The Best Men’s Yoga Clothing

Here’s the thing about great yoga clothing – it’s really not just for yoga. The comfortable, casual menswear that’s best for practising yoga is also great to wear when in the gym, relaxing at home, travelling – in fact, if you opt for some of the smarter gear available, pretty much anywhere.

First and foremost though, it’s important to make sure your yoga gear is fit for purpose, in that it allows you the freedom to move on the yoga mat. Here are our four favourite brands for yoga gear for men and a few of our top picks from their ranges to consider.

Lululemon

In Mind shorts

To truly express yourself on the yoga mat you need shorts that are loose and elastic enough that they don’t limit your movements, but also don’t ride up when you go into inverted positions. Lululemon’s In Mind shorts are made with stretchy, quick-drying fabric and have a stay-put hem to protect your modesty. £65, buy on lululemon.co.uk

Discipline pants

If you prefer to wear trousers during yoga, you can pick up some incredibly adaptable bits of gear that are great in and out of the studio. These pants are comfortable and sweat-wicking, but also have zipped pockets (including two on the back) and are subtly styled so you can wear them to and from the studio too. £88, buy on lululemon.co.uk

Metal Vent Tech Tank

This sweat-wicking, odour-resistant tank has a loose but not flappy fit that’s great for yoga, and it’s also suitable for all other kinds of training. £48, buy on lululemon.co.uk

Manduka

Now pants

These lightweight, form-fitting trousers won’t constrict your flow and although the legs are tapered, they’re still loose enough that you can push them up to sit above the calves if you prefer. €90 (approx £78), buy on manduka.com

Cross train tank

Silky-smooth comfort is the name of the game with this tank, which is also pitched in the perfect spot between fitted and loose. €44 (approx £38), buy on manduka.com

Performance mesh shorts

The compression inner on these shorts provides support and removes any modesty concerns you might have when in inverted positions, but isn’t so tight as to be distracting. The mesh outer complements the snug inner by being breathable and quick-drying. €75 (approx £65), buy on manduka.com

OHMME

Cobra T-shirt

You’ll often see us out and about in this black tee thanks to the stylish twist the melange look affords. You’ll always see it on us in the studio, though, thanks to the silky-soft feel, a material that wicks sweat away but has some heft to it, and a fitted waist so it doesn’t slide down to your armpits the instant your head goes down. £36, buy on ohmme.com

2-Dogs lined shorts

The inner checks all the boxes you’d expect from yoga shorts. Snug? Check. Stretchy? Check. Sweat-wicking? Check. Going commando optional? Er, check. Yup, these shorts are lined so you don’t have to wear undies with them. With that in mind, you’ll be pleased to hear that the compression shorts are made with an anti-bacterial fabric. £45, buy on ohmme.com

Dharma Graphite pants

The soft feel of the fabric makes these a joy to pull on. The strong seams should also mean these pants keep up with you as you progress your practice. £55, buy on ohmme.com

BAM

Bamboo training T-shirt

Like all of BAM’s gear, this lightweight tee is made from bamboo fabric, which means supreme comfort, natural odour resistance and rapid drying. The looser fit is just right for yoga, and the seagull design is just right for everything. £28, buy on bambooclothing.co.uk

New York bamboo joggers

These are not specifically designed for yoga, but if you were making the perfect pants for the practice, they’d not differ a great deal from the New York joggers. The fit is looser around the thigh and tapers from knee to ankle, and the comfort of the bamboo fabric is unparalleled. £55, buy on bambooclothing.co.uk

What John Ramsay Learnt Living With A Loved One With Dementia

Two years ago John Ramsay called time on his career as a corporate lawyer to work on bringing a Dutch innovation called Tovertafel to the UK. The word means “magic table”, and it’s a variety of games that can help engage people with mid- to late-stage dementia using interactive light animations that are projected onto a table.

We spoke Ramsay about his own experience of living with a loved one who has dementia, and why he dropped everything to work on Tovertafel.

How did you come to be involved with Tovertafel?

