Friday, 2 January 2009

British Government Come Oh So Close....

My god, the paleo movement is finally getting its message through as you can see in this BBC article! You should watch the video at the bottom of the page or follow this link to Sky.

Well, OK, they do muff up the paleo model and conclude with 'an eat less do more' subtext, but the fact that the 'Change 4 Life' campaign begins with acknowledgement of our paleo roots (complete with imagery of us hunting and being hunted by FAST animals and performing and climbing), gives me some hope. They also show real food (the type that grows on trees and the type which runs around).

It all sounds most promising, but things take a turn for the worst when we realise who is behind this campaign. The most worrying issue for me is contained in the following sentence:

  • Tesco, Kellogg's and Unilever are among the companies who will be promoting the "eat well, move more, live longer" message in the "Change4Life" strategy.
If that doesn't scare you then Sky news report,

  • "Cadbury, Unilever, Coca-Cola, Kellogg's, Kraft, Mars, Nestle and PepsiCo are all taking part alongside major supermarkets Asda, Tesco and The Co-operative Group."
As usual I think I would disagree with each of these companies about what constitutes 'eating well' and also on what 'movements' you should be doing more of.

Whatever THEY think, I would gladly pit my personal 'vital statistics' and athletic prowess against ANY of the senior managers of these companies! I would also guess that at least 50% of their senior board are overweight with poor body composition.

The 'Change 4 Life' website itself is a a fundamental dogs-dinner of advice, and we are not talking a wild-dog either. Cutting fat, calorie restriction (termed 'me size meals'), and advice to 'do more', provide a distinctly non-paleo conclusion to events.

Sadly this whole campaign is doomed to failure as with ALL previous governmental campaigns targeted at obesity. They have simply reheated the corpse of calorie and fat restriction.

The Guardian quotes the Health Secretary, Alan Johnson who explicitly states this:

  • "The core of the problem is simple - we eat too much and we do too little exercise"

Perhaps the most annoying thing about this whole campaign is that the cost is £75m. Now if this message is the same as that featured in all previous campaigns, why do they think it will suddenly work now?

I don't mind mistakes. I do get angered by repeated mistakes. I get more annoyed by expensive, repeated mistakes. What makes me truly mad is expensive, repeated mistakes that I have to pay for. If that was not enough, I have since realised I can get pushed to DEFCON One by expensive, repeated mistakes that I have to pay for in times of economic crisis.

Having a vegetarian and vegan past, I often get criticised for 'always changing my diet' (I have changed my diet three times in over 30 years). But this change has been on the back of personal experimentation and formal research.

The former has provided me with feedback and the latter has been a source of education and ultimately, confirmation of my own experience. When the facts change, I change with them.

Our government and Alan Johnson in particular could do with doing the same.


Chris said...

I heard a bit of this on the radio this morning but it just made me groan and go back to sleep! Mars were mentioned as one of the sponsors. Just what we need of healthy eating - some Mars bars.

Methuselah - Pay Now Live Later said...

Nice post - I had not yet heard about this campaign. I guess we should not be too surprised: when establishments like the medical profession are incapable of operating without being leant on by corporate interest, what hope have we that the greasy-palmed, self-agrandising weasels who call themselves politicians will remain free of influence?

Aaron said...

If they were right and obesity were caused by overeating and a lack of exercise, then obesity would seem to be a problem that will solve itself in poor economic times. When we have to walk to work because we can't afford cars, and we eat rice and beans because we can't afford meat, we'll all be thin! No need for expensive educational programs at all, you'd think.