Tag Archives: obesity

3 July 2019 – today’s press releases

  • Lib Dems demand new committee to assess no-deal damage
  • Lamb criticises whistleblower protections as “fundamentally inadequate”
  • Lib Dems produce bill to stop Govt’s publicity stunt approach to plastics
  • Lib Dems: Govt must tackle obesity crisis to save lives

Lib Dems demand new committee to assess no-deal damage

Today, the Liberal Democrats with a cross-party group in the House of Lords will attempt to create a a joint parliamentary committee of MPs and Peers to consider the impact of the UK leaving the EU without a withdrawal agreement on 31 October 2019.

The motion not only calls for the creation of the joint committee, but that they …

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The dilemma of obesity

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The issue of obesity presents liberals with a dilemma. On the one hand obesity has serious health effects which have impacts not just on individuals but also on health service costs. On the other hand, body confidence campaigns encourage people to feel good about their bodies and condemn fat shaming.

So how can we, as a nation, reduce obesity while still respecting individual freedoms? Where is the balance to be found between societal and individual responsibilty?

We have been here before, of course. There were similar debates around seat belts, motorbike helmets and smoking. In all three cases public well-being eclipsed individual liberty. So the Government can enforce the use of helmets, against the will of any riders who don’t want to wear them, not on the grounds of the risk to the individuals but because of the huge cost to health and social services of dealing with accident victims. The harm to others is a collective harm.

George Monbiot was writing on this subject last week. He refers to this photo from 1976 of people sunbathing on Brighton beach, and says that it:

… appeared to show an alien race. Almost everyone was slim. I mentioned it on social media, then went on holiday. When I returned, I found that people were still debating it. The heated discussion prompted me to read more. How have we grown so fat, so fast? To my astonishment, almost every explanation proposed in the thread turned out to be untrue.

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Good weather to bury bad news?

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Whilst enjoying listening to the county cricket commentaries I watched the news yesterday with half an eye.

Hello – did they really just do that?….

…I thought.

Yes, the government dumped out a plethora of inconvenient announcements just as MPs packed their sandals and beach balls for the summer recess. (What West Wing viewers will know as “Take out the trash day”)

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Layla Moran talks about her bariatric surgery on Any Questions and calls for focus on wellbeing in schools

Layla was brilliant on Any Questions on Friday night. You can listen to the whole thing here. The bit I especially appreciated was when she spoke very frankly about her own experience when answering a question about obesity.

11 year old Olivia Metcalfe asked:

Given the the amount of media coverage relating to childhood obesity has had little or no effect on the problem, what would be the panel’s favourite option – taxation, legislation or education and why?

Layla said that as a former teacher, she’d be very proud of any of her students who came up with a question like that and then made a revelation.

You will be unsurprised to hear that I think education’s top of that list. But I will also reveal something very personal about myself. I was an obese child for most of my childhood and well into my twenties and  ended up having a bariatric operation and lost pretty much half my body weight…

…I think there are elements of this that are genetic and I will say that the largest reason why for me that this was a problem was more about mental health and wellbeing and confidence and feeling good about yourself. It wasn’t necessarily a lack of opportunity of all of those things but the point I’m trying to make is that it was a much more complex, much more personal issue than I think sometimes the debate about this has become. We’ve kind of got to the point where we say oh, just eat less, exercise more and that will solve the problem.

The fact is that there are lots and lots of different reasons why people are obese. Lots of them are out of their control and I do think that there are some things that society can help with. So I do think that things like the Sugar Tax are helpful. I don’t think we should be advertising junk food to children at all. I think there is a wider question about why we are advertising to children at all about anything.  But I do think a large part of it is that we need to look at ourselves wider in society. It’s not going to just from government that this is going to work, it needs to be a much broader issue and crucially I do think we need to bring wellbeing back into schools and make time get to know children and know them as people and help them not just about this but in all sorts of issues to help them become healthy adults and I was very lucky to have that opportunity.

I think Layla’s perspective is crucial. I have spent much of my life struggling with my weight. Many of you will already know that I lost seven stones a couple of years ago. I’ve found a bit of it in the intervening period but I’m trying to keep it under control.  have never managed to do is to lose weight when my mental health or self image has not been good. Confidence and wellbeing have always been crucial for me.  Shaming people is very likely to have the opposite effect.

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LibLink : Floella Benjamin : Ministers should seize the baton and get serious on child obesity

As noted this morning, Floella Benjamin had an Oral Question in the House of Lords today on the subject of childhood obesity. On a day when Simon Jenkins is suggesting that obesity is a greater threat for millennials than cannabis (add your own comment there, I suggest), the question of the health of our children is a live one.

