New recipes and updates

Get new recipes
in your inbox

Cuisine Fiend

Find a recipe by ingredient

Chewing over

CuisineFiend's edible news.

The number of obese people is terrifying - and that's just Home Counties.

Sun, 27 May, 2018

I live in a nice little town not far from London, amongst rural greenery, gentle hills and sharp property prices. It’s a short commute to London and the place is anything but backwater. A few really good restaurants, cafes and even a stylish arthouse cinema if you’d rather not take the train but want to feel lively.

Fat is not new normal
PC Herald Sun, Australia

The local social media communities are preoccupied with recommendations for vegan wedding caterers, boxing classes and mindbody workouts. In the mornings you can’t move for joggers, the cyclists are narrow country lanes’ bane and the pram-workout mummies occupy the parks in droves. There is an excellent Sports Centre and a couple of gyms – always very busy.

And the other weekend I was walking by the canal with throngs of people tempted out by the gorgeous weather and I swear – two out of three were seriously overweight.

I do not understand. I get that the joggers and gym bunnies are not those fat people I encountered so my experience indicates that they are in minority. That is scary – if the affluent and health conscious corner of Britain is still full of obese people, what are the deprived areas like?

Jamie Oliver is at it again – scathing towards government, demanding health warnings on candy and a ban on BOGOF pizzas. He’s not gaining much applause though – in fact from the cute and quirky youth chef he’s turned into a hectoring beefcake, as he’s none too skinny himself.

Of course he doesn’t get it: he had never had it hard. For all his street cred and pukka-slang he is just another rich do-gooder who thinks he understand because he isn’t posh. First off, that’s not the way to go: quite a few posh people know more about skimping and stinting than the self-proclaimed underprivileged. It’s not the background, it’s the circumstance: I recall times in my life when I genuinely wondered where my next dinner was coming from while my partner with considerably better working class credentials was allowed to eat just the yolk out of his boiled egg.

George Orwell got it as far back as 1930s in The Road to Wigan Pier: ‘The ordinary human being would sooner starve than live on brown bread and raw carrots. And the peculiar evil is this, that the less money you have, the less inclined you feel to spend it on wholesome food. A millionaire may enjoy breakfasting off orange juice and Ryvita biscuits; an unemployed man doesn't. […] When you are unemployed, which is to say when you are underfed, harassed, bored, and miserable, you don't want to eat dull wholesome food. You want something a little bit 'tasty'. There is always some cheaply pleasant thing to tempt you.’ But then, you see, George Orwell was what he called ‘lower-upper-middle class’.

Secondly, lecturing and berating never works. Do fewer people in the UK smoke? Yes, because smoking has gone out of fashion. And arguably it’s difficult to hold a fag while your fingers are flying over a screen; perhaps that’s an association too far but you never know. Bans, warning signs and restrictions never work that well – it’s the culture that needs to change. We all know that fish is healthy and so is broccoli. Crisps are unhealthy. Sugar is really bad. I don’t suppose there is a single person in the UK who would think eating KFCs and microwaved pasta followed by a Yorkie bar every day is a healthy lifestyle. Everyone knows what’s good and what isn’t; following the good is what is more problematic, and we know why. Why then across the Channel they seem to know better?

About 3% French boys at 11-15 years of age are obese; compare that to over 25% boys at the same age in United Kingdom. A quarter of all boys! Obese, not chubby or overweight? Girls don’t fare better, I’ll have you know. And yes, we know why: from the first year of the primary schools kids are given proper, wholesome, healthy and grown-up meals at school canteens across France.

How about pushing some money and resources into remodeling school dinners here? It won’t happen overnight but it might eventually make a difference. Yes, kids will always go for baked beans and pizza if available but if consistently presented with healthy options, they might start to think that broccoli is edible. No hectoring, no nannying - just education.

Plus, get the lard-arses to move more (and call them that too!): throughout UK taught PE amounts to about 70 hours per year while in France they have recommendations at almost twice the hours. The Daily Mile project is the way to go and again, it’s not about banning or restrictions but positive reinforcement. That’s people’s initiative – could we have a policy or two and a handful of cash to support those?

But hell, isn’t it much more pleasant to bitch about the government ineptitude from the safe haven of your Hampstead mansion while planning another ‘2-minute 3-course dinners’ television nonsense?


Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published

Characters left 800
Recipe rating
Email address*
Web site name
Be notified by email when a comment is posted

* required

Recent blog posts

Wed, 30 December, 2020 2021: Have a Better New Year

Mon, 14 December, 2020 Merry Christmas!

Fri, 31 July, 2020 Fiend on Film

Thu, 4 June, 2020 The 'new normal': no dinner parties or eating out?

Wed, 25 March, 2020 We need to cook now

Wed, 12 February, 2020 My ketogenic challenge diary

Sun, 29 December, 2019 Happy New Year!

Sat, 14 December, 2019 Cuisine Fiend's Christmas Collection

Sun, 13 October, 2019 Cook yourself happier

Fri, 13 September, 2019 Eating out: rubbish, expensive or both.

Thu, 8 August, 2019 To buy or to make?

Sat, 6 July, 2019 It's not French cuisine - it's French produce that's incredible.

Thu, 6 June, 2019 What's for breakfast?

