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The obesity epidemic – too much food for thought?

The policies and public health strategies that we have implemented are proving inadequate for controlling the global epidemic of obesity. An effective approach may be for governments to implement radical…

We are surrounded by energy-dense foods that result in a positive energy balance. lordwikket/Flickr

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

Our environment promotes obesity by providing more frequent opportunities for excessive consumption of food and encouraging sedentary lifestyles. Portion sizes have increased, and “king size”, pre-packaged, ready-to-eat snacks are widely available. Readers have probably seen chocolate bars taped to bottles of soft drinks and foot-long sandwiches.

And smaller portion sizes are often not on offer. In the early part of the twentieth century Coca Cola was sold in approximately 200 ml bottles. Today, it’s sold in 600 ml to 1000 ml bottles for individual consumption. Larger-sized chocolate bars and packets of crisps encourage excessive consumption while giving the impression that we’re getting better value for money.

Obesity is a physiological maladaptation to the environment. Apart from a relatively small number of people with specific metabolic disorders and a genetic predisposition, its fundamental cause is consuming too much food for the level of energy expended.

The result of energy intake exceeding overall expenditure is a positive energy balance. Couple this with the human body’s ability to store large amounts of energy as fat and you have the reason for the obesity epidemic. Any factor that increases energy intake or decreases energy expenditure, even by a small amount each day, will result in weight gain in the long term.

The fundamental problem of positive energy balance requires radical changes in our society and environment. These changes have to empower people to change their eating behaviour. And we’re kidding ourselves if we think this is merely about personal choices and that we’re not influenced by the constant mass marketing of certain foods and beverages.

Here are some measures worth considering:

  • 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.

Let’s consider the most controversial of these suggestions, the issue of rationing. 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.

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” 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.

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69 Comments sorted by

  1. James Jenkin

    EFL Teacher Trainer

    Yes, restricting people's food supply - for example, under a rationing regime, or in a famine - has an effect on obesity. There aren't many fat North Koreans (with the exception of Kim Jong-Un).

    'Our obesity initiatives - despite loads of money - haven't worked. Therefore we need more money and more power.' Nice logic - they can't lose.

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    1. Trevor S

      Jack of all Trades

      In reply to James Jenkin

      @ Michael Croft

      Your beef (no pun intended) seems to be against socalised costs associated with health care. That seems then an argument against socialised health care and perhaps abandoning it and following the Singaporeoren private model ? The opposite of that is why then single out the Obese as a malady that needs coercive correct ? Why not, driving cars without helmets, living in cities (particulates) and on and on... I am not using the slippery slope argument but simply pointing out…

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    2. David Atherton

      Chairman, Freedom 2 Choose

      In reply to James Jenkin

      Here is the snapshot of the Dutch study (1).

      The Dutch Ministry of health also paid for a smoking cost review published in The New England Journal of Medicine on 9th October 1997 and found smokers were the cheapest to treat over their lifetimes (2).

      “In our study, lifetime costs for smokers can be calculated as $72,700 among men and $94,700 among women, and lifetime costs among nonsmokers can be calculated as $83,400 and $111,000, respectively. This amounts to lifetime costs for nonsmokers that are higher by 15 percent among men and 18 percent among women.”

      1. http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/slideshow.action?uri=info:doi/10.1371/journal.pmed.0050029&imageURI=info:doi/10.1371/journal.pmed.0050029.t002

      2. http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM199710093371506#t=abstract

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    3. Michael Croft

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to James Jenkin

      @ Trevor S
      No beef, just an observation. As a society we ought to be able to have an adult conversation and weigh up the intersection of the private and public. Given that we can't socialise all private gains - having one's cake and eating it too - at what point do we draw the line? This is where contention will be - one's meat being another's poison.

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    4. Michael Croft

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to James Jenkin

      @Trevor S

      Forgot to say the links are interesting as they imply that killing oneself slowly via overconsumption is an economic 'good'. Yet as a society we don't condone suicide and consider this a 'loss'. Overdosing with sleeping pills or food yields the same result, the only difference is the time frame.

