Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Fresh food is un-American

This story in today's Independent tells of a marketing backlash against health campaigners trying to educate people about the benefits of a nutritious diet. Apparently monstrous burgers containing as many as 1,420 calories are being advertised as a fightback against political correctness and are proving highly popular with young males. Of course, this is provoking all the usual blather from health groups about how irresponsible the burger chains are.

The only relevant point about irresponsibility, however, comes at the end of the article where the point is raised that those with poor access to supermarkets and fresh food are far more likely to make junk food an integral part of their diet. That is something which would need to be addressed.

However, the blathering about irresponsible fast food firms seems to be counterproductive. This demonstrates the key fact that seems to be missed concerning diet - we are all perfectly free to choose and eat whatever the hell we like. Despite the derision of the Independent, there is actually something American about the "Monster Thickburger". It is a living embodiment of the pursuit of happiness.

The rights of the individual should be supreme except where they impinge on others. If people feel they are happier by eating pounds and pounds of beefburger and bacon, then let them do that (yes, in England it may have an impact on the NHS - but we are quite happy to fund drug rehabilitation programmes for people who have chosen to consciously break the law). If people feel happier by watching their weight and shunning fatty foods, that is equally their choice.

But the burger fightback against political correctness demonstrates one thing loud and clear. People do not like being told what to do - and in particular they dislike the moralising nannying tones of the health food lobby. For the obesity campaign has managed to cross the line from educating people about health problems to sounding like they want to micro-manage everyone's diet. What we eat is our choice. And it's as simple as that.