Don’t sneer, just tackle obesity issue

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I WENT into the supermarket for a bag of lentils to make a healthy, non-fattening soup from Christmas leftover stock and fresh veg.

I gave up trying to find the lentils. And came out with three not at all healthy big fat pizzas for the price of two instead.

Whose fault is that...mine, for being a poor, weak human being prone to temptation? Or the food processors’ for producing all those unnecessary calories and marketing them so aggressively?

I’ll put my hands up to my part – the pizzas may look like a cheap, labour-free meal that goes down well with the family, but I should know better.

They only taste nice because they’re sexed up with sugar, salt and animal fat, and per serving they cost ten times more than my soup.

We consumers are all making similar choices every day, and the results emerged briefly from a detailed study on food consumption and weight in the lost news week after Christmas.

It proved that the average man was 7.7 kilos heavier in 2000 than he’d been in 1986, and that all the factors that made him that way (lack of exercise plays a smaller part than food) are still in place.

The Oxford University scientist leading the study for the British Heart Foundation said: “We looked at how much food was available over time, accounting for food that’s wasted or thrown away. It’s clear people are eating more, and today we’re seeing a continued increase in the amount of food available.”

Bring that up to date with the most recent statistics, and the button-popping trend becomes even more alarming, as just two years ago a quarter of British men were classed as obese, compared with seven per cent in 1986.

It’s clear that if it wasn’t so easy and tempting to buy food that’s bad for you, the nation’s scary weight-gain would stall.

So what’s the Conservative Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, who dismissed campaigners for better school meals with the sneer: “People don’t want to be lectured about healthier eating”, doing about it?

Instead of seizing the chance to save us from ourselves by regulating the food companies, he’s only linked arms with them and given the likes of Nestle and Mars, Birds Eye and Asda the kudos of sponsoring a £250million scheme offering vouchers for healthy food and exercise.

Smart move that will actually end the shameless promotion of sugary drinks and biscuits, fatty and salty ready-meals – or window-dressing which gives the impression that the Government is doing something, without costing taxpayers a penny?

And when it doesn’t work – how could a token one-off gesture of £50 per family possibly change a lifetime’s habits? – the politicians can step back and say OK, £250million has been wasted, but at least it wasn’t public money.