Maybe it’s only a matter of time – indeed, it may already have happened – before our uninvited house-guest Covid-19 is accused of being ‘fat-phobic’; illogical Woke logic has long since disregarded facts about poverty or Vitamin D deficiencies and has branded the coronavirus racist, so I guess (if we momentarily sidestep the Trans crowd) the next group on the league table of the Oppression Olympics that Covid has singled out for special treatment will be the obese. Not even sure if ‘fat-phobic’ is the correct term; is fat now referred to as the F-word? No, it can’t be on account of us having FAT-shaming. Big, we are told, is beautiful and not remotely unhealthy – if recent fairyland magazine covers are anything to go by, anyway. We couldn’t simply have curvy models closer to the average shape most women would recognise; we had to have huge ones just to hammer home the point. Funny how there is never any middle ground in this argument. We go from borderline anorexic to grossly overweight in one fell swoop.

Fine to celebrate an unconventional body image if the individual in question is content with it; but to promote obesity as some sort of desirable lifestyle choice seems as recklessly irresponsible as the ‘Heroin Chic’ look that some supermodels (or superwaifs as they were labelled) embraced in the 90s. But, hey, we live in the age of 2+2=5, so to suddenly declare that being a lard-arse is ‘cool’ is hardly a surprising development. The internal damage done by obesity is, of course, something only the Man with X-Ray Eyes has intimate access to, but one could say the same about smoking. Indeed, if we are to have wealthy fatties selling themselves as ‘body perfect’ and flying in the face of all medical advice as they do so, why don’t we reintroduce billboards and magazine ads for fags? We all know cigarettes are bad for you, but so is stuffing your face with sugary foodstuffs; both are down to individual choice, after all – no one forces a Big Mac into someone else’s mouth any more than they stick a lighted cig in it.

But I guess this is a time when individual responsibility is an unfashionable concept and the heavy eater or the heavy smoker are not to blame for the poor state of their own health; we’ve all been so infantilised that individual autonomy characteristic of the grownup is out of the question. If we have to ask the state permission to go for a walk like we used to ask our mums if we could play out, it’s no wonder we look to blame others for our own personal failings. We’re not responsible for anything we do anymore, and that includes what we eat. True, some do have genetic (and mental) conditions of which obesity is a by-product and these necessitate legitimate medical intervention; but the majority of obesity tends to be self-inflicted, either unconsciously (though simple ignorance) or consciously (though not giving a shit). Don’t point any of this out on social media, however. How dare anyone claim the overweight are obese because they eat too much shit and don’t exercise! They’re just as valid victims as all the rest! And whatever you do, don’t dare suggest that selling the overweight as ‘glamorous’ is a bad idea; that’s almost as heinous as saying men can’t menstruate, lactate or give birth. If anyone ever doubts this line of insane thinking is approaching a fanatical religious doctrine, just tweet some common sense facts that contradict the narrative and watch the fun begin. War is peace, as someone once observed.

Perhaps the uncomfortable truth that countries with some of the worst cases of obesity have suffered some of the highest death tolls during the pandemic backs up the inevitable ‘fat-phobic’ nature of the coronavirus. What else could it be? A report by the World Obesity Federation says that the fattest nations have had nine out of ten Covid deaths linked to the overweight state of their populations, with fatalities far higher in countries where 50% or more of its people are obese. Indeed, here in blobby old Blighty, we’ve had the third highest death rate whilst simultaneously being at No.4 in the world’s fat chart. Obesity certainly seems to favour the West; Far Eastern countries have suffered fewer Covid deaths and also coincidentally have far lower rates of obesity among adults. Japan appears to have addressed obesity as part of their pandemic package, whereas over here one of the heavily-promoted projects during the brief break between lockdowns was the ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme, which felt like the Government sponsoring the nation to binge on bad (or fast) food, even when there was already a well-established connection between a poor diet and susceptibility to contracting the coronavirus. Not that obesity wasn’t recognised as a ticking time bomb before the events of the past twelve months intervened, but Covid-19 gate-crashing the feast has perhaps highlighted just how much of an accident waiting to happen obesity was.

