Sunday, 21 July 2013

Plain packaging and junk food

From some Australian newspaper...

It was introduced to cigarette packets last year, but could plain packaging also be the answer for junk food?

Plain packaging as an attempt to combat Australia's obesity epidemic is back on the agenda after food industry professionals debated the weighty issue on Tuesday at the Australian Institute of Food Science Technology Convention in Brisbane.

That is predictable. This, however, is just depressing...

Eating healthily is a big priority for Oliver Hort and his young family.

Mr Hort said while he thought a move to plain packaging would not combat obesity entirely, it would be a good start.

"Anything to get people's attention away from the lure of junk food is a good thing," Mr Hort said.

Really? Anything? Getting people's attention away from junk food is so important that no policy can be too extreme?

"I'd like my girls to be able to make healthy choices in the future."

They will be able to make healthy choices in the future, just as we can now. Whether they will be able to make (allegedly) unhealthy choices in the future is more questionable, given the prohibitionist trajectory of the antipodean nations. But since your daughters are very young (the only one pictured is one year old), the responsibility lies with you, Mr Hort.

Mr Hort said cartoon advertising on junk food made it harder for children to resist unhealthy snacks.

"When The Wiggles are printed on something, it makes children want it more," he said.

I don't know who The Wiggles are, but if Mr Hort is a typical Australian it seems that the Aussies have been getting the governments they deserve in recent years.

The emerging campaign for plain packaging for food must be rather frustrating for anti-smoking campaigners who are desperately trying to pretend that the policy will be confined to tobacco. They must wish they could muzzle their colleagues in 'obesity control' for a couple of years before moving onto the next logical step. Alas, they are too eager. As the president of the Institute of Food Science and Technology says:

"If our health system can't cope with the increasing incidence of lifestyle-related diseases, it's something we will have to consider as an option. The levels of intervention need to become stronger. Ultimately, it may come to plain packaging."

Then there is New Zealand's Janet Hoek, a past master at tobacco control junk science and a jackboot of all trades...

"It makes sense to examine the potential these policies [plain packaging and graphic warnings] could have in reducing consumption of foods associated with obesity".

And, inevitably, there is the "I believe in liberty, but..." politician (AKA the liebertarian or lib-BUT-arian)...

In February, Queensland Health Minister Lawrence Springborg told The Courier-Mail he was "anti-nanny state", but in relation to food regulation "there are some things where government cannot dismiss stepping in, and this is one of those".

Authoritarian public health charlatans, useless politicians and an infantilised electorate. What a mess it is Down Under, and Britain is only a couple of steps behind.


Carl V Phillips said...

You should check out the Wiggles. Your kid would probably like them (unless you protect her from all things video). It is healthier for you too - to have something to like about Australia other than Richie Porte.

Dick Puddlecote said...

The Wiggles scared the hell outta me when my kids watched them about 8/9 years ago. Fortunately, they must have scared the hell outta my kids too as the only watched them once. ;)