Andrew Careaga is in denial. And if recent media reports are anything to go on, he isn’t the only one. Every news bulletin of the last couple of days has carried some reference to Britain’s “epidemic of obesity” and there is particular concern about the amount of weight many of our children are carrying. I think it would be fair to say that opinion is divided about what should be done.
On the one hand, there is a clamour for the government to “do something”. Ban junk food advertising. Get soft drink machines out of schools. Bring in stricter food labels. Prevent celebrity endorsements of fatty snacks. You get the picture. On the other hand are those who say that this is all a matter of personal responsibility. Nobody is forced to eat too much. It is no business of the government what a person’s bathroom scales say, or what they choose for a mid-morning snack.
I’d say that the truth lies between these positions. Of course, it *is* a matter of personal (or parental) responsibility. But it is also true that these things are very much the government’s business because it is an issue of public health. The food industry does not force people to buy and eat its output, but it is responsible for the product it promotes. High fat and high sugar equals high profit, so of course they will sell it for as long as they are allowed to.
Regulation of labelling and advertising must be part of the solution, but only a part. Education will be another ingredient in the mix. But until we learn that “easier” and “more convenient” doesn’t always mean “better”, I suspect that obesity due to over-eating and under-exercising is here to stay.