WHAT to do about the children, whose predicament is a bad fairytale in which they ate the Gingerbread House?
According to a new report from the retiring Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies, obesity remains an epidemic.
Banning eating on public transport is public shaming and it won’t work[/caption]
Dame Sally Davies obviously knows nothing about being poor[/caption]
It has terrible physical, psychological and financial consequences and already costs the economy billions of pounds every year.
A third of school children are obese — the figures have doubled in 30 years — with 26,000 Year 6 children, aged ten to 11, so overweight they need medical help.
It is the fourth consecutive year that severe obesity in that age group has broken records.
Almost 40,000 children had sugar-rotted teeth removed in 2017/18.
The Government wants to halve childhood obesity by 2030, but that is just numbers.
As things stand, they will certainly fail.
It is a tough problem, in and beyond the mirror. It is the sickness of our times, an awful parable of excess.
DEHUMANISES THE POOR
Sixty years of relative plenty and we sleepwalked right into it.
I have been fat almost all my life and I was the only fat child in my class at school. Now I would have nine fat friends for company.
I was fat because I was sad, but the epidemic has spread far beyond sad kids.
Rather than eating from sadness, obesity now makes them sad.
Later, it will make them other things — physically and mentally frail, and unlikely to live out their full natural lives because they are addicted to sugar.
Sally Davies is a doctor, and she writes like a doctor contemplating an emergency. There is no democracy in intensive care, unless you are an idiot.
In her utopia, everyone has time and money for buying and cooking fresh food. She means well but, like most policy makers, she obviously knows nothing about being poor.
Who is she to place cheap food beyond people’s reach with tax rises?
Rather, she is the new Master of Trinity College, Cambridge. She lives at the centre of the bubble.
She showed this gap in her wisdom with her two recent suggestions.
Alongside raising taxes on certain foods, she wants a ban on people eating and drinking on public transport (except for water or in case of physical illness).
This raises the possibility of people having to divulge private medical conditions in public, and to strangers, to prevent snacks being confiscated.
Where, for a start, is the right to privacy, which will still extend to those who can afford a car?
It is public shaming and it won’t work. The sugar addict will always find a way.
Who does Sally Davies think eats on buses? People who work long hours and live away from city centres, that’s who. People on low incomes.
Who is she to tell a low-waged person working miles from home, who has possibly worked a 12-hour day, they cannot eat chips on the bus?
It dehumanises the low-waged for something as essential as eating. Surely we need less, not more, than that? And who is she to place cheap food beyond people’s reach with tax rises?
I live in west Cornwall, and on Sundays the local McDonald’s is packed.
You can feed four for £20 there, and nowhere else. What do customers say to their children if this food becomes too expensive for a weekly treat? “Sorry, but the monied Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, says no”?
You can hurt junk food without stopping individual freedoms so baldly, but it is always easier to bully people than corporations.
Corporations have lawyers and they tend to fight back.
You could ban junk food advertising — I have no idea why this has not yet happened — and stop cartoon characters telling children sugar is their friend, rather than an insidious killer.
You could stop supermarkets placing sugary treats at the till.
You could toy with plain packaging, as the gaudy tins reinforce the enchantment. (When I think of chocolate, I always think of purple.)
Of course there is an obesity crisis but banning food from public transport or making it more expensive is an awful idea[/caption]
Who is Dame Sally to say poor families cant treat their kids to a cheap meal?[/caption]
Not everybody has the money to buy and cook fresh food[/caption]
You could reinstall public water-fountains (Coke is often cheaper than bottled water, which is absurd) and spend money on parks, cycle lanes and swimming pools.
But most of all, parents need to take responsibility.
Children are obese because their parents are obese, or because they don’t care enough to limit their food intake or the time they spend plugged into the Matrix.
I know FIVE-year-olds with smartphones and iPads.
I think often of the time I saw a toddler strapped into a buggy in the local bus station. Her mother was staring at her smartphone.
The child wriggled and shouted with boredom, obviously longing to run about. Instead, the mother opened a packet of crisps and gave them to her child to silence her.
I had to stop myself saying: “She isn’t hungry, she’s bored. Take her to the park, or read to her or play a game.”
MOST READ IN OPINION
She was hungry for attention, but her mother fed her something else instead.
Of course there is a problem and only a fool would say otherwise. But banning food from public transport or making it more expensive, in a time of economic instability, is an awful idea.
The obese already exist in a prison of their own devising. Why should they exchange it for another one?
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