Roughan on Obesity

July 12th, 2008 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

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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14 Responses to “Roughan on Obesity”

  1. Graeme Edgeler (3,262 comments) says:

    While, yes, it was the Health Ministry that laid the complaint, the advertising body they complained to is a private and voluntary regulatory body set up by the advertising industry, following the guidelines approved by (and voluntarily signed up to by) the advertising industry.

    How will a change of Government effect this? Is National proposing to nationalise the advertising industry complaints process?

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  2. labrator (1,742 comments) says:

    I’ve often wondered if a “community of fools” is not the ultimate agenda of socialists. It fits in with the absolute power mantra quite nicely.

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  3. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    roughan often talks sense..

    ..this is absolute drivel..

    wot..?..

    obesity epidemic amongst children..

    the roughan solution..?

    just keep peddling them the same unhealthy crap..

    ..and keep on advertising the hell out of this crap..

    essentialy..do nothing..!

    (right-o..!..)

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  4. PhilBest (5,117 comments) says:

    Come on, fatties…….don’t let the food Nazis do this to you…….We need a “Fat Pride” movement. We love the taste and the “mouth feel” of fatty, starchy foods, and no-one is entitled to deprive us of pleasures that are ours by right. This government is perpetuating and stirring up bigotry and judgementalism and hate speech against us…….

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  5. artemisia (207 comments) says:

    I have been browsing the Healthy Eating section Health Sponsorship Council’s Statement of Service Performance to 30 June 2007 (in their Annual Report). There are 7 Key Activites for which they had a budget of $2.2m and an actual spend of $3.3m. The 7 activities are:

    1. Set up an expert reference group.
    2. Complete a scoping plan.
    3. Literature review.
    4. Stakeholder engagement plan.
    5. Complete programme and evaluation plans.
    6. National communications strategies launched.
    7. Monitoring process established.

    Fortunatley, all were achieved, though one was later than planned. Looks like #6 was media advertising for 3 tips for parents – eat together, get kids to help, drink water or milk.

    So in case you were wondering what the $3m was spent on, well they did a lot of planning, had a lot of meetings and produced 3 tips for parents.

    PS The rest of the report is equally instructive, covering Tobacco Control, SunSmart, Problem Gambling and Sustainable Transport (walking and cycling).

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  6. jskern (9 comments) says:

    Sally Caswell of SHORE, a research arm of Massey University, is a world expert in combating alcohol harm in youth. She will tell you in no uncertain terms that advertising programmes alone simply do not change bad behaviours. It makes for good optics and it’s easy for a government to do–hand out a few leaflets, show a couple of hectoring ads on the telly, get a B-list celeb to tell us how his/her life has changed since admitting to/changing X or Y–but it is essentially good money down a well-greased rat hole.

    The eat together, get kids to help, and drink water or milk does sound a bit lightweight, but it’s basically good advice and, more importantly, seeks to involve the whole family in improving the lifestyles of its members, but it’s still doomed to fail if the bearers of the message rely on advertising to get it out. What’s needed is community groups taking the message and the skills to implement it directly to the people and working with them to achieve the targets. There is no easy, long-range fix to any of society‚Äôs ills.

    Ads work for guiding consumers to the latest i-lolly; not for teaching people how to live properly.

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  7. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    phil-the-inferior..

    you and mad-muzza should form a support group..

    (round-righties-r-us..?..)

    how about calling yourselves ‘fouds’..(fullsome and proud..)..?

    foud-power..?

    you just keep on mainlining that animal fat..!..eh..?

    why not double your daily dose..?

    y’know..!..really hog out..

    we are what we eat..after all..

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  8. expat (4,048 comments) says:

    So phil and phil agree onsomething and yet they fight.

    It must be luuurve, I can here the civil union bells pealing out across grey lynn.

    ;)

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  9. side show bob (3,660 comments) says:

    “eat together, get kids to help and drink water and milk”, might I also add GROW A FUCKING BRAIN. I’m sick and tied of the state trying to save us from ourselves. If people want to eat themselves to death so be it but everytime the state attempts to further control our lives the further the people fail to control theirs. This is not the solution but the problem.

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  10. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    you..as a peddler of that foul health-sapping dairy crap..

    ..are a large part of the problem..

    ..bloody-hands-bob-..

    and we can smell your self-interest from here..

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  11. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    and..um..!..subtleties/shadings aren’t really your forte..?..

    ..are they expat..?

    to each their own..eh..?

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  12. Murray M (455 comments) says:

    “before we create a community of fools”. Too fucking late.

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  13. philu (13,393 comments) says:

    you’re not being a tad harsh on yourself/righties there..?..muzza..?

    or..are you talking about your blog..?

    phil(whoar.co.nz)

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  14. expat (4,048 comments) says:

    I can see your shade of lovestruck pink for phil

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