In yesterday’s paper MPs were calling for increased VAT on unhealthy foods in order to tackle the obesity crisis – this would be in addition to the sugar tax and other measures aimed at “nudging” the public to a healthier lifestyle and thus saving the NHS millions.
A healthy lifestyle is obviously a good thing and it doesn’t mean we have to run marathons, (I couldn’t), go to the gym, (not a chance) or subsist on a vegan or vegetarian diet, (no chance there either).
It does mean that we watch what we eat and drink and how much we eat and drink; that is not beyond the capability of any of us and if it means we reduce our risk of diseases, what’s not to like!
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The public interest is that an unhealthy lifestyle is more likely to lead to avoidable illness and disease and that puts more strain on the NHS, and as we all pay for that we all have a vested interest in keeping costs down.
For years we have had anti-drink driving campaigns to the point where drink driving is now socially unacceptable.
For years we’ve demonised tobacco and smokers, committing them to the outer darkness, so that the rest of us are not contaminated by their smoke. Smoking, like drink driving is now largely socially unacceptable.
That suggests that a long term public health campaign against obesity could achieve the same results.
So lets not worry too much about fiddling around with VAT and taxes, lets cut to the chase and go for a full-blooded anti-gorging campaign.
If drinking yourself into a road accident is unacceptable and smoking your way to lung cancer is unacceptable, why should stuffing your face with food and drink leading to diabetes and heart conditions be acceptable?
The NHS has quite enough to do as it is.
Bob Britnell is the former principal planning officer at Canterbury City Council.