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  2. Colin MacGillivray

    Architect, retired, Sarawak

    Your "measures worth considering" should all be put in place tomorrow. In addition Australia should adopt some of its more aggressive anti smoking strategies and apply them to energy dense foods. It could be that a litre of Coke a day and a huge Mac is worse for a person's health than 20 fags. (There must be a comparison on the internet.)

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  3. Chris Harper

    Engineer

    There is another measure worth considering, and that is you mind your own business and cease trying to enforce your values on other people.

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    1. James Jenkin

      EFL Teacher Trainer

      In reply to Chris Harper

      Hi Chris, I agree - who are scientists, or politicians, to tell us how to live better? Haven't they got better things to do with their time?

      The ironic thing is these interventions may be counterproductive. Over the time we've seen this health nudging, problems like obesity have got worse.

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    2. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Chris Harper

      @James Jenkins,

      Absolutely.

      Make the information available, and then people make up their own minds. This 'scientist as policy maker' malarky has to stop.

      When it comes to my own lifestyle I deny that anyone is better able to make decisions on my behalf than I can myself. The arrogance of those who think otherwise is breathtaking.

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    3. Michael Croft

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Chris Harper

      Were it that simple I would agree, but it ain't. If an individuals private choice (values) results in obesity and a drain on the public purse, what then? Do we have a self-abuser pays policy, where the individual's choice to be obese is respected, yet they pay for all the medical/social costs associated with that choice? No we don't. As it stands the choice to be obese is a privatised (weight) gain and a socialised loss.

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    4. Chet Mannly

      Artist

      In reply to Chris Harper

      +10 Chris

      Governments, by all means provide me with the information to make informed decisions. Then please leave me alone to make them...

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  4. Mark Smith

    logged in via Facebook

    Hate to say it but it seems to me and most of my friends that carbs are the main problem. I challenge anyone, particularly those with 'big bones', to stop eating carbs and sugar and wait for the results. Incredible. Anytime I start to truck on a few kegs I just quit the twin vices and bingo, problem solved. 24 hour fasts are also good. But I guess it's easier to ask the government to be the ones to make the change, and not all the fatties out there.

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    1. Chet Mannly

      Artist

      In reply to Mark Smith

      "stop eating carbs and sugar and wait for the results. Incredible. Anytime I start to truck on a few kegs I just quit the twin vices and bingo, problem "

      Err, you DO realise that sugars *are* carbohydrates don't you?

      Well done for controlling your weight, more proof we don't need the government to tell us what to eat

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  5. Clem Powell

    Chemist

    Any benefits to public health would be far outweighed by the damage to liberty if the ideas in this post were ever followed.

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    1. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Clem Powell

      @Clem Powell,

      Food issues are not communicable conditions, my being obese or bulimic has no effect on others. Therefore, they are private, not matters of public health. The claim is baseless. All this does is bring out into the open those with a need to exert control over others, so it is a civil liberties issue instead.

      Whether I eat too much, or too little, so long as it is from choice it is nothing to do with some stranger. They have every entitlement to an opinion on the matter, but they have no entitlement to a say.

      What is this writers problem, that he feels the need to exert so much control over others?

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    2. Peter Fox
      Peter Fox is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Medical doctor

      In reply to Clem Powell

      Chris, obesity actually appears to be communicable - not in the infectious sense, but good evidence to back the 'contagiousness' of obesity in social networks:

      http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMsa066082

      In this study, those who had a friend who became obese during the 32 yrs follow up were 57% more likely to become obese themselves (independent of income, socioeconomic status, etc)

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    3. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Clem Powell

      Peter,

      There may be correlation, but obesity nontheless remains a matter of personal choice. Cholera, or the 'flu can be forced on me by factors outside my immediate control, but obesity is down to my own behaviour. It is not a public health matter.

      Someone eating a Mars Bar in the lift with me does not inflict me with a Mars Bar filled stomach, other than by my personal choice to go buy one.

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    4. Michael Croft

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Clem Powell

      So the current privatised (individual liberty) weight gains and a socialised (public) health care costs are OK then?

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    5. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Clem Powell

      @Michael Croft,

      You said: "So the current privatised (individual liberty) weight gains and a socialised (public) health care costs are OK then?"
      Yes, that’s right.

