Don't tax sugar - it doesn't make you fat. Gluttony does

Obesity is about self-control – and most of us no longer have any

11 January 2014

9:00 AM

11 January 2014

9:00 AM

If there is one characteristic that accounts for the deep unattractiveness of the modern British, it is their lack of self-control. It is not merely that they lack such self-control as they scream their obscenities in the street, eat everywhere they go, and leave litter behind them: it is that they are actively opposed to self-control on grounds of health and safety. They are convinced that self-control is the enemy of self-expression, without which their existences would be poisoned as if by an unopened abscess.

Therefore the notion, increasingly propounded in the press and elsewhere, that sugar is an addictive substance will be music to their ears — or rather junk food to their stomachs. Not only is self-control bad for you, it has been proved (by science) to be impossible. Further good news is that fatness is genetic. To adapt Blake slightly:

Every night and every morn
Some to obesity are born.

Never has Man’s eternal urge to excuse himself received so much authoritative support.

But as we dispense with these comforting illusions, we must be careful not to be dishonest ourselves. Obesity is a problem; and while it is increasing elsewhere, for example in France, the British are now among the fattest people on earth. It is particularly a problem in the poorer half of the country, whose economy is like that of the Soviet Union with takeaway pizza. Hospitals now have to have special scales and operating tables to deal with patients twice as big as their parents’ generation. The rich are different; they not only have more money but are slimmer — though they, too, are growing fatter. It is true also that there are genetic predispositions to fatness and to Type II diabetes. Likewise that, ever since the Nixon administration’s directive that the prepared-food industry should use less fat in its products for the sake of our health, the sugar content of such food has been rising and huge subsidies have been paid to the farmers of the United States in effect to produce cheap fructose, the nutritionists’ current bête noire.

But none of this abrogates each person’s responsibility (and ability) to control himself. After all, not everyone in even the most depressed area is fat, and while you can lead a single mother to Coca-Cola, you can’t make her drink. I have no fixed objection to government efforts to influence our diet, but the dream of a dictatorship of nutritionists — the enforced monopoly of a diet so perfect than no one will have to choose — seems to me a dangerous chimera. There have been fashions in nutrition as in everything else.

It is worth reflecting on why the British are the fattest people in Europe. After all, everything that they eat is available elsewhere. The answer is not that the British are poorer or more likely to be unemployed than others; it is that their culture is debased. Their belief that self-control is either psychologically harmful or impossible is a laissez-passer for bad habits.

About a fifth of British children eat a meal with another member of their household less than once a week. The results, both social and nutritional, may easily be imagined. Children become hunter-gatherers in their own homes; they eat what they find and what they find is junk. Their meals become nasty, solitary, British, short — and frequent. The elementary social discipline of eating with others is lost to them (even hunter-gatherers eat in bands). A little later in life, the Englishman’s street becomes his dining room, which is why our streets are so littered with the detritus of hastily consumed junk food. Were it not for smoking, the British would be even fatter.

Fat is indeed a feminist issue: but not in the original sense. Mothers, assisted by neglectful fathers, are passing on their parental incompetence from generation to generation. Scores and possibly hundreds of billions of pounds of public expenditure have finally made the dream of the political class come true: people have become the product of their environment, all needful of official assistance. When young offenders were given vitamin supplements in their young offenders’ institution, their behaviour improved.

However, if the British people wait for the government to help them lose weight, or better still not to become fat in the first place, they will be waiting a very long time. What is needed is more akin to a religious revival than to government fiat. I beseech you in the bowels of Christ, must you eat that muck? Or, alternatively, go to the ant, thou sluggard, consider her ways and be wise.

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

You might disagree with half of it, but you’ll enjoy reading all of it. Try your first 10 weeks for just $10

Show comments
  • Carol Shea

    Allelujah! Self control needs to become fashionable again. There is a need to re learn and accept basic nutrition and an understanding of food as fuel with ocassional (that’s once a week not three times a day) ‘naughty treats’. The huge ‘value for money’ portions in eateries actually make me feel sick.

    • Marie Louise Noonan

      Try a trip to the local eating disorders unit and bottle the willpower of the patients there.

      ‘The huge ‘value for money’ portions in eateries actually make me feel sick.’

      Maybe you should refrain from eating them then.

      • Carol Shea

        Shame you chose to personalise my message and insult me. Not a good way to get your point (which is very valid) across.

        Eating disorders cover the whole gamut of over and under and are very complex issues. If we could get back to seeing food essentially as fuel first and foremost it would help everyone to a degree.

        ps. Re large portions. I don’t eat them. That’s the point. A light lunch is very hard to come by.

        • tolpuddle1

          People won’t voluntarily adopt self-control until there’s new hope and purpose in their lives.

          That is, until Britain returns to its Christian faith.

          • Daniel Maris

            So you are saying Jesus could not possibly have been a roly-poly?

            Has anyone ever depicted him as fat? In the East they are quite happy to portray the Buddha as fat.

          • well with all that water into wine and loaves and fish etc he was probably not as slim as oft depicted…

        • Marie Louise Noonan

          My apologies. I didn’t mean to come off all snarky.

          I think that maybe during the 80s and 90s resources were poured into the two major eating disorders: anorexia and bulimia. (I was given very intensive (and probably expensive) treatment.) Most of my fellow patients on the EDU were middle class. Meanwhile the obesity problem was neglected. I wonder also whether the media’s intensive coverage of the Big Two eating disorders made parents paranoid about putting their daughters on diets for fear that they might ‘push them into a serious eating disorder. These fears were usually groundless.

          ‘ps. Re large portions. I don’t eat them. That’s the point. A light lunch is very hard to come by.’

          I have a lot of sympathy with this. I’ve been to the US a few times and I find that the portions offered are astronomical. And then they offer you a doggie bag to take what you cannot eat home. And in the back of your mind there is always that thing your parents told you as a child. ‘Eat it all up. There are starving children in the world, you know.’

          I never quite saw the logic in that.

          • Carol Shea

            Your gracious apology graciously accepted. And valid comments noted.
            Our portions here are trying to match US gram for gram. And full of fat, sugar and salt.
            The best cure is education. People still say ‘I didn’t think there would be that much fat/sugar/salt etc in such and such. The key word in the statement is ‘think’. We need to wrest back control and knowledge, and thereby power.

          • The number of calories in an order of French fries is almost shocking!

          • Sue Ward

            I too am astonished at the growth in portion sizes in recent years. It seems to be impossible in some pubs to get a normal sized portion becuase its all ‘3ft of sausage’ hot dogs or two chicken breasts or pies the size of dinner plates all surounded by mounds of chips and onion rings. Although talking about it makes me peckish (!) the reality is i couldnt eat more than a third of the typical pub chain portion these days. My husband, who hates waste, ends up eating more than he wants or needs to the detriment of his comfort and waistline while I leave loads which is then consigned to the bin and is wasted. A no win situation.

          • I’ve been to the US a few times and I find that the portions offered are astronomical. And then they offer you a doggie bag to take what you cannot eat home.

            Well, better to take it home and eat it later than a) waste it or b) shovel it all in at one sitting. But I haven’t seen ‘astronomical’ portions in a long time. That’s changed. I’ve eaten at loads of restaurants in many American states over the past ten years, and the portions are usually reasonable. But consider that they have to feed people as big as Arnold Schwarzenegger, and not just the small, elderly, etc.

          • Marie Louise Noonan

            Not according to the contributors of a newsgroup called ‘alt.support.eating-disorders’. You should take a look.

          • Alexsandr

            it was a wartime thing. When food was scarce you could not let kids waste it. old habits die hard

          • Marie Louise Noonan

            That’s a myth.

          • Alexsandr

            go meet my 90+ year old mum then…
            even in the 60’s we were expected to eat all out school dinner. Even the watery mashed swede 🙁

          • Marie Louise Noonan

            Actually, I don’t need to do that. I’ll pop across the road and have a word with my ninety seven year old neighbour who claims that while food was monotonous, it wasn’t in short supply. Fish and chips, for example, were not rationed. The history of allotments is fascinating.

            And my own mother was born in 1949 and has no memory of a shortage of food. She thinks the key is lack of exercise.

            And school dinners have always sucked which is why my own parents made me sandwiches.

          • Sue Ward

            Interesting you should talk about people ‘putting their daughters on diets’ as opposed to children. It was my mother’s belief that I should be a size 8 at the age of 16 as she had been rather than the size 14 i am naturally which started me on a lifetime of yoyo dieting which took me to 23 stone at one point (I lost 10 stone and have been a healthy weight for 3 years) My similarly built brother was completely ignored being encouraged to eat as much has he liked!

          • Marie Louise Noonan

            Very true. Well spotted.

        • wince

          A light lunch is hard to come by.

          Nonsense. This culture of blaming everyone else rather than taking responsibility for your own actions (or inactions) yourself is a core thesis of Dalrymple’s and manifests in everything from the conceits of self-justifying criminality (and indulged by social services in their Rush From Judgement) to the family of the schoolgirl ‘jihadi brides’.

          If you ask for a tuna and lettuce sandwich in most ‘eateries’, that is what you’ll get.

      • HFC

        Local eating disorders unit? Oo-er. Don’t such places tend to focus on the anorexic rather than the obese?

        Oh, and why is there such a preponderance of franky fat nursing and support taff in NHS hospitals?

        • Marie Louise Noonan

          Yeah, I certainly noticed that.

  • sarah_13

    Spot on.

  • Verk

    Asking/telling/informing/suggesting people exercise self-control is an attack on their “human rights”.

  • Advocatus_Diaboli_69

    Thank you Dr Dalrymple for once again telling it like it is, free of the PC bull.

    • Tom Tom

      Sugar is addictive which is why it is generously injected into meat,
      ketchup, bread, burgers, bacon, to produce that quick sugar high that
      craves for more….the McDonalds secret ingredient.

      I think as a
      Psychiatrist Dr Dalrymple ought to look at the chemistry of fructose and
      sucrose and the effects on the liver and cholesterol rather than
      sociological observations

      • Sugar is nice in small quantities. But I for one hate chips/crisps, crackers and other snacks — that are supposedly savoury– utterly ruined by being made sweet. American manufacturers do this a lot. I don’t know (been away ten years) about England. My experience so far is that the Brits love their sweets (as I do) but love savoury, too, and know when and how to keep them separate.

  • Fulke Jasperville

    ‘Addiction’ is just another one of those secular idols. I am in no position to deny that ‘addicts’ have some sort of dependency on substances, but it must be remembered that their situation is a product of their own depravity and in many instances, the depravity of others as well. Man will always sin. Hate the sin. Love the sinner.

  • Colin56

    You can peddle all the sociological twaddle you want but the simple truth is that there is only one effective diet: watch what you eat, and eat less of it. If that becomes away of life, as it should, then you won’t get =fat. End of story.
    I’m sure some smart-arse will get on here to tell me how wrong i am and how it’s all the tories’ fault.

    • Most people have to add exercise to that as they get older. Metabolism changes and you lose muscle mass. I ate whatever I darn well liked for years and years, and walked everywhere, and could not gain weight. But now that I have a car and work at home, I have to make a much more conscious effort to move around — and exercise with weights. It’s not just a question of what you weigh: body composition is even more important than being an ‘ideal’ weight.

      Most people overestimate the effectiveness of exercise in burning calories, and underestimate how many calories they’re taking in each day. Generally speaking — and the older you are — if you don’t attend to both exercise and diet, you won’t maintain a slim profile.

      • Baron

        Excellent points, Swanky, but here you are talking to the wrong crowd, those who should listen aren’t keen readers of the Spectator.

        • I reckon you’re right, Baron. It’s fun though, isn’t it?

          • Baron

            Quite, Swanky, but beware, if you are not careful the guard dogs will bite you, or worse still, ban you.

          • Ban? Little ol’ moi?

  • John Smith

    Like the EU self entitlement has ‘snuck’ up on us. It will not end well but it must end one day

  • Ken Houston

    I once saw a Tweet from one of the better Labour MPs (or so I thought) who proposed a fat tax on makers of fizzy drinks. I Tweeted back to say that perhaps the problem could be solved by his constituents showing more personal control. No surprises for guessing he ignored the comment.

    • tolpuddle1

      Surely the Tempters are more at fault (and easier to control) than their weak-willed victims ?

  • It is great to see Theodore Dalrymple back at The Spectator.

    • Marie Louise Noonan

      At least he doesn’t have to work for the Tabloids anymore…

      Only indirectly.

      • Kennybhoy

        Are you a stalker?

        • Baron

          Who knows, Kennybhoy, but Baron hears a village up north has lost an idiot.

          • Marie Louise Noonan

            ‘but Baron hears a village up north has lost an idiot.’

            Says the poster who refers to himself in the third person.

            Diagnosis: Illeism. Or maybe MPD.

          • Baron

            Bur, Marie, you sweet dumpling, Baron’s the real stuff, a blue veined barbarian. What can he do? He must refer to himself in the third person, it’s his uman rite, you see.

