The UK has become obsessed with people’s weight. Almost daily there are articles in newspapers, headline stories on television and radio news bulletins, front cover features in magazines and now even leaflets pushed through your door warning you of the dangers of obesity. One story that caught my eye last week reported that builders working on construction sites across London were being put on a diet of porridge for breakfast because they were all too fat. So no more MacMuffins and doughnuts, just a bowl of good old oats. No doubt the construction companies are worried that their labourers won’t be able to make it up the scaffolding and that cranes will have to be used to get them up the building rather than the normal lift. That was followed a day later by an article that said that all overweight policemen and women would have to go on a diet if they wanted to keep their jobs. Granted, they have to be able to keep up with a mugger who is fleeing on foot rather than keeling over from a heart attack but then again if the bobbies returned to the old days of walking the beat rather than sitting in an office doing paperwork all day that might help them shed a few pounds.
And we’re told that obesity begins at a young age so keep the kids away from the fried food and the fizzy drinks. Why not ban them altogether if they’re so bad for you? Or put age restrictions on the sale of unhealthy, fattening foods like they do with cigarettes and alcohol. Buckets of KFC if you’re 18 years or over. Want a can of Coke? Show us some ID young man. Maybe if the kids exercised a bit more instead of loafing around playing video games and chatting to their mates on Facebook, they might look more like Rafael Nadal than Eric Pickles (Google him!). But wait, there are no playing fields or available sporting facilities. Schools have had to flog the former to survive and the latter are seemingly available only for those with memberships to clubs and gyms (which cost an arm and a leg so even once you’ve joined you’ve only got two limbs left to rely on!)
The irony of all of this is that the politicians that are ramming this message down our throats (and even that probably contains an excessive number of calories) usually look like they’ve not only eaten all the pork pies in the UK but all the cream cakes and buckets of fried chicken too. The svelte ones all seem to have personal trainers like Matt Roberts who I bet charges a small fortune to motivate the likes of David Cameron to jog around Hyde Park looking suitably sweaty. Usually of course when a photo opportunity is needed and there just happens to be a bunch of paparazzi in the Park to capture the PM in action.
The best part of the whole obesity scandal? One of the fittest English team rugby players was recently declared obese because of his muscle content. The measurement used to determine obesity in this country is the BMI (Body Mass Index) which calculates whether you are a healthy weight for your height. (To calculate BMI, weight in kilograms is divided by height in metres and squared). So having lots of muscle may put you in the unhealthy bracket, even if you have little body fat.
Mind you, this obesity crisis is nothing compared to the scandal that has engulfed the modelling and fashion world. You know the one in which women – of all ages – are at risk from not eating enough and falling victim to anorexia and other eating disorders. But that’s for another blog … it’s lunch time and I’m off to grab a pie and chips.