Tue, 23 April, 2019 How much of your supermarket trolley content ends up in the bin?

Fri, 5 April, 2019 You can't be a scrooge at Easter: it's spring! it's hope! it's chocolate eggs!

Tue, 5 March, 2019 Dietary myths and delusions – the human race has always loved them.

Sun, 3 February, 2019 World cuisines are diverse - or are they?

Mon, 31 December, 2018 Eat well, be well, live well.

Thu, 5 December, 2019 Cuisine Fiend's Christmas Collection

Sun, 4 November, 2018 We are so angry all the time - why not just chill? Cook something?

Thu, 4 October, 2018 Food comes from all over the world – but why so illogically sourced?

Mon, 3 September, 2018 There's no such thing as healthy foods: it's all in the balance.

Thu, 2 August, 2018 Diets – I do it my way.

Mon, 2 July, 2018 Cooking at home - why is it such a chore for so many?

Sun, 27 May, 2018 The number of obese people is terrifying - and that's just Home Counties.

Tue, 24 April, 2018 Food fads, or the impossible things to eat: our unhealthy health obsessions.

Mon, 26 March, 2018 Kitchen disasters, or how I blowtorched the turkey.

Mon, 12 March, 2018 They know a thing or two about food in Shropshire.

Wed, 17 January, 2018 Deadly avocados, flying knives and golfer's elbow: kitchen is a dangerous place.

Tue, 19 December, 2017 Diets on hold: time for twinkling lights and brandy butter.

Fri, 24 November, 2017 Eating nose-to-tail - make mine a steak.

Thu, 2 November, 2017 Eat yourself to sleep - or not, actually.

Fri, 15 September, 2017 Everything in moderation - damn hard to achieve where food is concerned.

Sun, 13 August, 2017 Food on screen: they never eat properly on TV.

Wed, 5 July, 2017 Summer gluttony: does food always taste better when we're on holidays?

Thu, 18 May, 2017 Taste, likes and dislikes - unique to first world?

Wed, 19 April, 2017 Spring is here and so is spring food.

Mon, 3 April, 2017 Signature dish? I want to cook everything well!

Fri, 3 March, 2017 British strawberries in March? I think I'll wait till May.

Fri, 17 February, 2017 Making birthday cakes is fun, unless it all goes terribly wrong.

Fri, 3 February, 2017 Munching, grazing - why do we stuff our faces while watching telly?

Fri, 27 January, 2017 Winter warmers: what's the best comfort food when the weather's cold?

Fri, 20 January, 2017 Sugar is the public enemy now. But should we go cold turkey?

Fri, 6 January, 2017 What's really good and bad for us, nutrition-wise?

Sat, 29 December, 2018 Post-Christmas, or how to lose weight on leftovers.

Thu, 15 December, 2016 Post-truth, let's put up more twinkling Christmas lights!

Fri, 9 December, 2016 A cook's block, or how induction is a toy hob.

Fri, 2 December, 2016 Fasting is good, every now and then. It makes us appreciate taste and flavours.

Thu, 24 November, 2016 Boringly tidy or artistically messy in the kitchen? It might be boring, but order helps you focus.

Fri, 11 November, 2016 Gas or electrics - I'm trying hard not to hate my new induction hob.

Fri, 4 November, 2016 New kitchen - caveat emptor, and don't expect a dream come true.

Fri, 28 October, 2016 The rise of the hipster salad.

Fri, 21 October, 2016 No kitchen for two months - what shall I cook first in the new one?

Fri, 14 October, 2016 Cooking is easier, cheaper and more varied than eating out.

Wed, 5 October, 2016 Kitchen designers - my own Great Kitchen Design Off.

Tue, 27 September, 2016 Life without kitchen. Or bathroom, most of the time.

Wed, 21 September, 2016 British cakes - let's not forget the classics.

Thu, 15 September, 2016 Going out for breakfast? Just don't order scrambled eggs.

Wed, 7 September, 2016 Great British Bake Off - now I know why I'd never watched it.

Wed, 31 August, 2016 Eating out: posh nosh or good & simple? I go for value these days.

Thu, 10 August, 2017 Eat food. Not too much. Some of it raw.

Thu, 11 August, 2016 Is a steam oven THE must-have appliance? I'll stick to my stock pot with a steamer insert.

Thu, 4 August, 2016 How to lose weight: the Food Fascist and I

Thu, 28 July, 2016 Eating whilst sprawled on the sofa? Not for me.

Thu, 21 July, 2016 How to live and what to eat on a building site.

Thu, 14 July, 2016 Weird dietary trends - the pseudo-nutritional nonsense

Fri, 8 July, 2016 What are the most useful tools in cooking and baking life?

Thu, 30 June, 2016 The aftermath of the referendum - time to cook some bacon.

Thu, 23 June, 2016 'Easy recipe' - it's an oxymoron!

Fri, 17 June, 2016 Common currency? Don't know, but I know about Common Food!

Fri, 10 June, 2016 How to NOT EAT - totally non-expert advice on weight loss

Thu, 2 June, 2016 Rain, thunder and floods, but summer berries are arriving

Thu, 26 May, 2016 Pancakes are the nation's favourite food

Tue, 17 May, 2016 Spring is here

Fri, 13 May, 2016 It's a hard life being a food blogger