Dear Jeremy Hunt
While the continuing scandals over the poor quality of healthcare doled out in Britain’s hospitals is no doubt occupying a lot of your concerns, the recent warnings from health experts about obesity becoming a national epidemic and crisis must not be ignored. This is a strategic issue that needs to be gripped hard now lest it spirals out of control and leads to the eventual collapse of the National Health Service under the weight of our own bellies.
Leading doctors have called for urgent action to stop Britain becoming “the fat man of Europe.” Mr Hunt, You will know that in the past we have smirked at the enormousness of the average hog-burger eating United States citizen. But we failed to learn from others’ mistakes and here we are, nurturing a country of baby Buddhas, female fatties and laddish leviathans. It’s a Europe-wide problem I can hear you mouth, fed no doubt from your sycophantic Civil Servants eager to brush the problem away and concentrate on more easily solvable tactical problems like the horsemeat issue (hardly a killer).
But you should trust the scientific evidence put forward to you. This is a very real and very large problem. And it requires a large and dramatic set of solutions. It’s no good encouraging people to go to Weight Watchers, their local gym, or shop for healthy foods. If we wanted to lose weight we would have done it already. You need to take a tough stance. You need to get food producers and retailers around the table and demand that they do something or you will create a “fat tax” that will hurt their profits and put some of the worst foods out of the spend of many people. It’s no good pussy-footing around here. People won’t change the habits of their parents unless a good measure of stick is applied, along with the encouraging carrot.
Then there are the fizzy drinks. Oh woe! The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges wants to see a 20% tax on sugary drinks, fewer fast food outlets near schools and a complete ban on unhealthy food in hospitals in moves to tackle Britain’s obesity crisis. What’s not to like about that? To take a soft option will be to see over 50% of adults overweight by 2050.
All of your and previous Governments attempts to deal with this issue have been side-lined by vested interests in the industry. No half-baked measures will now do. Your Department of Health said that it is studying the findings but stressed the need for a united approach to help tackle the obesity problem.
And therein lay the seeds of failure once more. You will not get a consensus; you will not get a united approach. There are too many people who stand to lose if people start losing weight all over the place. I urge you, Mr Hunt, to be tough and dole out the bitter medicine needed. Maybe you’ll be unpopular, but at least a lot more of us will be around to grumble at you in future, rather than wheezing out our last breaths on a reinforced hospital bed following cardiac arrest caused by obesity in a year or two.