• oldnag posted an update 3 months, 1 week ago

    Britain needs to go on a diet….


    on a diet of what? If the top health official doesn’t understand the meaning of the word diet then perhaps they shouldn’t be the top health official. Just one of my pet peeves, ‘ im on a diet’…

    • I think you can take that as being regulated diet, as opposed to just eating whatever you feel like without thinking about it at all. We all know what it means.

      Kind of annoyed that they’re trying to make my rare Burger King burger smaller (and for exactly the same price I imagine) personally.

      • But it has to be a blanket thing doesn’t it? Smaller burgers, less sugar, less fats, low alcohol, it’s not like we have the ability to exercise personal choice in our diet, exercise or drinking habits, Nanny State must choose for us.

        • At what point might it change from it being the Nanny State, to it being an act of compassion to help lessen any suffering people experience because, despite the information being out there, which it clearly is imho, they’re not making the choices to make themselves healthier? I’m not pointing the finger here, btw, in saying the information is out there.

          Collectively, we’ll all pay the price too if things don’t change, in more pressure on the NHS and the health services in general, potentially meaning less tax for other things, within a society few freedoms are absolute, and most impact upon others. It might lead to an increase in national GDP if we become healthier, due to being physically more able and having less time off work, and being more together mentally too (physical and mental wellness can go together).

          These things always come to mind for me whenever something like this comes up, and Nanny State gets mention.

        • I’m not hugely pro “nanny state”, however I don’t think it’s fair to say we either have total freedom or govt intervention.

          Basically, certain private companies have engaged in a race to the bottom, producing food loaded with salt and sugar that we’re wired to crave and to a degree bypasses our capacity for rational self-control. At a certain point, government intervention is about mitigating the other forces acting on a person. For a much more extreme example, that’s why we have minimum wage laws (I in no way think these are equivalent).

          Alternatively, if you want people to be truly free to choose, then they need to bear the weight of their choice. The NHS currently spends ~£16 billion on obesity and diabetes related interventions. That’s £300 per person per year in taxes. Collect that in sugar tax. A quick back of the envelope calculation (based on nationally published data) says that about 1.5p per gram of sugar on everything bar milk and fruit should do it. That’s the equivalent of about 50p on a MacDonalds meal or about 8p on a pint. Or, make it 2p and subsidise whole foods and gyms.

          • A couple of flaws in your (otherwise good) plan

            1. Tax is not hypothecated, so £300 pppy raised may not all be spent on the NHS

            2. It would be a regressive tax – a millionaire wouldn’t notice, somebody on benefits definitely would.

            3. The obesity problem has taken years to build up, if taxation affects consumption then your tax take would drop but demand may very well remain

            At least you’ve come up with an idea though, I’m buggered if I can think of a solution!

            • it’s not really intended to be a serious solution. Human behaviour is complex. Government intervention is essentially a hammer and often unsuited to nuanced problems.

              I’m primarily trying to highlight two things.

              First, doing nothing isn’t really an option. 2/3 (let that sink in) of adults in England are obese and the problem is growing.

              Second, it’s going to have to be govt intervention, the private sector isn’t interested in us being thin (that’s fine) because they don’t bear the costs of it.

              Long and short of it, I would expect to see a sugar tax (beyond the current SSB plans) in the UK in the next 10 years. It would have been sooner, but other things have derailed govt business over the last two years.

        • We do. But the evidence would suggest the majority of the populace neither have the inclination to exercise or control their food habits.

          • But is that any reason for us all to have state imposed limits on our choices?

            • Well it is, isn’t it? There’s a reason we don’t allow under 18s to buy addictive substances and it’s partially around their lessened capacity to cope in the face of addiction. Part of the accepted public understanding on addiction is that part of the reason we ban, say, heroin, is because people cannot control whether they get addicted or how they’ll respond. (I don’t think addiction is this simple, but it’s not that important to this debate and I’m just trying to highlight a point).

              That’s not to say that I think we should impose similar restrictions on food, or that food and heroin are remotely similar. I’m just arguing that the debate is about where we draw the line.

              We need better labelling and education etc… I think, as the debate around smoking shows, people are rationally self interested, they just need to be made aware of what the consequences of their choices are, and we (by which I basically mean government) has a role to play in pushing back on private companies deliberately trying to exploit us.

            • @nutter You’re absolutly correct to compare it to addiction.

              Its all about addiction to food. It’s our environment making us unhappy which makes us eat. It’s the reward chemicals the food ‘industry and manufacturers’ are loading the food with. It’s the constant bombardment by advertisers that push us to eat when we are not hungry.

              Telling an obese person to take control and eat less and move more is exactly like telling a heroin addict to stop taking heroin.

              Restricting calories probably won’t make a difference but making manufacturers think a bit about what they’re putting in their food may.

              I’m sceptical. Food growing and production shouldn’t be a massive privatised industry concerned only with making profit. It’s one of the only ‘industries’ that should be privatised.

              Look at obese nations. They eat produced food, snack all day and eat at their desks. Look at fit and healthy nations, they make their own food and eat at meal times socially.

            • Doesn’t it come down to ‘net harm’ and ‘net benefit’ in the end, though? The cost of alcohol going very high in Norway may have resulted in more people brewing their own alcohol, and in people going over the border to get drunk, but overall it’s improved the health of the population.

              It’s not so fair, one might say, on the more responsible people, but any changes in society often seem to be broad brush when it comes to legislation. Smaller burgers and reduced sugar in things aren’t that much of an attack on one’s freedoms anyway really. 😉

            • No matter what the potential “benefit” I think it’s rather doomed to fail unless an element of personal responsibility, and self respect, is engendered at the same time. Just taking away choice, or prohibition, will not work, and will heartily piss off people who do not need nor want Nanny State in their dining room.

            • ‘ But it has to be a blanket thing doesn’t it? Smaller burgers, less sugar, less fats, low alcohol, it’s not like we have the ability to exercise personal choice in our diet, exercise or drinking habits, Nanny State must choose for us.’

              @flyguy To think about this earlier post of your’s, except for the smaller burgers, there’s nothing to stop anybody ‘adding’ sugar or salt to their food, or choosing something with more alcohol in, so it’s not as if it’s taking away any choice in what people put into their bodies at all, not in the bigger picture.

              Which makes me ask so what if sugar and salt are reduced in commonly consumed foods, why should a certain amount of sugar or salt by the ‘right’ amount – that is – why does it matter if levels are reduced with health reasons in mind if people can always add some again?

              If many people don’t add it, and end up healthier, that’s a good thing, and they still have the choice to add more to their food, and it’s not like a certain level of sugar or salt is what a person ‘should have in their processed food’ and it’s not removing choice form the dinner table when people have sugar and salt at home.

              There’s so many questions and things which come to mind on seeing your opposition to reduced salt and sugar in processed food when people can always add some if they want too. If you have sugar and salt in your home, it seems odd to be opposed to reduced levels in processed foods – with taste being subjective there is no ‘right amount’ to have it seems to me….?

      • Yeah, that’s where I’m at.

        I can see your fast food regular just ordering two meals (or adding more side orders) if they make the meals smaller but what do I know.

        I suspect that unless you’ve also got to jog 10 miles to run down and overpower a BigMac, the calorie count per menu item isn’t going to make a hell of a lot of difference.

      • A rare burger king sounds disgusting

      • This is essentially the main problem and what the government needs to address.

        We see the value of what we eat tied in with the quantity and nothing else. The more we get for our money, the better value we think we are getting.

        The food part of the price is a very small factor. So ‘manufacturers’ can make their products more attractive than their competitors by increasing the portion sizes.

        No one is ever going to eat 80% of a burger so we are getting fattened up by stealth.

        The only way to stop portion sizes getting bigger and bigger and people getting fatter and fatter is to regulate the portion sizes.

    • How about the Diet of Worms?

    • That list makes me want tomato soup for starters, a double egg, sausages and crisps butty on ciabatta with olives, chips and a large Cornish pasty for my lunch.

    • My own thought is that obesity is too wrapped up with political correctness.

      Surely there would be more to gain if obesity was made as socially unacceptable as drink driving and smoking.

      • I think political correctness is probably a long way down the list of causes.

        The main problem is that bad food tastes nice and people are short on will power. Britain has had a bad diet since industrialization separated the people from the land, it’s just that a 14 hour day down the factory and poverty wages kept you trim.

        Bad food also makes you feel good when you’re depressed, like when you e been called a fat bastard repeatedly.

        And when the government tries to advise, we’re told that it’s a nanny state, and parents should be allowed to pass kebabs through the school gates to stop their kids having to eat vegetables.

        Throw in parents that can’t cook, those that don’t have time to cook, and convenience food that maxes out flavor and minimizes cost then you have generations that grow up with bad, but lovely, food.

    • I think Britain needs some exercise more than it needs to diet, there are also other benefits to exercise that simply eating less won’t give you.

      • Well I agree with you, but that could lead to awkward questions. The squeeze on council spending means that discretionary services like sports facilities and parks have been hit harder by austerity than pretty much anything else.

        • Not to mention the steady loss of school playing fields over the past couple of decades. There’s so much which needs to change in this country.