      As medicine was increasingly socialised at no time were we told that this will, in future, be used by the state and its functionaries to exert social control over behaviours which fall into disrepute. We were instead told that healthcare would be universal and available to all those who suffer. We were not told that some sufferings…

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    6. Katy Melville

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Clem Powell

      @Chris,

      Obesity is genetically communicable, not just behaviourally. Obesity in parents causes epigenetic changes which increase risks for children.

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    7. Chet Mannly

      Artist

      In reply to Clem Powell

      Totally with you Clem.

      Educate people sure, but people have to be free to make thier own choices.

      The tobacco laws were the thin end of the wedge, and I fear this is only the beginning. They'd regulate food, alcohol and everything enjoyable in life until all our lives are as beige and boring as those of academics.

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  6. Dave Atherton

    logged in via LinkedIn

    Ms Davey talks about rationing in WW2 as an example of government controlling and imposing a diet on people. Also the British government suspended Habeas Corpus, which requires a person under arrest to be brought before a judge or into court. It allowed the state unlimited powers of arrest and detention.

    Also the government suspended the free press and mass censorship of the media was a legal requirement. May I add that a woman was jailed for three months for feeding the ducks stale bread, such was the state's desire not to waste food.

    While in an extreme situation as a world war some of these measures are understandable, in peace time this is A Brave New World and quite unacceptable.

    I believe Professor Simon Chapman of Sydney University has been vigorously denying the slippery slope that the tactics employed by tobacco control will not be used for other health issues. I feel a little misled.

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    1. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Dave Atherton

      Katy,

      That is true, but we are talking about obesity as caused by life choices, not that which is genetically determined. However, even with genetics, it tends to be a predisposition exacerbated by lifestyle, not a guaranteed affliction.

      The control freaks, as exemplified by this writer and those who support her, are proposing to smash the civil liberties of all of us in order to control those whose lifestyle they disapprove of.

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  7. Ralph Watson

    Elec Tech

    I really do hope that Davey and his kind crawl back under their rocks and stop telling the rest of us how to go about our lives.

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  8. Comment removed by moderator.

  9. Tim Scanlon

    Debunker

    So, what's wrong with having exercise incentives, bike lanes for commuting, instituting portion sizes on menus and education of nutrition?

    Because draconian measures are usually not appreciated in a democracy of free individuals. To use the WW2 example cited, there was a huge black market food industry during rations, which favoured the wealthy. If you wish to do the same again then prepare for backlash and subversion.

    The examples I listed are far better, allowing people to exercise without the risks and costs currently in place. Portion sizes being a wider selection allows choice. And I'm yet to see a nutrition guide for kids that is accurate and isn't pushing an agenda of some sort.

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    1. Rachel Carter

      Project Officer

      In reply to Tim Scanlon

      Tim Scanlon: So, what's wrong with having exercise incentives, bike lanes for commuting, instituting portion sizes on menus and education of nutrition?

      I agree. And why can you claim back costs associated with driving to work in your tax return but not claim back the costs of commuting by bicycle or public transport?!

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    2. Chet Mannly

      Artist

      In reply to Tim Scanlon

      "So, what's wrong with having exercise incentives, bike lanes for commuting, instituting portion sizes on menus and education of nutrition"

      Err, we already have those:
      1 - if you exercise you live longer, no better incentive than that
      2 - Brisbane is riddled with bike lanes, majority paid for by people who don't ride bikes
      3 - we have kj counts already so people are aware of their energy intake, and its hard to find a resteraunt that doesn't have at least two portion sizes for every dish (or…

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    3. Tim Scanlon

      Debunker

      In reply to Tim Scanlon

      Chet, I'd argue that we don't really have those incentives nor a cultural attitude that will take them up without more of a push.

      E.g. Bike lanes are haphazard throughout most cities and non-existent in the country towns. Someone cited here that bike lanes often end just before round-abouts, leading to cyclist danger.
      kj counts are just number to most people and is an example of good information being useless.
      Also, I'd argue that ad campaigns are usually wasted money. When was the last time anyone thought "I'll give up smoking because that ad told me it was bad for my health."? Smoking, obesity, etc, are all fairly well understood health risks, but people like eating and smoking more than they value that risk.

