Thursday, 13 October 2011

Food snobs, nannies and the attack on food choice

Fat and getting fatter. That’s the message our media proclaim today and at the front is the ever-so-slightly chubby and terribly righteous celebrity and master of ‘slam some food in a dish and call it cooking’, Jamie Oliver:

The country's bill of health is shocking, and it's not going to get any better over the next 30 years if a clearly-defined plan isn't put into place soon. We simply can't afford the financial or health costs of doing nothing.

To be fair to Jamie, when given the chance he proposes precisely nothing by way of alternative strategy which is rather a good thing. But others are at the head of the charge screaming loudly that it’s the food industry that’s at fault not us for eating too much and exercising too little:

But Professor Philip James, of the International Association for the Study of Obesity, said it was a "stupid" and "pathetic" response to the problem.

"It is not simply a question of personal responsibility. There is an environmental problem in terms of the food system we have."

He went on to say that the junk food industry "manipulated" individuals into consuming their products and that was why legislation was needed.

Sorry Professor James but you are wrong – not just because you really haven’t the first idea about how the food industry works - or advertising for that matter -  but because you deny the facility of free will to the poor.

They’re all out there explaining how it isn’t the poor consumers’ fault they’re getting fat but the fault of the “food industry” – here’s Billy:

One half of the obesity crisis is calorie dense food. Calorie dense food is food that contains high levels of fat and sugar. Fat and sugar have been commoditised by the food industry, and are now sourced from wherever is cheapest on the day. So what was already cheap is getting relatively cheaper all the time.

That’s right folks, the solution is to make food more expensive. In the heart of the deepest and most painful recession since the 1930s, people are proposing that we make food more pricey. And who would suffer from that? The poorest and most needy. It makes me so angry to see the self-righteous know-it-all left showing yet again their utter contempt for the lifestyle choices that ordinary people make. That’s right – choices, you know freedom, liberty and the right to live our own lives uninterfered with by the acolytes of the Church of Public Health.

However, dear reader, there is one last killer fact that underlines why Jamie, Billy and the Prof are wrong. Obesity rates are falling. That’s right – we aren’t getting any fatter any more.

It looks like all the warnings about kids being overweight might be paying off, as a group of experts reckons the rate of child obesity is slowing.

The National Heart Forum found evidence that far fewer of you will be badly overweight by 2020 than people previously thought.

Or maybe you’d prefer a source that isn’t CBeebies;

Despite the government ignoring the anti-obesity lobby's urgent suggestions for traffic light labelling on food and suchlike, the latest figures show that obesity amongst men has fallen to 22% and the female obesity rate has fallen to 24%.

Just as the alcohol pandemic is a myth, so is the obesity crisis. And the solution isn’t to condemn the food choices of the poor, to make food more expensive, to ban transfats, to limit advertising or any of the other clobbering nudges preferred by those who wish to denormalise some foods (the ones they disapprove of for aesthetic reasons, in the main).

The solution is precisely what the government has done. Encourage people to eat less and to exercise more.

But then the Church of Public Health doesn’t like the bleedin’ obvious, do they!


1 comment:

chefwood33 said...

excellent article simon but could you include something about restaurants in the next one please