Monday, April 11, 2016

We are NOT to blame for being OBESE, claims health expert

I DON'T know exactly what qualifies as a "superhuman effort" but when I hear that phrase I tend to picture someone who has dived into a freezing lake to save a child or lifted a heavy car off a crushed cyclist. I don't think of someone who refuses an extra helping of pudding.

In the mind of the Government's health tsar Susan Jebb, however, that mere act is sufficient to elevate someone to the status of Batman, Spiderman or some other fantasy hero. "Obesity has increased greatly over the last few decades," she said last week.

"That is not a national collapse of willpower. It's something about our environment that has changed. You need in some cases a superhuman effort to reduce your food intake."

It is not our fault if we get fat, she asserts. We should blame those dastardly food companies and retailers who line the high streets with burger shops and put sweets next to the tills.

How can we be expected to walk past such temptation without succumbing? I don't doubt that some people find it harder than others to know when to stop eating. However there is ultimately only one cause of obesity: not slow metabolism, not faulty genes but eating too much.

Unless you are being force-fed like a goose bred for paté de foie gras it is entirely within your control to monitor what you eat. Virtually all packaged food now comes with details of calorific content so it is not too hard to work out if you are exceeding a sensible daily intake of food.

If Jebb, who also serves as professor of diet and population health at the University of Oxford, thinks we can't be expected to have the willpower to turn down sugary snacks, from what else does she think we should be absolved: drinking too much, taking drugs, shoplifting, groping women on the Tube, hitting people we don't like? Civilised life becomes utterly impossible if we are not expected to exercise willpower and control our behaviour. Exercising selfrestraint is not superhuman, it is just human.

THE trouble is, it isn't only Jebb who seems to have this view of humans as pathetic creatures who bear no responsibility for their own actions. It has now become the ruling philosophy of many policy-makers and do-gooders.

In 2013 the American Medical Association voted to classify obesity as a disease against the advice of an expert panel that had warned of the consequences.

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