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A topsy-turvy state of affairs

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‘You have to check out the posh scales in there.’

I was in the queue for the toilet at a party, when an emerging fellow partygoer offered me this rather quirky bit of advice.

There is no point taxing junk food then cutting benefits for the poorest

Bladder voided, I looked around expecting to see a diamante-encrusted weighing machine or something equally kitsch, but all I encountered was a perfectly ordinary looking pair of bathroom scales. It was only on closer inspection I realised what was ‘posh’ about them was the fact they only went up to 16 stone.

This was rather a well to do household and like many well off people the householders were very slim.

The scales in my surgery go up to 24 stone and I’ve got many patients who turn the dial past that. They are always the ones who insist on slipping off the flimsiest pair of shoes before weighing, like that will make any difference. It’s a bit like an elephant blowing some stray bits of hay off its back before a weight in.

Throughout most of human history (and still the case in many parts of the world) being fat was a sign of prosperity. Now, in our modern society, broadly speaking, the poor are fat and the wealthy slim.

It’s a topsy-turvy screwed up state of affairs when an apple, which requires no more processing then being picked off a tree, is way more expensive calorie for calorie, than a highly processed fat and sugar laden donut.

So a sugar tax is certainly a good start, but we also need to look at the bigger picture.

There is no point taxing junk food then at the same time cutting the benefits for the poorest in society. People on a tight budget with a large family to feed are always going to look for food that gives most calories for their money.

While the likes of Osborne, Hunt and Cameron can sate their offsprings’ appetites with a slice of venison and sun-dried tomatoes on ciabatta, I don’t think a few extra pence on a can of sugary pop is necessarily going to stop the poorest in society using high energy drinks to keep their childrens’ hunger pangs at bay.

Dr David Turner is a GP in west London

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