The state is now in charge of breakfast

The turkey carcass has barely been cleared, the last dregs of scotch remain, but nanny’s apron is freshly starched and she is ready to “do something.”

You had a good run, Tony...
David Atherton
On 7 January 2013 11:52

It didn’t take them long, did it? The turkey carcass has barely been cleared, the last dregs of scotch remain, but nanny’s apron is freshly starched and she is ready to “do something.”  

Andy Burnham the Shadow Health Secretary wants to introduce legal limits on the sugar, fat, and salt in food, especially breakfast cereals.  "A lot of the time people don't realise just how high in fat, salt and sugar some of these products are, even when you're trying to make healthier choices. The industry needs to show more responsibility and come forward with products that are going to be helpful to parents in making the right choices."

Diane Abbott meanwhile has been banging on about banning the spread of fried chicken takeaways. I appreciate that it is rude to talk about a lady’s weight, but as a Shadow Health Minister she is in nautical terms a little broad at the beam herself.

Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, doesn’t want to miss out either. After a promising start in October, when he tried his best to get onside by saying he eats his five-a-day, but doesn’t want a fat tax since he “also [likes]… Coca-Cola and crisps”, it seems Sir Humphrey has now got him house trained. Hunt recently admitted, “If we don't meet our targets and continue to make the progress that we have to make, then we would consider legislation.”

It strikes me they want to make the “right” choices on our behalf.

So Tony the Tiger and the Honey Monster are looking for new careers. And the debate on Twitter was quite stimulating with uber Socialists Owen Jones and Dr. Gabriel Scully pitching in. Jones commented: “Not eating Frosties now I know they're 37% sugar. I'll reconsider if the sugar content is limited to 30%. What's wrong with that?” Dr. Scully’s tuppence worth was “How about they don't spend millions on promoting unhealthy ones to kids? How about we eat food from farmers rather than industry?” Of course, it is all for the children.

Cereal fans were not going to take this lying down and a new Facebook page has been created: Save Tony the Tiger and The Honey Monster.

Does this “eye catching initiative” have a chance of succeeding and is it medically correct?  The obesity “epidemic” appears to have started around 1980 in the UK and USA. Kellogg's Cornflakes were invented in 1894 and Frosties have been marketed since 1951 so for between 30 and 100 years it appears cereals have not been adding inches to our waste lines.

A normal serving of Frosties with 125 ml of semi skimmed milk and no extra sugar is only 152 calories. A ten year old boy should consume between 1,600 and 2,200 calories a day. So barely 10 percent of daily recommended levels. It is extremely unlikely that the Great Satan Kellogg's is adding extra notches to belts. Some might even argue this is an insufficient calorie intake.

Not only that, those who eat breakfast weigh less. This paper from 1992 covers 52 obese people who were put on diets; half had breakfast and hence three meals a day and the other half no breakfast and two meals a day.

“Baseline breakfast skippers lost 7.7 kg in the breakfast treatment and 6.0 kg in the no-breakfast treatment... Analyses of behavioral data suggested that eating breakfast helped reduce dietary fat and minimize impulsive snacking and therefore may be an important part of a weight-reduction program.”

Furthermore, this paper from 2010 not only found that those who had cereal breakfasts weighed less, but that they had far better levels of nutrients in their bodies. “Ready to eat (RTE) cereal consumers had more favorable nutrient intake profiles and adiposity indexes than breakfast skippers or other breakfast consumers in US children/adolescents.”

One can only conclude that Burnham and Hunt are at best not using evidence-based research and at worst on course to make people unhealthier. Yet another gravy stain on the tie of state intrusion.

With the cold custard still keeping the mince pies company in the fridge, and the cigar stubs emptied into the dustbin, the only silver lining for me is that government of all persuasions will be giving me lots to write about in the remaining fifty one weeks on 2013.

David Atherton is Chairman of Freedom2Choose, which seeks to protect the informed choices of consenting adults on the issues of smoking. Follow him on Twitter: @DaveAtherton20

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