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Coalition Turns it’s Back on Obesity


Fat Cats

A specialist panel set up by the government to look into the problem of the obesity epidemic including possible solutions has been disbanded (British Medical Journal – article).  It seems the government didn’t like the advise it was getting and so has decided to silence the out spoken committee by sacking all it’s members.  Opting instead for the softly softly ‘nudge’ tactics –  Healthy lives, healthy people: a call to action on obesity in England

The group set up by the last Labour government as part of recommendations coming out of the Foresight Report, which went far beyond education about personal food choices but included legislation, taxes and tighter controls on the food and drinks manufacturers.  The panel was only too aware of the scale of the obesity problem, describing it as ‘akin to global warming’.

Ex member Klim McPherson said “Ministers were more inclined to involve food and drinks companies than scientific experts”.

Panel experts also expressed disappointment at Andrew Lansley‘s announcement for anti obesity measures to focus on eating less and exercising more.

Shadow Health Minister Diane Abbott, said: “It is becoming clear that Andrew Lansley’s number one priority is pleasing his friends in big business”.

TV chef Jamie Oliver said of the policy ” This whole strategy is worthless, regurgitated, patronising rubbish

Prof McPherson also went on to say “I think it was just naive frankly. People are controlled by their environment and the food industry has discovered it can make quite a lot of money selling junk food all over the place.”

Other panel members Professors Tim Lang and Geof Rayner, wrote in the BMJ that the policy is a “smokescreen” for “publicly endorsed marketing”. The strategy could become “collusion between the state and corporations to hoodwink consumers. At least nannies are overt.”

Professor Lang goes on to explain:

The closure of the expert advisory group is bad news all round, bad politics, bad policy, and bad science. It shuts the door on an important attempt by the state to recognise the systemic nature of what drives obesity…It’s plain as a pikestaff that obesity requires systems change, not a tweak here and there, yet that is what is being offered.

Well what is becoming absolutely clear is that real help for the overweight, as well a real solution to the obesity epidemic is coming no time soon, pretty frustrating for us though expected given previous and current policy.

This is a real shame as the solution at least in principle is a simple one.  Combat sugar addiction born in processed foods and the problem will become a thing of the past.  However when you consider who has their fingers in whose pies the solution can never be simple.

We are not saying the the obesity panel had it all right as they were in favour of legislation over education.  It cannot be right to withhold information about the addictive and damaging effects of a food and then make it harder or more expensive to obtain.  Simply increasing costs or telling them to eat less is a policy waiting to fail.  The majority of the population has a problem that they are totally oblivious too.

The man (or woman) in the street is simply not aware why he gets tired in the afternoon, why he’s hungry shortly after eating, why he gets brain fog, why he get’s depressed, why his libido is low, why despite eating low fat, low calorie he continues to gain weight, why he’s ended up with type II diabetes…or worse!

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