Keith Newbery: Obesity, it’s about ignorance and gluttony

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Fears are being expressed that Britain may be waddling its way towards an obesity crisis.

Doctors and ‘diet experts’ are becoming ever fatter cats as they come up with silly ideas to forestall this adipose armageddon.

Suggestions include a 20 per cent tax on soft drinks, and the banning of junk-food advertisements on television before the watershed.

So let me get this straight. If we slap 10p on a can of cola, and tuck the kids up in bed just as the opening credits for Ripper Street start to roll, we will have playing-fields teeming with fit, skinny youngsters before we know it.

The big stores will immediately get round the cola tax by using soft drinks as loss leaders, and it is fanciful in the extreme to expect kids to forget all about the taste and easy availability of burgers just because they don’t happen to see them advertised on the box every night.

We don’t have many playing-fields left, and those that remain tend to double up as canine lavatories.

So why do the ‘experts’ continue to pussyfoot around the irresistible rise of the butterball generation in this country?

Why are they wary of using words like fat and indolent to describe people who are, well, fat and indolent? We treat obesity as if it were some delicate disease visited upon innocent and helpless victims, rather than the inevitable consequence of weak-willed people who continue to indulge themselves and expect others to pick up the bill.

They expect the state to provide them with everything from king-sized beds to round-the-clock nursing. In the meantime, they continue to stuff their faces and demand expensive gastric band operations on the NHS, instead of being subjected to a bit of straight talking about diets and self-control. Indeed, home truths are the only things some obese people appear to find unpalatable.

We British always need a ranting demagogue to keep politics from going stale – so let’s hear it for the irrepressible George Galloway.

His appearance on Question Time was a perfect example of the species in action.

He looked and sounded frustrated and impatient; eyes flashing like cheap diamonds as he talked over people by raising his voice to an angry snarl.

All demagogues are conscious of their appearance and he is no different, with his trendy suit and Desperate Dan stubble. But the mark of a genuine rabble-rouser is an ability to score cheap debating points with populist drivel – and there is no finer exponent than the MP for Bradford West.