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Médecins sans frontières

By Tom Papworth
April 17th, 2012 at 9:00 am | Comments Off on Médecins sans frontières | Posted in health, Nannying, Tax, Uncategorized

Doctors just can’t help trying to save people, it seems.

The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, which brings together the presidents of the Medical Royal Colleges and Faculties and so purports to represent nearly every doctor in the UK, is to lead a campaign to tackle rising levels of obesity.

One’s initial reaction might be to welcome a medical intervention aimed at combating something that kills as many as 30,000 people each year. But unfortunately, it is not a medical intervention that these doctors have planned.

My latest article on the IEA blog explains that the medical elite, having identified what it considers to be the end that society should pursue, is turning to the coercive power of the state to achieve that end.

Comments on the IEA blog, please.

And they say WE need saving!

 

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Health Experts – “pathetic and stupid”

By Angela Harbutt
October 14th, 2011 at 7:00 am | 4 Comments | Posted in health

Yep I know what you are thinking – why is Angela stating the bleeding obvious. Actually “pathetic and stupid” is how “health expert” Professor Philip James, from the delightfully named “International Association for the Study of Obesity” described the government’s health strategy, announced yesterday. Prof James went on to say that the junk food industry “manipulated” individuals into consuming their products and that was why legislation was needed.

Hmmm would the “International Association for the Study of Obesity” be the same group that has been accused of taking millions of pounds from drug companies who make …..oh….. anti-obesity drugs. You were saying something about industry and “manipulating” Professor James? I understand they refuted that allegation. But why is it, to this very day, the IASO does not publish full and frank details of its sources of funding on its own website? I will allow you to decide.

I am a bit tired of these so-called experts scaremongering their way from one “pandemic” to the next, whilst trousering cash behind the scenes from vested interests (both governmental and private). (Am I thinking of ASH and big pharma here too?)

So yesterday’s announcement is a win. “Personal Responsibility” seems to be at the heart of the government strategy to “tackle obesity” – how refreshing.

Well done Mr Lansley…

When asked about why the government was not more keen on legislation, he said by working in partnership, more could be achieved faster. Yep he is almost certainly right – and no “unintended consequences” (such as a fat tax driving fatties to keep their much-loved high cal food but spend even less on healthier options).

Interestingly he also said that officials would continue to monitor the international evidence where countries were trying tougher legislation. Excellent. Thoroughly sensible.

So on that basis I assume that the government will also abandon its costly and unnecessary consultation into the plain packaging of tobacco products? Surely as with obesity – we can simply sit back and watch what  happens once Australia’s plain packaging legislation becomes law and on  the basis of the evidence – rather than “big health” groups pharmaceutical funded spurious modelling – conclude whether it works or not and act accordingly?

(picture courtesy of encognitive.com)

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Fat taxes are not just nannying – they don’t work.

By Angela Harbutt
October 11th, 2011 at 11:24 pm | 1 Comment | Posted in health

HAT TIP

Here is a very interesting article by Patrick Basham and John Luic, providing a very thoughtful and well-researched piece arguing why fat taxes don’t work. Their conclusion, surprise surprise is that the answer is a simple economic one – demand for food tends to be largely insensitive to price and that there is considerable research on food prices that has demonstrated this inelasticity…

“The latest economic research strongly suggests that a fat tax may simply prove to be a futile instrument in influencing the behaviour and habits of the overweight and the obese. Those consumers ‘addicted’ (to use the obesity crusaders’ term) to unhealthy food will not be dissuaded from their eating habits and patterns by a tax. Those consumers who strongly prefer ‘unhealthy’ foods – those we term dietary ‘risk takers’ – continue to eat and drink according to their individual preferences until such time as it becomes prohibitively expensive to do so..”

It’s a must read. Here’s hoping that someone puts a copy into David Cameron’s in-tray.

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Salmon and brazil nuts to be subject to Cameron’s fat tax?

By Angela Harbutt
October 6th, 2011 at 9:12 pm | Comments Off on Salmon and brazil nuts to be subject to Cameron’s fat tax? | Posted in health, Nannying

HAT TIP… Regular readers of this blog will know how much I adore Dick Puddlecote’s blog . No matter how bad it gets, he always makes me smile. Yesterday’s  post is a particular peach.  In it, he hypothesises what food stuffs may be banned if “call-me-liberal-Dave” does elect to go down the same FAT TAX route as Denmark. Never mind taxing butter and cheese….

“…avocados appear to just miss the cut, but cashews fall under the tax. So do salmon, eggs, and dark chocolate”.

(I was so sure I had heard that dark chocolate was good for you?).