      Essentially, I'm talking about changing risk profiles with in pocket savings from health premiums and ease of commuting and choice.

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  10. Tom Smith

    Freelancer

    "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?"

    Only in a totalitarian hellhole

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  11. Tom Smith

    Freelancer

    Michael Croft: "Were it that simple I would agree, but it ain't. If an individuals private choice (values) results in obesity and a drain on the public purse, what then?"

    What then? Abandon publicly funded healthcare obviously. If it isn't working for everyone then why would it continue to be broadly supported? Fortunately even in the UK public health puritans are in the minority

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    1. Michael Croft

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Tom Smith

      So its all or nothing, "give me liberty or give me death", and no (50) shades of grey? Not sure Australians want that sort of dog-eat-dog world - could be wrong though.......

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    2. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Tom Smith

      @Michael Croft

      "Not sure Australians want that sort of dog-eat-dog world - could be wrong though"

      No, I don't think you are wrong on this point, but, on the other hand, I'm pretty sure they don't want to be governed by the sort of intolerant and totalitarian control freaks who support what Ms Davey has written here either.

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    3. Tom Smith

      Freelancer

      In reply to Tom Smith

      @ Michael Croft

      "So its all or nothing, "give me liberty or give me death", and no (50) shades of grey? Not sure Australians want that sort of dog-eat-dog world - could be wrong though"

      Public services are supposed to benefit voters. If they blatantly fail to do so, as in the case of a health service that everyone must pay for but which is only prepared to treat certain types of people, then their justification is removed and they will cease to exist in the face of public opposition. That is if democracy still functions adequately in Australia.

      If by some miracle public health bores constitute the majority of voters, or have sufficient control of the levers of power to ignore popular opinion, then is it not rather sinister that they would demand money in the form of taxation from smokers and junk food eaters for the provision of their public "services" while barring those classes of people from using them?

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    4. Chet Mannly

      Artist

      In reply to Tom Smith

      "If an individuals private choice (values) results in obesity and a drain on the public purse, what then?"

      So we ban anyone using motorised transport then? The #1 killer in Africa is water borne disease, so we better ban them from drinking water.

      Sorry, but you argue as if it is possible to stop people dying by creating yet another new tax. Look at the alcopops revenue raising - all it achieved was skyrocketing sales of pure spirits instead of pre-mixed.

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    5. Michael Croft

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Tom Smith

      @Chet Mannly,
      No need to apologise because I wasn't arguing for anything. A ? symbol at the end of my sentences usually means I am asking a question.

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    6. Chet Mannly

      Artist

      In reply to Tom Smith

      "@Chet Mannly,
      No need to apologise because I wasn't arguing for anything. A ? symbol at the end of my sentences usually means I am asking a question."

      @Michael Croft - from the first post:

      Michael Croft: "Were it that simple I would agree, but it ain't. If an individuals private choice (values) results in obesity and a drain on the public purse, what then?"

      Definitely see a "?" at the end of that statement Michael - thanks for being so dismissive an condescending.

      Can we debate the article now?

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    7. Michael Croft

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Tom Smith

      @Chet Mannly,
      No problem. Stop falsely attributing arguments, and I will stop being dismissively condescending towards your contributions to the discussion.

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    8. Chet Mannly

      Artist

      In reply to Tom Smith

      So are you gonna actually make a contribution to the discussion or just snipe at those of us that actually made points?

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  12. Gary Looney

    Person

    I think obesity is being hijacked by some relating to the tax debate which I discourage.

    To tax food is a kick in the teeth for those who just need food in the place they are found.
    In my view it is the writing of questions that people want answer too, and the city culture that I have seen as a problem and experienced respectively.

    The problem is difficult because of commercial interests and the enormity of the task but it can be simple to understand in that your choice, particularly in the cities drives policy.

    Simple unprocessed food at discounted rate is better than Tax of Fatty Foods because disadvantage remains for the neediest. Just my thoughts!

    What I feel and have for many years.

    Merry Christmas
    Gary

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    1. Tom Smith

      Freelancer

      In reply to Gary Looney

      @ Gary Looney

      Price control of any kind is a mistake in economic terms. What do you think would be the immediate and long term results of artificially lowered prices for simple unprocessed food?

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  13. Michael Croft

    logged in via LinkedIn

    Has the concept of "libertarian paternalism", articulated by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein in their book Nudge, be applied to the obesity problem? If not it may be worth researching as a potential policy development area that might maximise health benefits and minimise loss of personal choice.

    Here you go http://phe.oxfordjournals.org/content/5/2/181.abstract

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    1. Chet Mannly

      Artist

      In reply to Michael Croft

      So you're happy for the government to dictate what people eat then, just squeamish over using a tax as discouragement?

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  14. none at all

    none

    The elephant in the room is obviously self-indulgence, which well explains the correlation between fat people and their other behavioural patterns. I don't recall seeing fat prisoners emerging from the German concentration camps after WW2, so the final common pathway of just eating too much is obvious.
    It's probably too late for today's adults, but an almighty co-ordinated effort might make instil a little self-discipline into today's children and save them from future obesity. That's probably as likely as Americans banning guns, however, so all we can do at present is blow a little hot air.

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  15. Jamie Peck

    logged in via Twitter

    I think that, whilethe solutions in the article have some merit, they're all supply side solutions. Until we start to moderate the demand for high fat, calorie dense food we're fighting a losing battle. And the only way we do that is with education, preferably beginning in primary and high school.

    Until consumers can look at a meal or snack and instinctively recognise that it contains proportionately more energy than they require from that meal, then the overall trends to obseity will continue.

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  16. anthony kolbe

    manager

    It is naive to think that personal choice determines people’s decisions to purchase products including high calorie foods. Marketing and advertising techniques manipulate the public to the detriment of public health.

    Is it the role of Government, acting on the advice of health professionals, to take action? Definitely! Some of the most important improvements in human health have been achieved through public health interventions. Many of these faced opposition because of the false argument of “infringement of civil liberty”. Let’s consider some examples: seat belt legislation, food fortification, tobacco control, vaccination.

    We will need innovative ways to head off the chronic disease threat to public health and some of these may impact on on what some refer to as "personal choice".

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    1. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to anthony kolbe

      @Anthony Kolbe

      This is not a public health issue, but a private one. Public health arguments are red herrings and have no bearing.

      Fred Nerk's health is unaffected by whether Joe Bloggs is obese or not, and Joe's lifestyle choices are therefore none of Fred's business.

      You said: "It is naive to think that personal choice determines people’s decisions to purchase products including high calorie foods. Marketing and advertising techniques manipulate the public to the detriment of public health."

      This is an extremely contemptuous statement. People are capable of a great deal more discernment than you give them credit for.

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    2. Tom Smith

      Freelancer

      In reply to anthony kolbe

      "Let’s consider some examples: seat belt legislation, food fortification, tobacco control, vaccination."

      All of these were unnecessary and constituted unacceptable infringements of personal liberty. Mistakes made in the past do not constitute an argument for similar mistakes to be made in future

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    3. Chet Mannly

      Artist

      In reply to anthony kolbe

      "It is naive to think that personal choice determines people’s decisions to purchase products including high calorie foods. Marketing and advertising techniques manipulate the public to the detriment of public health. "

      You have been massively oversold on the power of marketing. Just because a KFC ad comes on the screen I don't run to buy chicken (in fact despite a lifetime of ads, I can't stand the stuff...).

      You might as well start screaming "Big Food" to replace "Big Oil" as some evil overlord controlling everything behind the scenes.

      Don't expect people to take you seriously though...

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  17. Chet Mannly

    Artist

    "smaller portion sizes are often not on offer. In the early part of the twentieth century Coca Cola was sold in approximately 200 ml bottles. Today, it’s sold in 600 ml to 1000 ml bottles for individual consumption."

    I was taking a sip from a 250ml Coke Zero when I read that. What was that again about smaller portions not being available?

    "Let’s consider the most controversial of these suggestions, the issue of rationing. "

    A bit totalitarian don't you think Racheal? Besides government deciding what food will be available was tried before under communism, and look at the abysmal health outcomes.

