Employing a whole host of fellacious arguments (I didn't spell that wrong, it's derived from the latin word fellatio, because they suck) including how 'unhealthy' food should be treated as dictatorially as smoking, he suggests a raft of snobby, finger-wagging policies.
We could ban the advertising of foods that contain too great a proportion of sugars and calories, enforce warning labelling (“This food is UNHEALTHY”) and allow manufacturers producing good food to market them more aggressively. We could specify the display of nutritional information in all canteens and workplace restaurants.As a lefty, of course, Aaaronovitch is one of those who believes in the weakness of all humans and the hyper-hypnotic power of advertising. Because we all simply do what advertisers tell us, now don't we?
These measures though, pointless and authoritarian as they are, are just hors d'oeuvres before he gets around to letting us know what he really wants to see.
But we’ve left out the central idea of compulsion and perhaps it’s time to bring it in. Often things don’t change unless the community says, in effect, what it collectively thinks of a particular act — usually in the form of law.Well yes David, and currently the vast majority of the public are very happy with the food choices that are available or they wouldn't be immensely popular. But when did that ever put off a ban-happy people-hating socialist, eh?
Of course, we could try to attach the same opprobrium to being fat as to being a smoker. Some pundits (step forward Katie Hopkins) enjoy this idea and it has its attractions. I’m pretty convinced, though, that “shaming” people because of their weight would produce more harm in the shape of disorders, breakdowns and bullying than it would gain in altering behaviour.
Here instead is a grab-bag of ideas that would convey the same message, some or all of which will one day be enacted. Ban fast-food outlets from stations and airports. Ban the sale of confectionery and sugary drinks to the under-16s. Ban the sale of over-sugared products in supermarkets (as measured by a ratio of sugar to other nutrients). Ban the bringing into schools of unhealthy foods. Ban the presence in offices (like our own here at The Times) of vending machines that seem to sell mainly crisps and chocolate. Specify a weight-to-height ratio limit on air passengers wishing to avoid a surcharge.Firstly, doncha think, David, that with all those bans a message would be sent that fatties are something harmful to the nation; that it would encourage the same "disorders, breakdowns and bullying" that you are trying to avoid? No?
Secondly, again typically socialist, Aaronovitch seems to have no respect whatsoever for personal choice and a scant disregard for property rights. In order to impose his preferences on just about everyone else by way of ineffective and stupid legislation, he would actually be happy if coercive policies were forced on businesses and children were banned from eating sweets!
It never ceases to amaze me how dreary and joyless a world prohibitionists are willing to impose on the rest of society simply to satisfy their personal pet hates. I mean, whatever drives that kind of appalling anti-social behaviour?
Oh hold on ...
As a youth, David Aaronovitch was a mere slip of a thing, but as he grew older he fell into the habit of eating the most comforting, and fattening, of foods. Then, aged 46, weighing 18 stone and with his blood pressure spiralling out of control, he was faced with a stark choice - lose weight or risk a heart attack. Fearing for his health, Weekend sent him to a fat camp in America. It changed his life.
I don't remember 12 stone. Thirteen, however, came as something of a shock, standing on a set of scales in a friend's bathroom in Mornington Crescent, London, in the late 1970s during a party. By then someone had called attention to a slight paunch, but I can't recall who. Fourteen arrived on a speak-your-weight machine in Stamford Hill in 1984. Fifteen, counterintuitively, on a set of gym scales five years later. I was 16 stone by the time my second child was born, and passed 17 somewhere around my 45th birthday. After that I stopped looking. No matter how much bigger I got, I was always 17 stone something. The scales in our bathroom broke, and we didn't get them fixed.
Increasingly, the moment of gratification was accompanied either by a moment of denial or a moment of anxiety. As I got bigger the denial became more difficult. There were fluctuations that helped me disguise the truth from myself. I never completely stopped taking exercise, and in my 40s I had personal trainers who kept me lifting and running, but couldn't stop me eating. Caramel macchiatos from Starbucks, Egg McMuffins, Lindor chocolates (the round ones with the soft, somehow colder centres), Ben & Jerry's, sausage and sourdough toast - wrappers in the wastebasket and steady, relentless growth.
I put off buying trousers because they never seemed to fit. I became unable quite to get the little folding tables down on aeroplanes when it was dinnertime. A comedian, who didn't like my stance on the Afghanistan war, began to call me "Fatty Aaronovitch".Ah, the old evangelical reformed smoker/alcoholic/fatty routine, huh? Isn't it always the way? So perhaps today's article is more a plea for the government to stop putting temptation in front of poor, weak-willed David himself rather than everyone else. Except it's everyone else who would suffer that little bit more misery and lack of enjoyment of life as a result of his struggle for reformation, especially kids. Still, as long as David's all right, eh?
Aaronovitch once wrote a very interesting and revealing book about his childhood.
If my childhood was not much fun it had nothing to do with the party. Something in our family didn’t quite work and little tended towards joy.There wouldn't be much joy in the vile world that he now proposes for other children either.
File this as another example of why we are on the side of the angels here, and people like Aaronovitch are not.