miss_s_b: (Mood: Facepalm)
[personal profile] miss_s_b
I intended this slot to be for Youtubes of Monty Python and daft jokes, but nothing today is going to beat the silliness of the former minister for health, who wants to ban Frosties.

Yes, childhood obesity is an issue.
Yes, Frosties are high in simple carbohydrates.
Yes, it'd be nice if people chose to eat things the establishment approves of (from the point of view of the establishment, anyway).

Why the instant Labour response to anything like this is bansturbation is beyond me, though. Surely it's treating a symptom rather than a cause? People choosing unhealthy foods is not a cause of poor diet, it's an expression of it. If you wanted to treat the cause rather than the symptom, though, you'd need to look at why people choose frosties over (say) muesli:

- because they taste nice
- because they're much cheaper
- because they're used to them.

Banning frosties won't solve any of those things (black market frosties would still be cheap; that's how markets work). If you want people to choose "healthy" foods, you need to:

1, educate them on what healthy foods are (people are mostly fairly well informed on this) - the traffic light food labelling scheme is part of this too.
2, make healthy foods cheaper and/or more convenient than unhealthy ones. You can do this by either taxing unhealthy foods, or subsidising healthy ones (commence argument about which is preferable now). The problem is that the reason unhealthy foods are cheap is because good quality ingredients aren't, and that's not a simple thing to solve.
3, make sure that all public utilities which sell food (schools, hospitals, canteens, etc) offer a variety of healthy foods so people can get used to things other than frosties.

And that's without even going into how unworkable such a ban would be. If you ban a specific product, the manufacturers will bring out the same product under a new name. If you ban a certain percentage of sucrose, the manufacturers will find other, potentially much less healthy options (fructose, for example). And even then, how do you stop people adding extra sugar in their homes?

Like most Labour proposals, this is ill-thought out and if it is ever to work will require massive bureaucracy for a tiny gain.

Still, now they've demonised nicotine, alcohol, fat, salt and sugar, it'll be interesting to see what's next. Puritanism is never satisfied...

Date: Saturday, January 5th, 2013 02:55 pm (UTC)
gominokouhai: (Default)
From: [personal profile] gominokouhai
Seems to me to be a pretty obvious political ploy. Shift the Overton window over towards totally bizarre creepy authoritarianism, so that next week when they say they're only going to tax the shit out of everything that tastes nice, everyone sighs relief and tells them to go right ahead.

Date: Saturday, January 5th, 2013 03:07 pm (UTC)
gominokouhai: (Default)
From: [personal profile] gominokouhai
Ah, so that's what it's called.

It also works as a distraction, like you say. Bang on about but people are FAT enough and it will stop the public complaining that the entire political and economic systems are rotten to the core. For a few weeks. Somewhere at Party HQ, a think tank is already developing position papers on whether to go for unsporty types or gingers next.

Date: Saturday, January 5th, 2013 03:12 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Well I am not Labour, I am a Lib Dem. But I agree in principle with this policy. First of all Frosties are not being banned. What is proposed is to reduce the sugar content of them. And secondly you talk about choice, but the concern here is that it is children that are major consumers of this product. They often do not have choice; it is what their parents put in front of them, and in any case they have little understanding of the health consequences of what they are eating.
One of the main causes of obesity is children being brought up to eat unhealthy food, too much of it and who do little exercise. As adults they may wish not to be obese but it is much harder to give up the eating habits that you learnt as a child.
On the other hand a child brought up to eat healthy food can of course make a more rational choice about what they want to eat when they are an adult.

Date: Saturday, January 5th, 2013 03:20 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
A little circular there - children can't make rational choices until they are adult, so governments should intervene to stop adults making poor choices on behalf of children?

Date: Saturday, January 5th, 2013 03:31 pm (UTC)
gominokouhai: (Default)
From: [personal profile] gominokouhai
Except that adults won't be able to buy Frosties when they're adults because there won't be any more bloody Frosties. Not like the ones we had before the war, anyway.

So you're talking about regulating what adults are allowed to give to children by doing nothing of the sort? And completely failing to stop people adding sugar to the bowl? Or to stop people buying Froztiez™, new from Kellogs?

Date: Saturday, January 5th, 2013 03:53 pm (UTC)
ext_51145: (Default)
From: [identity profile] andrewhickey.info
"First of all Frosties are not being banned. What is proposed is to reduce the sugar content of them."

Which would be to ban them as they currently exist.

"And secondly you talk about choice, but the concern here is that it is children that are major consumers of this product. They often do not have choice; it is what their parents put in front of them, and in any case they have little understanding of the health consequences of what they are eating."

So the solution to one group of people (children) not having a choice is to take the choice away from another group of people (parents) as well? And, incidentally, to take the choice away from those of us who aren't parents *or* children, but who are rational, grown-up adults who might occasionally want to make the rational, grown-up choice to eat a sugary cereal...

But of course the rights of childless adults to control their own lives never enter into it, do they? Not when there are TEH CHILDRUNZ!!!! to think about...

"One of the main causes of obesity is children being brought up to eat unhealthy food, too much of it and who do little exercise. As adults they may wish not to be obese but it is much harder to give up the eating habits that you learnt as a child."

Okay...
Firstly, who says obesity is a bad thing? Pretty much every study that's actually researched things says that while extremes of weight are bad for you, being extremely thin is worse than being extremely fat, and that being 'overweight' is actually healthier than being 'normal' weight. Should we ban celery and lettuce leaves in order to prevent anorexia?

Secondly, how does banning one particular unhealthy food stop people eating portion sizes that are too large (according to whom?) or make them exercise more? Your points about portion size and exercise have nothing to do with the question at hand.

