I may expand this into a proper article if I get time… but for now a few thoughts about obesity.
The debate about obesity in the UK is heating up following recent decisions that obesity is a disability and that organisations and employers will probably have to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate larger people.
All the discussion in the mainstream media and on Facebook is centered on the specific causes of fatness. These range from processed foods, through sedentary lifestyles, fear of letting kids play in the street, metabolic disruption, gender, ethnicity, location, etc etc.
All these are of course things that make people obese.
But what we need to focus on is why people have these lifestyles and make food choices that appear not to be in their self interest.
Well actually if you don’t have much money it’s logical to buy food that is not only cheap, but filling. If you have a cold house and it’s cold outside it is perfectly natural to want something hot, meaty, and satisfying.
if you have three kids and work long hours it’s perfectly sensible to save time by bunging something in the microwave.
If you’re knackered after a day working in a care home and your kids need to be entertained, the TV or computer are natural tools for keeping them busy so you can get a bit of time and space to yourself.
The Guardian and various charities and programmes can spend as much time and money teaching people how to cook fresh, cheap, vegetable based meals as they like (a good thing), while wagging their fingers and moaning at working class mums and dads but until we understand why people make the choices they do, they will not meet their own targets.
The obesity epidemic will be tackled when we:
- Provide universal free school meals at all ages
- Increase wages
- Provide more and cheaper childcare
- Improve access to flexible working for parents
- Improve access to quality housing
Now as regular readers (hi both) of this blog will have gathered I’m not one for making a list of demands, I prefer to look at strategies for achieving goals. How do we demonstrate the above are all achievable and possible to pay for?
It’s quite simple we look at how much obesity costs the NHS, at the impact on education, on social services, on jobs etc.
Why not look at investing our future potential savings now? We can do it for crime prevention, why not for obesity?
Maybe the recent classification of obesity as a disability and the cost implications for employers is the incentive we need.