Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Holding back the takeaway tide

I don't usually read the Metro on my way into work ... but this morning a story on the front page caught my eye so I did the annoying thing and read the story over the shoulder of the commuter holding the paper!

The story was that Oldham council is piloting a scheme to levy a £1000 tax on any fast-food chains that open in the borough in an effort to curb the glut of fast food joints taking over the town centre and to tackle the obesity epidemic. The idea being that the levy will deter fast-food chains from opening in the area whilst the cash will be used to fund healthy eating campaigns and cleaning up litter.

You'd think, being a nutritional therapist, I'd be all for any measures to ban fast-food outlets but my liberal bent means I don't like the idea of legislating to stop people eating fast food if that's what they want. When it comes to outlets in or near schools that's another matter, but I think that if an adult wants to give themselves a heart-attack by eating fried fatty meat every day then that's their choice.

To be honest I don't think a charge of £1000 will deter many franchises from setting up shop but I am in favour of using the money to educate residents in the danger of eating fried fast food which is carcinogenic, damaging to the heart and cardiovascular system and a significant contributing factor in the massive rise in obesity in this country.

The article didn't specify how they planned to carry out this education and I'm not sure how much impact the posters I've seen around my borough encouraging people to drink less or eat an apple actually have! If the money could be channeled into giving dietary advice to all patients as a matter of course alongside regular medical treatment in hospitals or at your GP surgery then I think that would be a huge step forward ... but after a recent discussion with my doctor on the treatment for high cholesterol in the under 30s I think this is wishful thinking for the moment!

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