Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Fat Is As Fat Does

Our fellow diners
Today's Wanless 2 lays heavy- almost overweight- emphasis on Britain's obesity epidemic. As the chart below shows, 23% of men and 25% of women are now clinically obese, and the trend is strongly upward.

So what, you say. Let 'em guzzle if they want to. Free country.

Which is fine.

So long as they don't later want treating for heart disease and Type 2 diabetes by a tax-funded health service that we have to pay for.

Unfortunately, that's not where we are. Even in 2002 it was estimated obesity treatment costs to the NHS were running at £1bn pa, and they must be much higher by now.

Which is why everyone from Wanless up is talking about the urgent need to step up "public health education" (aka Nanny propaganda). If only people could be given an insight into the risks they're running, goes the argument, then they'd lay off the chips and Ginsters, and switch to rabbit food.

But if that's the case, how come people who work in the NHS aren't all as thin as whippets? Surely, if anyone is well informed about the risks of overeating, it's them.

The reason I mention it is that we're currently visiting a large NHS hospital where Mrs T's father is being treated. And sitting in the canteen yesterday lunchtime, I was suddenly struck by just how many fatties were in there- not patients or visitors, but uniformed staff members.

Don't they understand the risks? Having seen what happens up close, surely they shouldn't be tucking into chips and Ginsters, should they? And come to that, how come the hospital canteen serves chips and Ginsters in the first place? Aren't they meant to be operating under Nanny's direct supervision? And now I think about it, what does Nanny herself eat?

I inspected the canteen's offerings more carefully. Besides chips, pasties, and other assorted hot grease items, I found double chocolate chip heart attacks, salt and vinegar kidney failures, and strawberry ripple artery stoppers. All had plenty of takers.

God knows, we all understand the need for comfort eating, and it must be especially intense if you work in an NHS hospital. But you don't find that level of obesity behind the counter at say Marks and Sparks. And just how are the rest of us supposed to take all this public health diet stuff seriously when the NHS is itself such an iniquitous den of of fatty substances?

PS The Major reckons it's well known that the public sector workforce is fatter than the private sector. I warned him to keep quiet because it's almost certainly illegal to hold such views.

PPS This is still the daddy of all public health films (I love the way the narrator reckons kicking someone into a canal is "pretty harmless" compared to not using a hanky):

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