          • Kennybhoy

            Yup. Stalker.

          • Marie Louise Noonan

            Yup. Fanboy.

            Just take a minute to reflect upon your own behaviour. You are following a stranger around a message board, accusing them of being a stalker.

            Do you see anything wrong with that picture?

    • Kennybhoy

      Even better to see Mark Steyn! 🙂

      • Baron

        They should both appear more often, they have something to say.

        • I understand they’ll both be guest editing the Today programme…


          • Baron

            How could you, Span, the first line of your posting missed by a whisker to engender the blue veined barbarian’s coronary.

            But why not? Why shouldn’t the BBC bosses invite both men to guest edit Today? Doesn’t the Charter compel them, the agitprop fruitcakes, to be even handed?

          • I agree, they SHOULD but we know the chances of that.

      • obert

        Steyn is a mere intellectual pygmy compared to Dalrymple!

  • Marie Louise Noonan

    Isn’t Theo himself ever so slightly plump?

    and in Dalrymple’s ‘most favoured nation’ (the good ole US of A) ‘compulsive overeating’ is regarded as an eating disorder and yet they have something called ‘the fat acceptance movement’. A land of extremes and contradictions.

    How’s your Green Card Application coming along, Dr Daniels?

    • Joe_PL

      Yes, but Louise, you’re disturbingly obsessed with the man, aren’t you?

      • Marie Louise Noonan

        Nope. Unless mere fact checking can be regarded as ‘obsessive’. I figured I was doing his publishers a favour who, after all, as ex tabloid journalists really can’t be expected to take such a thing seriously. In fact, it is said that ‘fact checking’ is antithetical to tabloid journalism. (or ‘prole feed’ as the good doctor calls it.)

    • Tom Tom

      Yes but the US has huge consumption of carbonated drinks and fried food
      with low consumption of vegetables. The agribusiness sector like
      Archer-Daniels gets huge subsidies for corn and corn syrup whereas
      vegetable producers get little. Everything is bulked-out with
      “extenders” because protein is expensive so since 1970s when the US
      Dollar floated the USDA has deliberately enouraged food debasement to
      keep living costs down.


      of HFCS has been associated with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, as
      it is thought that fructose may cause increased fat deposits in the
      though it has also been suggested that this association is not unique
      to fructose and may be due to glucose consumption as well.”

    • Baron

      It’s not only the obesity of the body, but also the imbecility of the brain that inflicts many. You’ve consulted on the latter, have you, Marie?

    • It’s also a land where people are free.

      • Marie Louise Noonan

        Sure it is.

        • I don’t talk to trolls unless they have something pertinent to say.

          • Marie Louise Noonan

            This IS the *London Telegraph*, isn’t it?

            Having said that I can’t bring myself to take someone who calls herself ‘Swanky’ terribly seriously.

          • Swanky Yanky is the full name, thanks.

      • Kennybhoy
        • Marie Louise Noonan

          You’ve just directed me to a bunch of adverts for American TV serious compiled by Channel Five.

      • radishthegreat

        Used to be.

        • What do you mean, ‘used to be’? It’s still the freest nation on the planet.

    • Kennybhoy

      Stalker. Definitely.

  • Marie Louise Noonan

    Doctors are getting rather fat too.

    Has anybody noticed this trend?

  • Tom Tom

    Sugar is not about Obesity – it is about Sluggishness. The US subsitutes High-Fructose Corn Syrup for sugar and that is the main cause of US problems because US tariffs on sugar imports raise prices above world market levels making HFCS the cheaper option


    The media has done its usual spin on a basic fact and let the Sugar lobby free rein.

  • Baron

    Good take on the boil of obesity, doctor, but wasted because those who should be listening aren’t.

    The Russians have a dietary saying: you eat breakfast on your own, share lunch with friends, give dinner to an enemy.

    This, of course, is not doable in a country which like no other advertises, displays, encourages everyone to eat chocolate bars of massive variety, a country that warmly embraced the philosophy of the ‘flower people’ from the 60s: ‘if it feels good, man, do it’, a country that excuses everything by reference to ‘uman rites’.

    It feels good to gorge on sugars, we’ve done it now close to half a century, and will pay for it for the obesity epidemic can no longer be reversed, it will continue adding to the welfare, NHS burden, complimenting the entitlement culture until the whole bursts not unlike the porcine diner in the ‘Meaning of Life’.