"On the other hand a child brought up to eat healthy food can of course make a more rational choice about what they want to eat when they are an adult."

Nice -- so anyone who makes a choice you disagree with is making an irrational choice? If eating habits are set in childhood (which you've stipulated -- personally I suspect this is false, given the number of people I know who eat totally different diets from those they grew up on, but I haven't looked into this), then those who were brought up on salads and now live on lettuce are no more making a rational choice than someone brought up on Coco Pops who now eats two chocolate bars a day. Either both are being controlled by their early conditioning, or neither is.

And of course, if sugared cereals *are* banned, then the adult *can't* make a rational choice about what they want to eat, because the food they want isn't available.

I don't see how restricting the rights of *everyone* in order to force some parents, against their will, to in turn force their children to conform to some ill-informed idea of what the 'correct' body size for them should be, is anything other than both dangerous and illiberal.

Date: Saturday, January 5th, 2013 11:33 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Well I am also child free but that does not mean I think that the government should not fund education. The current trend is that obesity is increasing, particularly amongst children, and as a result the costs incurred for the NHS means that I will have to pay more taxes. So even as someone without children, as a taxpayer I will be penalised if this epidemic continues to get worse. As the saying goes, no man is an island.
It is not hard to find information about the negative effects of obesity but you are obviously too lazy to google the research yourself. This is what I found; http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Obesity/Pages/Introduction.aspx.
The proposal that has been made is not a policy that alone can solve the obesity epidemic, no one is claiming that it is. It is possible it might not work at all, in which case it should be dropped once the evidence shows this. There is for example a ban on children consuming alcohol. It does not work perfectly, but the Lib Dems are NOT proposing to repeal this ban because it is recognised to do more good than harm. It is not against our principles to take action like this, although it is reasonable to look at other policies that might work better before implementing a policy like this one.
However as far as the issue of obesity is concerned, no other solution based on "voluntary regulation" appears to work.
The obese people I know are mostly NOT enjoying their freedom to be obese. Many have eating habits that they want to change but for various reasons to do with psychology and addiction they cannot change. They would rather not have had these habits to begin with. and how did they get them in the first place? It was the way they were brought up during their childhood. That then is the crucial time to intervene.

Date: Saturday, January 5th, 2013 11:49 pm (UTC)
ext_51145: (Default)
From: [identity profile] andrewhickey.info
"Well I am also child free but that does not mean I think that the government should not fund education."

Nor do I. But I don't think the government should force adults to go to school with the kids either.

"It is not hard to find information about the negative effects of obesity but you are obviously too lazy to google the research yourself. This is what I found; http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Obesity/Pages/Introduction.aspx."

Or, it *might* just be that rather than being lazy, I've actually *looked at the fucking facts rather than just the first thing that comes up on Google*. Have you considered that?

"There is for example a ban on children consuming alcohol. It does not work perfectly, but the Lib Dems are NOT proposing to repeal this ban because it is recognised to do more good than harm."

Well, actually there isn't a ban on children drinking alcohol. Children over five are allowed to drink small amounts of alcohol in the home or other private places when supplied by parents.

And even if there were such a ban, there is a huge difference between banning children from doing something and banning *everyone* from doing it. The equivalent would be to ban serving Frosties to children, not to ban them altogether.

"However as far as the issue of obesity is concerned, no other solution based on "voluntary regulation" appears to work."

Again, you are assuming that 'the issue of obesity' is something which is any business of the government's.

"The obese people I know are mostly NOT enjoying their freedom to be obese. Many have eating habits that they want to change but for various reasons to do with psychology and addiction they cannot change. They would rather not have had these habits to begin with. and how did they get them in the first place? It was the way they were brought up during their childhood. That then is the crucial time to intervene."

Have you thought that the 'obese' people you know might be unhappy that way because they're around bigots like yourself who think they need to be eliminated? Oddly, the ones I know, who mostly spend their time with people who accept others as they are, rather than trying to enslave them by conformity, seem for the most part to be fairly happy.

Date: Sunday, January 6th, 2013 05:10 pm (UTC)
gominokouhai: (Default)
From: [personal profile] gominokouhai
Very nicely put on all counts.

Date: Saturday, January 5th, 2013 04:05 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] strangecharm
They often do not have choice; it is what their parents put in front of them

Aw, bless. You've never met any children, have you.

Date: Saturday, January 5th, 2013 10:58 pm (UTC)
matgb: Artwork of 19th century upper class anarchist, text: MatGB (Default)
From: [personal profile] matgb
Well said there...

Date: Saturday, January 5th, 2013 05:45 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Now I want some Frosties.

Date: Saturday, January 5th, 2013 06:16 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] magister
Yeah. Burnham's actually being sponsored by Kellogg's.

Date: Saturday, January 5th, 2013 06:49 pm (UTC)
davegodfrey: South Park Me. (Default)
From: [personal profile] davegodfrey
I'm sure the BDA would quite like everyone to eat less sugar.

I'd like to see the manufacturers being made to put rather less sugar in things that probably don't really need it (such as an awful lot of ready meals- trouble is its a very effective preservative and bactericide- and means you can stick "no artificial preservatives" on the label which is popular).

I think, therefore, that Frosties are the wrong target- although if you can get away with putting a lot less sugar in them without affecting the taste I'm sure Kelloggs would have done that by now.

Date: Saturday, January 5th, 2013 07:33 pm (UTC)
rhythmaning: (Default)
From: [personal profile] rhythmaning
Excellent post.

And the comments have really made me laugh!

Now I'm off for a nice large glass of red wine... ;)

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