In the UK there’s a lot of talk about obesity. The papers are full of articles, the chatterati order omelettes made with eggwhites only. As it happens an omelette made with eggwhites is disgusting, and this is not leavened at all by the addition of a carrot stick and a leaf of rocket. I agree, obesity is a bad thing. But there are ways to tackle it, and there are ways not to tackle it.
A couple of days ago, the Royal Society for Public Health came up with a scheme. The RSPH appears to be another money burning quango, and if it is not I withdraw the imputation without reservation. However they’re funded, they have no grip on reality. Because they recommended that alcohol should be labelled to include the number of calories in there. Shirley Cramer, the chief executive of the RSPH made the following fatuous statement. You may need to brace yourself here. Take a seat.
‘Calorie labelling has been successfully (used) for a wide range of food products….’
OK so far.
‘… there is now a clear public appetite for this to be extended to help individuals make informed choices.’
My heart actually sinks when I read the phrase ‘informed choices.’ People get informed and just do what they always did. Yes, labelling has been successful in the sense that foods are now labelled. It makes not much difference. Go to Harlow or Basildon, do the people there look as if they made informed choices? No, they look like people who like burgers and chips. They’ve been informed and said, ‘Oh sod it. I’ll go large with that.’ That’s fine. They make an informed decision and go ahead anyway.
Let me turn my spleen now to the whole idea of the RSPH suggested intervention. I question the idea that there is any ‘clear public appetite’ for alcohol to carry calorie warnings. I straw polled this in my local, and nobody really gives a rat’s. If you’re a bunch of lads out on the lash in Prague for a stag weekend, I guarantee you not one of them will stop drinking and go, ‘Oh no. Soda water for me. Too many calories.’ Can you see that happening? I can’t. Or a girlie night out where one of the participants begs off, ‘Too many calories.’ The response would be, ‘Vodka shot over here for Janet, please, barman.’
There is no ‘public appetite’ for this information. There is not. Nobody cares. Nobody. It is palpably untrue. They’re lying. They also lie, or at least mislead, by stating, ‘…alcohol contains nearly as many calories as pure fat…’ Firstly this is demonstrably wrong, and the lie here is the weaselly ‘nearly.’ How nearly? Well not very near indeed if you do a quick internet search. Secondly, even really mental drinks contain only 40% alcohol. Most of them are water. Nobody ever drunk a pint of fat, even on a bet.