Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Obesity Will Have to be Recognised as an Addictive Condition

Like so many middle class, middle aged people who have always tried to keep reasonably fit, I have a horror of obesity. Of course we've always had it in our society but nowhere near as pronounced as in the last two decades. I recall visiting the US in 1996 and being amazed at what I observed:

1. A guy so huge it took him ten painful minutes crossing the forecourt of the place at which we were eating whereupon he slumped into a chair and proceeded to feast on huge portions of chips, pizzas and beefburgers.

2. A scene on Oprah Wifrey's show where a woman had to be hauled to her feet by two people and admitted, sobbing, that her ambition in life was to be able to walk into the park nearby and watch the kids play.

More recently I saw a programme on fat people in Texas where a woman was so vast she needed a trolley to move around. And then there was that story in the press about a woman so huge her children had taken pictures to show her of parts of her body she had never seen. A recent report showed that 1 in 4 kids in the UK are obese before they start primary school, a figure that rises to 1 in 3 by the time they are 11. God knows what serious conditions such kids are incubating.

Most people react by saying 'Well, just eat sodding less food!" Yet it seems clear to me that this is like telling alcoholics to 'drink less sodding booze' or a depressed person to 'Come on, buck up, will you!" In Japan we hear penalties are being introduced in Japan to help curb the problem:

Corporate Japan will join the country's battle against bulging waistlines next month with the introduction of compulsory "flab checks" for the over-40s and penalties for firms that fail to bring their employees' weight under control.

This conjures up images of companies trying to do the same over here. I suspect any building form banning fish and chip lunches washed down with two pints of Guinness would receive short shrift from our indigenous fatties, whose tempers are often as out of control as their weight. I suspect the problem will get worse and worse until it is finally recognised as an epidemic as serious as drug addiction. Until then I just hope I avoid ever looking like Tony Soprano(James Gandolfini has suffered for his art), or even worse, his sister.

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