    Only then will common sense, of which self-control is a part, become a feature of both societal governance and the behaviour of those lucky to survive the bursting.

  • tolpuddle1

    Britain is just about the most secular, the most godless, nation on earth – and therefore just about the most confused, futile and depressing.

    Faced with this horror, Brits have taken to just about every addiction, gluttony included, that there is or could conceivably be, in a brave (but perhaps vain) attempt at fending off despair.

    • Marie Louise Noonan

      Please tell me you’re not American.

      • tolpuddle1

        I can confirm that I’m neither American nor a Fundamentalist !

        • Nele Schindler

          Although if he were a fundamentalist (non-American), like me, it is astounding and shocking each time I come back from the US or Germany that it feels like the UK is oppressed by a thick cloud of hostility, misery and spiritual debasement.

          Optimism is almost a swear word, nihilism and sarcasm rule. We do need a revival, and sharpish.

          • Marie Louise Noonan

            Again, this is the *London Spectator*.

            What’s with the utter lack of patriotism? I’m glad that you have found a home in Yankland. So stay there. It clearly suits you.

            And maybe it’s the people you mix with when you visit rather than the whole country (70 billion people) who are ‘nihilistic and sarcastic’. (presumably some go these people would be relatives.) You are presenting opinion as fact.

            I happen to live in a city in which there are many American students. The area of the country in which i live is also the temporary home of American servicemen. Most of those people leave here with fond memories of their time here. Some of them choose to stay here permanently.

            Your personal experiences are valuable but they are subjective and skewed.

          • As if Detroit is representative of what most of us in America experience…. It isn’t. And if you want to blame anyone for Detroit and similar failures, blame the Democrats who ruled those places and turned them from thriving places into ruins.

            You drip disdain in every post, no matter what the particular subject. It’s too much and seems very ungenerous. Even those that seem to approve of what you say are given a cold glance. If I were them, I wouldn’t bother.

          • Marie Louise Noonan

            ‘As if Detroit is representative of what most of us in America experience’

            Please read the comment to which I was responding.

            Thank you.

            That was precisely my point.

          • Marie Louise Noonan

            you don’t strike me as much of an approval seeker either.

            (that’s a compliment by the way.)

    • wince

      ..the most secular, the most godless nation on earth…

      If only that were the case since we are increasingly less like a secular society every year. In the UK, since the demented, mendacious, god-botherer Blair passed edicts which eroded the right of the free-thinking to even look askance at batsh*t religions and their batsh*t followers, one-law-for-all secularism has been embattled and effectively, in retreat.

      He contrived via placemen in the police and other public service agencies to afford them special exemption and privilege over others in matters of observing the law, indulged them in their own sense of exceptionalism, superiority, and affected victimhood, and legislated to allow religious schools of -without question- the most brutal and backward religion, to flourish.

  • Their meals become nasty, solitary, British, short — and frequent.


    • Marie Louise Noonan

      It’s as though we’ve been occupied by a foreign power.

    • Alphonsus_Jr

      I wonder what percentage of readers know that this is an application of Thomas Hobbes’ description of prepolitical life, i.e, the state of nature.

      • Probably quite a few, I should think, A.

  • Glenn

    Self control is very difficult once addicted to any substance. Will power will work for some but not all, and really it is not their fault.
    Best not to get fat in the first place, this is a matter of education, of both parents and children. The problem is that we were educated for decades that eating fat makes you fat, this was and still is a global phenomenon. Consumers buy the fat free product. But the fat free product tastes like crap unless something like sugar puts the flavour back.

    The issue is that the human body has a natural appetite control system. The fructose component of sugar disables that control system (the ghrelin, leptin, insulin feedback loop) making you feel hungry. Worse still is that we have been educated to eat unsaturated fats relative to saturated fats and to drink reduced fat milk and so on. Fat and water (blood) do not mix accept for short chain fats (short chain fatty acids). Short Chain Fats also signal the operation of the appetite feedback loop, if you eat fat that does not include these you don’t feel full and keep eating. These short chain fats are only found in dairy fats, milk, butter and cheese, they are not in margarine, or vegetable (seed) oils. Yet we have been educated to drink “skinny” milk.

    Short chain fats are also produced by the bacteria in our gut when fibre is consumed. Most processed fast food has had the fibre removed, it takes too long to cook, too long to eat, and does not travel (freeze) well.

    Its the food that is the problem,and the problem with the food is the it is a mixture of ingredients the eradicates the human body’s natural hunger control systems.