I wanted to do something that gave me more purpose, particularly outside of the courtroom. About two years ago I sat down with a good friend of mine called Dr Hester Le Riche and she told me about this amazing product called the Tovertafel and how it was dedicated to creating moments of happiness in people with dementia. From that moment on I opened up more about my own story. My dad was diagnosed with dementia when I was about 12. He was 52 and a consultant at Guy’s and St Thomas’. Growing up as a teenager with your role model gradually becoming someone else, going on this journey where he’s not really able to interact with you, left quite a mark on me.

The Tovertafel is an interactive projector, which projects light animations on to any table. The light animations have been designed to spark the greatest level of interaction in someone with mid- to late-stage dementia. It’s about putting the loved one with dementia in the middle, and working out what is best for them in terms of interaction. When I saw it myself for the first time… you’d have to have a heart of stone not to be moved by it.

What are the best ways to interact with a loved one that has dementia?

It’s important to understand that it’s a journey and you have to prepare yourself. You have to understand where that journey is going to take not just your loved one, but you yourself. It’s important to try to build the environment around their needs, to take external advice and to understand what sort of things will affect a loved one with dementia – short-term memory loss, confusion, a lack of language.

I always try and make the language as positive as possible, because there’s a lot out there that talks about suffering and patience, and negative words like that. It’s obviously clear that that can happen, but people are still living with dementia and they can still be in the present. Once you get dementia that is not the end of everything. Yes, you have a condition, but it’s important to recognise that there is still a life to lead.

Looking back I wish I’d done more of that with my dad. He loved rugby, he loved gardening, he loved doing lots of different things, and we didn’t really build them into his daily routine. We actually thought we were protecting him from it. Therefore he did not feel quite himself and at home and couldn’t focus on things, because it wasn’t necessarily what he enjoyed doing.

The bigger problem with dad was that he was literally working in an NHS hospital on the Friday, and then on the Monday not allowed to drive, let alone work. Can you imagine if I told you tomorrow that your entire routine, your entire daily life, is to be taken away from you? With or without dementia, that’s going to be hard to take, but with dementia as soon as your routine goes it has a really profound effect.

It’s important to give as much love, patience and understanding as possible, but it’s also important to see where the condition and the man lie. I see a pendulum. It might be the condition that’s making dad act in a certain way, but you’ve got to recognise that and not take it out on the man, who’s still there. Sometimes you get frustrated but obviously he’s still your dad, still a man and he’s not doing it intentionally. It means taking a deep breath and treating him as a human, no matter what, and finding the things that are really going to engage him. The onus is on you.

So it’s important to remember that people still enjoy the same things?

Yeah – find a way to bring those into their life. For instance dad loved gardening, but as soon as he was diagnosed he was not allowed to mow the lawn because that could be dangerous. Whereas maybe we could still have been doing gardening in a safe way and he would still have been doing something that he really loved.

How important is a routine?

You’ve got to try to have a routine. You find out what works, and invariably what works one day is likely to work the next day, especially when it gets to the stage when each day is a whole new day. It’s important to find out the things that help spark interaction and create the happy moments. Moving on to Tovertafel, when you hit the mid- to late stage of the journey, it’s designed to spark interaction. It might seem to just be lights on the table, but they’re designed in such a way that it triggers interaction in a very safe environment.

Is the Tovertafel a personalised experience?

Actually we shy away from that – it’s the other way around. What we’re trying to do is be as inclusive as possible. We find general themes like bursting bubbles, sweeping up leaves or catching fish, so you create a social environment. If you weren’t on your journey you might be playing bridge or going down the pub, and it’s replacing that moment.

You don’t want hundreds of games, because it doesn’t work. You want repetitive games. In the really late stages every ten minutes is a new ten minutes, and people don’t necessarily understand that when you’re not confronted with it. So it’s important that if something works, its going to work in ten minutes’ time, or half an hour’s time, and that’s how you gain the structure you need.

Is there something similar you can do with a loved one in the early stages of dementia?

Absolutely, but I think it’s more about traditional activities then. You’re still able to go for walks, go out for dinner and make sure they don’t get isolated. Try to keep them in their world for as long as possible. But at some stage they will become less mobile or talkative and engaged. It’s technically termed passive, but I prefer to say something like withdrawn. And that’s where the Tovertafel is key, because 90% of people with dementia become withdrawn, so what we’re trying to do is stimulate them to be more active.