        • Would be a good phd study. Cost of subsidizing leisure centers more, building better cycle lanes, versus estimated cost of diabetes etc.. over the next 50 years.

          • I think we both have a very good idea how the sums would add up.

            I am aware that just building facilities is not enough in itself. They have to be well managed / marketed and you somehow have to reach a critical mass, but it is depressing how un-joined up the UK is. There are a lot of brand new schools in the UK from the Blair era. How many of them have good walking/cycling infrastructure.

          • One little snippet.

            In wales, council spending on sports/recreation was cut from £40 a person in 2010 to £26 a person in 2017.

            Current diabetes spending in Wales is estimated at around £500m (or £170 a person)

    • I have believed since the 80s that when you eat has a lot to do with it. We are eating far too much too late in the evening – it’s a cultural change that needs a real kick. I put no weight on at all, in fact I couldn’t, until I had a long spell of working away and eating my main meal in the evenings.

      • Lifestyle can have a massive effect. I now work in an environment where I am in around 7am, take no breaks and end up getting home about 8pm. If I cook I am usually eating abut 9:30-10pm and taking in most of my calories for the day before heading off to bed an hour or two at most later. This is not having a good effect on my waistline.

    • In general I would like to see restaurants catering for children’s needs better. The children’s menu in most UK restaurants usually consists of burgers, chicken nuggets, pizza or fish fingers, all of which are usually served with chips. Why is it considered acceptable to offer healthy menu choices for adults and only the above offerings for children at the same establishment?

      If you ask for something from the adult menu in a child’s portion size it is either rejected (sorry it only comes in one size and we would rather waste food than provide a suitable meal for your child) or agreed to, but then ignored by the chef. Same with drinks. Requesting a small (i.e. partially full) soft drink for a child results in you being looked at like a moron followed by the glass being topped up to the brim.

      It is hard to make good choices for your child when the odds are seemingly stacked against you.

      And breathe……

    • There was a sachet of low sugar sweetener in the bowl of sugar at the table in a cafe I visited recently. According to the ingredients it was 99% Maltodextrin ( a carbohydrate with the same calorific value as sucrose) 1% sucralose. I wondered what the point of it was when it contains just as many calories as a sachet of sugar?

    • There’s a cultural meme that being fat is okay. Fat is beautiful, saying people are fat is “fat shaming”.

      • Cancer Research’s campaign to raise awareness of obesity as a significant cancer risk seems important and worthwhile to me.

        It is undeniable that being obese is not good for a person, but there is also widespread bullying of fat people and to some degree this ‘meme’ is a reaction to that. So perhaps things are a bit more nuanced than you suggest.

        There’s a difference between a doctor honestly, perhaps quite bluntly, telling a patient that they really need to lose weight for the sake of their health and someone randomly chucking abuse at fatty online or in the street. Have a read of some of the past threads discussing obesity on here, a lot of people seem to think it’s acceptable to be *really* unpleasant about it quite openly. And if you have a genuine concern that a person’s weight is bad for their health, destroying their self-esteem is hardly likely to be productive. Despair is not a good starting point from which to change your life.

        • Celebs such as Sofie Hagan and people like her encourage others to be fat, they encourage people to not do anything about their health and that attitude seems pretty widespread to me. People like her, and they’re very common, are not going to change their habits because portion sizes change they know exactly what they’re doing. They are the obesity epidemic. Their enablers (all those who sit at Sofie Hagan’s concerts laughing at her “funny” jokes) are also a major problem.

          Me being able to buy a large portion of chips is not the problem.

    • Some people are thin no matter what they eat or how much exercise they do. Luck?

      I do lots of exercise and eat a good, healthy, home cooked diet. I just about manage to remain in the healthy weight range if I avoid all rich foods. If I so much as sniff some chocolate I put on weight! I don’t drink any alcohol or soft drinks. Luck? It would be lucky if we had a famine, I’d probably do well.

      There is an extent to which it’s genetics and an extent to which you can change it. I can be a healthy weight, but I have to work blooming hard at it, some people can not give one jot of thought to their diet or exercise and be thin.

      • Indeed, it is all biology and genetic, and that is purely luck! No matter how much will power and good judgement i have, the body type I have is down to luck.

        Indeed, thin and healthy are very different things, which is why judging someone on their weight isn’t a good idea! I’m a little overweight at the moment, but exercise a lot and eat very healthily, so I would think I am pretty healthy. My uncle who never put on weight no matter how much crap he ate (from the east end of Glasgow so with lifestyle factors associated with that) had a stroke aged 47.

        So these are reasons not to judge people on being overweight and to promote healthy food choices.