Such a belligerent age we live in. While distant peoples battle against oppressive regimes, we in the west, with our lives of blameless bourgeois domesticity and general ennui, feel left out. The best we can can up with is a war on obesity.
The war will be fought with government regulation and taxes on foodstuffs deemed by experts to be unhealthy. Such measures are necessary, they say, as without state action, health systems could become swamped, leading to the downfall of civilisation as we know it.
Obesity is undoubtedly a growing problem. Just look at your fellow citizens with wobbling rolls of fat falling over trouser waistbands, and an inability to move at more than a crawl without gasping for breath. But are we really so cynical as to believe that micro-management of lifestyles is the way forward? Forcing manufacturers to adequately label their products, and clamping down on misleading advertising, are certainly in order, but rigging the market so as to discourage the consumption of chocolate, chips and other energy rich foods?
One fact overlooked in the public debate is that we are now on average consuming fewer calories than in the past, and contemporary diets are comparatively low in fat and carbohydrates.
So why the increasing waistlines?
In many cases, obesity is the result of a lack of physical exercise. This is a lifestyle issue best remedied by promoting leisure pursuits which burn calories in large numbers and convert body fat to muscle mass, and encouraging more daily transport under own steam – i.e., walking or cycling to work, and the use of stairs rather than elevators and lifts in buildings.
The cure for mass obesity is to eat in moderation and move about more, and drink less alcohol, unless we can burn off the excess calories. Then we can enjoy our chocolate, chips and booze, without all the associated neuroses, physical ill-effects, and hectoring.