Tuesday 13 October 2015

Health Select Committee on Childhood Obesity

I appeared before the Health Select Committee on Childhood Obesity this morning. I'd like to believe that I was asked because I'm the voice of reason but I suspect it was to be the grit in the oyster.

The 'childhood' part is just framing. I think I was the only person to mention children at all. As far as I can see, the aim of the committee is to send a message from the wingnut end of the 'public health' movement about obesity to act as ballast to whatever the government comes out with in its forthcoming obesity strategy.

Perhaps I'm being unfair, but the guest list for this committee suggests not. They've got two Action on Sugar loons (Capewell and MacGregor) plus their puppet Malcolm Clark (Children's Food Campaign) and useful idiot Jamie Oliver. Oliver has a whole session to himself next Monday in which he can promote his business interests present his scientific data.

I haven't watched the opening session with MacGregor, Clark and some authoritarian from the British Meddling Association, but the snippets I've seen from the BBC coverage are hilarious. Take this insane wibble, for example...

If a sugar tax were combined with a "reformulation" of foods to remove fat as well as a ban on all advertising of unhealthy food, the UK "would prevent childhood and adult obesity" and end type-2 diabetes in the UK, Prof MacGregor says.

So he doesn't just want to reduce sugar and salt (he is also chairman of Consensus Action on Salt and Health), he also wants to 'remove' fat. And he thinks this will eliminate all forms obesity and Type-2 diabetes. People like MacGregor are the libertarians' best hope. Even the small group of newly elected doctors and teachers in the committee must have found this a bit hard to take.

And then there's this in The Guardian...

“He put the food industry in charge of public health,” said MacGregor. “He actually made the food industry responsible for policing themselves. It’s unbelievable. I have had many meetings with him and shouted at him, but he was absolutely impossible to persuade.”

Do these self-important, unelected monomaniacs ever consider that shouting at ministers might not be the best way to win hearts and minds?

Anyway, I'm going to off to watch the whole thing. Please do likewise. (The session I was involved in was delayed by 15 minutes because MacGregor et al. were droning on so we got 45 minutes while they got one and a quarter hours.)

PS. I was also on Channel 4 News last night with Sarah Wollaston. The item is quite brief because she wouldn't say either of the things they wanted her to, ie. that Jeremy Hunt had suppressed an evidence review and that Britain should have a sugar tax. You can watch the clip here.

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