BLAISE TAPP: Could a mobile app be the unexpected saviour in the obesity crisis?

Public Health England has launched the Active 10 app to tackle growing obesity in the UK. Picture: Shutterstock
Public Health England has launched the Active 10 app to tackle growing obesity in the UK. Picture: Shutterstock

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Nobody likes to be branded lazy – even if the cap fits – because it is almost impossible to shake off that particular label once it has been applied.

But an entire generation stands accused of collective acute bone idleness after health bosses revealed that a mind boggling 6.3m adults aged between 40 and 60 can’t be mithered to get off their backsides and do any exercise whatsoever.

Public Health England, which is the body tasked with improving our health, has found that rather than doing the recommended 10 minutes of brisk walking each day, millions of us couldn’t even muster 10 minutes a month.

Put simply, a huge proportion of our middle age population have become Jim Royle, the indolent comedy creation who we took to our hearts long ago.

From where I am sitting – munching double chocolate cookies as I type – last week’s shrill headlines about a laziness epidemic have hardly registered in the national consciousness.

Nothing has changed: we haven’t seen baldies in tight-fitting leisurewear queuing to sign up to the gym, nor have our politicians taken to the airwaves to implore us to do some exercise.

Although I do manage significantly more than 10 minutes of exercise over 30 days, I could do much more to lose the extra 3st which has cast a pot-bellied shadow over much of my adult life.

But we have always got an excuse not to pull on those trainers haven’t we? Mine is that unoriginal combination of kids and a full-time job, but in recent months I have begun walking more than I have done in well over a decade and already feel better for it.

Health experts say that walking for 10 minutes a day, although well below the minimum guidelines of two-and-a-half hours of moderate exercise each month, can serve as ‘baby steps’ on the road to a proper, grown-up exercise regime.

Public Health England has even taken the step of creating an app for our digital devices called Active 10, which will let the laziest among us know when they have done the bare minimum.

The trouble is, who can be bothered to download an app, unless it brings pizza or special chow mein to our front door?

But it could be that technology may well serve as the solution to our growing obesity crisis, which is costing the NHS hundreds of millions of pounds each year.

In fact, the experts behind this latest push to shame a nation into getting up off its backside believe that, if just 10 per cent of the group most at risk took up the most basic of exercise, then it would result in a saving of £310m, or enough to buy three DUP MPs.

If we are really serious about getting the Ready Meal Generation into better shape, then maybe it is time to think about charging those who drive everywhere, even to the chippy, for at least some of their healthcare.

There is huge resistance to any privatisation of the NHS, and while I broadly agree with that sentiment, some people do need geeing up. Measuring daily exercise on mobile phones, as well as being able to present that evidence to a doctor, might be one way to ensure that we lead healthier lives.

After all, do we really want to be remembered for the being the laziest bunch in history?