Your editorial is spot on in terms of the nation currently failing to follow a sensible balanced diet, and the adverse health impact on the population that this is producing.
Changes are needed if we are to avoid meltdown in the NHS. However, this is only part of the picture as the nation sits on its collective backside at work and at home. Even a short brisk walk every day would be beneficial, but adults cannot be bothered and kids are driven to school and discouraged from playing outside by parents who are unwilling to provide a modicum of supervision. It’s the perfect storm.
Get on your bike
Sometimes separate news items seem unrelated, when they are very much related. This week we have the new cycling offence regarding pedestrians killed by cyclist and the increase in type 2 diabetes in young people.
If the Department for Transport encouraged more cycling by PROPER provision of cycle paths, traffic lights etc, by copying the Dutch, where they have provision for pedestrians, cyclist and vehicles, these issues would both be improved as we would have a healthier population and save money currently spent by the NHS on a range of health issues as well as having safer pavements.
The parents don’t escape blame either
Once again I read about child obesity and now the rise in diabetes. The blame for this is placed squarely on the shoulders of government and their austerity policies.
But what about the parents? Why are we so afraid to criticise their part in this emerging disaster?
I was brought up in the late Sixties and early Seventies. My father was a poorly paid railway goods guard with a mortgage, a wife and three active boys. My mother did not work as she needed to look after us. We were similar to most of the families around us in the valleys of south Wales. Some worse off, some better off.
My father brought his pay packet home unopened and handed it over to my mother. She needed to be careful how this pay was used. Her priority was the bills, food, clothes and warmth. Treats were a rare thing. Her careful husbandry of the available funds meant that we did not lack these essentials. We young boys played out as much as possible. Our parents took us to the parks when there was time. We played ball. Ran around, had adventures. We were happy, active, slim and fit. We were expected to pay attention at school. We were encouraged to do well in life.
It is shocking how many people display an appalling lack of duty of care to their children. You have to fight for a better life as my parents did day in and day out and, because they did, their children also responded to the challenge that is life.
Can people afford to cook with fresh food?
I’d like to suggest that education and poverty are the root causes of this epidemic. Having lived in poverty on two estates in my life, I think people are scared of fresh food and really do not know what to do with it. The other factor of course is parenting skills, skills that can show a child a healthy plate instead of giving in to fast food, demand and convenience.
Sure Start centres seemed such an ideal investment to tackle these areas as well as provide crucial support to all.
Reducing single-use plastic is only tokenistic in the big fight against waste
Exchequer secretary Robert Jenrick has said he is committed to reducing single-use plastic waste. Yes, taxing non-recyclable coffee mugs and plastic straws are good things to do, but their comparative volumes in the face of ever-increasing plastic production, single-use or not, are minuscule and potentially token.
In addition to these relatively minor gestures, I propose a radical upheaval of our domestic recycling systems. At present local authorities pay large sums of money to waste management companies to collect, sort and, hopefully, recycle domestic plastic waste. Yet they recycle only one-third of it and ship the rest off to other countries to… well, no one is quite sure what, although an awful lot ends up incinerated, in landfill or in the oceans. And we are now receiving our comeuppance. China is refusing to accept low grade plastic waste. Poland is even sending it back to us.
The council tax we pay for these wasteful and destructive processes could be put to far better use. With rapid progress now being made on carbon capture, home-based pyrolysis (waste to energy) units and a plethora of other plastic-to-fuel processes, there is a strong case to stockpile any plastic that is difficult to recycle in compacted or granulated form at 10 per cent of its previous volume in readiness for the time that it can be used as feedstock for negative emission energy production, and other innovative uses. We used to have grain mountains and wine lakes, so why not plastic mountains for a short while?
Bog off, Big Brother
I am not sure that Celebrity Big Brother needs such a prominent article in The Independent as Sean O’Grady awarded it, but [even] if I accept that judgement I am sad to see his tabloid-style insults printed at such length. And why the gratuitous insult to Natasha Kaplinsky?
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