Hey, here\’s an interesting idea!

In a country known for butter and bacon, Denmark\’s new tax is a body blow. Danes who go shopping today will pay an extra 25p on a pack of butter and 8p on a packet of crisps, as the new tax on foods which contain more than 2.3% saturated fat comes into effect. Everything from milk to oils, meats and pre-cooked foods such as pizzas will be targeted. The additional revenue raised will fund obesity-fighting measures.

The move has parallels elsewhere in Europe. Hungary has recently imposed a tax on all foods with unhealthy levels of sugar, salt and carbohydrates, as well as goods with high levels of caffeine. Denmark, Switzerland and Austria have already banned trans fats, while Finland and Romania are considering fat taxes.

But it is Britain which has the biggest obesity problem in Europe, and campaigners have urged the government to follow Denmark\’s lead. Tam Fry, spokesman for the National Obesity Forum, said: \”It is not a question of whether we should follow the Danes\’ lead – we have to. If we don\’t do anything about it, by 2050, 70% of the British population will be obese or overweight and that would result not only in the downfall of the NHS but also of our national workforce.\” A recent study found that poor health and obesity costs the UK economy at least £21.5bn a year.

So, like we\’ve this problem, right? And we\’re not sure what to do about it, see?

So, err, whadda we do?

Why, we could turn to the second great invention of mankind. The scientific method.

The worry is that the entire population will turn into weebles of fat. Quite apart from anything else, there\’s the aesthetic problem: no one will be able to look at children without envisaging the activities that led to them as two balls of lard have at each other.

We\’re not really sure what will stop this. Tax fat? Which sort? Ban trans fats? Sugar? Salt? Whip the population into running 4 miles before breakfast?

Now, the thing is, when you know you\’ve got a problem, the scientific method says you should formulate a hypothesis about what is causing it or even what will cure it. You then run an experiment to see whether you are correct.

Does aspirin cure ingrown toenails? No, ah well. Does aspirin reduce heart attacks? Hmm, interesting, eh?

Now, it\’s very difficult to do an experiment on an entire population, something economists have bemoaned for decades. Apart from anything else, who is your control group? Who can you compare who are not affected by whatever you think the cure is against the effects upon people of what you think the cure is?

But, and here\’s the interesting point, these other countries are conducting experiments on their entire populations. And what we can do is compare the effect on their populations of doing something on hte effects of us not doing something.

In short, we can be the control group for all of the other experiments. A control group that there has to be by the way.

And this doesn\’t extend just to trying to get rid of muffin tops. This is true of all of these large scale population interventions. Excessive booze, too much salt, sugar in coffee, regulations about the rights of temporary workers, Keynesian interventions into the economy, financial transactions taxes…..the whole great big long list of things that \”they\” would like to do to \”us\”.

There must be a control group. There must be some population which is not afflicted with all of these bright ideas so that it is possible to measure the effects of these bright ideas.

I propose that we British volunteer to be that control group. All of you, everyone of you, fuck off and try out your ideas on Johnny Foreigner. Give it 2 decades and we\’ll see which ones work, those that do we can adopt. In the meantime, we\’ll remain free, at liberty, liberal even, and you can all bugger off.


15 thoughts on “Hey, here\’s an interesting idea!”

  1. Surreptitious Evil

    Give it 2 decades and we’ll see which ones work, those that do we can adopt.

    That needs a very careful definition of both “we” and “work”. Ritchie, the dreadful Arnott, and Mr Fry are all far more likely than thee and I to get on to the panels making those decisions. And would make very different ones.

  2. There was a survey in the US into separated identical twins. They found that there was only a difference when 1 twin exercised and the other didn’t.

    So, no, I doubt it’s going to make any difference (although the bansturbators will probably say that they didn’t go far enough when it fails).

  3. The old fallacy about extrapolating short term problems into the long term and coming up with a literally fantastic projection. This is the number one tactic of activist pressure groups to get more power and our media love it.

    Their figures are bullshit.

  4. View from the Solent

    This so-called obesity problem. Based on the ludicrous Body Mass Index.
    Serendipitously, Chiefio last night wrote a post exploding that fiasco.

