Monday 17 December 2012

Rationing: The next logical step

From the plain packing, sticker-hating, sunbed-banning, speech-restricting madhouse of Australia comes some characteristically freedom-loving new ruses to deal with the obesity "epidemic".

The policies and public health strategies that we have implemented are proving inadequate for controlling the global epidemic of obesity.

Peer-reviewed policies from the finest minds in public health are inadequate? Say it ain't so!

An effective approach may be for governments to implement radical policy change – regulate food consumption and control the food industry in a similar way to the tobacco industry.

But...but...tobacco is a "unique product". You swore that this kind of "slippery slope" would never happen.

Oh well, guess we were fooled agin. So what's the plan now?

  • higher taxes on fast foods. 
  • Local government tax revenue on fat- and sugar-dense foods could be used to provide subsidies for fruits and vegetables
  • pricing strategies to promote purchases of healthier foods increasing the availability and lowering the cost of foods that are low in fat and less energy-dense 
  • banning fast-food advertising on the television, radio, and mass media, and with sport increasing social marketing of healthy foods requiring manufacturers to put health warnings, and use traffic-light labels on selected foods and drinks 
  • providing financial incentives to manufacturers and food outlets to sell smaller portion sizes 
  • and rationing the purchase of selected foods.

There is a lot to make the jaw drop here, but let's focus on that last gem.

During the second world war (1939–1945), the British government introduced food rationing with a point system in every household. Everyone was allocated a number of points a month and certain food items, such as meat, fish, biscuits, sugar, fats, and tea, were rationed.

Every adult was given a total of 16 points a month and could choose how to spend these points. Special supplements were available for young children, pregnant women, and people with certain diseases. Wartime food shortages and government directives forced people to adopt different eating patterns. They ate considerably less meat, eggs, and sugar than they do today. [No shit!—CJS]

Rationing was enforced in Britain for 14 years, and continued after the war had ended. Meat was finally derationed in June 1954. Petrol was also rationed, so people stopped buying and using cars, and public transport was limited. There was no “obesity epidemic” [nor had there ever been—CJS] as food supply and travel was limited, meaning people ate less and did more physical exercise (walking).

Interestingly, during the years when rationing was enforced, the prevalence of obesity was negligible in the United Kingdom. And waste was minimised as both individuals and government agencies were busy finding new ways of reducing the waste of food resources to a minimum (sustainable consumption).

Is it conceivable that some form of food rationing and portion control may help address the dramatic rise in obesity and the sustainability of our foods supply? If we continue to over-consume foods in unsustainable ways for both our health and our planet, we may be left with no other choice.

Once again, I find it almost impossible to summon up the words to describe the policies of Australia's public health establishment (the author of this piece is the director of Canberra's Centre for Research & Action in Public Health). I'm tempted to say that I warned you this would happen, but that would be untrue.

Student of the slippery slope though I am, I never thought that someone would seriously suggest that the government should introduce war-time restrictions on food in response to people being chubby. What an interesting place Australia is these days.


Chris said...

Yes we should all endure wartime conditions - permanently - because during the war less people were fat. Who could possibly object?

These loonies don't have any influence over people in positions of power do they?

JohnB said...

Why not go the whole way…… the package deal, as it were? Let’s have a World War. What a splendid idea! It will add authenticity to the rationing. War, given that it leads to rationing and weight loss, is obviously wonderful for public health. I’ll start drawing up invasion plans and reverse my tank – purchased just for this very contingency – out of the garage.

People such as Davey, and there are many of them in contemporary Public Health and occupying academic positions, are scary. They are materialists. They abide by a dangerously superficial world view and perverse definition of health. They don’t know – are utterly clueless - how much they don’t know; hence the arrogance of ignorance and stupidity. These “educated” nitwits and their mental disorders are quickly becoming the major problem/threat of the time.

Stuart H. said...

(Bangs head on desk in disbelief)
From what my old man remembers, the main effect of rationing on his community was an increase in TB, rickets, smallpox, etc. etc.
Certainly there could be no improvement in health due to increased consumption of fruit & veg, as they weren't available either. He often says he never saw a banana until the early 1950's.

Jonathan Bagley said...

I don't agree that fast food is bad, nor particularly energy dense. There are 250 cals in a MDs' hamburger and 14g of protein. compared to around 270 in an oatbran blueberry muffin - the weapon of choice of female middle class chubsters. An active male needs at least 2500 cals a day and his kilo bodyweight in gms of protein. It's got to come from somewhere. Note they had a photo of a hamburger above the article, not an oatbran muffin. 100g of Morrisons lean beef mince contains 189 cals and 25g of protein. That is not energy-dense. Compare it to 201 cals from three hobnobs (42 gms), consumed by the million every day at work meetings. Less energy dense foods are apples at 53 cals each and boiled potatoes at 258 cals per 300gms (a 3"x4" potato). 2500gms from such low energy-dense food would be very hard going and nutritionally deficient. Eating beef burgers should be encouraged, not taxed. These people have an irrational dislike of burgers, I'm guessing due to their association with McDonalds.

Longrider said...

Interesting in the Chinese sense...

Jeebus, but these people are insane wit their obsessions.