IoS letters, emails & online postings (20 July 2014)

Zoë Harcombe states that the obesity epidemic started when we followed the "wrong" kind of dietary advice ("Gastric bands are as useful as a plaster on a severed artery", 13 July). I think the simpler explanation is that more food is being processed, and more food is being offered where previously it wasn't.

Councils and local authorities have allowed a proliferation of fast-food outlets, often within yards of each other. There used to be planning laws which stated that similar trades could not operate in close proximity, these have been so relaxed that there are often six or seven outlets within the same block, many remaining open all day capitalising on the after-school trade. Cinemas sell popcorn in buckets and sugary drinks by the litre. Most hospitals are replete with vending machines that offer nothing other than unhealthy snacks and drinks, often to patients who are there because of their intake of such.

There'll be no change from the food manufacturers, the Government is too weak to enforce that and councils will keep allowing fast-food outlets, they want the business rates. But there can be very little sympathy for the NHS "struggling" with the increasing "obesity epidemic" when it's contributing to it.

Geoff Hulme

Altrincham, Cheshire

Joan Smith's rant about Harriet Harman's failure to become deputy prime minister seems to assume women have the right to promotion simply because they are female (13 July). Harman claims victim status which is something we can all do. I would like to welcome you to the world of the single, white, middle-aged male where I get used as a cash cow to pay taxes for all the supposed hard-working families while getting very little in the way of benefits. Women still get their pensions earlier than men. Is Smith complaining about that? Are any women refusing to accept it early in solidarity with men?

Rob Edwards

Harrogate, Yorkshire

John Rentoul (13 July) thinks voters "will shy away from Miliband". But people cast their ballot for the party rather than its leader, and those who've suffered from the Coalition's austerity programme will want to see Cameron ousted. Rentoul says Neil Kinnock's unpopularity in 1992 led to Labour's defeat, but I recall Edward Heath beating Harold Wilson in 1970 and Margaret Thatcher defeating James Callaghan in 1979. Both times the outgoing prime ministers were more popular than their successors. Personality isn't everything.

Tim Mickleburgh

Grimsby, Lincolnshire

John Rentoul obviously thinks Miliband losing would be a good thing. I'm not sure who he envisages forming the next government, but if it is the likes of Michael Gove, Jeremy Hunt and Chris Grayling, I can see why he keeps quiet.

Keith Flett

London N17

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TIPP) could give authorities the right to sue governments over laws designed to protect workers and the environment ("Protesters fear trade deal will 'carve open' health service" 13 July). An understanding of how this deal could violate human rights led the public out en-masse last weekend in opposition to the treaty.

Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb

Green Party Group, London Assembly