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The Tubby Time-bomb.

It's election time in the UK as I write this. The politicians and journalists are locked in verbal combat over The war in Iraq, spending plans, taxing plans, education and hospitals.
The public is bored, TV news ratings have dropped steadily since the start of the campaign. Nobody is particularly interested in the issues that are being endlessly re-visited. Even some of the politicians look fed up.
Never mind chaps, it'll all be over soon...

Of course the most worrying issue facing the nation is not being discussed.
Is it terrorism? I hear you ask.
Non renewable energy supplies?
The state of the nation's roads?
No no no!

It's obesity.

Did you know that Britain has just come third in a survey to find the countries with the highest proportion of obese children?
In first place was Malta and in second place, unsurprisingly, was the USA.
Now I don't know what Malta is doing wrong but I can see where Britain and the USA have blundered:

Privatising school catering.

Capitalism is a great driver for a country to better itself but, left unchecked, the system has a fatal flaw; the profit imperative is king.
Ask yourself who is top of the priorities list when a company decides upon any course of action, the shareholders or the customer?
Except for a few principled firms, the answer is always the shareholder.
The choice for firms is "Shall we make a product which is just good enough to satisfy most consumers" or "Shall we spend a bit more and make a better product".
Just look at the ingredients list on your standard supermarket packet and you'll see which choice they invariably make.

Now we, as informed adults, are equipped to make a decision about whether to eat the processed food or not. Children in British and American schools are often not being offered any choice at all.
The Schools are supplied by large concerns whose sole objective is to maximise profit. They won the contract by undercutting suppliers who may (or may not) have been intending to serve better food, so they have no room to manoeuvre. They have to use the cheapest possible ingredients.
Neither are they forced to produce a balanced diet for each child, if a child wants some chips to eat with their bag of crisps and chocolate bar, that's what they get.
The child doesn't know its bad for him, after all, the crisp and the chocolate manufacturer have spent millions on advertising which tells him how good their stuff is!

More worrying is that the children's parents obviously have no idea about how a child should eat. They send their children to school supplied with packed lunches containing fatty processed snacks, sweets and sugary drinks. No wonder they under-perform at school if that's all they eat.

The problem was highlighted first in the states by the film "Supersize Me" and latterly in the UK with "Jamie's School Dinners".
A revealing scene in Jamie Oliver's programme showed a disruptive child responding to having his junk-food diet replaced by a balanced diet for a week. He calmed right down and became quite pleasant, but after just one "treat" meal of junk-food, he was all over the place again. Q.E.D.

So, whoever wins this election, please do something about this as soon as possible. It's already too late for the generation of fat children leaving our schools, they have been imprinted with poor eating habits which only a few will shake off.
It's ruining their academic performance, it's ruining their health, it's ruining their teeth it's ruining their self-esteem.

If nothing else spurs you into action Mr. Politician, just think how much these overweight kids are going to cost the health service in a few years time. Then that profit imperative will really come home to roost!


© Winamop. May 2005

Read old page 94s here.


© Winamop 2005