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Saturday 2 January 2016

They fatten you up to slim you down

front pages 02-01-16

It's the last Saturday of the holiday. It's grey and damp. The unlit reindeer and snowmen in the wannabe Winter Wonderland gardens look sad and out of time. So maybe the papers have something to cheer us up as we ponder the return to routine on Monday?

Silly me.

The last Saturday of the holiday equals the first Saturday of January. And that means one thing: dieting. The Mail pairs up with Weightwatchers, the Mirror with Slimming World. The Fast Diet, the Atkins and the Do-Do have gone. Now we can have red wine, chocolate and eat up to slim down. We can lose 7lb in 7 days or 14lb in 56.
Promise me 56lb in 7 days and I might give it a whirl. The last time I wrote about this two years ago, I offered my own solution: eat less, move around more. My weight has since increased by a further two stone, give or take a mince pie and a sausage roll.

The slimming industry is worth billions. So no wonder newspapers give us new year, easter, bikini and party diets dotted through the year.
Here's a selection of the offerings from the first January Saturday from the past three years:

I particularly love the consistency in the Mirror from 2014 to 2015. And congratulations to the Sun for dumping the girl in the bikini with the tape measure in favour of a rather pleasing six-pack. The Times is meanwhile promoting the diet "everyone's talking about", which suggests it's superfluous, but is at least an advance on the "secret diet everyone's talking about" from a previous campaign.

Do these diets work? Obviously not. Do they sell papers? Maybe. Do they make us feel miserable? Absolutely.

But they also have a point.

We're too fat. A friend who signed up as a paramedic attached to the fire brigade to help people reports that his life is spent moving fatties who at 20, 30 and even 40 stone cannot get out of bed let alone down the stairs.
So something needs to be done - as we are told in the countless "obesity epidemic" warnings wheeled out on slow news days (one Mail splash heading last month was "Obesity in women 'as dangerous as terror threat').

If newspapers want to play their part, perhaps prevention might be a better approach than dubious cures. The Times and Mail in particular could focus a little less on consumption in trying to sell papers. Below is a montage of the food and drink puffs that appeared in national papers last month. The Sun and Star didn't go near the subject. The Mirror, Express, Telegraph and Independent had one apiece. Which sort of proves that December papers don't have to be all about Christmas. And Christmas doesn't have to be all about over-indulgence.

Christmas food puffs

Time for lunch. Happy new you!

1 comment:

  1. The most worrying thing is childhood obesity. As one consultant at Colchester hospital told me recently: “Obese children make very, very obese adults, and obesity and diabetes will bankrupt the NHS in 15 years.”

    One in ten children in Braintree, Essex, are obese when they enter infant school. Six years later, at age 11, that figure is nearly one in five*.

    The government must tackle the supermarkets, tackle the food industry and tackle our urban infrastructure to make gentle daily exercise — walking and cycling — safe and attractive. That’s not being a “nanny state”; the money-obsessed lobby groups should be viewed as foreign invaders and our politicians should be doing their age-old job: protecting the people they rule.

    We must press the government into action. The wobbly alternative of widespread ill health combined with a broken healthcare system is too horrendous to imagine.

    * Source: