that’s half your daily physical activity requirement.”
Walking up escalators is also important and Ms O’Sullivan said the health benefits of walking outweighed the risks of air pollution. Researchers calculated it took about 4.5 seconds to walk 10 steps at a rate of four miles per hour, while 1,000 steps took 7.5 minutes. At this rate, walkers burned about three calories per 100 steps, or one calorie every 15 seconds.
This would see travellers use nearly 100 calories by walking from Green Park to Covent Garden and back again, a journey which would take about 25 minutes. A Department of Health spokesman said: “In London we tend to rely on Tubes and buses to get around these days when we could be using our feet.
“Think about walking. If the journey is too far, you could always stop [your Tube or bus trip] a bit earlier, and walk the rest of the journey.” Government figures show more than 21 per cent of London’s 10- to 11-year-olds are obese, three per cent more than the national average. Almost 10 per cent of the adult population are obese in parts of the capital, including Barking and Dagenham and Bexley. In Enfield, Newham and Greenwich, eight per cent of adults are so overweight that their health is in danger.
And here are the calories to be burned off by walking;
Marble Arch to Chancery Lane (Central Line)
Quickest walk taking in all stations: 4,927 steps
Burns: up to 147 calories
Equivalent to: one doughnut.
Route: From Marble Arch walk straight along Oxford Street, past Oxford Circus and Tottenham Court Road Tube stations, down New Oxford Street taking in Holborn Tube and then walk along High Holborn.
Monument to King’s Cross (Circle Line)
Quickest walk: 7,888 steps
Burns: up to 236 calories
Equivalent to: one chicken tikka masala.
Route: From Monument walk along Eastcheap and Byward Street to Tower Hill, up Minories to Aldgate, along Houndsditch and Bishopsgate to Liverpool Street station, cut through Finsbury Circus to Moorgate. Walk through the Barbican estate to Barbican Tube, down Charterhouse Street for Farringdon, then Farringdon Road, King’s Cross Road, Acton Street and Gray’s Inn Road to King’s Cross station.
South Kensington to Bayswater (Circle Line)
Quickest walk: 5,833 steps
Burns up to: 174 calories
Equivalent to: one Cadbury’s Crème Egg.
Route: from South Kensington tube walk along Thurloe Street and Stanhope Gardens to Gloucester Road, then along Cromwell Road and Marloes Road to High Street Kensington station, along Kensington High Street, up Kensington Church Street, then Bayswater Road and Queensway to Bayswater.
If after you try Tube Walking and find it is addictive how about emulating Neil Johan and walking 378 miles between ALL Tube stations!