    • short chain fats are only found in dairy fats, milk, butter and cheese

      What is the implication for veganism? Are all vegans thin? Are they thin because they don’t have animal fat? Can one be a fat vegan?

      • Glenn

        Macronutrients are divided into three classes, carbohydrates, fats and proteins. There should be a fourth class called fibre but it is not counted as it is indigestible; but the fibre is the food for the bacteria in the gut, the result is the production of short chain fatty acids (good food) and farts.
        Vegans have a high consumption of carbohydrates and fibre, both of which enhance the hormonal appetite feedback loop (ghrelin, leptin, insulin) which control satiety.
        It would therefore be hard for vegans to overeat, and overeating is the only way you can get fat.
        Is total veganism healthy, probably not humans were and are designed to be omnivores.
        If I were a vegan i would at least add some full fat dairy foods to my diet, full cream milk, butter and cheese. The French have a very high intake of butter and cheeses, and the lowest rate of cardiovascular disease ,of any european race based modern western developed society and lower than average obesity rates.
        PS eating fat does not make you fat. Eating too much fat makes you fat. Eating too much of anything makes you fat. The question is why do people eat too much?

        • Hi, thanks for that. The vegans I know won’t eat eggs or dairy, either. I don’t know how they manage, or avoid death from boredom. And — in re the omnivore observation — I’m not convinced that they can pull off a truly rounded substitution scheme. Because that’s what veganism seems to be, mainly: a diet of foods that are one thing but pretend at least half the time to be something else. I could be wrong about that: I don’t find veganism attractive, anyway.

          You ask why people eat too much. I’m not sure they always do. I knew someone that was fat and got fatter, and the cause was the type of food rather than the quantity. As a grad student he didn’t want to spare time for cooking so he ate ramen noodles much of the time (when he wasn’t eating at restaurants or the uni cafeteria). At home, he didn’t have a balanced diet. It was low in protein, fruits and veg, and probably low in dairy, too. It put this person (not myself, I assure you!) on a slippery slope to ever greater weight gain, and then of course he couldn’t shed it even when he had long since begun to cook again and eat more sensibly. It took years of hard effort, and failure, to get the fat off. He mainly did it by following the main thrust of the Atkins diet, which he adjusted to his own needs (allowing wine consumption, for example). Then he switched to a more salady approach, for many months. It certainly would have been an easier life if he had stopped the fat from billowing in the first place. I still don’t understand why that was allowed to happen.

          • Glenn

            I think I may not have made myself clear, if the satiety hormones are not signalling properly the hypothalamus will not send the message that that you are full or satisfied. This hormonal cell signalling is complex and I just mentioned the most common. Another primary one is derived from the consumption of fibre, cafeteria food is likely fibreless and sugar rich, ramen noodles are are generally a high salt fibreless meal when served in asia. In modern western societies I would not mind betting that some sugar is added.

            Putting on weight can only be caused by overeating. Overeating occurs when the human hormonal satiety systems are not working, and a lifetime of bad eating habits have accumulated to the point where it is difficult to change them.

          • Oh, I see. Thanks for clarifying. It’s all very interesting but all rather a shame, that we have these problems when humans for most of their history have struggled to get enough good things to eat.

        • Daniel Maris

          Hence the phrase “farting fit” presumably.

          • Glenn

            Nice one Daniel I’ll make good use of that.

  • Don Logan

    Ghrelin’s the problem, understand that and we’d be well on the way to sorting out obesity but it’s a bit scientific and boring I’m afraid and doesn’t make half as entertaining reading as Dr Dalrymples musings.

    • The point is, what compromises the ghrelin? What compromises the body’s use of insulin? Habits, that’s what. You look at most people’s health problems in the free world, and they very often originate in habits.

  • Maria Susan

    New craze: the two-day diet
    the New Year coming on fast, a lot of people are orienting towards ways
    to lose those excess December kilos again. A new, very popular diet is
    The 2-day diet, created by scientists dr. Michelle Harvia and Professor
    Tony Howell.


    • Baron

      Maria, here is a diet that never fails, trust Baron, he knows, he’s thought it through.

      Eat as much as you like, but avoid swallowing.

      • pedestrianblogger

        I always thought that the best diet allowed one to eat anything one liked as long as one did so naked, in front of a mirror.

        • Marie Louise Noonan

          I’d like to know which diet Bart de Wever was on.