    PS, OK tongue firmly in cheek - is this a parody? Its just that your centre is called C.R.A.P. Health, which makes one wonder...

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    1. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Chet Mannly

      @Chet Mannly

      It really doesn't matter how many times, or in how many ways, large scale central planning has failed over the last century there always seems to be someone, somewhere, who is determined to show that 'their' ideas, and 'their' approach, will, uniquely, succeed.

      The arrogance is breathtaking.

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  18. Neal Mercado

    Director, Blackmores Institute

    Research into early determinants of obesity indicates that, rather than being a simple consequence of consuming too much food or energy than is expended, obesity is the result of a complex synergy of genetics, environmental factors and behaviour. Obesity begins in early life – perhaps even in the womb.

    Studies in twins, adoptees and families suggest that as much as 80% of the variance in body fatness may be attributable to genetic factors (Rosenbaum et al. Obesity NEJM 1997;337:396-407).

    Maternal…

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    1. Chet Mannly

      Artist

      In reply to Neal Mercado

      "Research into early determinants of obesity indicates that, rather than being a simple consequence of consuming too much food or energy than is expended"

      If you gain weight its because you ate more than you burned. There's no grey area there (unless you are suffering from another condition like fluid retention).

      "Studies in twins, adoptees and families suggest that as much as 80% of the variance in body fatness may be attributable to genetic factors"

      You mean genetic factors influence how much energy the body uses, its preferences for food types and its preferences for storing it. Rule #1 still applies, but the amount of food people can eat before putting on weight will vary between people based on things like their genetics, for sure.

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  19. Gary Looney

    Person

    @Tom Smith
    Re: Price control of any kind is a mistake in economic terms. What do you think would be the immediate and long term results of artificially lowered prices for simple unprocessed food?

    I did not mention artificially lowering prices!

    The idea is you spend a good proportion of energy keeping taxes and production costs of staples down through the savings in the medical system; this is a closed loop for good management.

    Increasing local consumption and production of local produce for farmers, whilst reducing imports.

    Or just encourage the McDonalds visits that my Sisters children got at School, that were seen as acceptable by Governments of the day under the umbrella of educational?

    I’m sure it doesn’t happen today, just some other hair brain scheme filling someone else’s pockets.

    I would not know.

    Gary

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    1. Chet Mannly

      Artist

      In reply to Gary Looney

      "I did not mention artificially lowering prices!...The idea is you spend a good proportion of energy keeping taxes and production costs of staples down through"

      You advocate artificially devoting higher amounts of resources and lower levels of taxation to lowering staple food prices - how is that not lowering prices artificially?

      You're just arguing subsidy instead of tax - they are both sides of the same coin.

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    2. Tom Smith

      Freelancer

      In reply to Gary Looney

      @ Gary Looney

      "The idea is you spend a good proportion of energy keeping taxes and production costs of staples down through the savings in the medical system; this is a closed loop for good management."

      What does this actually mean? Are you proposing keeping the production costs of staples down through subsidies (a form of price control)? Or by direct government management of food production? How do savings in the medical system possibly bring down production costs in agriculture in a capitalist economy?

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  20. Gerald Officer

    Lab rat

    Thank you Rachel, for suggestions you offered for consideration. One cannot expect much resolution (pun intended) on a scrapping forum.

    Some bits from the comments which deserve consideration, predominantly but not only by their authors:

    "People are capable of a great deal more discernment than you give them credit for."

    "You have been massively oversold on the power of marketing. Just because a KFC ad comes on the screen I don't run to buy chicken (in fact despite a lifetime of ads, I…

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    1. Chet Mannly

      Artist

      In reply to Gerald Officer

      "The #1 killer in Africa is water borne disease, so we better ban them from drinking water."

      To clarify, I made that sarcastic comment in the context of there's an element of danger in everything, and if you try to ban everything potentially dangerous in life you end up with ridiculous outcomes.

      Sounds pretty heartless (and not as I intended) out of context...

