Necessity Still Breeds Ingenuity - Archive of SQUALL MAGAZINE 1992-2006

All ‘Beef' Patties Make Brits Euro Fatties

National Audit Office reveal record UK obesity

Squall Download 2, Dec-1999/Jan-2000, pg. 10.

A leaked government report has revealed that the British are now the fattest people in Europe. The National Audit Office report, due to be officially published next year, states that health spending on weight problems now outstrips smoking-related diseases. Including time taken off work, the national bill for treating weight-related illnesses such as coronary heart disease, diabetes and some cancers is almost £5 billion a year. According to the report, there is now a recognition that the increasing problem of obesity - defined as being 30 per cent over an optimum body weight - has “significant implications for government finance”.

The leaked report confirms the implications suggested by a recent survey of European fast food trends published by Mintel market analysts (see Aorta Attack in SQUALL Download No1). Mintel's report revealed that British people spend £2.7 million a year on fast food, more than anyone else in Europe. More alarming still was the fact that the European-wide survey did not include fish and chips - a British favourite.

In response to the growing problem, the Department of Health began a publicly-funded Healthy School's Programme last April, aimed at encouraging children to think twice about the food they consume. However, such efforts sit incongruously with recent ministerial endorsements: Trade and Industry Secretary, Stephen Byers, and prime minister, Tony Blair, are amongst a host of top political figures who have visited McDonald’s burger bars and served happy meals to children in front of media cameras. However, in the McLibel Trial verdict delivered in June 1997, Mr Justice Bell declared that McDonald’s marketing has “pretended towards a positive nutritional benefit which their food (high in fat&salt etc.) did not match”, and that the company “exploit children” with their advertising. Furthermore in the McLibel appeal verdict delivered earlier this year, Lord Justices Pill, May and Keane deemed it to be true that “if one eats enough McDonald’s food, one’s diet may well become high in fat etc., with the very real risk of heart disease.”

According to Gaynor Russel of the British Dietetic Association: “It seems certain we’re going the way of America.” The US has the highest levels of obesity in the world and spends £158 billion a year dealing with the problem. A recent study carried out by researchers at the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, says that obesity in the US is increasing in “epidemic” proportions. The researchers found that there had been a 50% increase in obesity in the US over the last seven years, increasing from 12 per cent of the population in 1991 to 17.9 per cent in 1998. McDonald’s, part sponsors of the Millenium Experience, will be opening their 1000th UK store at the end of the year…. in the Millenium Dome.

Related Articles
For the full list of Squall articles about the McLibel Trial click here

Useful Links