Some people might reach out and touch the lights, and some people might just watch them, and that’s brilliant, because they weren’t watching things before, so it’s having a profound effect. Or other might start socialising, communicating to people around it, or looking you in the eye when they didn’t before, because the brain is more stimulated.

Where can people find Tovertafel?

We started 18 months ago and we focused on care homes and day care centres. We’re trying to get them installed in the community. They get bought by care homes, libraries, GP practices, surgeries, hospitals, village halls, a church… We’re in 250 to 300 centres in the UK and almost 2,000 across Europe. The goal is to get to ten million people using it every single day.

One of the things we’ve just launched is the Tovertafel buddy scheme, where with each Tovertafel we reach out to a local secondary or primary school and we try to make sure that we can get regular visits from maybe sixth formers on work experience, or primary-school kids to come in and play. The advantage of this is we’ve created an intergenerational activity and young kids have something they can do when they’re spending time with their grandparents.

Look No Further For Luxury Luggage

One is a hero of the skies, the other an icon of style. Together, the mighty Spitfire and the model David Gandy combine to create the Aerodrome Collaboration, an 18-piece collection for luxury brand Aspinal of London that includes pieces inspired by classic military looks, using black and tan calfskin leather and navy canvas.

The core leather used is traditional pilot’s flying jacket grain, while the hardware reflects specific components of the plane. The lock used on some of the pieces is an exact copy of the Spitfire Mk1 firing button, and other Spitfire-inspired design details have been used across handle holders, studs and zip pulls, which are shaped like propellers.

Key pieces include travel bags sized according to trip time (see right), a washbag and a passport cover. For everyday use, there’s a classic-looking briefcase, a zip folio and a leather backpack. As for Gandy’s involvement, he wasn’t just a passenger when it came to the design, which he worked on with a team from Aspinal and M&C Saatchi Merlin.

48 Hour Mission Bag in smooth tan, £995

“My inspiration for the design and details of the collection was taken from the RAF Spitfire, arguably one of the greatest pieces of British engineering of all time,” says Gandy. “All the individual items are an extension of my own personal aesthetic where the sophisticated, subtle feel of luxury and heritage meet with modern usability and technology.

“I’m very proud that the attention to detail has been captured through the quality of the materials as well as the finer details such as the stitching and hardware. It feels masculine, yet functional and stylish.

“As a frequent flier and keen traveller, this collection is an extension of my travelling wardrobe and truly a representation of my own personal style blended with luxury heritage English design.”

For more information, visit aspinaloflondon.com.

A Recipe Book You’ll Use Every Day: HelloFresh Recipes That Work

Photograph: Jason Ingram

On the first page of Recipes That Work author Patrick Drake reveals his hope that the book will become the “most loved, reliable, sauce-spattered, page-folded go-to in your kitchen”, rather than another cookbook that sits on the shelf until a special occasion arises. Well, we have good news for Patrick, because I found Recipes That Work fits that bill. It’s full of quick and easy recipes that, almost exclusively, use ingredients you can find in a small supermarket (no cookbook gets the Coach seal of approval if you have to go beyond a Tesco Metro for every recipe).

The recipes are all proven favourites with HelloFresh customers, which means they have been tried and tested by thousands of people who have confirmed that they’re easy and tasty. Obviously, the recipes aren’t quite as easy to make as when you’re handed all the ingredients measured out in small packets, but doing it this way is considerably cheaper.

I tried three recipes from the book: mushroom gnocchi, veggie chilli and chicken paella. All three took under 45 minutes and I will make all three again. During the process I also picked up a few super-useful tips, including how to nail making rice and how throwing some fresh herbs in a dish right at the end of the cooking process makes everything you cook better. If you use the appropriate herbs, of course.

That’s one of the triumphs of the book – all the recipes are generally solid meals elevated by something I wouldn’t have done without instruction. Fresh herbs are encouraged in most recipes and for the veggie chilli a zesty lime and sour cream mix you plop on top completely transformed the dish. I make a pretty mean veggie chilli myself – I’d even say it’s the match of the HelloFresh recipe – but I’ve never added in lime-y sour cream. I will from now on.

