The British Medical Association is due to debate a motion in its conference at the end of this month equating childhood obesity with parental neglect. My gut instinct (natch) is that such a sweeping generalisation cannot be sustained.
The entire sphere of food and public health is a modish issue and one I’d normally avoid. Obesity, eating disorders, school meals, an obsession with food and diet generally. It seems to me that these matters only arise in an overly privileged society where perhaps we have too much choice anyway. Just eat a sensible and reasonably balanced diet and you’ll be grand, to put it colloquially.
Having spent the weekend in Portrush, however, the issue of obesity has exercised me somewhat over the past number of days. I think it is not to overstate the case, that the lardiness on display in that particular holiday resort was endemic, grotesque and disturbing.
Huge, puffed up children, their distended stomachs refusing to be covered by t shirts in the heat, mouths gummed inseparably to carbonated drink cans, waddled inexorably toward the nearest chip shop. Two gargantuan mothers attempting to traverse a bridge to change trains, wheeze and pant, taking 10 minutes to cover a span of 30 feet, before slumping into a lift in order to take them the two metres to ground level.
The Port was full of these people, bulging out of their clothes, puffy faced mothers ham like shoulders sporting Tweety Pie tattoos. And the warm weather made the problem yet more patent, disturbing and (I’m sorry but it is true) stomach churning.
Whether feeding these orbs more and more chips is actually a form of abuse, I’m yet to be convinced, but there is a social problem at a certain strata of society which undoubtedly is important to address. Instinctively I am not inclined toward government intervention in the sphere of people’s personal health, but certainly education and the means to have a decent diet affordably need to be looked at.