The thick and thin of it

If you use public transport, you would notice that it is getting harder and harder to share seating with fellow passengers. Yes, some bring with them body odours that would best be left on the Nullarbor plain and others waft smoking odours that threaten to destroy the olfactory senses of poor wretches nearby. But, no, the biggest problem is big bodies. Frankly put: fat buggers. Is it cruel and unkind to suggest some people are fat? Well, if the size 24 fits, wear it.

Let’s face a new reality: skinny buggers are the new minority. It’s true. Those who might be described as slender are now the ones who have reason to feel imposed upon by the majority. The Monash Obesity and Diabetes Institute tells us that obesity in Australia has more than doubled in just the past twenty years and that consequently we are now ranked as one of the fattest nations in the developed world. Underlining this grim ranking, we are told that more than four million Australians are obese and another 13 million are overweight. But the problem is still growing and while around 75% of us are now too large, 80% will be in that category in another eight years.

Which makes you wonder just how the fanatics will respond to this epidemic as it has reasonably been called. If we look at the responses to cigarette smoking, we may be in for some interesting psychological warfare, folks.

On the subject of fanatics, let’s check Australia’s leftist pro-environment political party, the Greens. These do-gooders love to tell the rest of us how we should live and they certainly have started salivating about over-eating. Late last year the Greens moved a Bill in federal parliament seeking a ban on junk food advertising in certain media at certain times of the day. Their professed aim was to protect our children but this lot know no bounds and no-one of any age will be safe from their zealotry. Honestly, you have to wonder if the Greens secretly covet a ban on breathing given we exhale ten times more carbon dioxide than we breathe in? They are such purists they would probably prefer death to leaving a footprint on Earth. But I digress!

So, imagine if the purists approached junk food like they have done with smoking. How long before all fast food advertising might be banned at all sporting events as was done with ciggies in 2006? Or before plain packaging is introduced as we have done with the cancer sticks?

But will it get really censorious with scenes of munching on a fast food snack suddenly being censored from all but R-rated movies? For the past four years Australia’s censors have been legally obliged, like their US and UK counterparts, to consider product placement such as smoking when they give a viewing classification to films.

We will know things have really changed for the worse when we see hordes of office workers standing on sidewalks outside skyscrapers as they indulge their cravings for junk food.

Given that it is twenty years this year since almost all forms of tobacco advertising were banned in Australia, there may be reasons to believe harsh restrictions don’t work. Who can recall the earnest predictions that no-one would smoke once cigarettes reached $1 a packet? Yeah, right!

Maybe we have to be somewhat more clever about tackling obesity than we have been with smoking. Maybe we should use the carrot rather than the stick and teach nutrition and cooking skills in schools. Maybe we can save ourselves from ourselves by some positive reinforcement in preference to punitive posturing. One thing’s for sure, the time to do something is well and truly upon us.