A couple of weeks ago, the English Government issued a dramatic-sounding press release – Government calls time on obesity – the contents of which indicate they’ve done anything but. It follows on from a previous statement which announced the Responsibility Deal, proposing that the best way of tackling the obesity crisis is through a stronger partnership between the government and the food manufacturing industry.
Pardon me while I take a long, steadying breath.
The latter announcement calls on us to reduce our overall calorie intake, and to moderate the amount and type of food we eat. The former accords the food manufacturers a special role in helping us do this. It’s possible I’m missing something here, but the last time I looked, wasn’t the purpose of the food and drink industry to sell more – not less – food and drink? Do we really think it’s in their interests to help the government to help us to reduce our intake of their products?
Whilst there is some progress – the Responsibility Deal pledges the removal of artificial trans fats from manufactured foods by the end of the year (although it doesn’t draw any distinction between real foods and those so-called “foods” which are manufactured in a laboratory) – there are several madcap edicts found across the two statements:
- A call for calorie labelling on restaurant and fast-food menus from September of this year – despite the fact that evidence indicates that this could be counterproductive
- A drive to reduce salt in food so people eat 1g less per day by the end of 2012 – with no mention of the variable quality of table and mineral salt, the important balancing role of potassium, or the fact that large-scale scientific reviews have determined there’s no reason for people with normal blood pressure to restrict their sodium intake
- A message from England’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies, telling everyone to “be more honest about their eating and drinking habits” – so now we’re fat, sick, and dishonest…
With such wrong-headed approaches, can we be far behind Denmark in suffering an ill-advised ”fat tax”?
Cutting through the dramatic posturing of these government announcements, we find at their heart the old calorie-model of combatting obesity. Clearly, the government thinks that we all just need to eat less and do more and we’ll lose weight, despite the fact that this model has long been discredited. Furthermore, they seem to believe that the people whose livelihoods depend on selling us food products are going to help us do it.
Here’s a press release I’d like to see: “Government wakes up to real causes of the obesity crisis“. In my wild fantasy, it would contain the following announcements:
- Government recognises role of excess carbohydrates – particularly those of the refined variety – in driving obesity
- Tax announced on all factory-processed food products
- Government to subsidise local farmers and organic producers to ensure wide availability of high-quality real foods
- Up-to-date nutritional advice to be part of school curriculum – with a drive to raise awareness of the important role in the diet of properly-reared animal foods and high-quality natural fats
- All medical professionals required by law to be trained in-depth in human nutrition
A pipe dream? Perhaps it is for now, but the growing awareness of the paleo diet gives me hope that the true causes of obesity can be tackled amongst those of us whose eyes are open to the truth of health and human nutrition.
Dear Government, it’s not edicts we need – it’s education. And so do you.
Have you considered how you might educate YOUR government about how to tackle obesity? You could do worse than to write to your local politician and point them in the direction of Paleo Diet News!
Brian Cormack Carr is a life and career coach, charity CEO, writer, and advocate of a real foods diet.
His home on the web is www.cormackcarr.com where you will find more articles, his free Lifecrafting Newsletter, and
information about his online career-creation programme www.vitalvocation.com.
You can follow Brian on Twitter: @cormackcarr