Prince Charles takes aim at the food industry
Prince Charles takes aim at the food industry for ‘forcing families to eat unhealthily’ as he calls on GPs to discuss a patient’s diet during appointments
- Prince Charles says families choose low-quality meals because they are cheaper
- Blasted ‘perverse market forces’ in food industry that makes unhealthy items
- He made the comments on Britain’s health in the Future Healthcare Journal
- NHS figures show about two thirds of adults in England are overweight or obese
Prince Charles has blasted ‘perverse market forces’ that encourage the food industry to make unhealthy products.
He said many families chose low-quality meals because they were much cheaper than healthy options.
Good food was too often an ‘afterthought’, he said, and GPs and medical workers had a ‘crucial role’ in stressing the importance of healthy eating.
Writing in the Future Healthcare Journal, the prince said the pandemic had shown the ‘transformative effect’ on health of an ‘integrated approach’. ‘I believe we must integrate the treatment of disease with the prevention of disease,’ he wrote.
Prince Charles has blasted ‘perverse market forces’ that encourage the food industry to make unhealthy products. Pictured: The Prince of Wales in a food market in Florence, Italy
‘Food provides a good example of the integration in the sense that I mean. In hospitals, and often in the community, we concentrate on the health benefits of medicines, but it seems that the health benefit of food is often an afterthought when it comes to treatment or medical training.
‘Yet we know that food is one of the determining factors in maintaining good health and wellbeing, and avoiding disease. Therefore, is it not logical that food and diet should be a part of many, if not most, medical consultations?’
NHS figures show that most adults in England are overweight or obese – 67 per cent of men and 60 per cent of women.
Hospital admissions directly attributable to obesity exceeded 11,000 in 2018/19 – 4 per cent more than the previous year.
A third of children are classed as overweight or obese.
NHS figures show that most adults in England are overweight or obese – 67 per cent of men and 60 per cent of women (stock photo)
Charles condemned the ‘perverse economic factors’ that encourage farmers, producers and retailers to offer less healthy food ‘because it is cheaper’.
And he said that individual metabolisms, environmental exposure and even gut biomes should be taken into account as part of efforts to improve health.
He pointed to his long advocacy of ‘social prescription’ – where health professionals refer patients to support in the community.
He wrote that traditional medicine ‘does not have all the answers’ and medical care should ‘go beyond pills and procedures’ to recognise the impact of the physical and social environment.
‘Biomedicine has been spectacularly successful in treating and often curing disease that was previously incurable,’ he wrote.
‘Yet it cannot hold all the answers, as witnessed by the increasing incidence of long-term disease, antibiotic resistance and opiate dependence. There is research … which shows you are almost three times more likely to overcome depression if you have a hobby.
Charles has condemned the ‘perverse economic factors’ that encourage farmers, producers and retailers to offer less healthy food ‘because it is cheaper’
‘Social prescription enables doctors to provide patients with a bespoke prescription that might help at a time of need.
‘When we hear that a quarter of 14 to 16-year-old girls are self-harming and almost a third of our children are overweight or obese, it should make us realise that we will have to be a bit more radical.
‘And though social prescription cannot do everything, I believe, used imaginatively, it can begin to tackle these deep-rooted issues.’
Boris Johnson, who said he was ‘way overweight’ when he was hospitalised with Covid-19, launched a campaign last summer to cut obesity rates as part of the response to the pandemic.
The plans included bans on junk food advertising, removing chocolate, crisps and sweets from supermarket checkouts, and making restaurants and pubs display calories on menus.
In a video posted on Twitter, Mr Johnson said: ‘When I went into ICU I was very ill … I was way overweight. I’m only about 5ft 10in and, you know, I was too fat.’
Back in 2002, Prince Charles criticised the obsession with cheap and convenient food, which he said was damaging the countryside, endangering animal welfare and threatening rural jobs
However the effectiveness of the campaign has been called into question, with a study for the Social Market Foundation finding that, by December, it had been ‘largely ineffective’.
For decades Charles has supported the idea of buying local produce – even if it is more expensive.
Back in 2002, he criticised the obsession with cheap and convenient food, which he said was damaging the countryside, endangering animal welfare and threatening rural jobs.
He took a swipe at supermarkets for importing organic produce that could be produced in Britain, adding the farmers bore the brunt of the risks and costs.
And in 2013 he delivered a stinging attack on the food industry, condemning an apparent drive toward cheaper products and bigger profits.
He said the ‘aggressive search for cheaper food’ was ‘driving farmers into the ground’ and ‘forcing’ them to take shortcuts.
The prince founded the premium organic food and drink brand Duchy Originals in 1999, aimed at helping small and medium-sized producers. Scientists have warned that excess weight puts people at greater risk of serious illness or death from Covid-19, with the danger growing substantially as body mass index (BMI) increases.
Nearly 8 per cent of critically ill virus victims were morbidly obese, compared with less than 3 per cent of the general population.
The World Obesity Federation said around 2.2million of the 2.5million global deaths from Covid have occurred in countries with the worst weight problems.
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