  5. It’s 4.15 am.I’m back to bed. Can’t take any more of thi bansturbatory rubbish. Going to have a beer first.

  6. Isn’t there rather a serious apples and oranges problem here viz UK as a control group and the effectiveness of x policy on, say, Hungary?

    When I say serious, I mean fatal.

  7. I truly wonder if there actually is an obesity problem.
    OK, this is purely subjective but….
    When I had the misfortune to still live in London it was a couple of streets away from a girls’ secondary school so I used to see the lassies walking past. As far as the white girls were concerned they didn’t look much different from the girls of my youth. Few podgers but, if anything, generally slightly less substantial. Fewer of the strapping, netball defenders & more emphasis on the attenuated, hope to be a model one day, body pattern. The African & Caribbean girls were something else. About a foot taller, big asses & thighs like prop forwards. Then there were the Turkish & sub-continentals. Shorter but often well larded.
    The last few years the UK’s had an enormous influx of immigrants, most of whom come from cultures where extra inches=status. The circumference of African women is best measured in yards. Ditto their menfolk. A good rounded belly on an Indian or Pakistani is a sign of affluence.
    Conversely, what happened to the dumpy grannies of my youth with their solid legs & ample bosoms? Mostly skipping round Tesco in pastel jogging suits. Pop may still be bellying up to the bar at the boozer but he’s standing nearer to the beer taps because mum’s cutting back on the suet puds.
    Maybe this whole obesity thing’s as much a matter of ethnicity as anything else. Add a few million new arrivals who celebrate their recently acquired economic success by packing on the pork ( or Halal mutton for the ROP faction) & what do you expect to happen to the stats?

  8. Oh, & in passing my local supermaket in the heart of Flanders devotes 4 metres of cold cabinet space to butter in dozens of varieties, some packaged as kilo blocks. The cheese section extends towards the horizon. Don’t even think about the pâtisserie let alone the charcuterie.
    The French have already volunteered to be the control group, realise the sacrifice they are making in the interest of medical science but shoulder the responsibility with true Gallic fortitude.

  9. Well here’s a data point; I’ve recently lost two stone (from over 13 to nudging 11). I’ve done so without consciously dieting at all, and living on a diet almost entirely consisting of (other than a lot of coffee) red meat, processed meat, processed food and oven chips. And the occasional potato.

    What happened was that my fridge broke down, so I lost access to fresh vegetables, mainly. And the odd sandwich. So I’m living on what can be frozen, since my freezer is still working.

    I am thinking of marketing this diet. It is the “Ian B Sausage And Chips Diet”. Highly recommended. Send just £39.95 for details.

  10. That’s very interesting Ian B. I’d suggest you aim for the 19.99 price point, not so much per sale but a lot more sales. Your book needs a suitable cover so I suggest a nice looking lady sliding an extra large sauage into her gob. Your fortune is assured, I hope you’ll share some with us.

  11. I don’t think we should pay the slightest attention to pronouncements on obesity from a man named ‘Fry.’

  12. I notice in my part of the U.S., whereas the men are about the same as they were in my previous part of the U.K. (Cambridge), the women are significantly skinnier.

    They have longer hair as well – I’m not sure if anyone can make something from that correlation.

  13. Why are they taxing fatty foods? The food that really turns on the fat is sugar and carbs. Eating fat is actually a good way of not getting fat. Idiots.

    Captain Fatty

  14. As long as boys of every age play football, we are not going to get the point where 70% of the population is obese. If you’re worried about obesity scrap the stupid Health and Safety regulations that prevent so many amateur sports.
    The cost of obesity is a fairly small fraction of the £21.5bn quoted as the cost of “poor health and obesity” – cancer, for instance, is quite expensive; there are allergies, arthritis and asthma (none of which are related to obesity), blindness, broken bones and bulimia, central nervous system damage, chest infections and chicken pox, depression, diabetes and diarrhoea (the latter requires a day off work), epidemics and eye infections, fainting, flu and food poisoning ….
    Anyhow the BMI index only compares a person’s weight with a model for his/her height regardless of bone structure and build: twenty-odd years ago when I was running marathons I was sent for a medical because my weight was more than 10% below the median for my height.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *