Dong Zhou wrote:What I find frustrating is the tone when it comes to the consumers who eat too much and so end up in trouble: Their must be no finger wagging as one SNP MP put it. Why shouldn't there be finger wagging? Your costing the country millions if your getting overweight by eating too much or chucking down sugary drink after sugary drink and getting diabetes, why should the reaction be a happy one? How it is not the consumer's fault that they eat too much or chug down unhealthy drinks when water is on tap. Or milk, coffee and tea are easily available? Why is it the manufacturers fault (providing they provide clear information or don't advertise it as a healthy option) for providing a treat that we should be able to enjoy but it then gets abused?
I'm not quite sure what the circumstance is in the UK, but here in the United States a great deal of the blame is rightly placed on businesses and to a lesser extent, the government. And then there's more blame to go around for 'professionals' who are exploiting the situation for personal gain.
In the case of businesses, there's almost no concern for health. It's all profit-driven, and the foods which advertise themselves as healthy tend to be the unhealthy selections. Sugar is added in remarkable quantities to nearly everything and businesses lobby extensively to avoid any kind of legislation which might impact their profits (e.g. a sugar tax). And they've been extremely successful.
The government fails in that it flips head over heels to support lobbyists from these large industries (e.g. meat lobbying groups, sugar lobbying groups). The government's dietary guidelines
have traditionally been a sad effort to produce supposedly good guidance for Americans while at the same time not offending any of the lobbying groups. What this has meant is that key players in health like sugar have been played down extensively in recommendations. In the latest round it seems they've finally produced some pushback to added sugars but other concerns like red meat recommendations fell to the side of the lobbyists. And it's really easy to see the divide between politics and health recommendations because the guidelines actually start with extremely good consensus-based recommendations from health professionals before being gutted to support businesses.
And then there's the insane market for health and fitness. 'Doctors' like Dr. Oz and Dr. Joseph Mercola provide an endless stream of terrible health advice (nutritional and medical) for social media and their likes are joined by uneducated and ignorant voices such as The Food Babe. Even people like Oprah, who command a great audience, are always there to tell people about the new diet that won't work, or fat shame them into using products which directly benefit them (Weight Watchers). A layperson's effort to learn leaves them jumping from one diet to the next (as likely to fail in the long run as the last due to being unenjoyable as a sustained lifestyle), one superfood or evil food to the next, and left with very little worthwhile and genuine health advice to follow. The voices trying to sell them products or dogma seem to outweigh the infrequent or never occurring advice from a health professional, or the best they get is their doctor saying "diet and exercise." The later of which also fails to really help in losing weight (nearly all of us compensate for exercise by eating more or relaxing more—or both; not that exercise isn't extremely good for our health).
Eating healthy is expensive and unhealthy food is cheap (government failure supporting lobbyists plays in here as well). People learn bad health habits from their parents. Good efforts from parents are sabotaged by the world around them by such simple influences as schools using junk food to incentivize children. Commercials routinely give us bad advice (even those based on fitness). Advertisements promote unrealistic body images and teach us to be ashamed of ourselves, which surely doesn't help a healthy, sustained effort to make lasting lifestyle changes. Heck, even related television programs either hawk the pseudoscientific stuff mentioned above, products which don't work, or even more horrible things like the combination of fat shaming and doesn't work that is The Biggest Loser. And we're also assholes to ourselves, rounding back to fat shaming.
Almost everyone I know who is obese is broken up about it. They don't want to be, and they routinely try to do something about it. Some have attempted one thing after another, failed every time, and are now just depressed and believe there's nothing they can really do about it. They can, of course, by the layperson has a particularly troublesome time of sifting through the abomination that claims to be here to help them.
So even if they do cut through all the cruft, learn that losing weight involves positive lifestyle changes, learning some science of following science-based recommendations, and a lasting effort which will involve slowly losing 3-8 pounds a month with and end goal of finding a happy balance instead of reaching some specific 'ideal' number—they've still got quite a journey ahead of themselves.
The situation is also rather similar in Canada.