Thursday 21 April 2011

Heard The One About The Easter Bunny, Obesity And Death?

From Medical News.

"Excess chocolate has been linked to dental caries and obesity, and obesity has been linked to a significantly higher risk of type 2 diabetes, hypertension, gall bladder disease, liver disease, and heart disease and stroke, and to a small increased risk of cancer."

The Easter Bunny's role is to sell chocolate to children and, according to the World Health Organization, such advertising contributes to children being overweight and obese and is an important area for preventive action, [Australian public health specialist] Dr [Nathan] Grills said.

"Given the Easter Bunny's potential for good, it could become a public health pin-up bunny, supporting campaigns that encourage children to eat the recommended daily five servings of vegetables and two servings of fruit," Dr Grills said.

"Chocolate egg hunts could become brussels sprout hunts! After all, the Easter Bunny itself would advocate for this change, given that bunnies do not digest chocolate particularly well."
Now, before anyone goes all Daily Mail on us, I was selective with the quotations there as the article makes it clear that this was just a public health industry in-joke. Har-di-bloody har, Nathan. Doing the circuit with Lembit soon, are you?

It's not a first for Dr Grills, though, since he was the author of a report condemning Santa as a health pariah in 2009, as highlighted at the time by VGIF.

What a jolly life these public health guys lead, eh? So awash are they with funding, that there's plenty of time available to file droll reports and produce press releases detailing their frivolous japes.

Except they're not really that funny, are they?

Oh, don't get me wrong. In an ideal world we would put Nathan's head under our arm, give him a playful noogie and amicably call him a fun-loving prankster. But public health obsessives destroyed that world a long time ago.

By way of entirely-unrelated example, back in 1995 one of us on an all-male beano to the Canaries was asked at the airport check-in if he had packed his case himself, to which he replied to much (partially inebriated) laughter "no, a kind middle-eastern gentleman did it for me". The Monarch airlines staff member just gave him a wry grin. Do the same now and he'd most likely be arrested.

It's not funny anymore once the threat is serious, is it?

Likewise, Nathan's 'comedy' just doesn't hit the mark for the simple reason that it's perfectly feasible that some health nutter will be advocating such a thing in the future ... without the tongue planted in his (or, more likely, her) cheek.

In fact, Nathan's Santa study had already been overtaken by events when he published it. Firstly, by the US Surgeon General himself in 2007 and subsequently by anti-obesity fruitloop MeMe Roth, whose description of Santa's portrayal on Coke packaging was "I see a warning label. Drink this, and look how your body will look."

Which would tend to explain why Nathan's jovial dig at the big guy didn't go down very well.

Around the world, Grills has been attacked as a mean-spirited Christmas killjoy. His e-mail inbox is filled with condemnations. He’s so besieged by angry calls that he won’t answer the telephone, so I couldn’t talk to him for an interview. We had to correspond via e-mail.
He has been very careful not to replicate that experience this time by making the satirical nature of his Easter Bunny piece absolutely crystal.

However, since we can be pretty certain that the same arguments will be advanced by the public health community in the future - this time with a perfectly straight face - it's just not funny, Nathan. Sorry.

Unless, of course, his idea of humour is informing a condemned man of his execution that very day, before admitting it was just a leg-pull ... it's next week really.



Furor Teutonicus said...

This I recieved today may be of interest giving the topic of your blog post;

Somehow I get the impression that the DoH WANT people to get/be ill with diabetes.

After all, where would diabets specialists find a REAL job if we were all "cured"?

Anonymous said...

This is off your topic, Dick, but I hope that you do not mind.

Philip Morris has opened a website in Australia for the defence of smokers. The URL is:

Here is a copy of a comment that I have just posted on Frank Davis's site:

""I too was surprised that comments were limited, but then I thought that, if the site is a success, there could be tens of thousands all talking to no purpose. As it happens, I have just been over there again and clicked on LATEST NEWS. Two of the four items were newspaper articles on which one could comment. Perhaps Philip Morris's idea is to point out these articles for 'members' of the PM site to comment on.

I looked at the comments on the two articles and was amazed at the overwhelming numerical superiority of anti-smoking comments. On one of the articles (about plain packaging), of 132 comments, only 4 were against the idea. The other article (re smoking in the open air) also was very anti-smoker - the hatred was palpable.

Being a bit of a conspiracy theorist, the thought crossed my mind that ASH (or the AU equivalent) is aware of this Philip Morris site and is deliberately targeting any article mentioned on the site. Certainly, the comments there bear no relation to our experience in the UK where opinion is prominently against the Nanny State. Also, the ignorance of facts as regards SHS was astonishing.

I tried a little detective work on the comments and found that on the article with 132 comments, the vast majority started to pour in at 4pm and then abruptly ceased at 7pm. Very few comments were made after that. The last comment there, a few days later, was the one which referred to their being 132 comments and only 4 which supported the author of the article.

I am going to go back there everyday, check the LATEST NEWS and kick butt – hit them with facts and call the ‘stinkers’ rotten. I think that we should all do it. The URL for the Aussie site again is:

I’m going to copy this comment to other sites, Frank – Leg Iron and co. I think we should wake the Aussies up a bit.""

I think that the idea is clear.

James Higham said...

All the same. there needs to be a bit of humour in adversity. I think our species was meant to do that.

Ian R Thorpe said...

It's not just Santa and the Easter Bunny Dick, I heard this morning they've put a health warning on the warm weather now. That's on top of the ban on sunlight which causes skin cancer of course.

Well I suppose I'm being a bit curmudgeonly with that last one. I mean, rickets is preferable to skin cancer any day.

English Pensioner said...

One day the experts are telling us that today's youth are going to die at an earlier age than their parents due to obesity, fast food, alcohol, etc.
The next day they tell us that a quarter of the youth of today are going to live to be over 100.

I do wish they'd make up their minds!