it’s not very often I agree with the daily mail - but today is one of those days.
this morning, a colleage pointed me towards this story - simply, a very overweight family of 4 that collectively clock in at more than 80 stone.
to make it worse, the parents havent worked for 11 years and still recieve benefits.
to me, this sums up a serious problem with both the benefits system and our response to obesity.
one option is higher tax on unhealthy food, which punishes the responsible majority. it’s exactly the same argument against higher alcohol taxes. responsibility is at the heart of the argument.
We tax alcohol and cigarettes already because we accept they are bad for our health. However (in the case of alcohol) it’s the excess consumption that causes the problem, not responsible levels. which is also why i think alcohol duty is a wholly inappropriate tax which is causing untold damage to our community pubs, but that’s another blog.
We dont tax food in this way - and rightly so. but what we dont do is recognise that food is a progressive contributory factor - you dont get obese overnight. As I see it, someone who weighs 15 stone did, at some point, weigh less than that. The problem is when individuals dont recognise that they are allowing their weight to become a problem. And it isnt just a problem for the individual - it’s a problem for society. From NHS money spent on diabetes patients to the cost (time and money) or fire fighters having to act as a rescue/taxi service it isnt just a matter of someone liking cake. (and trust me, i really do like cake.)
So how do we deal with it? for me, it starts with the managing the problem. Anyone who wants to sign on as obese can do - but there is a strict programme of weight loss that’s incorporated into their benefits. after a period of time, if they have failed to lose the weight, they lose the benefit. It’s worth saying that i believe in investing in a proper rehabilitation program - as with drug and alcohol addicts. The main thing is that the responsibility to take action lies with the individual, and if there is one thing that the current Government hates, it’s empowering individuals to take action for themselves - and society suffers as a result.