          And Daniel Hannan who is positively cadaverous.

          And the mirror thing would probably work for most people but there are those who are so deluded that they always look in the mirror and see beauty. I suspect the writer of this article is one of those people.

  • elsmallo

    Yes, there is indeed no point waiting for the government to address the obesity problem. Perhaps it would be better to wait for McDonalds or KFC, or even Cadbury (Mondelez International) and Mars to do it instead. What a track record they have. I don’t think it’s particularly realistic to expect people to demonstrate self-control in a food economy that is screaming from every side to show – to have – none. I don’t deny a certain debasement of British (global) culture, but what do we blame this on? A healthy (sic) amount of basic human gluttony, yes, but it is most chimeric of all to ingore the callous, cynical gluttony of those in the boardrooms of Obesity.Inc.
    Mass obsesity is nothing more or less than a generational historical blip, made possible by the progress brought by capitalism. Human beings were never intended to live and eat like we do, unfettered by any natural – let alone moral – constraints of region and season, productivity and skill. We are both lucky and unlucky to live in the age that we do. Is self-control eternal, or contingent? Only when some resemblance to balance can be restored where self-control will once again become necessary, not merely desirable, will anomalies such as obesity begin to recede.

    • You cannot blame the restaurants that are merely providing food. Been to a McDonald’s lately? No, I haven’t either, but I do know that they provide a lot of salads. My fast-food restaurant/drive-through of choice is Chick-fil-A. Fantastic. They have wonderful salads with add-ons and dressing that you may decide to add or leave off, as you wish. High quality, good value. We complain about this?

      Personal responsibility is within reach of all of us. In any case, personal responsibility by its very nature can’t be someone else’s responsibility.

      • pdhan

        Reducing this problem to an individual question of choice is never going to help.

        • Leftists don’t care about the rights of individuals, only the rights of groups. But this is how they can ride roughshod over individuals that don’t fit the mould. I’ve had my rights violated before now because I was not considered as an individual with needs of my own. I don’t condone it.

          • pdhan

            You need to find a balance where laws are made that maximise the benefits of society as a whole and at the same time minimise infringements on individual rights. Some individual rights will by necessity be limited – if you don’t agree with this you are an extremist. (The same way you’re an extremist if you believe the rights of the group always trump the rights of an individual.)

          • Marie Louise Noonan

            I have misgivings about attacking whole industries b/c of the maladaptive behaviour of some of their customers. That’s a bit like blaming the alcohol industry for the behaviour of alcoholics.

            I remember watching a documentary called ‘supersize me’. it targeted the fast food industry which was entertaining. The presenter spent a long period of time living on fast food and then looked at the impact on his health. The problem was that no one in the fast food industry advocates existing solely on their produce.

          • pdhan

            Well we are already “attacking” the alcohol industry through high taxes and I don’t see why the (fast) food industry is any different. It’s not about blame but if you sell products that incur high costs on society (which alcohol and obesity do) you should be expected to be taxed accordingly.

      • elsmallo

        Dear Swanky, I think ‘restaurants’ is a bit rich. I’d urge you to go easy on those salads, anyway. I don’t know about Chick-fil-A, but the legendary McDonald’s salads have been well documented to be barely less sugary and calorific than their Big Macs (more so in some cases.) Do you really think people go into Mackey-D’s with salad on their minds anyway? Or if so what percentage?

        I’m sorry, but I can’t see how anyone with their eyes open can ignore the evidence. Today, in the co-op, I see massive displays of 2for1 discounted sugary junk-food all over the check-out area. Imagine trying to give up smoking and being surrounded by cut-price packs of ciggies every time you take your goods to the counter. Or go to the pub – just look at the portions we’re given in 2for1 Wetherspoons!

        I don’t see why the call for responsibility is so one-sided. If you can’t expect it of the suits in the boardroom, how can you from the plebs? Do we really care anyway, since we’ve got the money and the edjumaction to live differently? Or is all this just another excuse to mock the proles for being fat and having no self-control?

        • Marie Louise Noonan


  • hmmmm…doughnuts (donuts and d’oh nuts also accepted)

  • Marie Louise Noonan

    Here’s something else I don’t get: why is the mad doctor attacking his own countrymen when the assertion that sugar is ‘addictive’ was made by an ‘eminent’ AMERICAN paediatric endocrinologist, Dr Robert Lustig, in a book entitled Fat Chance?


    Logical explanation, anyone?

