With new reports claiming nearly two-thirds of Britons are overweight or obese – making us the fattest country in Europe – health experts are suggesting that putting our clocks forward 8 hours would help people exercise more and stay healthier, as well as giving the flat-lining economy a welcome boost.
The clocks going back to GMT this weekend – and the onset of dark winter evenings – signals for many the end of outdoor activity and the beginning of months of listless sitting around watching television and eating crisps, health experts warned.
In his British Medical Journal article, Dr Stephen Woodburn, a time-zone, obesity and economics specialist, has proposed that the 8 extra hours of sunlight in the evening will give obese and overweight people more chance to exercise outside, increasing their chances of losing weight and living longer.
Dr Woodburn’s proposals, if adopted, would put Britain in the same time-zone as China, a country where, tellingly, obesity levels are much lower, and the economy is more robust.
The shift would also give Britain an advantage over other European nations in dealing with Korean and Japanese business, as our work-days, although generally shorter, would more closely match those in the Far-East, putting us in a position to base call-centres for these economies here in the UK, once their English improves to acceptable levels.
Dr Woodburn described the potential impact on British lifestyles, saying, 'The extra 8 hours of evening daylight would give everyone more opportunities to be active outdoors. The sun would rise at around 5pm in mid-winter Britain, and set at around midnight, creating ample time for outdoor leisure, sport – even going to the beach.'
Opponents, however, raise the issue of road safety, and that people getting up at what is now midnight, but will be rebranded '8 in the morning', may be less alert at the wheel, leading to an increase in traffic accidents. They also point out that the first few days after the proposed change are 'going to be absolute killers', with people getting 8 hours less in bed.
Jeff Horn, a spokesperson for a coalition of groups representing the obese and indolent communities, has commented that 'no amount of mucking about with the clocks is going to convince us to get off the sofa. It's always pizza time.'