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  21. Citizen SG

    Citizen

    Accusations of totalitarianism may be too extreme an arrow to launch at the author. The principle of rationing as described in the article is no different to the control of other substances in our diet. I'm referring of course to alcohol.
    Alcohol is a regulated substance because it has harmful effects, in particular supply is, of course, restricted to children. Education has not been particularly effective in reducing alcohol consumption but regulating supply has. Alcohol consumption strongly correlates to access (ie more bottle shops, more consumption).
    Te same correlation exists with fast food. Is it not time to regulate, not ration, fast food supply and apply the principle to toxic food as exists for alcohol?

    Do you want a McDonald's next to your child's school or are you OK with that?

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    1. Tom Smith

      Freelancer

      In reply to Citizen SG

      Alcohol is regulated according to the age (and presumably decision making competence) of the buyer, not the toxicity of the substance. This argument therefore does not apply to adults buying junk food.

      fyi, alcohol consumption has been falling (in the uk), despite supply increasing and downward pressure on price. How does your narrative account for this?

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    2. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Citizen SG

      @tom,
      Alcohol is regulated because of its toxicity. It is an intoxicant. If you consume it you get intoxicated.
      If we regard junk food as a toxic substance it makes regulation of supply, or rather restriction of supply geographically correlatable with alcohol.
      The comparison with the UK makes little sense as we are not the UK. The comparison between alcohol supply deregulation now and higher regulation a decade ago within Australia is the point. As is the point that supply convenience of junk food correlates with consumption.

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    3. Chet Mannly

      Artist

      In reply to Citizen SG

      "Alcohol is regulated because of its toxicity. It is an intoxicant. If you consume it you get intoxicated.
      If we regard junk food as a toxic substance"

      By your definition you can only define junk food as toxic if you can actually get intoxicated from it.

      You can't.

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    4. Tom Smith

      Freelancer

      In reply to Citizen SG

      @ Seamus Gardiner

      "Alcohol is regulated because of its toxicity. It is an intoxicant. If you consume it you get intoxicated."

      Your argument is simply wrong due to the way it is constructed. Alcohol may be regulated because it is an intoxicant, but it is not regulated according to its ability to intoxicate (stronger alcohol is not more heavily regulated). It is instead regulated according to the age (as proxy for decision making competence) of the consumer. i.e. the principle of rationing described…

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    5. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Citizen SG

      The analogy with alcohol was based upon the dangers of the supply not based upon it's neurological effect. You've chosen to take the word intoxicate to mean the neurological effect of alcohol rather than its toxicity.
      Alcohol is regulated by virtue of its deleterious effect on youth. My point is that any substance could be seen to be toxic and worthy of regulation via similar means.
      Regulation does not necessarily need to be be by the exact means as for alcohol ( ie restriction of supply to minors…

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  22. John Davidson

    logged in via Facebook

    Mississippi Legislature
    2008 Regular Session
    House Bill 282
    House Calendar | Senate Calendar | Main Menu
    Additional Information | All Versions

    Current Bill Text: |

    Description: Food establishments; prohibit from serving food to any person who is obese.

    Background Information:
    Disposition: Active
    Deadline: General Bill/Constitutional Amendment
    Revenue: No
    Vote type required: Majority
    Effective date: July 1, 2008

    History of Actions:
    1 01/25 (H) Referred To Public Health and Human…

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    1. Tom Smith

      Freelancer

      In reply to Gary Looney

      Great, if it's all to do with a germ then we can forget the obsession with what other people just as competent at making decisions as you or I choose to buy and eat. Lets cure this thing!

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  23. Gary Looney

    Person

    I have grown vegetables in broad acre farming for a living, seen how communities buy direct from the local supplier if available, and the diet change that occurs around availability.

    We supplied our Town of Menindee and operated a Market in Broken Hill for years.
    Wilcannia is a town paying $60 for a pumpkin because there is no local production.

    My family is no longer in farming so there is no conflict of interest, just a sense that we can do better by encouraging long term positive outcomes…

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    1. Tom Smith

      Freelancer

      In reply to Gary Looney

      "Wilcannia is a town paying $60 for a pumpkin because there is no local production."

      Don't you have things like supermarkets and logistics in Australia?

      "call it subsidy if you like but investments that increase the overall health of a nation are net gains"

      That depends on the obvious and hidden costs of the subsidy in question. The "health of the nation" is not worth increasing at any price, is it?

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