Sunday, 13 July 2008

Eat y'self fitter (3)

According to the health mag enclosed with today's Observer, they've introduced a new scheme to combat obesity in Japan. (Didn't realise it was much of a problem there, apart from sumo wrestlers, who want to be that way). Apparently anyone between the ages of 40 and 74 with a waist over 33.5 inches for men and 35.4 inches for women will be given three months to shape up under their own steam. If that doesn't work, the metabo', as the tubby are known in Japan,then get compulsory dieting guidance, with re-education for repeat offenders and financial penalties for employers. Here's an older article from when the scheme was first announced. (33.5 inches doesn't seem very big at all to me, but maybe Japanese men are smaller in general?) The idea is to reduce obesity by 25% within 7 years.

I can just imagine the response if the Government tried to introduce something similar in the UK. Although I guess the politicians would have to set an example by going first. The thought of the like of Nicholas Soames having to sign up is almost enough to convince me it's a good idea.


Dick Puddlecote said...

"I can just imagine the response if the Government tried to introduce something similar in the UK. Although I guess the politicians would have to set an example by going first"

Kerry, you know full well that it is on the agenda ...

But I think Sir (hahaha) Liam Donaldson will have trouble setting an example.

Don't you ever get embarrassed by your party?

Kerry said...

Are you saying obesity isn't a problem?

According to the BBC, over 30,000 deaths a year are caused by obesity in England alone. A study by the National Audit Office in 2002 estimated the condition costs the NHS £500 million a year. The overall cost to the country is estimated at up to £7.4 billion a year. Adult obesity rates have almost quadrupled in the last 25 years. Now 22% of Britons are obese and three-quarters are overweight. The number of obese children has tripled in 20 years. 10% of six year olds are obese, rising to 17% of 15 year olds

But then again, you don't think smoking is a public health problem, do you...

DaveA said...

Kerry, obesity is a muti faceted problem with no easy answers. Sport at my comprehensive in the late 70s was nearly optional. The same 10% of school who played for the football team played for the rugby and cricket teams. 80% plus of kids were indifferent or hostile to sport. Probably because paedophilia has been well publisised and the growth of car traffic, parents are reluctant to let kids go to school on thier own. I used to walk to school from the age of 5. Also with computers and the internet there is so much fun to be had sitting on your backside, whether writing on your blog or my trip is playing poker on line and live. Also in the 70s if you were caught drunk driving it was thought to be "bad luck". Now it is a badge of shame and the best (limp)defence is "we've all done it". The point here is that society does have its mores and standards and being fat is no longer a badge of shame. Many of the parents at the time were brought up in the war and rationing. Even today you will never see my plate with any food left on it. Being fat was linked to being greedy and lacking in self control. For the record my understanding on the numbers on longevity and cost to the NHS is:

Obesity I thought is was or 4 or 5 billion and you lived on average 5.7 years less and only pay VAT on food in cafes and takeaways.

Smoking is £1.7 billion against an annual rake of £9.8 billion in tobacco taxes and heavy smokers live on average 5.2 years less than non smokers. So being over weight is worse for you than smoking and certainly less kind on the Exchequer.

puppet freezone said...

If obesity is a 'problem', then surely it's a problem for the individual rather than the government. Why is it the government's problem exactly?

Education is fine. Education using both sides of an argument with equal strength is ideal.

Enforcement is dictatorship.

Please explain to me why obesity is a problem for government Kerry. I really don't get it.

Why can't people just get help when they actually *want* it, instead of increasingly being forced to take it, whether they want it or not?

Whatever happened to free will?

From another perspective, I also wonder what on earth constitutes 'obesity' these days. A few years, a boss of mine (About a size 14 and very tall, so incredibly slender-looking) had her fat to muscle ratio tested and was told she was obese. It was both astonishing and absurd. I do hope that politicians are rigorous in determining the root of the figures they're fed before they fall for them.

Mr Potarto said...

Kerry wrote: "Are you saying obesity isn't a problem?

According to the BBC, over 30,000 deaths a year are caused by obesity in England alone."

Obesity is only a problem if the obese think it is. No one lives forever, we all have to die of something. The purpose of Government isn't to produce a nation of joyless 115 year-olds.

Kerry, why is it that people's lifestyles are always analysed by politicians as a series of costs to the Government? You do realise that it is us fatties, smokers, drivers and drinkers that are the ones who send you the money in the first place?

Jay said...

Mr Potarto makes a very good point: the raison d'etre of the electorate isn't to act as a cash cow and provide money for the Government to squander on pet projects and impose its view of the world. The individual doesn't belong to the State. If the Government doesn't want people to incur NHS costs, then one solution is to do away with the NHS, stop charging people to pay for it and allow them to make their own arrangements.

puppet freezone said...

Some here might appreciate this short animated video on the philosophy of liberty:

Dick Puddlecote said...

"Are you saying obesity isn't a problem?"

Actually, no I wasn't but since you asked. ;-)

As others have said, it may well be a health problem to some but it is their decision if they want to do something about it, not Government's. And your figures mean you have completely lost sight of what Government should be doing. MPs should observe how people wish to live their lives and then budget the nation's money accordingly ... NOT see how much money you want to spend and then STOP people doing what they like to save some cash.

I just thought it funny that such a po-faced miserablist policy was being announced by someone who isn't exactly of Kate Moss dimensions himself. :-)

Lastly, whether smoking is a health problem of not, whether an individual smokes or not is a matter of choice to the them, not YOU. Plus, if you believe passive smoking is dangerous, pass a law by all means, but as MPs you should be offering choice to the huge minority that would prefer it. Like, say, a partial ban such as the one you were voted in on ... err ... but which you completely ignored.

puppet freezone said...

It seems to me that the big problem... the big 'detach' if you like, between government and ordinary people, is that government policy is so focused on numbers.

Government seems to think that dying below the age of 100 is some kind of 'failure'. I just don't understand this thinking. Dying is not a failure, it's a given from the moment we're born. I've seen various relatives die at all sorts of ages for all sorts of reasons, ranging from the not-yet-born all the way through (teenage, 30's, 50's, 70's) to 90 years of old. I don't see any of their deaths as a failure. The only measurement that interests me is what kind of character and decency they had, what their interests were, and how they enjoyed their years of life. Any grief I feel at their loss is in direct proportion to how valuable their presence was in my life, and that value is in direct proportion to how incredible they were. How incredible they were is in direct proportion to how much they were able to let their true personality shine into the world, uninhibited.

What does it matter the age that they died? For me this is the least interesting thing about a person. For government, it appears to be a measure of the person's (and the government's) success.

If I could as government for anything (and I know I can't, as they don't listen), it would be to stop crushing people's spirit. Let them be who they are. Stop forcing them to conform. If they want help, they'll ask for it.

Dick Puddlecote said...

Very well said puppet freezone!

Kerry, can we have back the pubs, clubs and bingo halls, that you and your idealistic Orwellian pharmaceutically-funded friends took from those of us that enjoyed different environments to you even though none of you would ever be seen dead in them in a million years? Please?

I did ask nicely :-)

Here's an idea, how about letting them have a democratic vote amongst their customers? Radical I know in this day and age, but I think it might be a goer.