Jeremy Laurance: The obesity crisis: it all comes down to peanuts
Jeremy Laurance is a writer on health issues. He is former health editor of The Independent and the i and has covered the specialism for more than 20 years. He thinks the harm medicine does is under-appreciated, the harm it prevents over-rated, and that cycling works better than most drugs. He was named Specialist Journalist of the Year in the 2011 British Press Awards.
Tuesday 18 October 2011
Andrew Lansley wants you to go on a diet. Five billion calories must be sacrificed by the nation, the health secretary said last week, which he helpfully illustrated with images of Olympic-sized swimming pools of cola, and chocolate bars lined up from Lands End to John o' Groats. Graphic stuff. But if you think about those cola swimming pools or miles of chocolate, do you not feel depressed? Who can cut their calories on such an industrial scale?
But Professor Terence Stephenson, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics, put it another way: a five billion calorie cut equates to 100 calories per day per person, which is the equivalent of just 16 dry roasted peanuts. Suddenly, the task looks do-able – all we have to do is give up a handful of peanuts. Mr Lansley boasted that the national calorie cut he was seeking was three times greater than a similar US programme launched a few years ago. Maybe he would have had a better reception for his announcement if he had stressed how modest it was.
Yet we know how difficult even modest changes are. Twenty years ago, Virginia Bottomley, Mr Lansley's predecessor as Health Secretary, urged the nation to eat "three egg-sized potatoes a day." Obesity has since soared. Last week's announcement contained the same message repackaged. Small wonder medical organisations reacted with anger and disbelief. The epidemic is raging but the Government still refuses to rein in the food and drink industries that lie behind it.
Life & Style blogs
Ebola crisis: Cases pass 10,000 as almost 5,000 killed by disease in eight countries
Alexander Wang for H&M: Pumping video of the campaign filmed in London has been released
Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
Our gums are less healthy than Roman Britons', scientists claim
NHS staff banned from drinking tea or coffee on the job because it looks like they're not working hard enough
- 1 Stem cells that can kill cancer have been engineered by scientists
- 2 Ricky Gervais and Dame Judi Dench back campaign to stop Thailand dog meat trade
- 3 Russell Brand says he will 'probably' give up acting to focus on his revolution
- 4 Kentucky gang rape: 15-year-old boy left in critical condition after sexual attack by group at party
- 5 Queen's first tweet: Reply telling Her Majesty to 'f*** off' broadcast on BBC News
£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...
£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...