    • Shane O’Shaughnessy

      There is nothing “mad” about Mr. Dalrymple.

      I’ve seen negative comments by you on anything Dalrymple-related for years now. Do you troll ALL of Mr. Dalrymple’s articles and essays? Do you EVER have something interesting to say? Do you have a life at all?

      People like you are pathetic.

      • Marie Louise Noonan

        You joined up just to tell me that? That’s so sweet.

        ‘There is nothing “mad” about Mr. Dalrymple.’

        1. Research the history of psychiatry: ‘The ‘mad doctors’, or ‘alienists’, who in the main represented psychiatry’.

        2. I was unaware that the word ‘troll’ had changed its meaning and is now defined as ”someone who has the audacity to disagree with someone you admire’. Still, thanks for the ‘heads up’.

      • Marie Louise Noonan

        How is life in youth services, Mr. O’Shaughnessy?

  • rob232

    I lived in the US when I was a small boy in the fifties and early sixties. I had a terrible culture shock when I moved to the UK in the mid sixties when I was ten. I had never been hungry or even worried about getting enough to eat in America but spent the following ten years in England absolutely famished as no one would give you a square meal. The people were very thin in spite of the unhealthy school meals. Spam fritters and chips fried in lard with tinned spagehetti as a vegetable followed by suet puddings was very typical in my London school.
    I’ve lived abroad since then and have noticed on visits to the UK in the last 15 years that the portions of food served are now enormous- And the people are proportionally fatter. But this is very recent. I remember the last time I was in England for a wedding in the early nineties and it was still the starve party norm. We pretend to feed you and you pretend to eat.
    The last time I was in England I was taken to a pub for aroast beef lunch and was overwhelmed with the servings. It’s not the quality of the food it’s the quantity.

  • pdhan

    There’s a very simple solution: tax sugar rich junk-food just like we do tobacco and alcohol. It’s a societal problem as much as an individual one.

    • Queen Mab

      Why not remove the subsidies that have made sugar so cheap in the first place?

      • pdhan

        Absolutely, but that’s only relevant for the US as far as I know – I don’t believe the UK subsidise sugar production.

        • Queen Mab

          The EU does…

          • Marie Louise Noonan

            not a good time to go meddling with free markets.

          • Queen Mab

            Free markets? Where? A market that receives a subsidy is the opposite of free. In fact, the agriculture market is one of the most distorted on Earth.

  • Benjamin Dover

    No matter how egotistical or altruistic a person may be, the human needs that one can gauge accurately are limited to a small circle of influence and thus a tiny slice of civilization.

  • George Allegro

    Since it is impossible to know which practices will be best suited for unpredictable future circumstances, we mainly depend upon the customs and traditions that have already been proven in the fires of history’s forge.

  • Stan Theman

    The Obesity Crown has now passed to Mexico.

    • Marie Louise Noonan

      Mexico? I thought they were really thin and gorgeous over there

  • Renee

    Theodore Dalrymple once again writes the plain, honest truth. Unencumbered by any false or pandering ideology.

    It is this kind of plain knowledge, put forward with eloquence and intelligence, that works to undo the damage of idealistic intellectuals and the band-wagons that follow.

  • Johan Strand

    The complete absence of self-control in the UK is in some part a result of the all encompassing welfare state.
    In the States, if you make yourself sick and you are poor, there’s a fair chance you’ll end up homeless – in the UK, that’s near impossible.

    Same thing for the UK’s higher levels of street-level violence. When you don’t have to pay for the consequences, you tend to take a lot more risks.

    In the US, I get into a scrap outside a nightclub and chip a tooth, that’s $400 to fix. Maybe I’ll just be a pussy and wait for the bouncer to sort it out.

    • Marie Louise Noonan

      Ohhhkay. I shall take the bait.

      ‘In the US, I get into a scrap outside a nightclub and chip a tooth, that’s $400 to fix. Maybe I’ll just be a pussy and wait for the bouncer to sort it out.’

      I manage to refrain from getting into ‘scraps’ outside ‘nightclubs’. It must be due to my iron self discipline. Or maybe it’s b/c I don’t go to ‘nightclubs’ because they are culturally vacuous.

      (you ain’t a Yank, are you?)

      Don’t the individual states have some autonomy when it comes to ‘welfare’? What is ‘SSDI’ then? What is a ‘welfare check’? What’s a ‘pussy’?

      Pop another Ritalin.