Tuesday, 4 February 2014

The politics of 'public health'

I've written an article for the Free Society about the poisonous politics of the so-called public health movement, inspired by the recent barrage of propaganda about 'Big Food'.

Dig a little deeper into the ‘public health’ movement and its true political nature reveals itself. Roberto de Vogli, the “top doctor” quoted by the Independent (see above) is neither a medical doctor nor a leading figure in his field (which is, at least ostensibly, epidemiology). His real preoccupation is with “global neoliberalism” and “market greed”. The real cause of obesity in the UK, he said, was its “deregulated, liberal economy model”. In the WHO-funded study that he was promoting, a relationship between Body Mass Index and “economic freedom” was identified. The policy implications are obvious. “Governments should take steps to regulate the economies,” he said, “not let the invisible hand of the market self-regulate the food system.”

“Economic freedom” and “personal choice” are therefore the explicit enemies of the ‘public health’ movement. No wonder, then, that ‘public health’ has become a base from which discredited socialist ideas are reframed as quasi-medical issues. All the old targets are present and correct—capitalism, individualism, advertising, American corporations, income inequality—all served up with a dash of genuine puritanism. In the hands of academics such as Richard Horton, Richard Wilkinson and Michael Marmot, antediluvian leftism has been unashamedly injected into the discourse of health, while the words and deeds of such figures as Gerard Hastings and Martin McKee display a quite staggering degree of undergraduate Marxism. Throw a rock in the air at any public health conference and you will hit a member of the loony left.

Please read the whole thing.

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