Even if I never used the book again (which is unlikely), I’d have taken away plenty from it in terms of these little touches that don’t take much extra effort but have a real impact on the meal.

There are also certain flavour trends that run through the recipes in the book, which means that if you have to buy ingredients you haven’t used before, the remainder won’t sit in the fridge or cupboard forever. Flick through the pages and you’ll almost certainly find another recipe that uses them.

Health is not the first consideration of the recipes in Recipes That Work, as it isn’t in most recipe books, but as a rule each recipe includes a couple of portions of your five-a-day (sometimes far more) and if you used the book to cook dinner every day it would tick the boxes for a well-balanced diet.

The intro to the book also includes a series of quick lessons to help a beginner, including a list of store cupboard essentials, how-to guides to chopping pretty much everything, and even an in-depth explanation of what a pinch of salt is (including the difference between a small pinch and a good pinch). It’s all basic stuff, but I’d wager the vast majority of people will pick up a couple of very useful things from it.

Perhaps the only thing that’s really lacking from Recipes That Work is the more spectacular recipes you might use for a grand occasion although my opinion on that might change when I try the confit duck lasagne. But that’s not really the point of the book, it’s something to use everyday. That is until it becomes too sauce-spattered to even read.

HelloFresh Recipes That Work by Patrick Drake is published by Mitchell Beazley (octopusbooks.co.uk). £7 (RRP £20), buy on Amazon

How To Do The Leg Extension

It takes a variety of exercises to build up the powerhouse muscles that make up the front of your thigh, and it’s worth incorporating a mix of compound and isolation moves into your routine if stronger quads are among your key goals.

The leg extension is a stalwart isolation exercise that puts all the focus on your quads and it acts as the perfect complement to the leg curl, which isolates the hamstrings. Together the duo will go a long way towards bulking up your thigh muscles, front and back.

However, before we get to how you do leg extensions it’s important to address the risks of the exercise, because it’s one that many people with knee issues steer clear of. For info on the potential risks and how to avoid them, we spoke to Barry’s Bootcamp master trainer Sandy Macaskill.

What are the risks of doing leg extensions?

Leg extensions are a pretty straightforward exercise in terms of technique, which is always a positive, but they do keep your anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) under tension. If you have weak knees, or regularly play sports that involve repeated changes of direction or jumping, it’s important to perform leg extensions carefully and with manageable weight. To be honest, though, the same applies for any resistance exercise.

RECOMMENDED: The Best Leg Exercises For All Levels Of Gym-Goer

Can you give some technique pointers for reducing these risks?

Lift light, first of all. Start with a light load and go from there. You can always build up, unless you wreck your knees out of the gate. The technique is pretty straightforward but even so, perform the exercise slowly and concentrate on contracting your quads to move the weight rather than yanking your feet up. Engaging the correct muscles requires you to really focus.

What other exercises could people do to target the same muscles without similar risks?

We work with free weights at Barry’s, so I would prefer the good old squat which recruits more muscles, allows a greater increase in the load and is a more functional exercise. Also it offers more variety, in terms of changing angles. Again, like any exercise, squats come with their own issues. Start with an unweighted squat, focusing on correct form, and progress from there.

How To Do The Leg Extension

Sit up straight on the leg extension machine – imagine you have a seat belt pulling your waist into the seat. Adjust the pad so it sits on top of your shins just above your feet, which should be pointing forward. Hold the side bars. Ensuring that you are using your quads to power the movement, rather than kicking up with your feet, extend your legs straight out in front of you. Then slowly lower them back to the starting position.

The Best Food Processors To Buy In 2018

Chop, dice, slice, blend, mix, grate and purée like a pro by adding a food processor to your arsenal of kitchen gadgets. A food processor can make light work of complex recipes and save you precious prep time when whipping up healthy midweek meals – it’s little wonder Jamie Oliver’s 15-Minute Meals TV show and cookbook used a food processor in almost every recipe.

