Thursday, 12 July 2007

Food, glorious food...

Public health experts have suggested that taxing unhealthy foods could saves thousands of lives a year. Annually over 200,000 people die of cardiovascular related illnesses - diseases which could be prevented with the help of a better diet.

Regardless of the health benefits you can imagine how well this would go down with the food industry and the consumer/voter...Lead balloon/homesick safe comes to mind...

The Government has been quick to pooh-pooh such a proposal. Good move - a few more pence on a bar of chocolate is no deterrent to the premenstrual female or chubby school child alike. I should know, having been both in my time - and I've happily imagined homicide for the sake of a cream bun.

But the fact remains that a quarter of this country's population is obese thanks to the accessibility of unhealthy (but oh so tasty) food stuffs coupled with a lazy outlook on life.

Meanwhile healthy school dinners remain a distant myth created by some gobby Essex chef desperate for air-time. (joke - I think Jamie Oliver's theory is a marvelous one - but in practice most kids are a nightmare when it comes to food).

A report by the Local Authority Caterers Association deplores the evidence that, despite the production and labour costs of school dinners going up (in order to serve heathier portions) kids just don't want to eat them. Chairman Sandra Russell states: "We cannot expect to reverse an embedded eating culture overnight nor can we convert teenagers to a healthier regime by force". What a sensible lady (of course the same theory applies to all those pernicious adult vices, be it drinking, smoking or taking illegal substances).

My secondary school housed a number of much loved vending machines and the healthy lunch option was pretty much always disregarded in favour of a burger and chips. Especially by me. I was not always allowed dinner money but whenever my parents gave in their hard earned cash went directly towards my spiraling BMI. For the record I also feel a twinge of guilt, shuffling along in the queue. Not enough to stop me though. However I snacked on fruit and veg and my breakfasts and dinners were all healthy home cooked meals (thanks mum). I liked healthy food and was always aware that the junk that I was consuming whilst at school was just that.

I also enjoyed playing sport - especially after working out that it got rid of some of the chubbiness...

I still exercise regularly, as well as eating things I shouldn't. I've grown out of the puppy fat and know what it is to eat sensibly, even if I don't always do so. And the reason - my upbringing. My parents brought me up to eat well (employing the harsh but fair, "If you don't eat what you're given you don't eat" dictum) and run around outdoors ("Go and climb a tree or something, you").

The government has already seen that forced healthy meals does not go down well. A better policy would be an expanded physical education programme and appealing to lardy arsed parents to get their sprogs out in the sunshine once in a while.

We might be a nation of fatties but, to Manchester's fury, perhaps not a nation of gamblers. Well done for scrapping the super-casino Mr Brown, shame we're still going to end up with mini versions, whether we like it or not.

Despite the contracts and jobs that arise from these ventures I do not think that gambling should be encouraged in Britain. In the light of all our other vices (see above) it's an aborrent idea. We're a dependant, cheap thrill seeking, consumer culture, how will a profligacy of legal gambling joints help this?


Jenny! said...

Agreed...the way to health is not by making fatty foods more expensive, but for making healhy foods cheaper. Expanding physical education is also important. Kids are too addicted to TV and video games...they need ot play outside, run around an be kids again!

James said...

Well here are my thoughts for what little they are worth. In principle I totally agree with the tax on unhealthy foods but it should not be one that just fills the governments coffers. What I would like would be a food neutral tax by this I mean any tax raised from unhealthy food would be used to subside healthy food thereby encouraging healthy eating without increasing the cost to the government or the consumer. I appreciate that it might be a little tricky to administer but hey I come up with the good ideas someone else can do the detail.

I think eating habits start when you are young and parents have the biggest responsibility but I also thinks schools do to. Vending machines and other foods available in the school should be of a healthy option which I believe is becoming more and more so in schools today anyway. I totally agree with you on the physical exercise thing. Phys Ed should be as big a priority as English and Maths.

As for the casinos I'm not so sure. I do feel Brown has backtracked on this one just for popularity reasons. I don't think we should be a nanny state and the government should be there to set boundaries and incentivise, disincentive where they feel fit. Saying that I am a little 50/50 on this casino malarky , it's not like were not allowed to gamble and maybe this super casino is unnecessary.

Ed said...

People ate unhealthy food in bygone eras and people weren't so fat! Why? Because people walked, kids played outside, etc. The government has made us all so scared to allow children to do anything but watch TV is it any surprise that people get fat?

I am totally against a fat tax or subsidy of "good" food. I would much rather the government got out of our faces.