Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/916/23561

From The Socialist newspaper, 14 September 2016

Obesity crisis: government strategy offers no solution

A 2008 survey showed only half of girls and two thirds of boys did the recommended daily amount of physical activity. Schools and sports clubs have faced big funding cuts, which wil only exacerbate the problem, photo by Tysto (Creative Commons)

A 2008 survey showed only half of girls and two thirds of boys did the recommended daily amount of physical activity. Schools and sports clubs have faced big funding cuts, which wil only exacerbate the problem, photo by Tysto (Creative Commons)   (Click to enlarge)

Iain Dalton

"Teresa May's first hurdle was obesity, and she has failed" was the headline of one of a series of articles slating the newly announced 'obesity strategy,' which downgraded even the limited proposals put forward by Cameron.

The scale of the obesity crisis in the UK is vast. The 2014 official Health Survey for England showed that 61.7% of adults were overweight or obese. 31.2% of children aged two to 15 were also either overweight or obese.

The National Child Measurement Programme for 2014-15 suggested that the problem increases with age, with 33.3% of ten to eleven year olds either overweight or obese as compared to 21.9% of four to five year olds.

Reflecting a lassez-faire approach that puts securing the profits of big business first, the regimes of both Cameron and May have emphasised the need for voluntary measures. For example, allowing big business to reformulate products to be 'healthier' in their own time.

May's proposals left out a number of suggestions that Public Health England believe will have the most impact. For example, banning advertising of food high in salt, fat and sugar during family programmes. Or banning special offers on junk food in supermarkets.

This type of measure would have cut across the profits of the companies involved - who lobbied hard for them not to be included.

The only measure to attempt to force companies to act is the sugar tax, which was announced some time ago (see 'Condescending sugar tax debate misses real causes of poor diet' at socialistparty.org.uk). This will not come into effect for two years, in which time manufacturers will be encouraged to reformulate products to avoid the tax.

But under capitalism, companies will always try to use the cheapest products to generate the most profits.

Reformulation only guarantees less sugar, not necessarily that the product will be healthier. Moreover, this only targets individual products high in sugar like soft-drinks - but sugar is present in many other processed food products.

'Clean labelling' (for example purporting no artificial additives) has become the latest effort of the food industry to make ingredients we would otherwise jump away from sound natural and nutritious on labels.

Some things don't even have to be listed on labels - like processing aids. In reality, we have a limited knowledge of what goes into our food - shown clearly by the horsemeat scandal. The only way we will really know is by workers and consumers having democratic oversight on the production process.

The cost of healthy food is a major barrier. A survey carried out at Leeds University showed that less than 2% of children's lunch boxes meet the nutritional standards set for school canteens.

Rising food costs are clearly a big factor - both in terms of what parents are able to pack from home and in who can afford school dinners. This was highlighted by the recent example of a free school threatening to put children into 'lunch isolation' with a very minimal lunch as 'punishment' for parents being late paying exorbitant amounts for 'lunch fees'.

The money raised from the sugar tax is due to go towards helping fund breakfast clubs and an extra half hour a day of physical exercise at school. But if these things are necessary, why leave it to a tax where the amount raised is unknown? And schools are facing budget cuts as it is. Improvements in some school provisions can be undermined by cuts in others.

Cuts are having a similar effect on local government-run leisure centres, many of which have closed or been contracted out with higher prices charged. Working long hours, or multiple jobs, in order to make ends meet because of stagnating wages makes accessing such facilities even more difficult.

How are people supposed to increase the amount of exercise they do if the opportunities to do so are being removed? How are we supposed to eat healthier if all we have time for is a takeaway or a ready meal?

The Tories' measures are attempts to put sticking plasters (of very poor quality) over the inequities of capitalism which give rise to these issues. By putting profits above all else, capitalism messes with our health and wellbeing.

Limited time to exercise, poor diet, stress and many other issues result from our lives being bent to fit the capitalist machine. Instead we must fight for a socialist society which is able to fully harness knowledge, science and resources to meet the needs of the majority.

A socialist programme to tackle these issues would include:

Donate to the Socialist Party

Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • We must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our Fighting Fund.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation

 

Your message: 

 


In The Socialist 14 September 2016:


What we think

Labour party needs democratic structures and socialist policies


Socialist Party news and analysis

#KeepCorbyn: Fight workhouse conditions

NHS chiefs warn cuts mean rationing or charges

Fund smaller classes - not new grammars

Benefit cap could shut 67% of women's refuges

Them & Us

What We Saw


International socialist news and analysis

New 'strongman' president threatens martial law - while leaning on left parties for support

International news in brief


Socialist Party feature

Obesity crisis: government strategy offers no solution


Workplace news and analysis

Westbourne Park bus dispute continues

NSSN lobby of the TUC: an urgent time for our movement

Library workers defeat Tory cuts

Thousands of Post Office workers to strike against job losses

Southern Rail dispute update

Workplace news in brief


Socialist Party youth and students

Why you should become a socialist student!

Students and workers unite to cut rents

Why I joined the Socialist Party

Join the Socialist Party - join the fightback


Socialist readers' comments and reviews

Fighting fascism with motorbike stunts

The Socialist inbox


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Labour loses byelection but Corbyn isn't the problem

Protest against closure of vital heart unit

Socialist Party members join disability rights week of action

#KeepCorbyn


 

Home   |   The Socialist 14 September 2016   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

Health:

triangleTories to blame for GP crisis

triangle60 steelworks scaffs march in second week of all-out strike

triangleNews in brief

triangleBarking NHS: "Sorry, please try again later"

triangleUnite health members say no to 3% and vote for action

Government:

triangleFight to defend homelessness services

triangleContainer delay carnage makes the case for socialist planning

triangleThe 'winter of discontent' - When workers could take no more

triangleDVLA: Workers ballot on further strike action

Food:

triangleSouth East London Socialist Party: Food production and the need for socialism

triangleUnions protest at exploitative Leicester company Food Attraction

triangleBook that inspired me: God's bits of wood

Cuts:

triangleFighting the cuts at the ballot box in Liverpool

triangleNorthampton People's Budget - cuts and privatisation is a failed strategy

School:

triangleReaders' comments

Leisure:

triangleDon't privatise Dudley libraries

Big business:

triangleEnd profit-fuelled crisis

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

20/10/21

Housing

Housing crisis: Tories and Labour are not on our side

20/10/21

Unite

Unite union policy conference

20/10/21

UCU

University workers ballot for strike action

20/10/21

Napo

Napo AGM 2021: Union placed on war footing

20/10/21

Llanelli

Reinstate Gary Evans! Llanelli postal workers strike

20/10/21

Brighton

Brighton bin workers' victory in sight against Green-led council

20/10/21

Budget

Ealing People's Budget - cuts can be resisted

20/10/21

Budget

Northampton People's Budget - cuts and privatisation is a failed strategy

20/10/21

DWP

Unite and fight for 30,000 permanent DWP jobs

20/10/21

Bus

Gwent valleys Stagecoach bus drivers strike for fair pay

20/10/21

Pay

Scunthorpe scaffs strike for pay

20/10/21

The Socialist

"Are you the socialist cabby?"

20/10/21

Children

Hackney children's centres - more education cuts are devastating

20/10/21

Protest

Biggest protest yet to save Stratford Circus

20/10/21

Doncaster

Doncaster: Vigil condemns violence against women

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: [email protected]

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 075 4018 9052

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 077 7221 5281

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 078 0983 9793

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


October 2021

September 2021

August 2021

July 2021

June 2021

May 2021

April 2021

March 2021

February 2021

January 2021

2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999