We need old-fashioned willpower to lose weight - not government interference

We need old-fashioned willpower to lose weight – not government interference

When Michael Gove said that the people of this country were “fed up with the experts”, his political opponents were very angry with him. In hindsight, however, I think he may have been right. Because there’s a particular breed of expert that I just can’t stomach.

Food experts. I’m sure they are only trying to help. But their conclusions can be so confusing. Because no sooner has groundbreaking nutritional research been published than groundbreaking nutritional research contradicts it.

Take eggs. In 2018, it was reported that eating six eggs a week could reduce the risk of premature death. But then, in 2021, it was reported that eating one egg a day — in other words, seven eggs a week — may increase your risk of premature death. How can six eggs prolong your life, but seven shorten it? I do not know. Maybe that’s why they sell eggs in cartons of six. A seventh would tip you over. Then there is red wine. Is it good or bad for you? I’ve no idea. In January 2021, a study claimed that drinking a glass of red wine a day could lead to heart problems. Yet just three months later, another study claimed that drinking a glass of red wine a day could help you stave off heart problems.

And the confusion doesn’t end there. In 2008, a study found that wine is bad for memory, while another found that it is good for memory. At least, I think that’s what the studies say. It’s hard to remember. Maybe I drank too much wine. Or not enough. Yet there is at least one thing that all the experts agree on. Ultra-processed foods — such as chips, ham, and sugary breakfast cereals — are bad for us. According to scientists at Imperial College London, eating lots of these foods may increase your risk of cancer. I do not dispute the conclusions of the scientists. What I take issue with, however, is their solution. The government, they argue, should discourage us from buying ultra-processed foods – by imposing a huge tax on them. What an appalling suggestion. And if the conservatives are dumb enough to accept that, they’re even more lost than we thought. On the one hand, it would show that ministers know nothing at all about the lives of busy working parents. Some nights, ultra-processed foods are all many of us have time to cook. And even if we had time to cook something healthier, our kids would still much prefer junk food.

My son’s favorite foods are Chicken Nuggets, Peperami and Cheerios. If he had what he wanted, he would eat all three at every meal. In fact, he says when he leaves the house, he will. How I’m going to get him to eat his vegetables when he grows up, I don’t know. Going around her apartment and shoving steamed broccoli through her mailbox?

There is another point, however, which is even more important. Imagine adding taxes on the most affordable foods during a cost of living crisis that has already seen the price of groceries soar 16.7%. I don’t know if those Imperial scientists have ever tried to raise a 21st century British child on a diet of kale and mung beans. Maybe they could try it, as a next experiment. I think they will regret it. Either way, even if the inflation rate didn’t triple every second, we would still have to give up the junk tax. It is the saddest, moralizing and authoritarian nanny statism. Conservatives are supposed to believe in personal responsibility rather than government interference. So if we want to lose weight, we have to rely on old-fashioned willpower.

Much like nutrition experts, our politicians seem to have gotten themselves into a hopeless mess. For a moment, they worry that our rapidly aging society is unsustainable. The next day they panic, our unhealthy diets will lead us to an early grave. Surely these poor simpletons can join the dots. It is clear that the first problem can be solved by the second. Rather than encouraging us to eat less junk food, the government should be encouraging us to eat more.

Distribute free packs of Frosties in schools. Ask GPs to prescribe Turkey Twizzlers on the NHS. Replace the fluoride in our tap water with Irn-Bru. Then, the government will no longer need to raise the legal retirement age to 68. Because none of us will live that long.

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