I still haven’t got over outgoing UK Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies’ manifesto:
At a glance | Prof Dame Sally Davies’ review of obesity crisis
Ban eating or drinking anything but plain water on all urban public transport
Extend sugar tax on drinks to cover milkshake and flavoured coffees
Consider new taxes on all unhealthy foods, if action is not taken to cut their sugar content. Alternatively, put snacks in plain packaging, as has happened for cigarettes
Overhaul VAT so all unhealthy fare is consistently covered, and healthy foods exempt
Place a calorie cap on all meals sold in cafes and restaurants
End any advertising or marketing of unhealthy products at sports or concerts. Only sell low calorie food as such events
There’s a whole mindset here. She thinks there’s an obesity crisis. And her proposal is to put the British people on a diet of bread and water, thereby preventing them from eating “unhealthy” foods – which seem to be foods which either a) are snacks, b) contain calories, c) are in the least bit tasty. Most of it is to be done with taxation, which will make everything except bread and water extremely expensive. So when you visit a restaurant, the menu will be:
One small piece of cold, tasteless, low-calorie “bread”.
One small glass of water.
You won’t need to order it. It’ll be on the table already. And you’ll be expected to eat it inside 10 minutes.
Will it solve the obesity crisis? Of course it will. It’s been done before. For she’s really proposing to convert Britain into Belsen. There was no obesity crisis in Belsen. (A thought: Perhaps that’s what the Nazis were trying to do – solve Germany’s 1930 obesity crisis with an anorexia counter-crisis?)
But why is it a crisis if there are lots of fat people waddling around? Is it because they get stuck in doorways, or block passages? Is it because they each occupy two or three seats on buses and planes? Is it because they are continually dropping dead of over-exertion as they try to climb staircases? Is it because they eat everything in sight? What, in short, is the real problem here?
Perhaps I’m being a bit slow, but I simply can’t see what the problem is, never mind what the crisis is.
I suspect the real crisis is an aesthetic crisis: Obesity doesn’t look good. Dame Sally Davies is primarily (perhaps even solely) concerned with appearances. What she calls “healthy” is what I would simply call “pretty” or “beautiful”. She wants the world to be filled with slim, wiry people without an ounce of superfluous fat on their bodies.
But don’t aesthetic tastes change all the time? Isn’t there always Taste Change happening, much like Climate Change. What if we all start admiring Rubens’ nudes again? Look at these magnificent creatures:
In the remote past, the Great Mothers were truly colossal. The great mother was the Ideal Woman of the Paleolithic. Why? Probably because she could survive a famine that her emaciated sisters could not, simply by living off her own fat. Back then women weren’t trying to keep as thin as possible, but as fat as possible. And if you were a man looking for a wife, you’d be courting the fattest women you possibly could.
One can see tastes changing just by watching movies over the past century. The great beauties of 1919 are not the same as the great beauties of 2019. Would Clara Bow have become a movie star a century later? Probably not. Tastes are always changing.
I suspect Dame Sally Davies’ obesity crisis is an aesthetic crisis. It’s the sort of crisis that happens when women start wearing miniskirts or men start growing their hair long. Hers is a shocked sensibility rather than a medical diagnosis.
But there’s another puzzle with Dame Sally’s manfesto. Why did she publish it when she was leaving the office of Chief Medical Officer? Wouldn’t it have been more appropriate to have published it before she took office?
The answer is that it was a review that she was asked to conduct:
The Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, has commissioned Dame Sally to produce a report by September, with a series of recommendations for the government.
She said experts on nutrition, science and public health and representatives from the food and drink industry would all be asked to contribute their ideas.
So these are not her ideas: they’re the ideas of “experts on nutrition, science and public health”. And she has perhaps done us a great service in warning us of what these unaccountable “experts” are planning for us. She’s a whistleblower showing us just how crazy these people have really become.