Saturday, 13 February 2010

Turning a deaf ear

It’s reported that a decade of government spending on healthy eating advice has had a negligible effect on people’s real-world diets.

People are eating as badly as they were 10 years ago despite the spending of hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money on advertising campaigns on fruit and vegetables, saturated fat and other health issues, the Government’s food watchdog admitted yesterday.

In a nationwide nutrition survey, the Food Standards Agency found that the majority of people were still eating too many processed foods and sweets and not enough oily fish and fresh fruit and vegetables. Adults ate twice as much sausages as white fish, and boys almost equalled their consumption of salad and other raw vegetables with chocolate. Teenagers ate five times as much white as wholemeal bread.

The survey suggests that the Government has made little headway in reducing the diet-related ill-health, which the Cabinet Office estimated last year costs 70,000 lives and £6billion to the NHS annually.
No doubt the Righteous will be dismayed by this news, but surely it reveals a healthy scepticism about official health messages, which is paralleled by the response to propaganda about the evils of drinking and smoking.

Rather than encouraging people to actually enjoy food, all these messages simply promote a joyless, calculating approach to nutrition, which is exemplified by the widespread rejection of the unappetising, politically correct slop now served up as school dinners.

The tiresome “five a day” message must be put into the same category as the official alcohol guidelines as something plucked out of thin air with no real scientific justification. Adhering to it won’t do you any harm, but neither is there any guarantee that not adhering to it will.

Not surprisingly, the food fascists are calling for more compulsion, underlining their arrogant, patronising stance that people can’t be trusted to make decisions for themselves.

And all these claims of cost to the NHS are bogus, as it has been abundantly demonstrated that the biggest factor in healthcare costs is how long people live. Increasing longevity will ultimately cost the NHS more.


  1. How does that saying go? "You won't live longer if you give up booze, smoking, meat and fast living - it'll just feel like it."

    And I've worked in government - for all the wagging fingers, they're as recidivist and crap at following their own guidelines as the rest of the population. Hypocrites.

  2. "boys almost equalled their consumption of salad and other raw vegetables with chocolate"

    I dispute this. I am sure my son eats far more chocolate than that.

  3. Health Freaks, Times up,Last orders. Your pontificating is
    now becoming most annoying.
    Time for the underclass to pop round to your soirees and talk
    things over.

    Upset Peasant

  4. This is an enquiry, not a criticism: what's your evidence for "unappetising, politically correct slop now served up as school dinners"?

  5. Link

    Caterers say that the obsession with raising the quality of school food, begun by the TV chef Jamie Oliver, has been taken too far by ministers.

    At best they will have to restrict choice, by scrapping the cafeteria-style buffet common in most schools in favour of a set two-course menu that places greater emphasis on nutrition than pupils’ tastes.

    An example of dish that would meet the nutrition requirements is a chicken and vegetable stir fry with brown rice and green cabbage. A typical portion would contain 411 calories, 6.3g fat and 20.6g protein. Burgers with chips and baked beans will disappear.

    Caterers say that teenagers will vote with their feet, choosing to eat elsewhere. They predict that this will lead to redundancies and say that the service will be under threat.

  6. "Caterers say." Which caterers? Do they represent every school in the country? If not, what percentage of schools do these disgruntled caterers represent?

    "Caterers say that teenagers will vote with their feet." Evidence please.

  7. "ate twice as much sausages as white fish"

    These will be the white fish that are now more-or-less extinct in the wild? Joined-up government, anyone?

  8. RedNev, although it would be nice to be able to provide the evidence, I don't know where to find it. However, my experience is that providing healthy options for children wins very few fans. I've been involved with youth charity previously and here at the pub my experience would agree very much with The Caterers mentioned above.

    The flip side of that is that tackling health issues with the young does have some effect. My own children had an influence on me stopping smoking because of the message delivered to them at school. It's all about investment in the future of the country.

    What is the correct balance? I don't know. I do feel things go too far quite a lot of the time. However, I am a fan of Jamie Oliver, sorry Curmudgeon. I like his style and like his message.

    Equally, we should not get things out of perspective. I like to eat healthily as it happens. I like to make sure I get a balance of vegetables and watch the amount of meat and other high fat food. But I do not think the occasional naughty food item is bad.

    Cripes, I even had a BigMac the other day. And I do not feel guilty.

    I think school is the place to look at educating people, funny that isn't it? Having kids myself, who do receive a generally good education, I am glad that these things are thought about.

    Is it right to force a particular type of school meal on kids? Possibly not, educate and then let them make up their own minds is what I say.

    But the final point Mudgie makes is really quite interesting; the cost on the NHS and the care service is indeed going up BECAUSE we are all living healthier. That's actually a no-brainer, in my view.


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