So, finally a doctor in the UK has been brave enough to speak out and voice what many people already think – that instead of pandering to the needs of the morbidly and super morbidly obese with free mobility scooters and Disability Living Allowance, they should be made to contribute towards the massive strain they are placing on the health system, by paying more tax. And in turn, those who work hard to remain fit and healthy should be financially rewarded for their effort.
With obesity related issues draining every last penny out of the already overstretched NHS budget and £6.3 billion being spent fighting fat, this scheme sounds about on the mark to me. No doubt it’ll be met with cries of “You can’t say that”, but it has nothing to do with being judgmental or ‘fattist’, it’s just common sense. As is Dr Chand’s proposal to add tax to the type of fattening food that offers little or no nutritional value, yet guarantees maximum ‘junk in your trunk’.
Such a tax would of course cause outrage amongst the loyal Happy Meal brigade, all of whom would shriek loudly that it’s unfair to target those on lower incomes, who consider fast food a cheaper alternative. Quite frankly, tough. Tobacco and alcohol are already taxed in an effort to target smoking related illnesses and binge drinking, so why shouldn’t unhealthy food be too?
And as for the argument that junk food is the cheaper alternative, what a load of rubbish. It’s the easier alternative. With every supermarket offering cut prices bargains and more BOGOF offers than you can shake a stick at, it’s far cheaper to cook simple healthy food that it is to buy in a round of up-sized burgers, chips and coke. Even if you do have limited funds and an army of hungry mouths at home to feed. People who choose takeaways every night over cooking are just lazy, and parents who feed their kid’s junk for breakfast, lunch and tea should be done for child abuse. (see related post).
Strangely enough, many of these parents who claim they can’t afford to buy healthy food for their kids just so happen to smoke and drink. They think nothing of puffing £5 into thin air or pouring it down their throat, but they can’t stretch the family budget enough to incorporate something that hasn’t been regurgitated out of a deep fat fryer and into a styrofoam box. For £5 you can buy an entire chicken. So do you spend your money on 20 cigarettes, or a whole birds worth of protein to feed the kids? There’s the difficult decision of the week.
The argument that fast food is even fast is the biggest myth of all. At tea time it takes less time to scramble an egg, microwave a potato or even cook some pasta than it does to climb into the car, drive to the nearest nugget dispensing outlet, queue up, order, collect and scoff. Of course most children would probably prefer the nugget option, and as such be more likely to eat it up without a moan or a struggle, but since when was feeding them meant to be about taking the path of least resistance?
Children are just that, children. They should be eating what’s right for them, not what’s easiest for the parent, no matter how much money they have, how brain dead they are in the kitchen or whether by the end of the day they’ve simply lost the will to live. God knows I could well do without the constant battles about how many vegetables are lurking on my kid’s dinner plates, but I’d rather deal with the fuss they sometimes make than watch them both turn into Weebles, and wobble right off their Trip Trap chairs.
So is the idea of taxing the morbidly obese ever going to work? Nope, not a chance in hell. Why? Because many of those who fall into this category probably aren’t able to work in the first place. Their size, and the associated health problems that comes along with it, prevent them from carrying out even the simplest day-to-day tasks, never mind holding down paid employment. So if they were forced to pay more tax, they would no doubt need to be awarded more disability allowance to afford it.
Obesity is a problem that will carry on for many, many years to come. In part this is because many of those individuals who are contributing to the problem, simply refuse to accept any responsibility for their own actions. Instead they prefer to blame the government for its lack of support in helping them to lose weight. They complain about the shortage of free local sports centres and wide open spaces in which to jog. They claim that a bunch of carrots are exorbitantly priced and no one ever taught them how to cook.
In answer to that. It’s not up to the government (who lets face it can’t even run the country properly never mind a weight loss club) to prise the fork out of each and every chubby little hand across the land. There are 1000’s of miles of free pavements in the UK, go walk on them. If you can afford to upsize your £4.50 McDonalds meal you can afford a bunch of carrots. Go buy a cook book, or cheaper still, turn on the TV and listen to Jamie Oliver.
It seems incredible that so many people simply refuse to put two and two together and start addressing the problem, instead of comfort feeding and making it even worse. Even with all the fat fighting campaigns, health lectures and awareness raising TV programmes out there, all trying to ram the obvious message home, it’s hard to see what the solution will be.
Perhaps if those who need to shed the weight actually climbed out of their complimentary buggies and used their feet, they might be surprised to find the weight starting to drop off. Obviously there’s no miracle cure to losing this amount of weight, unless you see stomach stapling as a viable option, but it has been done, and is therefore not impossible.
I’m not even going to pretend to have a clue about the horrible vicious circle of a situation that you’d find yourself in, when you reach this sort of size. Or how demoralising and depressing it could be to live with everyday.
I’m pretty sure that getting the weight loss ball rolling would indeed be painful, and a tremendous struggle of mind over matter to say the least. But any type of exercise was never designed to be easy, it was designed to be exercise. And anyone who’s ever tried a step class (and failed miserably) will know that exercise can be painful, complicated and downright humiliating whatever size you are.