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Is Obesity the Government's Responsibility?

Lynsey is from Scotland. She likes to write thought-provoking articles that challenge ideas and provide a talking point.

Should government have a say over our weights?

Should government have a say over our weights?

Should Our Leaders Control What We Eat?

A population's health can indicate a country's overall wellbeing. As such, I can understand how a government may want to monitor its population's weight. But is the UK government dealing with the "weight crisis" in the right way?

In Scotland, cigarette packs are adorned with graphic pictures to warn smokers away from partaking. There is a nationwide smoking ban. There is a minimum price per unit of alcohol to attempt to fight alcoholism. I don't smoke, and I drink so little that I don't see much point in complaining. But now, the government is targeting my food.

Regulations Limit Food Choices for Consumers

Traffic light labelling on supermarket packaging and the "be treatwise" advice on chocolate bars seems to be the norm these days. Introduced to encourage more balanced diets and exercise, these are two of the UK government's rolled-out "solutions" to obesity. There has been talk of an "obesity tax," whereby we have to pay extra to purchase unhealthy snacks. Supersize takeaway portions have been banned. Certain ingredients have been banned for being unhealthy. But where will it end? And, more importantly, why does the government take responsibility for the population's ever-growing waistband?

I totally understand that being overweight leads to further health complications. I understand that weight is an indicating factor of social depravity, despite the fact that you find plenty of rich people who are overweight. I get that more people are dying young from weight-related complications. But does that give our government the right to dictate to us what we can and can't eat?

I had a friend make a comment once. They said that the government should take responsibility and ban supermarkets from selling unhealthy options, e.g., ensure that all sandwiches be made from brown bread rather than white, that unhealthy components be removed from ready meals, etc.

Wait right there! Did I hear that right? I mean, forget the fact that the choice is there, and we can choose to be healthy, but some people think that it should be enforced. I don't agree.

I also don't agree that the government should feel burdened with the pressure of reducing our BMIs. It's up to us. Believe me, I'm not happy with my weight, but I don't want my choice taken from me. I like to have a treat now and then. Even when dieting, I enjoy a bit of chocolate or a wee takeaway here and there. Choice is what makes life unique!

Choice Is Part of Democracy

If I want to eat a deep-fried bar of chocolate, I will. It's that simple! By banning Scottish chippies from serving them, no resolution has been made. Deep-fat fryers can be purchased cheaply enough, and the recipe is simple to follow. Does that mean that our methods of cooking in our own homes will now be banned? How far will it all go?

Now don't get me wrong, I understand the turmoil you can go through when trying to lose weight. Everything is tempting. But doesn't it make you feel all that better for resisting? That you have made the choice? If dieting was enforced by banning everything that is tasty, there would be a huge portion of society that would be highly resentful towards the oppressors who banned everything! There would be riots!

I doubt that it would only be obese people forming picket lines and protesting throughout the country. There are plenty of people who eat responsibly and exercise, but who enjoy a treat now and then. They lead healthy lives because they choose to.

There's that word again. Choice. I do believe that as a democracy we still have a choice. I sincerely hope that the government realise this and stops the fight against food before it is too late. By all means, raise awareness to allow us to make an educated choice, but at least leave us with the option! If unfortunately it does all go ahead, I think I'd have to emigrate. I would choose not to live in a dictatorship, even if no one had noticed the transformation.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2012 Lynsey Hart