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Chicken Tonight, zoo tomorrow

It’s time to add another tune to the NHS Music Hall of Fame. We already have the CPR friendly anthem, 'Staying Alive', the dermatologists’ paean to scabies, 'I’ve got you under my skin' and now I offer for your consideration the children’s favourite, 'Mummy’s taking us to the zoo tomorrow'. We can stay all day.

Even so, we’re not going to see the elephants with their longs trunks swinging, nor will we get to watch the monkeys scritch scritch scratching. No, we’re going to the zoo tomorrow because Daddy’s morbidly obese and he can’t fit in to the NHS hospital’s CT scanner.

Well, that’s the story according to the Daily Mirror. London Zoo denied receiving any requests to put people through their elephant scanner but I’ve taken anything they say with a pinch of salt since my last visit. I had adopted a chimpanzee in good faith. When I visited he was nowhere to be found. The Keeper just pointed at some very small print on the keepsake portrait I’d received with my birthday card. 'Photo of species for illustrative purposes only.' Lying bastards.

Just up the A1 in Hatfield, the Royal Veterinary College’s racehorse hospital admitted that it had been asked to slot 'Fat Bloke Down the Pub' in between 'Dog Food Future' and 'Good Only for Glue'. However, it turned down the opportunity as the machine isn’t licensed for use on humans.

Meanwhile in The Sun we read of the 17 year old girl who had eaten virtually nothing but chicken nuggets and chips since she was two years old. It breaks her poor mother’s heart to watch her pile down those tasty bite sized morsels day after day, it really does.

Unless their picture editors had been busier than usual with their Photoshop software, the patient in question - she’s a patient because she was hospitalised with features of vitamin B deficiency - isn’t nearly as chubby as you’d expect. Suffice to say that her doctors were 'horrified', probably in the way that only a resigned shrug of the shoulders can convey horror to a passing tabloid journalist.

It’s not all bad. When the chicken addict finally succumbs to beri-beri or whatever, Mum’s going to be quids in selling all her Happy Meal toys on eBay.

I’m obsessed by junk food junkies at the moment because I recently spent a morning being educated about liver disease. Those fatty changes that we used to laugh off as fat blokes’ attempts to manufacture their own personal foie gras now have a name (NASH) and are thought to progress to cirrhosis. If obesity rates carry on rising as they are we’ll soon reach the point where there won’t be enough healthy livers around to harvest for donation to patients needing transplants.

Worse still, the tendency to obesity is genetic, if you’re breast fed by an obese mother, even if you’re a naturally lean baby, your insulin resistance rises and all sorts of bad things happen to your lipid profile.

So we have to tell fat blokes to eat better. No surprises there. But should we also be telling fat women who roll up to their antenatal appointments with a burger and fries not to breast feed? Relax. As if they ever planned to anyway...

Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex