Arabella Weir: What, no more wine or pudding?

I don't want to be a drain on the NHS. With luck I won't bother them at all

Share
Related Topics

In the 1980s there was an ad for some "low-fat" breakfast cereal that made my girlfriends and me fall about laughing. It depicted a perfectly slim woman bringing her husband's breakfast over to him on a tray as he sat at the table reading the paper (Hah! Them were the days, eh?) and a patrician male voiceover asked "Can you pinch more than an inch?"

The husband then pinched his wife's waist, producing, between his thumb and index finger, a very small "spare tyre". Laughing gamely, she then did the same to him (he was also pretty trim) and, you guessed it, produced a similar amount of "excess" fat.

For those of us carrying a tad more than an extra inch around the waist the phrase got refashioned to suit our defiant reaction to condescending ads of this nature, and my friends (of all sizes) and I would needle each other, drawling "can you pinch more than a foot?" A whole 12 inches extra might be a bit of an exaggeration but what we cynics had noticed was that nobody in the ad was even remotely overweight, but this was in the Eighties when fat people didn't exist – well, not in the media.

"More than an inch" in the 1980s was the very last foothold before one fell into the abyss that is morbidly obese. Back then there were no lurid headlines like "Fattest man in Britain" or "29-stone mum feeds kids fast food" or "Beth Ditto wears a mini!"

For crying out loud, this was an era when Fat is a Feminist Issue was a bestseller. (I doubt anything with that word in the title would fly off the shelves now, and I mean feminist, not fat.) In 2010 we're allowed to point at fat people in the street and nudge our friends so they don't miss them either. They're the new bearded ladies.

Now, too, the Change4Life ad campaign is moving its focus of attention from overweight, inactive kids to the over-50s because adult obesity is rising, which, in turn, will cause an increase in diabetes, heart diseases and strokes. I'm well aware (you might say more than most since a supersized me is the spectre that constantly haunts me whenever I so much as look at a biscuit) that being vastly overweight is bad for one's overall health. But, oh man, this ad's come just when I thought it was safe to go back into the water – and by water I mean wine.

Can't I have wine and pudding now that I'm over 50? Naturally I don't want to be a drain on the NHS – au contraire, I was rather hoping that by combining regular exercise and eating reasonably well with drinking way above the recommended daily allowance I'd drop dead in the street one day, not needing to bother the NHS at all.

I hope the campaign works, for everyone's sake. It's no good us becoming a nation of chunkies who don't know what that expanse of grass surrounded by railings some call a park is for. I just wish the message was going to be universally deployed, maybe by the celebrity mags and papers too. You know, the ones that point out famous people's "fat" bits, inviting us to hate them for being just like us.

Arabella Weir's latest book, 'The Real Me is Thin', is published in September by Fourth Estate

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

History Teacher

£110 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: We are seeking a teacher o...

IT Teacher

£110 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: We are seeking a suitably ...

Legal Cashier - Oxford

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Legal Cashier - Oxford We have an excellent ...

Legal Cashier - Oxford

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Legal Cashier - Oxford We have an excellent ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

The daily catch-up: Joe on Vlad, banks of the Jordan and Blair's radicalism

John Rentoul
 

Believe me, I said, there’s nothing rural about this urban borough’s attempt at a country fair

John Walsh
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor