Grangetown local Daniel Allsopp will start training his fourth Couch to 5k group next Monday. He runs the five-week program solely on donations to charity out of a passion for active, healthy lifestyles at a time when obesity rates in the UK are on the rise.
Sessions will be held on Mondays and Thursdays at 7:30pm and will start and end at the Cardiff International Pool car park. Though the program is aimed at beginners, all are welcome. Those who are interested in signing up may do so by contacting Daniel Allsopp directly. A one-off donation of £10 to the Dreams and Wishes charity confirms one’s spot.
Citizens such as Allsopp are doing their part in helping to tackle the obesity crisis in Britain. Twenty-nine percent of people in the UK are obese and treating the consequences of obesity costs the NHS about £5bn per year.
David Cameron recently warned that the government needed to deal with the obesity crisis because of its impact on heart disease and cancer rates. The prime minister rejected the proposal for a sugar tax of up to 20% last week; he plans to unveil the revised obesity strategy toward the end of the month. Whether Cameron’s strategy will include plans to spend more on obesity prevention programs remains to be seen.
“I think it’s important for people to at least try and get fit so they can feel better about themselves, meet new people and enjoy life,” Allsopp says.
He was inspired to launch the Couch to 5k program when parents at his son’s school started asking him questions about losing weight and getting fit last year. Since then, he has trained three Couch to 5k groups. The last group Allsopp trained successfully completed their 5k run on 14 February. They were a total of 20 runners. Allsopp says: “Their progress was unbelievable.”
Just over three years ago, Allsopp himself was overweight at 98 kilograms. His diet was poor and he didn’t exercise. Today, Allsopp is 20 kilograms lighter. He says: “I’m in the best shape in my life and I just want people to have a taste of how having a more active lifestyle can be beneficial.”
Weight management expert Dr. Orla Flannery believes that while programs like Couch to 5k are helpful in giving people the confidence and support they need to start exercising, the UK food industry also plays a significant role amidst the obesity crisis.
“It’s on food manufacturers to do more and make it more transparent because there’s a lot of hidden sugars in some products which make it really difficult to work out how many calories might be in something,” Flannery says.
Shelley Pascual wrote this article and created these radio clips for Cardiff News Plus, where it was originally published on 22 February 2016.