A successful obesity campaign? Fat chance

Plus: Politicians priced by portrait, and the stats battle over plastic bags

18 January 2014

9:00 AM

18 January 2014

9:00 AM

Fat chances

The National Obesity Forum said that Britain is reaching a ‘doomsday scenario’ where half the population is obese. What happened to previous government campaigns to tackle obesity?

— Between 1997 and 2008 the percentage of men getting the government’s recommended level of physical exercise grew from 32 per cent to 39 per cent, and women from 21 per cent to 29 per cent. And yet over the same period the proportion of men who are overweight or obese grew from 62.2 per cent to 65.9 per cent and women from 52.5 per cent to 56.9 per cent.
— In 2006 28 per cent of men and 32 per cent of women were eating the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. By 2010, after government campaigning, that had fallen to 25 per cent and 27 per cent respectively.

Source: Health and Social Care Information Centre

Art of the possible

Who are our most valued present and ex-MPs (judging by the public money spent on their portraits and statues)?

John Bercow £22,000
Diane Abbott, Margaret Beckett and Lady Thatcher £11,750
Ming Campbell £10,346
Iain Duncan Smith £10,000
Michael Howard £9,400
Ken Clarke £8,000
John Major £6,000
William Hague £4,000,
Tony Blair £2,000*

*One third of a £6,000 triptych

Battle of the bags

The government is to introduce a 5p plastic bag ‘charge’ from next year. Here are some plastic bag statistics quoted by Reuseit, an anti-plastic-bag pressure group:

1 trillion bags are used worldwide each year.
3.5 million tonnes of them are discarded each year.
1 in 200 are recycled.
10% end up in the sea. Each square mile of ocean contains 46,000 pieces of plastic.
And here are figures given by the British Retail Consortium:
— Plastic bags account for less than 1% of household waste.
— Each plastic bag now uses 70% less plastic than it did 20 years ago.
— UK residents used 8.6 bags a month in 2010 compared with 14.7 in 2006.
— A cotton shopping bag requires 131 times more energy to produce than does a plastic bag.

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