Are the Olympics making Britain fat?


Months before the 2012 Olympic Games began in London, I was getting sick of the hype. It seemed like every advert – whether it be on television, in the cinema or in magazines – was related to the Olympics. David Cameron and other politicians took every opportunity possible to say how excited everyone in Britain was – really? I live in the North-West and felt (along with many people I know) that it would be exactly the same watching the games as anywhere around the world: the only thing that even came near to where I live is the torch relay. Even the plans for the Opening Ceremony looked embarrassing initially, with the grass-covered hills providing a dull landscape compared to Beijing in 2008.


Since the games have actually begun, it seems that most people have similarly embraced the spirit as well. The gymnastics, cycling, rowing and athletics seem to generate the most activity on my Twitter news feed and cheering Team GB to Gold gets the adrenaline pumping. I’m among the many girls that have posted about body envy – Jessica Ennis is currently long jumping away on my screen. Political figures have been quoted saying that the London Olympics will make Britain healthier and embrace sport. Sure, people might take out a gym membership, or take up a new sport that looks interesting on their screens. But, how are the majority of us watching the games?

That’s right. Slobbing out on the sofa. With 24 special BBC Olympic channels (as well as coverage on BBC1, BBC2 and BBC3 for most of the day) means that once you start watching, you could channel hop the entire days events. Not moving. Usually with a snack. Or five if you’re me. I justify my laziness like this: ‘they’re professional athletes that train every day – I am not. Therefore, that body will more than likely not be mine. So I may as well just watch, hope GB win some more, and eat cake’. It’s a tasty strategy, but one that is making me feel more sluggish than motivated to get on that cross trainer.

For these few weeks,  it’s an unhealthier culture in the UK than ever. Large supermarkets have extended their opening hours in anticipation of increased buying. The Games are sponsored by Coca Cola and McDonald’s – can’t see the athletes taking part touching either of those products. But we will consume them in their millions. Hopefully the lasting legacy will influence more people to put down the remote, get out of the house and get fit. At least I’m hoping so, because I’m feeling very unhealthy right now.

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