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As we've been saying, food is the new tobacco

Some of you may have read reports this week about plain packaging for high calorie food.

According to the Guardian:

Selling high calorie foods in plain packaging could help in the battle against obesity according to a leading researcher who has won a share of the most lucrative prize in neuroscience for his work on the brain’s reward system.

The colourful wrapping and attractive advertising of calorie-rich foods encourage people to buy items that put them at risk of overeating and becoming obese in the future, said Wolfram Schultz, a professor of neuroscience at the University of Cambridge.

“We should not advertise, propagate or encourage the unnecessary ingestion of calories,” Schultz said at a press conference held on Monday to announce the winners of the 2017 Brain Prize. “There should be some way of regulating the desire to get more calories. We don’t need these calories.”

“Colourful wrapping of high energy foods of course makes you buy more of that stuff and once you have it in your fridge, it’s in front of you every time you open the fridge and ultimately you’re going to eat it and eat too much,” he added.

There was a flurry of excitement on Twitter with lots of 'I told you so' tweets.

I avoided the temptation but it's worth pointing out that the Tobacco Tactics website – which is the work of the Tobacco Control Research Group at the University of Bath – still has an entry that reads:

In the plain packaging debate in the UK, Forest has led the Hands Off Our Packs campaign, which claims that if cigarettes are to be sold in plain packaging, it is only a matter of time before plain packaging and large health warnings will be applied to other consumer products, such as fizzy drinks, fatty foods and alcohol. However, although some public health advocates are calling for increased regulation on alcohol and food, the case of tobacco is unique.

Perhaps they should edit that page before they look even more stupid.

PS. Long before plain packaging was a serious threat I gave a speech to the Independent Seminar on the Open Society (ISOS), an annual one-day conference for 200 sixth-form students organised by the Adam Smith Institute.

The year was 2004 and the subject was 'Food is the new tobacco'. I got a decent reception but I don't think many believed me.

Now, perhaps, people will start listening.

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Reader Comments (4)

This Tobacco Tactics group at Bath University as with most anti smoking fanatics brook no dissent. If you post on their website and disagree with them they delete your post. This group and others such as ASH should receive no public funding at all. We are rapidly losing all our individual liberties with these publicly funded nasties levering their undemocratic views.

Friday, March 10, 2017 at 11:28 | Unregistered CommenterTimothy Goodacre

The war on the overweight has begun and the hate campaign is working with any old Tom, dick or Harriet thinking they have a right to moan about what someone else eats.

What about skinnies or people who find it hard to put weight on? Why should these people be punished with extra tax on food or have their consumer choices removed because of the war on calories?

I have said before that this obsession with the nation's waistline can only encourage a new generation of anorexics. I am sure this is win win for public health who will then start an abusive campaign against skinnies as well as fatties and find a whole new group to persecute to ensure their fat salaries and tax payer jollies around the world's conferences continues.

Friday, March 10, 2017 at 12:48 | Unregistered Commenterpat nurse

Tobacco control appears to have been the test case for broader lifestyle control initiatives. All of these lifestyle control measures facilitate social division and stimulate hate in order to secure power and profit by the controllers.

Friday, March 10, 2017 at 19:19 | Unregistered CommenterVinny Gracchus

“Tobacco control appears to have been the test case for broader lifestyle control initiatives.”

Spot on, VG. Indeed, many people have referred to the smoking ban as the “smoking ban experiment,” and such, I believe, it was, at least in part. And I think that’s one reason why anti-smoking groups have been allowed run pretty much rampant and to get pretty much anything and everything they’ve asked for – because there were some people amongst the PTB who were simply curious to see how far the general population could be pushed into changing their behaviour, their habits, their interactions and their opinions purely by artificial manipulation. Smoking, and smokers, simply drew the short straw.

But I do think that those who were interested in all things anti-smoking from that perspective have kind of learned all they need to know, which is why there’s far less fanfare around further anti-smoking measures and far less hysteria around the activity itself than there used to be – because having completed the experiment as much as they need to, they are now busily applying what they’ve learned to other areas, as we always knew they would. I think they’ve learned roughly how far the credibility of those people not affected by the proposals (who were the real targets from this point of view, although they didn’t know it) can be stretched and at what point they start to disbelieve what they’re told (e.g. enclosed spaces ban = acceptable to most non-smokers; open-air bans = not acceptable, even for most non-smokers) and how far along the “unreasonable” scale they can go before, again, those not affected, start to rumble what they’re up to (e.g. bans in public indoor places = viewed as reasonable by non-smokers; bans in private homes = viewed as not reasonable).

Which is a bit discouraging, really, for all those non-smoking drinkers and fast-food eaters out there who, by kidding themselves that these measures didn’t matter, because they “didn’t affect me,” were actually giving a tacit message to the PTB as to how far their own chosen “vice” can be treated in the future. It seems they've unwittingly joined the queue for the firing squad without ever considering that at some stage they'd reach the front of it!

Saturday, March 11, 2017 at 3:30 | Unregistered CommenterMistie

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