It’s the ultimate helping hand in the kitchen, especially if you’re cooking for a crowd or filling your freezer with batch-cooked goodness. Whether whizzing up chunky marinades, mixing healthy snacks or blending protein shakes, a food processor is a multi-tasking marvel. Here’s our pick of the best buys.

Best All-Rounder: Kenwood MultiPro Compact FDP301SI Food Processor

Lightweight and compact, this space-saving gadget is reassuringly sturdy and comes with a range of blades for slicing, grating and chopping as well as an emulsifying tool for whipping cream and eggs. Unusually for such an affordable machine, you can adjust the power settings and use the pulse button to mix things up in short bursts. It’s a good pick for small kitchens (as long as you have somewhere to stash the included blender attachment). £65 (RRP £75), buy on Amazon

Most Stylish Food Processor: KitchenAid Classic Food Processor

This retro-looking appliance offers a number of useful and unique features such as an adjustable disc to control the thickness of your slices, as well as a jumbo feed tube that can handle whole fruit and vegetables. There’s a reversible shredding disc for fine and coarse grating, and a multi-purpose blade for all your mixing and blending needs. £166 (RRP £199), buy on Amazon

Best Budget Food Processor: Andrew James Food Processor And Blender

Easy on the pocket and to use, this affordable appliance chomps through ingredients using a range of blades, graters and discs. It comes with a blender for smoothies and shakes and there are special attachments for slicing French fries and juicing fruits. It might not be as powerful as some of our other picks but for versatility and value, you can’t go wrong with this inexpensive option. £60, buy on Amazon

Best Multi-Tasking Food Processor: Nutri Ninja Complete Kitchen System

Equipped with a punchy 1,500-watt motor, this jack of all trades serves as a food processor, a large blender and a NutriBullet-style smoothie maker. It can blitz, blend, grate, slice and crush ice in a flash, and its handy one-touch Auto IQ programme lets you throw ingredients together and stand back while it works its magic. It comes with a range of blades, discs, jugs and cups so you’ll need to make sure you’ve got storage space, but this all-in-one gadget should cover all your kitchen needs. £150, buy on Argos

Best High-End Food Processor: Magimix 5200XL

A quality buy for foodies and families, this solid piece of kit comes with a 30-year guarantee so you can rest assured that it’s built to last. It has three different bowls to deal with everything from a single egg to a family feast and they all nest inside each other for easy storage. The dough blade, egg whisk, citrus press and discs for grating and slicing cover all culinary bases and the powerful 1,100-watt motor is surprisingly quiet. £302 (RRP £340), buy on Amazon

Here’s Where To Find A Bunch Of Healthy Meal Ideas For Kids

You want to be a role model for your kids. You want them to look up to you, to follow your lead, to respect you. But sometimes it doesn’t hurt to recruit ane outside influence to point the little ’uns in the right direction, especially when it comes to their diet. You can set a good example by wolfing down greens at every opportunity but there’s no way you can shield their impressionable eyes from ads for high-fat high-sugar high-calorie junk food.

So Coach is completely behind world-famous people backing you up when it comes to vegetables, and sports-wise they don’t come much more famous than Lionel Messi and his Barcelona teammates. The players and, less famous but probably more useful in this context, the nutrition team at the Spanish superclub have paired up with home appliance company Beko to create Eat Like A Pro, a website that lavishes you with recipes and healthy eating tips that will help your kids eat better – not least because Barcelona’s star men are telling them to.

RECOMMENDED: Make This Healthy Banana Flapjacks Recipe With Your Kids

Healthy recipes are a big part of what Eat Like A Pro offers. There’s a handy spinner where you choose the meal you want to cook (breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert) and how long you have to make it (from as little as ten minutes), which then offers a selection of recipes that fit the bill. There’s also a raft of recipes that you can make with your kids to get them interested in cooking, including a spectacular loaf of brown bread shaped like a rabbit wearing a bow tie.

Each recipe has a video and step-by-step instructions, along with noting the physical and performance benefits you get from eating the finished result. So the aforementioned bunny bread will benefit your agility, power and speed, for example. How do you think Messi won all those Ballon d’Ors? Bunny bread!

