O Intermitente<br> (So long, farewell, auf weidersehen, good-bye)

O Intermitente
(So long, farewell, auf weidersehen, good-bye)

quinta-feira, maio 27, 2004

Face It: It's All Your Own Fat Fault

No Daily Telegraph Boris Johnson tece comentário acerca da última paranoia europeia: a luta contra a obesidade.

There used to be a saying that no politician ever attacked motherhood and apple pie. All that is over, my friends. There is a new threat to our little ones. Its name is apple pie, and it is making them less little all the time. With every groaning axle on our blimp-like people carriers, with every squeak of the midnight fridge, with every pop of our collar buttons, the nation is getting fatter and fatter, says the health select committee - and the Government is doing nothing about it.

How long can this complacency continue? ask the MPs, and they set out a series of demands. Vending machines are being used by schools to boost their budgets by £10 million. They must be scrapped, say the vigilant MPs. Planning policies must be changed so that people can get to shops on foot or by bike, say the MPs - so presumably we must stand by for more government-inspired attacks on the car. Women are doing only 25 per cent of the recommended weekly quota of exercise, complain the MPs; so with any luck we can expect John Prescott, or some other lean and limber Labour minister, to lead the women of Britain in physical jerks.

Most shocking of all, ministers "have spent 10 years failing to achieve a walking strategy". That, say, the MPs, is "scandalous". Ten years! It's far longer than that! I would say that human civilization has been deprived of a walking strategy for 40,000 years. No, I would go further. As a species, we have been without a proper walking strategy ever since Australopithecus Africanus (or was it Homo Erectus?) first hauled himself upright.

I don't mean to be unkind to my fellow MPs, who have doubtless sat for ages devising this report - only breaking off for refreshment at the Commons heavily subsidised and choctastic canteen - but what in the name of all that's sacred are we supposed to achieve with a "national walking strategy"? Who is going to propound this miracle method of locomotion, called putting one foot in front of the other - and who is going to pay for him or her, not to mention his car, pension and NI contributions?


But we do not eat too much because the Government somehow encourages us to do so. We are not a nation of fatties (and we are, amazingly, even fatter than the Americans) because of some failure of public policy. People may eat too much when they are in some way unhappy, in an act that is partly consolatory and partly self-destructive. It may be that women are so bombarded with images of perfect womanhood that they get down in the dumps and binge in a kind of mutiny. Maybe we all eat too much because we are spiritually poor, and seek the easy gratification of food.

What do I know? Speaking for myself, I would say a lot of us also eat too much because we are perfectly happy, but also really rather greedy. So before we employ thousands of walking experts in the NHS, and before we roll out some vast new anti-obesity strategy, let us get some things straight. This is not a disease. Any talk of "pandemics" or "cures" is pure cant. This is a phenomenon entirely caused by personal volition.

The committee says: "Individuals cannot solve the problem as ministers seem to suppose." But if individuals cannot solve the problem, then no one can solve the problem; because there is absolutely no one, apart from yourself, who can prevent you, in the middle of the night, from sneaking down to tidy up the edges of that hunk of cheese at the back of the fridge.

The more the state tries to take responsibility for the problem, the less soluble the problem will become, and the more people will indeed feel that they are the "victims" of an affliction, when it is nothing but their own fat fault. The more the state prescribes the diet of children, the more it takes away responsibility from parents, and the less chance there is of genuinely persuading a child to cut down on Pringles or play more football.

posted by Miguel Noronha 9:56 da manhã

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"A society that does not recognize that each individual has values of his own which he is entitled to follow can have no respect for the dignity of the individual and cannot really know freedom."

mail: migueln@gmail.com