Talking of the apparent success with which Far Eastern countries have tackled the coronavirus in comparison to the Western nations, turns out North Korea is the biggest success story of all. According to the ever-dependable Pyongyang Ministry of Information, not one single Covid death has been recorded in the country, which is pretty impressive, especially when one considers North Korea’s proximity to China. The response of the Democratic People’s Republic to the pandemic has been, according to the UN, to impose ‘drastic measures that have exacerbated human rights abuses and economic hardship for the country’s citizens’. This is particularly tragic on account of the absolute absence of human rights abuses and economic hardships that existed there prior to Covid, something for which North Korea has always been celebrated.

Infamously one of the most isolated nations on the planet, the pandemic has seen North Korea strengthen its borders even further, but the loss of trade with China – coupled with the international sanctions already in place – has hit it hard. China provides North Korea with 90% of its trade, but the past year has seen an 80% drop in that trade. The sudden absence of farming tools and fertiliser vital to the country’s agricultural economy was made worse by serious typhoons and floods even before the monsoon season, pushing millions to the brink of starvation. Humanitarian work has all-but ceased and relief aid remains in limbo at the border with China. At times like this, it’s sadly ironic that a nation in which so many of its people are experiencing severe food shortages is fronted by one of the most roly-poly world leaders. I guess if there is to eventually be one Covid death recorded in North Korea, Kim Jong-un would appear to be more vulnerable than most of his people, what with him being such a fat bastard.

The vaccine – of which North Korea is set to receive 1.7 million doses, evidently as a preventative measure – is clearly a sensible requirement for anyone over a certain age, though this should have been the group within society that was ring-fenced right at the beginning – ditto anyone (to regurgitate that familiar phrase yet again) ‘with underlying health conditions’. And, despite what several stupid American magazine front covers would have you believe, being grossly overweight is indicative of an underlying health condition. Not to worry, though – even those who watch what they eat remain in the firing line. A few posts back I predicted an inevitable new mutation of the virus would magically appear to once more postpone the lifting of restrictions, and – hey presto! – we now have the Brazilian variant; keep a look out for the Narnia variant, the Neverland variant and the Somewhere-over-the-rainbow variant coming soon to a lockdown near you! But chances are it might favour you most of all if you’re on the obese side.

© The Editor


The votes have been counted and verified, and the pies have been eaten; the results can be announced! Yes, the latest statistics reveal England’s leading Fatty Town is Rotherham, followed by another South Yorkshire Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Doncaster; hot on their heels is Halton in the North West. Waddling its way towards the top spot, Rotherham can boast more fatties amongst its population than anywhere else in the country; just under half of the town’s entire population are overweight, with 32.6% classed as obese.

Apparently, as much as a quarter of the population of the entire UK are now obese, but even though 40.4% of the English are overweight and 24.4% obese, England isn’t as abundant in blubber as Scotland, according to the NHS; last time the NHS looked, 27% of Scots were obese, with Wales ranking at 22%. The figures that awarded Rotherham the unenviable heavyweight crown were collated between 2013 and 2016, though England’s fattest geographical region is the North East; 41.5% of Tyne, Tees and Weir-siders are overweight, whereas 27.1% fall into the obese category. The Yorkshire & Humber region runs a close second, with the East Midlands behind that.

In a sense, the statistics paint a wider picture of what our own eyes are telling us whenever we’re out and about. A couple of times this week, I’ve been sat in a friend’s car whilst she’s popped into a shop on a retail park, and as I observed passers-by, I reckoned well over half of them were what could genuinely be called fat. When I was a child, fatties weren’t unheard of, but they were certainly less prevalent than today; most classes at school had the token fat kid, and most of us had a fat uncle or aunt; though there’s no doubt they were a far rarer sight than today, almost something of a novelty.

