We have heard, over the last few weeks, caws from health groups and healthy eating activists alike, for the government to deal with an alleged obesity epidemic. I am not obese, to begin with. Sure, I enjoy four or five pints and a large bowl of chips every now and again. But I know when to stop.
A fifth of ten to 11-year-olds in the UK are now obese, with a further one in three classed as overweight, according to campaigners. The Lancet medical journal recently concluded that 67% of men in the UK are either overweight or obese, as are 57% of women. If left untreated, scientists suggest, obesity may exacerbate the risk of developing chronic conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, heart attacks, and type 2 diabetes. but then I lift up my shirt and look down. Obesity crisis? If you say so.
Despite a litany of studies proving the phenomenon of sugar addiction, and establishing its links with obesity, it is entirely within customers’ powers to stop consuming such vast quantities. Reports, however, suggest that sales of ‘visible’ sugar are falling, while obesity climbs. I suppose supremely-qualified scientists, like Robert Lustig, while frolicking in their fountains of knowledge, missed a trick.
The former member to the Scientific Advisory boards for Coca-Cola, Heinz, PepsiCo, Nestle, and Kelloggs, Dr Susan Jebb, who from 2007-2011 sat on a government advisory board with fellow food industry members, and who current sits on the Public Health England Obesity Programme Board, has the right idea.
She told Radio 4’s Today programme recently: “As individuals we’ve got to get out of the habit of seeing things like chocolate, biscuits, cakes and confectionery as routine everyday occurrences.” Spot on. We need to politely ask the swathes of potential sugar addicts to stop consuming so much sugar. But under no circumstances must we infringe on food and drink manufacturers’ basic human rights; in asking whether they would ever-so-kindly consider reducing the amount of sugar they pump into their products.
If solving the problem means intervention, or regulating, or governing in any way, then I would rather see the many waddle through the streets buckling like hippos from chronic cardiac conditions, than restrict the rights of the few. Standing back makes the most sense, so that is precisely what we shall do. No – lie back – most likely lie back – as we probably won’t have the strength to lift our plus-sized selves from our syrup-soaked bedsheets.