Monday 2 March 2015

Don't Fine Parents, Ban Stuff Instead!

For those in 'public health', the idea of leaving people to make their own decisions in life is simply unthinkable - because, you see, that way unemployment lies. Consider, for example, this article in The Conversation, 'public health's favourite source of 'debate'.
The Puerto Rican government has just tabled a bill that would see parents with obese children fined up to US$800 if they don't ensure their offspring lose weight. This government is clearly at a loss in the fight against childhood obesity and its latest attempt is a panicked, or at the very least desperate, public health response.
Fining parents eye-watering sums because their kids are not of proportions approved by the state? Surely as fascistic an idea as we've seen to date!
Obesity on the whole, however, is a lower socio-economic problem – the argument could be made that obesity is the least of their worries. Any solution that fines those already struggling to live day-to-day is a recipe for disaster.
Of course it is, not to mention deeply immoral. The bill should be scrapped, the public be given information on healthy eating and left to their own devices, which the author is going to suggest, right?

Nope, course not.
If the government is sincere about helping parents to better manage their children’s weight, then they should take a close look at the eating environments in the most disadvantaged communities. The sizable investment that would be needed to set up this proposed scheme could do wonders in these areas – reduce the cost of healthy foods, establish local markets and vegetable gardens, cooking classes, and so on.
Hold on, does he mean make healthy food - which is already very much cheaper than fast food - even cheaper? How will that work? Subsidies or price controls (which are going down a storm in Venezuela)?

Whichever, the "sincere" way of "helping" parents according to this blinkered fool is to spend lots and lots of money setting up a system that nobody wants. As in, lead a horse to water and miraculously make it drink. In public health, it seems to be forgotten that the reason individuals eat stuff professional food bores despise is that they choose to. Set up as many veggie gardens as you like, but if demand isn't there, the supply will just go to rot.

Yes, to tackle a 'problem' which costs the country an imaginary amount of money dictated by computer models created specifically for the purpose by public health, the answer is to spend bucketloads of real cash on initiatives which have bugger all chance of working.

There is a cheaper alternative, though, apparently.
If they're interested in a less costly public measure to help out the parents, they could place a ban on the fast-food marketing that manipulates their children’s dietary choices.
Of course. A ban. Public health's favourite 'moderate' response to any minor perceived flaw in their pursuit of a homogenous, perfected, ideal citizenry. Attack businesses, facilitate job losses and harm real people in order to reduce imaginary costs. Great plan!
There is no single answer to combating population-wide obesity, which is the result of so many factors, from a family’s genetics, to location, to income, to education.
Correct. And those who know which particular factors apply in any particular situation are the people themselves, so why is public health so devoted to "population-level" solutions which they clearly understand will not work? Is it a salary thing?
The answer to tackling the obesity epidemic arguably requires a cultural shift, a change in approach across all levels of society, akin to what we saw with tobacco in the 1990s.
The tobacco template delivers yet again, is there no amount of public health quackery it can't be used to justify? Onward ad bans, sin taxes, display bans and plain packaging for popular foods. Huzzah! Sound the trumpet, get the fat crusade started proper!

Please, for the love of Christ, someone hang these miserable, self-interested, trouser-stuffing puritans. Hang them all.


Junican said...

They don't want to fine parents yet. They don't want smoking prohibition in the open air yet. Even Chapman is against it for now. Much better for the time being to attack the sources of food - easier, more profitable and more totalitarian.

Christian said...

At what point will any of them realise that if we all live long long healthy lives the planet will soon be over populated. There is only a limited amount of space to build new homes. What fields we have will be needed to grow food for the increasing numbers. Hunger and homelessness will lead to the collapse of modern civilisation (visions of Mad Max) or will Mother Nature take a hand to get the numbers back under control. I just cannot see what final objective they are hoping to achieve. Will it not be easier just to let us die off naturally, they can then re-populate the planet with their perfect 3 person babies.

Sam Duncan said...

“This government is clearly at a loss in the fight against childhood obesity”

I'm at a loss to understand why it's fighting childhood obesity in the first place. It's not a government problem. You might as well try to use a fridge to get to work in the morning.

Then again, as you say, it's obvious what it's actually about: power and control. If you didn't really want to go to work in the morning but preferred a quiet beer instead, the fridge would be your first port of call.

Dick_Puddlecote said...

"I'm at a loss to understand why it's fighting childhood obesity in the first place. It's not a government problem."

If you ever do work that out, please explain to me. I'm at a loss too.

John Watson said...

While I suspect your first line is a rhetorical question the answer is never, they don't have the intelligence to think that one through! As for Mother Natures intervention volcanologist's seem to think a major super volcano eruption would have the desired effect, they also think that Yellowstone is due or even overdue. Maybe our heroes at ASH will ban it because of all the smoke, if not then the smoking lamp is lit, smoke 'em if you got 'em!

truckerlyn said...

The very topic of childhood obesity is abhorrent! Most children carry 'puppy' fat as toddlers and often in to primary school. They then have a growth spurt and shoot upwards. The miraculous outcome of this is that they are no longer 'obese' as their body has adjusted and they are properly proportioned.

Obviously there are some that this does not work for and that can only really be put down to genetics.

Until governments worldwide decide to interfere with each and every conception by genetically altering 'fat genes', then this is a perfectly natural thing that happens in normal human life.

God forbid scientists and government do decide to interfere in genetics in this way as that would be a step backwards to Hitler and his mob. God knows, they may even resort to cloning! The day that happens, please shoot me if I am still here!

All of this that started with smoking bans is becoming extremely scary and VERY dangerous. Too many people with too much power and too much money (or money they are prepared to spend in totally the wrong way) are getting way above themselves. As they are very far from perfect, perhaps, should they want to go down any of these routes, they should try it out on themselves and their families first!

theprog said...

I don't know if they have an equivalent to the NHS in Puerto Rica, but in UK the justification will partly be to save money. They've done it re smoking and drinking, consumers of which already pay through the nose.

Sam Duncan said...

Which is, of course, an excellent argument for dismantling the NHS. But that's a whole other can of worms...

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