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“Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans” (John Lennon)

The new year is almost a week old and I have gradually begun to get back to my fitness regime.

It’s funny how life works. About two years ago (aged 65) I decided – for myself, nobody else – not so much that my body was a temple as that, as long as I’m around, it’s better to be healthy than not and therefore, of course, fitness comes into it.

Medical/scientific research tells us that being healthy and fit staves off things the likes of dementia. These days more and more people succumb to conditions like dementia because we’re all living longer. Fifty years ago far fewer people graduated to having an issue with dementia – or spent their last years living with it – simply because they died of something else before they had a chance to get it.

It’s similar with men and prostate issues – and indeed perhaps other cancers. Someone recently told me that most people have a minimum of three cancers, or things than could become cancer, going on inside them. And that most men over a certain age have a prostate issue, however – with the unfortunate cases of people who die from it earlier anyway aside – most of them don’t die from it … because they die of something else first.

As with most life issues – as I type the fashionable obsessions of the moment seem to be those of obesity and the detrimental effect of kids spending too much time on computers and social media (there was a report a few days ago that young girls are far more upset by perceived criticism, whether prompted by cyber-bullying or self-inflicted, about body image and relationships) – the base camp for any human being is accepting the fact that they have a problem.

I’d guess that this would also apply to anyone who has what could be broadly termed an ‘addiction’, e.g. to gambling, alcohol abuse, smoking or even eating the wrong kind of food.

Because unless and until a person has accepted – I mean really accepted – that they have a problem, firstly, whether they’re in a state of denial or not, they’re unlikely to take any action to deal with their issue(s); and secondly, the great probability is that they’re not going to listen to anyone who is preaching at them about the evils of what they’re doing to themselves or indeed the joys of coming out the other side and ‘defeating’ whatever their unhealthy addiction is, or – if they have more than one – addictions (plural).

In this context, I don’t ‘get’ the recent suggestion from the medical world that obesity should be reclassified as a disease.

See here for a report by Laura Donnelly, health editor, on this – as appears upon the website of the – DAILY TELEGRAPH

To my mind, obesity is a choice. You can delve into the family backgrounds, social deprivations, relative poverty and the other potential ‘situational’ disadvantages of obesity sufferers all you want, but at the end of the day people tend to eat their food of choice.

The day before yesterday I heard someone who was expert on this subject holding forth on the radio about the fact that part of the problem was that, statistically, there tend to be a huge preponderance of fast-food outlets in deprived and poorer areas – and this was directly causing people to eat unhealthy foods.

Wrong!

In fact it’s just an example of the old “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” issue – i.e. a case of transparent naked capitalism in action. There are so many fast-food outlets in deprived areas because, frankly, that’s what people in those areas want to eat.

(Or maybe that should be “are forced to eat” because they don’t have enough money to buy healthy food – but arguably that’s a different issue).

I don’t want to stray unnecessarily into Mr Campion-Brown’s area of speciality here, but it seems to me there’s an existential conflict between, on the one hand, individual freedom and choice and (on the other) the Nanny State option of Big Brother identifying a serious problem and then actually dealing with it.

Take obesity. I’m no right-wing fascist but if we as a nation (and/or the Government) really wanted to deal with obesity the means is staring us in the face.

The Government should bring forward legislation that defines what foods and drinks everyone should eat and not eat; it should do ditto forcing all food suppliers/manufacturers radically reduce – or even eliminate – all bad things like sugars and what-else-have-you from whatever food and drink items they put on sale to the public; and in schools it should insist upon compulsory pupil daily physical activities and/or sports participation.

Far too many people choose to do bad things to themselves, get ill or unhealthy – claim that they’ve got a self-diagnosed disease, addiction, allergy or condition that isn’t their fault – and then, abdicating all self-responsibility, demand that those in authority – whomever they might be – sort all this out and provide them with their ‘PC human right’ to be treated like those who are already ‘doing the right things’, because (apparently) not to award them that special – indulgent – privilege would somehow be unfair and discriminatory.

The alternative – I would suggest – is to simply admit the unpalatable truth, viz. that to get to grips and solve the problem of obesity is actually just too politically difficult; too financially difficult (in terms of the all-powerful food and drinks manufacturing lobby pointing out the effects upon their businesses of having to remove all bad things from what they inflict upon the public); and, at the end of the day, too unpopular a project for any First World democratic country to deliver.

I think the options are that stark.

With the Earth’s population hurtling towards a place where one day the human race won’t be able to feed itself, either people have to take responsibility for their lives or else accept that someone else will have to do it for them.

In which context the PC brigades calling for everyone in the world to have smartphones plus enough positive action and support to ensure that every special group has ‘equal rights’ with everyone else – without them actually having to lift a finger themselves towards this goal – is bordering upon the ridiculous.

But to return to my ‘jumping off’ point today.

A glance at my exercise activity for 2018 reveals that overall I averaged 12,627 steps per day compared to my ‘target’ of 10,000 minimum against the background of my 2016 hip replacement and my quest to improve my personal well-being.

Some might say that’s not too bad. But it’s also disappointing because – on days when I had my time entirely to myself I could quite easily hit 20,000 steps a day and my 2018 record was over 32,000.

What brought me down to my 12,627 average was the (I estimate) four/five days per week when my time was not my own – i.e. I was deflected by obligations to other people which meant that I had to spend all day on my computer and/or just sitting around, whether this was with elderly relatives or social companions, doing diddly squat in terms of what I really wanted to do, e.g. pursuing physical activity and healthy living.

All well – that’s life I suppose.

To conclude today, I thought I’d link Rusters to Ricky Gervais’s brilliant stand-up routine of a few years ago giving his perspective on the world of fat people – enjoy here – YOUTUBE

 

About Gerald Ingolby

Formerly a consumer journalist on radio and television, in 2002 Gerald published a thriller novel featuring a campaigning editor who was wrongly accused and jailed for fraud. He now runs a website devoted to consumer news. More Posts

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