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Health, Nutrition, Science

“Hey you, Fatty! Stop eating so much!” declares UK government

Kenneth Clake (Source Wikipedia)

Obesity - a lack of willpower. Apparently

That’s right, being fat is your fault after all.

Yesterday, the UK minister for health, Andrew Lansley jabbed his not-too-chubby finger at the overweight far lacking insight into their food addiction. In a rally-call to the 60% of overweight adult Britons, his announced a new ‘national ambition’ is to cut out the hamburgers and go easy on the tipple.

So, come on you Brits, it’s time to wake up and smell the broccoli. Let’s club together, reinvigorate the ‘Bulldog Spirit’, and together we can cut out 28.4 million caffe lattes out of our collective intake.

That’s right Kenneth Clarke, he’s talking to you…

Government Obesity Plan is a load of Tripe

Andrew Lansley MP (Wikipedia)

"If we reduce the size of cheesecakes to this big..." Andrew Lansley MP (source: Wikimedia)

The UK government’s attempt to distance itself from its responsibilities to the health of the nation is not only ill-informed, but scientifically idiotic. Perhaps this reflective approach of ‘being more honest’ about what we eat has helped him reduce the size of his double-chin; but it almost certainly won’t work for a nation.

True, making a ‘fat tax’ will be deeply unpopular – but it will probably work better than his suggestions.

It has been known for decades that alcohol consumption is directly related to cost and availability – the cheaper alcohol is, the more people drink – FACT.

Likewise, increasing the cost of cigarettes makes people smoke lessFACT.

Make petrol more expensive, and people drive less… I think you get the idea.

Proactive approaches to encouraging healthy living and exercise in recent years have been expensive and largely ineffective. The reason is simple – we humans are programmed to eat.

Once you pop, you can’t stop – People will put on weight

Obesity Campaign PosterPut a rat in a cage with one type of rat food, and it will moderate its intake to maintain a steady weight. Give the rodent a variety of tasty treats to choose from and the variety alone will make it gorge itself until it the size of a furry melon, and then have a coronary. Last time you went for a buffet meal, I bet you couldn’t resist trying a little bit of everything, right?

The human obesity problem is related to the survival instinct in all of us. It has played a part in making us a species that has survived through a history of feast and famine: in times of peace and relative food abundance we will, left to our own devices, year-on-year slowly pile on the pounds. Epidemiological studies have shown this since scientists first learnt how to use a tape measure and weighing scales.

Simply telling people to eat less doesn’t work. Encouraging a nation into some bizarre group-therapy session of ‘let’s just be honest’ about that our pork pie fetish won’t work. Lansley’s softly-softly ‘let’s just ask food companies [nicely] to put less calories in their products’ won’t work either. The suggestion that subversively cutting 3-5% from all pre-packaged foods is contrary to all we have learnt about failed obesity initiatives.

The solution does, in the words of crying-chef Jamie Oliver need some “creative solutions”.

Rather than take the lead and do something brave, the British government is sidestepping responsibility onto local authority interventions and voluntary initiatives by businesses.

I wonder what solutions they come up with?

Not in the News – Local Authorities launch Novel Obesity-Busting Plans

different walk of lifeLocal councillor for Amesbury reported that they will be banning the use of television remote controls – claiming the additional exercise required to get up and change channel will be equivalent to the 16 dry roasted peanuts that the average adult typically overeats daily.

Voluntary organisation ‘StoptheChub’ today have launched a World War II-style month of rationing every January. They claim it will “counteract Christmas indulgences and teach today’s generation about the ‘good old days’”

Bottled water company and beverage manufacturer ‘Fizz-the-Fat’, famed for their popular sugary soft drinks are due to announce the addition of small quantities of the weight-loss drug Orlistat into all their drinks. A spokesperson said “We think it won’t take long for our customers get used to the side-effects of fatty stools, and will appreciate this groundbreaking step forward”

And finally, in other news, newspapers have recently released photographs showing Cabinet Officer Oliver Leftwin leaving a local Tescos store carrying armfuls of Chocolate Oranges after hearing about the accidental 29p pricing glitch


Thanks for reading – comments and feedback are warmly welcomed! Opinions expressed are my own…


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REFERENCES:

McCormick, B., Stone, I., & , . (2007). Economic costs of obesity and the case for government intervention Obesity Reviews, 8 (s1), 161-164 DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-789X.2007.00337.x

Barrett , K. (2011) Ganong’s Review of Medical Physiology, 23rd ed. London: McGraw-Hill Medical

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About Stuart Farrimond

I love writing about science and health subjects. Strange, because I also teach the same things. I trained as a medical doctor before turning my hand to other things. Shortlisted for The Guardian/Observer for Science Writer of the Year 2011 and editor for Guru Magazine I also like to grow large pumpkins...

Discussion

4 thoughts on ““Hey you, Fatty! Stop eating so much!” declares UK government

  1. The weight loss drugs in soft drinks is really gross. First, it’s not true that consumption of fat makes you fat. Second, people who consume excess calories in sugary beverages don’t need a drug, they need lifestyle counseling.

    Posted by Jackie | October 14, 2011, 3:06 pm
    • Absolutely… couldn’t agree more. The vulgar examples at the end were purely satirical and intended to show how, without decent support from a government, public health interventions to reduce obesity will be futile.
      In my honest opinion anyway…
      Thanks for commenting!!

      Posted by Stuart Farrimond | October 14, 2011, 3:11 pm
  2. What really annoys me is not that they’ve decided to do this, but that they have the cheek to call it a new strategy.

    Telling people to eat less and exercise more, and doing nothing more constructive than that, has been the strategy since… hmm… forever. Well, since obesity started to be a problem.

    That’s not a strategy, it’s the default option.

    Lansley actually did suggest that he might also try to convince food manufacturers to lower the calorie content of certain foods: that’s not a bad idea but clearly it’s not going to work because it would be on a purely voluntary basis and he has no power to influence international companies.

    Posted by Neuroskeptic | October 15, 2011, 9:56 am
    • Hi Neuroskeptic,
      Since writing this piece I’ve become embroiled in some (rather heated) debates over how much the government should intervene (interfere) to improve the health of the nation.
      I read a brilliant comment yesterday on this in the “i” newspaper (I see you have a UK IP address). Written by Donold MacInnes, it was along similar lines to what you are saying and was so hilarious I couldn’t resist copying some bits…

      “[The Government’s health advice] reminds me of Basil Faulty encouraging Sybil to apply for a slot on Mastermind: specialised subject, ‘The Bleeding Obvious’.
      In light of this new Government approach to guiding our behaviour, may I offer my own non-cryptic criteria for better living?
      1. If you ever feel an itch on your arm, the best remedy is to draw your fingernails back and forth repeatedly over the affected area.
      2. At the petrol station, make sure you use the correct grade of fuel for your vehicle, as ginger beer tends to make many modern engines misfire.
      3. If your in-laws are round for lunch tomorrow; words like ‘idiot’. ‘benefits cheat’ and ‘What the is that bloody SMELL?’ should only be spoken inside your head, rather that with your mouth.

      5. Zebra crossings were named after the animal, rather than the other way round.
      6. Grease is the word.
      7. The people in Downton Abbey are only pretending it’s the olden days.
      8. When you are preparing bacon, that hissing sound you hear is the fat cooking, rather than the meat trying to tell you a secret…”

      Posted by Stuart Farrimond | October 16, 2011, 8:10 am

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