Roughan on Obesity

A column from John Roughan I can only agree with:

One of the blessings of a change of government is that it changes the prevailing ethic. Should National win this year we might not see another headline like this week’s: “Rugby cards promo breaks anti-fat rules”. …

Freedom in fact was the default principle after 1984; if it was to be compromised the reason had to be watertight.

No regulator would have dared argue, as the Health Ministry has, that a child might buy 50 packets of chips and consume more than a kilogram of fat to get a complete collection of All Black cards.

Even five years ago somebody would have pointed out that children don’t collect things alone. They trade. Those who don’t want a collectable item give it to one who does, usually for something in return. …

The darkest hour in a phase of unbalanced ethics comes just before the dawn. Right now the promoters of health above all else seem blithely unaware that a change of government will probably soon restore some weight for individual rights and personal responsibility.

When John Key declared the other day that National would tackle mainly with sport and recreation programmes to get children more active, he was quickly rubbished on National Radio by a woman who wants to ban unhealthy advertisements.

What’s the point, she said, of her putting out healthy eating messages when children saw contradictory enticements on television.

Food nazis is not a term I want to use but there is something very chilling in the attitude that the expression of conflicting interests is not permissible.

Helen Clark, who tackled tobacco advertising when Health Minister in the late 1980s, has resisted most of the excesses suggested during her premiership but at times it has seemed a close call.

Deliberately or not, she brought a wowser culture to power which prefers to address problems like obesity and binge drinking by restrictions on liberties that her outlook doesn’t value as high as health and safety.

A change of government will not put an end to public health campaigns and nor should it. We are better off for being aware of the fat in fast food, for ridicule of uncivilised drinking and the expulsion of smokers from confined places.

But it is time to for some balance. Credit us with the intelligence to make choices, especially children, before we create a community of fools.

It is about balance, and most of all not punishing all New Zealanders for the weaknesses of a few.

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