Did anybody else read the comments?
People come in all shapes and sizes. To pretend otherwise; that there is one ideal shape we must all conform to, is body-fascism. It is immensely stupid, unpleasant, and flies in the face of reality. It is also very cruel.
Two cases in point; I am, metabolically, a fast-burner. My waist is less than half my height, at the age of 65 it is two inches bigger than when I was 19, I am chronically restless, find it hard to keep still, eat mostly fresh meat, veg and fruit not because it is an especially virtuous diet, but because those are the foods I happen to like, enjoy green tea which contains all sorts of stimulants, metabolic accelerators, hunger-suppressants, etc, tend to walk rather than user the car for local trips, again, not because it is virtuous but because I enjoy it, do not follow any formal exercise programme, and am fitter than many people twenty years younger.
My wife is a metabolic slow-burner.. She tends to put on weight. She eats a deliberately virtuous diet, belongs to a health club, swims regularly, has installed a treadmill in the spare bedroom which she uses regularly, walks whenever she can and still finds it a struggle to stop the pounds from creeping on. That’s all she can do; stop the weight creeping up. Diet and lose weight? A LOT harder than it sounds. Most diets are rubbish, designed to sell “diet products”. She can lose weight by really starving herself drastically, but only at the cost of becoming weak, listless and unhealthy, so weak she becomes prey to every germ that is going the rounds (at her natural, rather heavy, weight, she is extremely strong and healthy). Research shows that in 95% of cases, people who lose weight by dieting put it back on within a few months anyway, so what’s the point?
People who say cheerfully that it is all a matter of willpower; “eat less, move more”, haven’t a clue. I’m lucky with my metabolic type, she is less lucky with hers, that’s all. It is a good thing she is a strong-willed individual, because if she did not fight a constant and relentless battle against her tendency to gain weight, she would rapidly come to resemble a balloon.
Fact is, if you have a slow-burning metabolism and you do not have a will of iron, you have a problem. Many people do not have a will of iron. You only have to look at the streets to see that.
There are other factors. One is that unhealthy junk food is a lot more available and a lot more relentlessly promoted than it was a couple of decades ago. The food industry has a lot to answer for and is very resistant to attempts at regulation. The other is stress. Britain is a very stressed society. Whether you’re dealing with a nasty employer who is looking for any excuse to exploit or sack you, or with a nasty government office which is looking for any excuse to sanction you, then you have enough stress already, without taking on the additional stress of unrelenting ruthless attention to diet and exercise. Instead, comfort-eating becomes a temptation.
So much for us oldies. As for kids, when I was growing up, there were usually two or three fat kids in a class of thirty. Today it is more likely to be ten or twelve. Apart from things like the availability of junk foods, there are other factors, like the way many schools have been forced to sell off their playing fields to property speculators. The big factor, however, is informal exercise. When I was a kid, we were hardly ever still. We would be off on our own, racing around the local town, exploring the fields on the outskirts, maybe getting chased by a bull, going down to the railway station to watch the shunting, off to the river-bank. All of this involved a certain amount of risk, of course. These days parents seem much more determined to keep kids at home under supervision.
I’m not saying that willpower is not important. It certainly is. But to pretend it is the ONLY factor that matters is simply mad. (But then Hopkins is).
A final point; in a world where so many things are beyond our control now, our bodies are among the few things that are unequivocally ours to control. Maybe this is why so many people are so eager to blame others for their “lack of self-control”, even in the face of so much evidence to the contrary.
Holy fat logic, Batman.