Of the last few years in the UK, there has been a rising problem with obesity. Teenagers and younger are becoming fatter & fatter as we progress into the 21st century: when will this trend slow?
In the Scotsman today, 18th Nov 2006, an article on banning television advertising featuring products of a HFSS content - High Fat Sugar Salt. This has been given a bad wrap, as the revenue from this sector is immense, the fear is programming quality would suffer the loss.
So, what is acceptable dietry habit? One can't walk down any main city street without an American brand fast food joint - at least one - or a fish and chip shop, the common case is a whole selection: chicken, burger, pizza, chip. This made me concerned on the horizons of society.
Reading through the Scotsman article, I realise that the youth learn most of their habits through home and school - ie parents and peers - as well as the mass media and societal inclination. I know for a fact that people's perception is changing, school adopting healthy eating habit campaigns, and parents in general being better informed of the better way - though this is going on, the media machine keeps on churning, and I have to admit that it doesn't seem pretty.
The article I read had a section detailing what advertising would be lost - I am surprised by the focus - though nostalgia and the fact that I never really had a bad dietry habit when I was young do bias my view. The loss would be no more Milky Bar Kid ("...is strong and tough.."-tra-la-la), Tony the Tiger ("GGGreat"), and the adverts with Gary Linaker and his crispy excapades. I would feel that kids would miss out a little, as one feels their childhood memories of such this, however trivial and throw-away, are a part of your culture. Are these advertisments wholly bad? I, as one, could resist their lure - is a banning a real solution, or is there a solution which could suit the TV market by balancing these ads with positive health promotion.
Where does the bad advertising stop and the 'okay-fine' advertising begin? What would replace these ads upon the TV? What would kids be drawn to spend their pocket money on in the future where the ban took place?
I'm almost certain that very soon authorities are going to start regulating fast foods. For example in the UAE there is a large focus on obesity as a real cause of heart disease and cancer, and other chronic diseases. They have already clamped down quite a bit on fast foods at schools. But I'm sure that this will be expanded. Probably going to be hardship for the people, as people really love McDonalds and Kentucky Fried Chicken, Burger King, not to mention Pizzaland for family outings.
In the UK... I suspect it will happen, if not soon, then eventually.
It is the premier example of a nanny state, after all... So you can count on them to not trust their citizens to use self-control.
I found this article in a UK Website Liberty:
Yes exactly, I don't think, for that matter, that citizens of any country will accept that kind of restrictions from the government.
So people who eat Big Macs 12 times a week, they're going to stop because they haven't seen any Big Mac commercials lately? Genius.
Full Article here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/04/19/AR2010041905049_pf.html
This is from this past April.
Uncle Sam is quickly becoming Big Brother. Best start hoarding chocolate now...
Oh yes, the US is also heading down that road...
It always happens when people respond to problems with the dread phrase: "Why isn't the government doing anything about this?"
The UK is moving, belatedly, towards legislation - though whether that will happen under the new coalition government is questionable. I see no reason why people should regard this as 'nanny statism'.
Is current safety legislation also 'nannying'? When governments previously legislated to make sure that poisons are not included in your ready-meal was that 'nannying'? Presumably those who think so would have us return to Victorian times when food was routinely adulterated with sawdust (and that was the more harmless of the things used to 'pad-out' foodstuffs).
It is undeniable that there is an obesity epidemic in the US and in the UK. This is also undeniably exacerbated by food companies adding huge amount of sugar and salt to their products in order to 'hook' the consumer. There is evidence that the resultant junk food is just as addictive as hard drugs such as cocaine and heroin
I think most people would agree that we should do our best to ensure that children are not exposed to hard drugs - so why, when it is suggested that this should apply to other harmful products, does the cry of 'nanny' go out?
Why the cries of 'nanny state'?
Because the state is assuming that her 'children' don't know any better, so they need to be protected from themselves, for their own good.
It's parental over-protectiveness on a national scale.
I would support a government program to inform people of these dangers, but the choice should still remain with the people themselves... Otherwise, you're treating self-determining adults like they are children.
(Yes I realize this is mainly about ads targeted at actual children. However, I believe it is a parent's responsibility to raise their children, not the state's. One exception would be direct interactions between the state and the children; the state would be justified in ridding junk food from being provided by or advertised in schools, if a majority of the parents approved of doing so.)
So by this logic you would be happy for ready-meals (as an example) to contain known toxins? Chemicals that won't immediately kill you, but will probably (>50%) give you cancer in a couple of decades. All you have to do is stick 'may cause cancer' on the packet and that is then OK ?
We have a problem with overpopulation anyway. Let the people who lack self control eat themselves to death. Natural selection at work here.
Rather than tell people what to do, through legislation, why not educate them thoroughly from their early years? If it is drummed into them how many toxins and chemicals there are in fast foods, as well as how poisonous sodas are, eventually people will stop drinking sodas. Bottomline, they should still have the freedom of choice, but be able to make an educated choice.
Addiction is not a rationale decision making process. Smokers have known for decades that their habit will almost certainly kill them, yet many still smoke and they are not all morons.
Sugar is addictive - just like cocaine. Telling a coke addict the damage he is doing to himself whilst chopping a line out in front of him is, perhaps, not the best way to proceed..
The freedom of choice argument only applies if there is real choice whch requires the individual to be mature enough to make that choice. We do not, as a society, grant that to children - because we regard them as needing protecting from some choices they might make, until they are mature enough to consider the facts in an 'adult' way. Would you say that children should be allowed to buy guns if they want to? Why remove that 'freedom' and not others? Defending silly notional freedoms is, to me, counter-productive. There are enough genuine and meaningful freedoms that have been challenged and removed, without worrying about the freedom of children to seriously harm themselves, advertising agencies to deliberately turn children into addicts and food companies to deal them the drug.
If a child walks down the street banging their head against a wall and bleeding copiously I think I would want the child to be stopped - if necessary by force - from doing so and, yes, I would say it was for their own good and therefore be open to the charge of nannying. That's what we do with children - we sometimes say to them - look, I know better than you so I'm going to put myself in a position which over-rides your personal freedom for your own good. That is called being a parent and every parent does it - quite rightly.