The Telegraph had fun over the weekend with this story: from next year, GPs will receive a payment for every patient they advise to lose weight. This is planned even despite the fact that doctors already get money for keeping lists of those who weigh too much.
Time for some basic, blunt truths. In a free society, the number of adults who are fat closely corresponds with the number of adults who choose to be fat. Granted, there are some – very few – who have genuine, medical conditions which mean they gain weight despite their own actions. But almost all people gain weight because of their own actions. We know that alcohol and fatty foods make us fat, but we still eat them, because we like them.
But here we are being "educated" by the state once again. Does the NHS (which isn't free; we pay for it involuntarily through the tax taken from us) really think that people don't know that burgers and fries are fattening?
Yet another bit of "nudging", eh – just like hiding the salt, or banning advertising of certain foods at certain times. Your snack of choice will have a warning on it like ciggies before you know it, at this rate.
Of course, doctors have never seen a cash cow they've turned down. Under this plan, they will boost their income by giving “weight management advice” to obese patients, or offer them a free place on a diet club, which the NHS (AKA you and I) would pay for.
I'm not arguing that obesity is good. I'm just pointing out that it's not the state's role to nanny us about it, or to force some of us to pay for others to receive diet club memberships – or, worse, force us to pay for quacks to spout the bleeding obviuos.
By Alex Deane