Though only a third as many children are obese in France as in Britain, the numbers are rising there.The continent of Europe will not long suffer Britain to be the glutton of the world.It has been found that a fifth of children do not eat more than one meal a week with another member of their household; and in such households, which I used sometimes to visit as a doctor, the microwave oven was the entire batterie de cuisine, or at any rate the only cooking implement that was ever actually employed.Moreover, there was no table at which a meal could have been eaten in common if anyone had thought of doing so.The result was that children became foragers or hunter-gatherers in their own homes, going to the fridge whenever they felt like it and grazing on prepared foods – high, of course, in the evil fructose.Not coincidentally, these households were also the least likely to have what would once have been considered the normal family structure.When a government minister says something that is not only true but also profoundly discomfiting we are surprised and even shocked, so cynical have we become about the intellectual probity of our political class.
Dr Robert Lustig, an American paediatric endocrinologist, believes that the epidemic started when President Nixon, acting on the best medical advice at the time, exhorted the food industry to reduce the amount of fat in its products.
Food desertification is a symptom of the culinary ignorance, incompetence and indifference of a substantial minority of our population: ignorance, incompetence and indifference unopposed by any attempt of our educational system to counteract it, for example by teaching girls the elements of cookery.
Fat is indeed a feminist issue, but not in the sense that Susie Orbach originally meant it.
It is generally accepted that obesity, bringing with it a host of serious medical and social problems, is of epidemic proportions throughout the Western world, but particularly in Anglo-Saxon countries.
Grossly obese people, who have always existed, were once regarded almost as curiosities, but were well-off rather than poor.