In a piece for The House Magazine, Floella, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for a Fit and Healthy Childhood, notes;

From day one, we’ve said that if we are to defeat the obesity

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In which I consume news like most people…

As I wrote earlier, I properly chilled out on my holidays. Very little work, next to no reading and lots of walks,silly games and fun. I could get used to that lifestyle…

This all meant that I consumed news like a normal person rather than an obsessive who has half an eye on Twitter and the rolling news channels at all times lest something might happen in the world and she might miss it. If the news happened to be on, I’d watch it if there was no gripping Olympic action going on at the same time, but I wasn’t too fussed about it.

I didn’t totally cut myself off. My car would probably fall to pieces if it wasn’t tuned into Radio 4, after all.

So, from my rather more normal news consumption over the past week, what sparked my interest? Four stories leapt out at me.

Of course the heartbreaking photo of Omran Daqneesh would break all but the hardest of hearts. The traumatised and blood covered little boy symbolised the effects of war on children. As these things go, though, Omran was relatively lucky. Most of his family are still alive, although his brother died of injuries sustained in the same airstrike. Children suffer horrendously every single day in Syria and other war zones across the world. The previous week’s horribly distressing footage of the chlorine gas attack showed tiny babies struggling for breath. This is a horrible, relentless reality for millions of people. We must never forget that. The pictures should provoke an empathy in us that leads us to push the Government to do more to help those still in Syria and those who have escaped. They should make us all realise that those who have fled had good reason to do so and we should challenge those who suggest otherwise.

Prejudice and punishment

I’m not a fan of anyone telling women what to wear. There’s nothing like a public figure telling women that they shouldn’t wear something to make me want to wear one in sympathy. When the mayor of Cannes banned the “burquini” it made me furious that the likely effect of this would be that those women who wear such a garment, who were guilty of no crime, would effectively not be able to access their own seaside for no good reason. And if they couldn’t go, then it would be likely that their children would be restricted, too.

Garments aren’t divisive. Banning them on a whim most certainly is.

There are few cultures in the world in which women are treated with the equality they deserve. France might want to have a wee think about how its own globally renowned fashion industry has forced unrealistic and often damaging expectations on to women, for example.

Governments should be setting an example of inclusiveness, not picking on specific group of people in a manner that effectively incites prejudice against them.

Should people start seriously arguing for similar bans in this country, I’ll be first in the queue to wear one in solidarity.

Fat lot of good that was

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Do you agree with Floella Benjamin on mandatory sugar reduction targets?

Here’s a bit of controversy to liven up a Wednesday evening.

Floella Benjamin has written for Politics Home’s Central Lobby arguing in favour of mandatory sugar reduction targets. It’s another of these issues that you can use liberal principles to argue both for and against:

Many overweight children grow up to be obese adults and there are often serious health consequences for those affected, leading to tremendous pressures on the NHS, through the dramatic rise in type 2 diabetes, heart problems, some cancers and a wide variety of other conditions that require treatment. High sugar consumption is resulting in early tooth decay and is by far the highest cause of hospital admissions amongst 5-to 9-year-olds.

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Opinion: Plain Packaging: Will Tobacco Be the End or Just the Beginning?

While I think I was pleased to see the vote by MPs earlier this month, introducing plain packaging for tobacco products, it did also set off faint alarm bells – with me at least. There is something rather drastic about passing a law that requires legally produced and distributed goods to be wrapped in plain card or paper – even if the move was approved by Parliament based on medical evidence. I almost feel it would have been better to actually ban tobacco products altogether.

To be honest, obesity is not that far behind smoking as a leading cause of early death. We know that obesity is partly fuelled by attractively-packaged foods, high in sugar and fat, freely available on every supermarket shelf in the UK. High-street fast food chains – whose rise has been, seemingly, unstoppable – are another contributor to the problem. Britain now spends over £45 billion each year dealing with the health and social care costs associated with an increasingly overweight population.  

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Best thing since sliced bread

In a little light relief from news of Labour donation scandals and blasphemous teddy bears, Tory Baroness Gardner of Parks gave an interview to Radio 5 Live this morning about sliced bread.

It’s too thick, she thinks. “In central London you can hardly buy a thin or medium-sliced loaf of bread and any sandwich that you buy in any supermarket is now made with thick bread.” And such expanding slices of bread are leading to expanding waistlines, she believes.

She felt so strongly on the issue she asked the question in the Lords:

there be more pressure from the

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    I was there,in ystradgynlais and then sennybridge and i am coming up soon to do my bit again
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  • User AvatarDavid Raw 17th Jul - 1:42pm
    @ Katharine Quite right, Katharine. A distortion of what Prof Phil said. It seems that Boris Johnson isn't the only one to "sandpaper the truth".