The blame game is inevitable when such a dramatic alteration to the national character as this occurs. Using my own childhood experience, I know for sure instant and frozen foods certainly existed, though they co-existed with meals consisting of fresh vegetables and the dreaded ‘greens’ that had such an unsavoury reputation. With parents raised on the legacy of wartime digging for victory and grandparents still possessing vivid memories of days that might go by without any food whatsoever, it was no wonder the importance of greens and meals cooked from scratch remained high. This thinking also extended to school dinners; but in order to make the far-from desirable recipe of cabbage, beetroot, spam fritters, lumpy mash and hard peas remotely tolerable, the prize at the end of this gastronomic obstacle course was a pudding bathed in custard, awarded to everyone who managed to grin and swallow their way through the first course, and washed down with that most basic of table wines – water.

Anyone of a certain age will recall that the chocolate bar Milky Way used to be advertised as ‘The sweet you can eat between meals without ruining your appetite’, with the emphasis on can. This carried clout with kids of my generation; if this statement was broadcast on TV, then it had to be true – right, mum? Therefore, it’s okay to guzzle one before teatime, yeah? It was also a canny tagline by the manufacturers because eating between meals was so frowned upon at the time that a chocolate bar sold as a sweet that wouldn’t interfere with the compulsory cleaning of the plate might just be a smart way round the unwritten rules of the nation’s children’s diet.

It’s no wonder the corner-shop did a roaring trade in penny sweets both on the way to and on the way back from school. Such cheap confectionary was within the budget of most kids (even those who helped themselves when the newsagent fatally turned his back) and wasn’t considered substantial enough to damage appetites for the next meal. The main accusation levelled at sweets was that they rotted your teeth if taken to excess, so most parents tolerated them as long as they were consumed in moderation. A proper chocolate bar boasting a big brand name or even a packet of crisps were a little pricier and therefore had an air of ‘treat’ about them, something one could look forward to perhaps once a week, though not much more often than that. They even used to print the actual price of the item on the wrapper then, as if to emphasise the gulf between it and the more accessible penny varieties stocking the shelves.

The sudden colonisation of the country by the burger-bar, something that seemed to happen from the second half of the 1980s onwards, is regularly blamed as the biggest cause of rising child obesity, and there’s no denying the proliferation of such fast-food quick-fix solutions to the headache of being a weekend dad haven’t helped. But the collapse of the old system when it comes to a daily dietary regime probably has more to answer for than the cure-all option of a Big Mac & Fries – specifically, the gradual abolition of the not-eating-between meals rule. Many of today’s parents had their childhood eating habits governed by the old order, yet unlike their own parents, have decided not to impose it on the next generation, instead turning their kitchen cupboards into an all-you-can-eat buffet. They no doubt blame McDonald’s or blame the electronic gadgets that keep their kids indoors even when the weather is ideal for playing-out. But they should really look a little closer to home, and in the mirror.

Outside of the actual food consumed, the subject of exercise is also unavoidable. One wonders how much of an impact the selling-off of school playing fields to developers and the cutting of extracurricular sporting activities have had, let alone the establishment of ‘the school run’, whereby walking to and from school has been superseded by the internal combustion engine. Throw in the reluctance of parents to let their children loose come summer holidays for fear of the prowling Paedo and it’s no wonder their offspring are waddling as much as their parents are.

Food that is deemed good for you today – sugar-free, organic and deprived of artificial colouring – is expensive and therefore only within the regular budget of the relatively affluent, whereas food that is deemed bad for you – loaded with sugar, salt and all those other tasty ingredients that clog-up arteries – is not only affordable for those on low incomes, but also more available. That the South East and London register at the bottom of the obesity chart speaks volumes, but idleness and ignorance play their part too. It is possible to eat healthily on a tiny budget; cooking healthy food is as cheap an option as opting for a pre-packaged and processed ready-meal crammed with chemicals, though why that message is failing to get through could be down to simple laziness. I myself purchased some broccoli and a courgette this morning, costing less than a quid. Carrots, cabbage, onions, lettuce and the rest remain cheaper than any packet of pound shop frozen plastic; but you can’t just bung them in the microwave for ten minutes. Say no more.

© The Editor