Tim Lang: Will this new anti-obesity wheeze work? Fat chance

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The Independent Online

Today's initiative is another example of a very soft Government approach to food policy. Most of us who study this area know that while on the surface these little initiatives sound good, they are hopeless when confronted with the enormity of change required.

In the past 30 or 40 years there has been an enormous shift in the public consciousness towards food – brought about through culture, advertising, and pricing – so you can no longer walk down a high street or into a bus or train station without going past fast-food joints screaming "eat me, drink me". In this context, a few recipes and one celebrity chef is frankly not even a finger in the dyke. Secretary of state after secretary of state just hasn't got it – and even when they do, as soon as they've been in power for long enough they become frightened of tackling powerful companies and vested interests. This includes the food industry itself, through to the mass consciousness industries of commercial TV and advertising. We are essentially dealing with a culture which has taken decades to develop – a few new recipes are not going to reverse the ubiquity of the overproduction of calories.

Tim Lang is Professor of food policy at City University