Along with recipes you’ll find a whole host of food styling tips on the Eat Like A Pro site, because creating a picture on a plate using food is one surefire way to interest your kids in healthy food. You can create a sloth using braised beef, mashed potatoes, carrots, dates and pickled ginger, or make a terrifying clown face poké bowl.

The Barcelona players get involved with the cheer generator, which allows you to select a player holding a customised board that applauds your child for finishing a portion of a certain food. There is also a series of video interviews where players discuss questions around healthy eating. Ivan Rakitic details how he started eating healthily, for example, while Luis Suárez is asked if he has ever eaten any weird yet super-healthy food and somehow passes up the opportunity to make a Giorgio Chiellini joke.

If you have a football-mad kid who rejects any and all healthy food Eat Like A Pro might be just the ticket for helping to change their mind. And even if your kids hate football as much as they do healthy food, they’re still going to enjoy making a bow-tie-wearing-rabbit-shaped loaf of bread, because no human on earth wouldn’t enjoy doing that.

Refuel With These Apricot And Almond Butter Squares

Protein balls and bars have become the common shapes for when you’re consuming your post-workout muscle fuel in solid form, but why limit yourself? There’s a big wide world of geometric shapes out there, one that includes squares. Squares like these, which contain vanilla protein powder, almond butter and seeds to ensure they deliver a protein hit that satisfies your aching muscles after you’ve put them through a savage workout.

As well as packing in the protein, almond butter is high in monounsaturated fats, vitamin E and manganese, while seeds are rich in essential minerals such as zinc and copper, which play critical roles in energy metabolism. The recipe also contains cinnamon, just because it tastes fantastic, a quality that is just as important as all the minerals and such.

The squares are also simple to make. Sure, there are a lot of ingredients, but they all get chucked in together pretty quickly, there’s no faffing about with separate parts. Once you’ve made a batch they will keep in the fridge for a few days, so you’ll have a ready supply of snacks to support your training.

We should say that if you’re not training, it’s probably best not to scoff too many because the squares are high in energy at 308 calories apiece. That makes them ideal for someone bashing out workouts regularly, but not so good for someone who hasn’t had a chance to leave their desk all week.

Ingredients (Makes Eight Squares)

  • 170g almond butter
  • 75g butter
  • 100g honey
  • 100g dried apricots, chopped
  • 25g mixed seeds
  • 1tsp cinnamon
  • ½tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 scoop of vanilla protein powder
  • 100g wholemeal self-raising flour
  • 150g porridge oats

Method

  1. Melt the butter, almond butter and honey in a large saucepan.
  2. Add the protein powder, apricots, seeds, cinnamon, bicarbonate of soda, flour and oats and mix.
  3. Press the mixture into a greased or lined baking tray. Bake at 180˚C/gas mark 4 for 20 minutes until the edges are crisp but it is still soft in the middle.
  4. Leave in the tray until completely cool, then cut into eight squares and refrigerate.

Nutritional Info (Per Square)

Calories 308
Protein 8g
Fat 16g
Carbohydrate 35g

Adidas SolarBoost Running Shoe First Impressions

Just as you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone, sometimes you only realise what’s been missing when it arrives. Adidas’s line-up of Boost shoes is phenomenally successful, but it’s been missing a shoe like the SolarBoost – a performance running shoe that’s not as lightweight as the Adios or the Boston, but more stable and lighter than the UltraBoost. I’ve taken the SolarBoost out for a couple of runs, so while this is just my initial impressions of the shoe with a full review in the works, it lives up to the hype so far.

The Boost foam provides as enjoyable a ride as ever, but the upper on the SolarBoost is very different to the UltraBoost. The toe box is snug and keeps the foot locked in place better than a knit upper. I feared it would be too tight and annoy me when running, but that didn’t prove to be the case. It’s best described as secure rather than tight, and it’s consistently stable, even when you pick up the pace. The guide rail on the shoe also helps with this. The SolarBoost is not a stability shoe designed to counter pronation problems, but it is more supportive than the UltraBoost, the knit upper on which can feel slightly sloppy when running at speed.

I took the SolarBoost out for a steady five miles on some light trails and a speed session involving eight 1km intervals at 10K pace. From the limited experience I’ve had with the shoe I’d say it’s slightly too heavy to excel in 10K races and in sprint sessions, when I’d prefer a shoe like the Adios instead, but it feels like a great shoe for holding a brisk pace over longer distances and bouncing through your general training in comfort.

If you’re a very keen runner who has truly embraced Boost shoes, the SolarBoost will fit into your line-up for long training runs and easy days, with the lighter Boost shoes saved for track and races. And if you’re a casual runner looking for a cushioned neutral shoe to tackle everything, the SolarBoost fits the bill as an all-purpose trainer/racer.

£139.95, buy on adidas.co.uk

Why Classing Obesity As A Disease Might Be A Good Idea

Figures that show the scale of the obesity problem in the UK make for very grim reading. A World Health Organisation study in 2014 found that 28% of adults were classed as obese and 62% were overweight or obese, based on BMI measurements. Then there are the stats on children in the UK, more than a third of whom leave primary school classed as overweight or obese. On top of the problems it can cause individuals, obesity costs the NHS billions of pounds a year – and the situation is only expected to get worse.

The growing scale of the problem is an indictment of how the UK currently responds to obesity. A new report from the All-Party Parliamentary Group On Obesity has found that on both a personal and organisational level the response to obesity is lacking. According to the report, nine out of ten obese people have suffered abuse, criticism or stigmatisation because of their obesity, and the NHS is failing people with obesity by not offering enough treatment and prevention services.

There is no magic bullet for solving the obesity crisis in the UK, but steps clearly need to be taken. Coach spoke to John Wass, a professor of endocrinology at Oxford University, about what can be done to combat growing obesity rates, starting with the suggestion for government to ensure that a long, hard look at classing obesity as a disease and the effect this would have.

How would classing obesity as a disease help?

It would be really important that people who have an obesity problem are less stigmatised. We used to have a stigma with HIV – we don’t any more. Journalists, the general public and even the medical profession stigmatise people who have a weight problem, and don’t treat them like everybody else. I think if it was a disease people would not think it was their own fault.

I think if you get cancer of the lung, it’s a disease. If you get cancer of the pancreas, it’s a disease. You don’t blame yourself for it. If you have obesity and it’s a disease, you don’t blame yourself and give yourself a hard time. The fact is that genetics are a hugely important aspect of this. If you have an appetite that is above normal or you don’t feel full so quickly as some, you’ll eat more. Those two things are genetically determined.

But self-control also plays a role in obesity?

Obviously there are other things, like the availability of food or the amount of exercise people are taking. It’s not just one thing and I think that’s important too, but unless we begin to tackle things one by one, then we won’t get control of the problem. Our country has the highest levels of obesity in western Europe, some of the highest in the world, and it’s costing the NHS billions of pounds.

Do other places classify obesity as a disease?

In Holland, Portugal, Canada and America it’s classified as a disease. And we know that it has helped in America – it’s helped to destigmatise it and it’s helped to get people treated more readily. There are lots of aspects of making it a disease that will help people that already have a problem.

How else do you tackle the obesity problem?

There are lots of different things you need to do, but you’ve got to get going. You prevent it, that’s very important, but also treat it. You need to do both of those things.

What should be the first steps?

One of the first steps is to set up obesity services in every hospital in the country. A multidisciplinary team – a physician, a specialist nurse, somebody who can actually help people exercise, a dietitian – all of those things are important. Then people would have somewhere to go when they have a weight problem where they can get treatment. Treatment has been shown to be very effective.

Is the NHS not adequately supporting people now?

Only 50% of the country have access to obesity services, which is nowhere near enough.

Would stopping the advertising of certain foods help?

That’s a preventative measure which is important. Stopping advertising to children before nine in the evening has been shown to decrease the intake of junk foods. Advertising junk food before nine makes the obesity problem worse in children. A fifth of them go into primary school overweight, and a third of them come out of primary school [overweight], so there’s a huge issue there with people putting on weight during their schooling years.

It’s a preventative step that will carry over to when they are adults?

Yes. If a child is overweight they will carry it on as an adult, and they get more incidence of cancer, obviously diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.