Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Health fascists - unelected, unaccountable, interfering and after the food on your plate


A great long list of 'experts' has written to the World Health Organisation (you know the folk who hold their meetings in secret in Moscow and talk more about e-cigs than epidemics) urging them to adopt the tobacco template for food:

The governance of food production and distribution cannot be left to economic interests alone. To achieve the necessary dietary improvements and to secure good population health, a set of policy options for healthy diets are required. This includes governments taking regulatory approaches to the operation of the market through, for example, restrictions on marketing to children, health claims, compositional limits on the saturated fat, added sugar and sodium content of food, removal of artificial trans fats, interpretative front-of-pack labelling, restaurant calorie labelling, fiscal measures and financial incentives, and public health impact assessments in trade and investment policies.

The authors of this letter - adherents to the church of public health in its fundamentalist form - believe that you and I cannot make the right choice. Or rather that the world is filled with gormless sheep who respond thoughtlessly to advertising - you dear reader are one of these, a victim of Big Food.

We'll leave aside that there is little or no evidence showing these actions will actually make a difference or indeed the fact that levels of obesity (in the UK at least) are falling not rising. Instead we'll are about the moral justification for such control. The argument is that better health requires those "necessary dietary improvements" and that people will not eat a good diet unless the government forces such a diet on them by force. And don't think that just because you're some sort of trendy foodie grazing on organic beefburgers and awesome street food - those things are just a loaded with fats, salt and sugar as McDonalds, Dominos and Mr Kipling's cakes.

Wrapped up as protecting our health, these people are proposing a controlled, licensed diet for us to eat. This would be regulated by government and dictated by the priests of the Church of Public Health. Restaurants will be closed, businesses will be broken, web sites will be blocked and children will be brainwashed with half-truths about nutrition. Self-righteous folk will imply that being slightly overweight is a waste of food and campaigners will start to define giving your child a chocolate bar or crisps as a treat as some sort of abuse.

And you know there's a much bigger problem.  There are still some 400 million or more people in the world who don't have enough to eat. It's that problem the WHO should be concerned with rather than the fast less significant issue of people in the UK, Europe and North America being a bit chubbier than they used to be. But the Church of Public Health isn't interested in third world starvation, malnutrition and disease but in controlling the lives of people in the developed world, in attacking 'consumerism' and in pretending that marketing is the problem when it isn't.

This health fascism has to end. Not because there aren't problems with obesity, diabetes and such but because it really is a matter of personal choice. Inform and educate by all means but stop with this idea that Big Food is somehow manipulating us into a diet that makes us fat. It isn't - we choose to eat that stuff because we like it. And the food industry makes that stuff because we like to eat it. We are consumers with real choice not hapless victims of Big Food's evil marketing wiles.


1 comment:

Trofim said...

The idea that we are morally obliged to live as long as we possibly can is, as you say, virtually a religious tenet now, like the idea that perpetual mass immigration is essential for our moral improvement.
And the irony is that the people who one day are admonishing us for
eating things which shorten our lives are as likely as not those who
next day will be agonizng about how we are going to cope with our "ageing"