Skip to content

Well, yes, it is

So when, in debates about the pros and cons of the so-called “sin taxes”, commentators occasionally thunder on about killjoy doctors and politicians seeking to nanny the pleasure out of life, I struggle to hold my tongue. The director of the Institute of Economic Affairs, Christopher Snowdon, is one such example. Prompted by the news that Liz Truss may be poised to overturn the sugar tax, he swiftly penned an online polemic condemning the “usual state-funded pressure groups”, “media dimwits” and “activist-bureaucrats” who want to propel Britain down the “road to serfdom” — as though freedom, fundamentally, is about our inalienable right to drink syrupy Irn-Bru.

Yep, freedom is indeed the ability to drink Irn Bru. Also, Chris, distinguished tho’ he is, ain’t director. As far as I know at least that’s still Mark Littlewood. I think the time will come but perhaps not yet…..

And if someone can’t get those facts right then…..

Small wonder nearly two thirds of adult Britons are overweight or obese. Even more shockingly, 14.4 per cent of reception-age children (aged four to five ) in England are obese, as are a quarter of 10 to 11-year-olds. Predictably, there is a strong association between deprivation and obesity. The highest rates of overweight and obese people are found in the most deprived communities. Reception-age children in the most deprived areas, for example, are twice as likely to be obese as those in the least.

All of which is bollocks. At which point, to revive my favourite theory, it’s central heating.

In health terms these statistics are calamitous. Obesity significantly increases our risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke, osteoarthritis, tooth decay and premature death. It also costs the NHS an estimated £6.1 billion a year.

Nope, dying young saves the NHS money. For it’s a lifetime health care service, meaning that if it has to provide health care for fewer years then that saves it money.

Our alleged right to consume whatever we like is clearly spurious, or at the very least simplistic, in a profoundly obesogenic environment.

Yes, it is simple. We get to do as we like, that’s what freedom means. Fuck off.

Obesity will never be a simple matter of personal responsibility

Yes, it is. Really, now fuck off.

29 thoughts on “Well, yes, it is”

  1. Of course if we had a health service that required people to contribute directly to their own healthcare then they might take more care of their health, having a direct link between their wallets and their state of health. If your insurance premium rose as your BMI did then you have a far greater incentive to keep off the pizza and chips than if everyone else has to shoulder the burden of your self inflicted poor health.

  2. Might get a test of that central heating hypothesis this winter.

    My observation from both the Middle East and the American southeast is the opposite: air-conditioning causes obesity.

  3. Ok, Imma guess two things:

    Dr Rachel Clarke is an NHS palliative care doctor and writer who lives in Oxfordshire with her husband and two children.

    Rachel is the author of three Sunday Times bestselling non-fiction books. Breathtaking, published in January 2021, reveals what life was really like working on NHS COVID-19 wards during the first wave of the pandemic. Dear Life, shortlisted for the 2020 Costa Biography Award, long-listed for the 2020 Baillie Gifford Prize and chosen as a BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week, is based on her work in a hospice. It explores love, loss, grief, dying and what really matters at the end of life. The Costa biography judges described it as: “A beautifully written, powerfully moving book that tackles an emotive and difficult subject with professional compassion and personal insight.” Your Life in My Hands, published in 2017, documents life as a junior doctor on the NHS frontline.

    This woman has an *incredible* amount of time on her hands in between watching NHS patients die and threatening more deaths to come unless we obey Nurse Ratched.

    Scrap sugar tax and I’ll watch more patients die

    The NHS should screen staff for Munchie symptoms, but doesn’t.

  4. “Predictably, there is a strong association between deprivation and obesity.”

    As a kid in post-war Britain it wasn’t unusual to come home Thursday nights and find the only food available was a slice of cheap white bread sprinkled with sugar (or brown sauce). Deprivation was plentiful but obesity there was none. You only have to look at photos from the 50s and 60s to recall the skinny form of your average Brit. Running wild as kids (exercise) and living in homes sans central heating, manual labour and the absence of plenty.

  5. The NHS should screen staff for Munchie symptoms, but doesn’t.

    As seen from forrin parts, pictures of NHS staff groups do include a high proportion of plumpishness amongst their number.

  6. Bernie,
    a slice of cheap white bread sprinkled with sugar
    Well, I had marge to hold the sugar on, so I guess we were posh then.

  7. “Scrap sugar tax and I’ll watch more patients die”

    If that were true, you would have seen a marked reduction in obesity since introduction of sugar tax. Oh wait. No there wasn’t.

    “air-conditioning causes obesity.”
    This is the other side of the coin. When it is as grimly hot and humid outside as it is in the south, A/C keeps you indoors and sedentary, same as C/H in winter in this country. That’s my hypothesis anyway.

  8. All of which is bollocks.

    Actually, it’s pretty accurate: poverty (at least in the relative sense) and obesity are linked. Anybody who has been poor in recent times will understand why.

    I was unemployed for a while after university; I ate total crap because an evening of crisps and Netflix was cheap, pleasurable, and had little impact on lifetime happiness absent a job. Never worked minimum wage, but I imagine – for a stressed, poor parent – the pleasure and convenience of cake easily outweighs lifetime health (for anyone not obsessed by exercise anyway).

    which point, to revive my favourite theory, it’s central heating.

    If this were true, we’d expect obesity to have started in warm countries. It’s fairly obviously caused by sedentary jobs, low physical activity, cheap food and eating rubbish. The latter has definitely been getting worse: I attend many events where food looks like a kids birthday party – except that it’s weekly, in addition to dinner and ‘savoury’ only means crisps. Gone are the days of no snacking, sweets only on special occasions, and meals with the family round the dinner table.

    It also costs the NHS…

    Notice that socialised healthcare has become an excuse to control every aspect of your life? I’m sure the people who said this about the NHS were just conspiracy theorists.

    Our alleged right to consume whatever we like is clearly spurious

    Any ideas where that was made ‘clear’? All I see is that she doesn’t like the outcome. Which is tough. People make choices you don’t like; live with it.

    Obesity will never be a simple matter of personal responsibility

    Oh, absolutely, it must be the government’s responsibility. Because when I think of responsibility, I think of the British government. [sarcasm]

  9. Jim,

    One problem with your suggestion is that it is that it is not based on reality:

    Relative to normal weight, both obesity (all grades) and grades 2 and 3 obesity were associated with significantly higher all-cause mortality. Grade 1 obesity overall was not associated with higher mortality, and overweight was associated with significantly lower all-cause mortality.

    Given that having a BMI of 30-<35 is no worse in terms of all cause mortality than one of 18.5-<25, why should they pay more based on the NHS’s junk science? In terms of your idea, cheapest premiums should be for those with a BMI of around 28, with premiums increasing for BMIs above and below that level.

    This is not a one off study:

    A significant increased risk of mortality over the 12 years of follow-up was observed for underweight (BMI <18.5; relative risk (RR) = 1.73, P 35; RR = 1.36, P <0.05). Overweight (BMI 25 to <30) was associated with a significantly decreased risk of death (RR = 0.83, P 0.05). Our results are similar to those from other recent studies, confirming that underweight and obesity class II+ are clear risk factors for mortality, and showing that when compared to the acceptable BMI category, overweight appears to be protective against mortality. Obesity class I was not associated with an increased risk of mortality.

  10. “In terms of your idea, cheapest premiums should be for those with a BMI of around 28, with premiums increasing for BMIs above and below that level.”

    Fine, I never said where the optimum level should be. Just because the current 20-25 BMI ideal is wrong does not invalidate the concept that if people had to pay towards their own care then they would take far better care of themselves, not least with drinking, smoking, drug taking etc. Those are well known harms, so why should such people not shoulder at least some of the costs they are currently imposing on everyone else?

  11. Jim, the levels of taxation currently levied on fags and booze more than cover the cost to the NHS of harm caused:
    Tax from cigarettes = >£11Bn
    Tax from alcohol = £12.7Bn

    Cost to NHS:
    Cigarettes = £2.5 Bn
    Alcohol = £3.5 Bn

    I would suggest that these people are paying waaaaay more than their fair share and paying for the healthcare of many of the goody two-shoes who want to limit their pleasures.

  12. Bernie. RTJ

    Pah. Of course, we had it tough…

    We had to lick cake recipes in old Womans Own that t’neswagent had thrown out.

  13. Running wild as kids (exercise) and living in homes sans central heating, manual labour and the absence of plenty.

    It turns out the Great Reset isn’t designed to kill us but to make us healthy. Thanks, uncle Klaus.

  14. Thank you, Phoenix. The authors seem to recommend people live a slim life to protect themselves from heart maladies and so on, but once they contract such maladies should put on lots of weight to decrease their risk of dying soon. Pull the other one.

  15. hmmmm… I may be mistaken, but culture may have a lot to do with child obesity, especially given the data that a lot of it is in the “lower social strata” acording to this ..article..

    From what I’ve observed from turkish and moroccan culture here in Clogland and Krautia, you can’t help but notice that in general, but especially amonst the …less-integrated..cohorts, as kids the boys are fat tubs of lard, and the girls generally aren’t. Up until the age of about 9-12.
    This may well have something to do with the very traditional perception that fat male kids = prosperity ( girls are a necessary burden and don’t count, unless you’re rich enough to show off…) and given that the young kids are under the purvey of the mother the boys get spoiled rotten and fat.
    Come the age of 9-12 the scepter of authority for the boys switches to the father, and they join the Food Pecking Order of the males, which… well.. is somewhat of a rude awakening for the lads.
    They sure as hell get lanky fast enough then…

    As those Traditional Families do not integrate well, they invevitably end up in the “lower social strata” where they disproportionally add to the child obesity figures because of their habit of turning young boys into spoiled, entitled balls of lard.

    The UK has a different makeup of major immigrant groups, but I have a feeling the major “problematic” groups do share at least part of that doughball-kids culture, skewing statistics in the same way.

  16. First thing we were taught in Coronary Rehab:

    “Your health is not your donctor’s responsibility. Your health is your responsibility”.

  17. Dearieme

    Thank you for that link.

    “if this story had been widely known would the population have been so gullible about Covid policies?”

    Quite so. And as for Net Zero…

  18. @Phoenix44:

    The problem is BMI is based on aesthetics, not health outcomes.

    No, BMI has nothing to do with aesthetics; it’s based on trying to use data clinicians already collect. At the extreme ends BMI has some use, but it’s still a crude tool. It’s really time that people stopped using it.

    Every branch of the US military is required to screen for obesity. Last I checked, none of them use BMI; all of them use some form of circumference / waistline method – often with looser standards for those performing well on physical fitness tests.

  19. dearieme,

    The take away from all of the BMI bollocks is that the push for us to be “Normal Weight” is political not scientific, which begs the question: why? Why, if we are better off being overweight, are they so determined that we should be normal weight?

  20. It also costs the NHS an estimated £6.1 billion a year.

    Erm, isn’t that what the health service is for?
    Curse those pesky ill people. If only they had the good manners to stay at home and die quietly. Instead they have the temerity to bother the saints who work in the NHS. we could save billions in expenditure and use that time wasted on treating patients to make TikTok videos.

  21. From the thumbnail Rachel Clark looks a couple of dress sizes overweight herself. Do what I say not what I do.

    What I think would work is, upon your leaving a purveyor of yummy i.e. nutritious food, your vehicle must be preceded by someone on foot with a red flag and a bell calling out “Unclean! Unclean!”

    The obese should be barred from NHS premises entirely and left to die at home. Once a week a hand-drawn cart will collect the tubby corpses, tended by two gaunt persons who call, “Bring out your dead! Bring out your dead!” Sell the TV rights at a vast profit.

    Voting booths could have a slit-like entrance allowing passage to only the sylph-like.

    The ultimate fix would be to round up all the anti-vaxxers, sugar addicts, breathers of tobacco fumes etc into one place where they cannot contaminate the Good. This has been a massive success in reducing the population of contrary thinkers everywhere it was tried.

    I mean if we’re going to do anti-obesity at all, let’s do it properly.

  22. Thank you Southerner. I think you’ve solved it.

    I’ll admit I use a different method. Since I have eat MY!!! cooking, I don’t have any trouble with controlling my weight.

Leave a Reply

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