He also questions whether restricting saturated fats is really a sensible route to a healthier nation…

“…the jury isn’t just out on the health benefits of restricting saturated fats, it’s in the next town having a beer and a ploughman’s and discussing if such a move could end up being damaging. As these four recent studies argue…”

To find out what the studies reveal about why saturated fat ain’t necessarily the bad guy in this you will have to go read the post. Click on one of the above links – I know you will enjoy!

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Is this what Cameron’s “liberal conservatism” looks like? er no thanks….

By Angela Harbutt
October 5th, 2011 at 6:11 pm | 2 Comments | Posted in health, Nannying, Nudge Dredd

Ignoring the fiasco of the PM’s speech today, something caught my attention at Tory party conference yesterday that left me literally gobsmacked. “Call me liberal-Dave” has come out into the open and confirmed that a FAT TAX may be introduced in Britain in order to curb what he describes as soaring health costs and falling life expectancy (and there was I thinking that people were actually living longer these days).

I suppose that we should not be surprised.. For every so-called liberal step forward this Government claims to make, the Conservative instinct to re-shape society into some perfect 1950s Utopia takes us 4 steps backward. So much for the end to the nanny state that was promised when the Conservative party was on the hunt for “liberal” votes.

The optimists amongst you will say…Ah but he is only saying that a FAT TAX might be introduced. And that might be fair. After all wasn’t it this Government’s public health minister (Anne Milton) who said,  just last month, that the government believed the best way to achieve results on obesity was through a collective voluntary effort...and that “We have no current plans to impose a ‘fat tax’, but we are working with food companies to reduce fat, sugar and salt and ensure healthier options are available”…..

But you optimists are going to be sadly disappointed I fear. When the Prime Minister says “Don’t rule anything out, but let’s look at the evidence then you know that we ordinary folks are in trouble.Because we know how this will be played out.  Any day now we’ll be told that there will be another “consultation” on health (costing who knows how much money) to “consider the evidence“. The “evidence”  that “liberal-Dave” refers to will come from tax-payer funded health lobbies, the BMA and other interest-groups whose position on this point is already clear. They are the ones who have been calling for a FAT TAX in the first place. So much for goverment groups not lobbying government. And, of course, that “evidence” will be nothing more than a long lament about how much the NHS costs and some rather feeble “modelling” of the “likely effects” of increased tax on our waistlines.  Doubtless being told along the way how “all academics” are 100% in agreement with the “research”. The narcissistic celebrity chefs will fall over themselves to get their sound-bites broadcast out across the nation. And the treasury will sit there quietly calculating just how much money will pour into the coffers under the guise of “helping the nations health”. Against the sheer might of the ludicrously over-funded health lobbyists, luvvie chefs and needs of the treasury – do you really think that this will be a balanced debate?

Yep I am sure that we will hear from the Food and Drink Federation, individual manufacturers and the like explaining what has been done so far and will be done in the future. Too little and too late my friends. The health lobbyists will point to your corporate interests and your huge profits and say that you are BIG Business and anything you say cannot be trusted. Only they – they purveyors of truth – must be listened to. And, oh yeah the BBC and the politicians will buy that line hook line and sinker.

Of course we normal folks know it is not at all clear that “FAT” is the problem. There is no clear agreement amongst scientists on exactly what is causing us to pile on the pounds. It might be the sugar, more likely the carbohydrates, possibly the salt etc. Not to mention lack of exercise – or indeed – stress. That of course won’t be a problem for the health lobby. When they have their FAT tax, they can come back again for a SODA tax, or a SALT tax…They have plenty to go at – and go at it they will. How else will their fat salaries be paid?

We have seen this played out before with tobacco, then alcohol and now food. We have seen governments and organisations (national and international) take £millions of tax from us to fund academics to sit in their ivory towers and tell us how much fat we should limit ourselves to; how many units of alcohol we can “safely” consume; how many litres of water we should drink; how many portions of veg to eat; how much exercise we should take;  how we should eat more fish (but not the small ones we throw back into the sea by the tonne, the nice middle class line-caught ones don’t you know);why we should eat less red meat (though we are now told that some red meat is good for us); eat more chicken (well Hugh Fearnley Wittingstall style chicken, not Bernard Matthews style chicken); how processed meat is linked to cancer so eat less; why Fair trade 100% dark chocolate is good for us (so eat more)…and on and on…

Frankly if they shut down every government funded health lobby group in the UK alone and gave the money back to us, the taxpayers, we could all probably afford to eat more healthily. We would certainly all be a lot less stressed.

In the meantime “liberal Dave’s” threat to “consider the evidence” on the FAT tax is not only insulting and nannying – it is downright dishonest. There is no evidence – just a range of well-funded lobbyists with too much money and influence and too little commonsense. Glass of wine anyone?

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