Change for Life: The anti-obesity programme

On Wednesday I attended the launch of the East Midlands Obesity Platform, at the Peepul’s Centre (sic) in Leicester.  The Platform is designed to “provide a forum for stakeholders” in the region.  We heard presentations from Robert Madelin, the EU’s Director General for Health and Consumer Protection.  And from David Walker, Regional Director of Public Health, East Midlands, and from the leader of Leicestershire County Council, David Parsons.
They will “come together and pledge their commitment to halt or reverse the trend of increasing obesity”.  As evidence of their commitment, they have signed a Four Point Pledge.  The points are worth noting:  They will “take action to reverse the trend to obesity”.  They will “join the East Midlands Platform on Food, Physical Activity and Health” (surely a sufficient mouthful in itself to prevent over-eating).  They will “publicly register their commitment”.  And they will “subject their actions to on-going public scrutiny”.
In the process, they will no doubt do a great deal of benchmarking, and networking and best practice, and probably use the auspices of the EU to make cross-border comparisons.  Certainly they will generate a great number of bureaucratic clichés — they made a good start at the launch event.  And yet … and yet….
My question at the end of the meeting was quite simply this: “Yes, but what are you going to do?”.  What impact will your platform and your frenetic activity have on Mrs Lumsden in Laburnum Avenue?  And perhaps more importantly, on her children?  What information and incentives will you offer her?  (I also wondered how many Platforms it takes before you have a mainline station).
What would I have liked to hear?  Maybe something about promoting competitive sports in schools, which have suffered so much from the prevailing liberal/leftist orthodoxy, which eschews competitive sports lest poor little Johnnie should fail to win.  As a result, children get most of their competitive sports from the television.  I should have liked to hear about measures to halt, once and for all, the sale of school sports grounds for development.  Perhaps something about re-introducing good old-fashioned Home Economics lessons, to address the problem of those millions of families who never cook real food, and subsist on fast food and supermarket ready meals — or bread and butter.  It would be good to hear that they planned to lobby against this government’s recent lunatic regulations which treat every concerned parent and potential Scout Leader as a suspected paedophile, leading to a huge shortage of Scout Leaders, and tens of thousands of kids on waiting lists to join the Scouts or Guides, hoping to enjoy proper supervised outdoor physical activity.  And to lobby against the draconian “healthy food” regulations for school meals, which simply drive children to the chip-shop in the lunch break.
And if they were into real blue-skies thinking, perhaps a few thoughts about how we make our streets safer, and reassure frightened parents, so that children can play out-of-doors as they used to do.
There are two ways to fight obesity: healthier diets and more physical activity.  The launch of the East Midlands Obesity Platform said rather little, in practical terms, about either.

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2 Responses to Change for Life: The anti-obesity programme

  1. Sean O'Hare says:

    I am a little surprised at this post. I don’t think the state should have any say in the obesity or otherwise of the nation and certainly should not use tax payers money to “promote competitive sports” in schools. If people are irresponsible enough to get fat then they suffer the consequences. Tough!

  2. I agree that the state should not stick its nanny-nose into the obesity question, but surely if we have schools we want school sports — as we always had before the lefties had a go at it.

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