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EDITIONS
Monday, 14 October, 2002, 09:52 GMT 10:52 UK
'Let people eat what they want'
Fast food
Many people eat large amounts of fast food
A campaigning group has been set up to defend people's right to eat whatever they like - even if it is unhealthy.

The new group, the Free Society, set up by FOREST, the smokers' rights group, argues that the UK Government has no right to try to bully people into eating the foods it thinks they should be eating.


If people wish to eat themselves to death by eating too much fatty food that has to be their choice

Simon Clark
FOREST director Simon Clark told the BBC that he accepted the government had a role to play in promoting a healthy lifestyle.

However, he said: "The problem is that government is now trying to interfere in so many aspects of our lives."

Mr Clark said the UK was following the lead of the US, where a group called Obesity International is campaigning to ban junk food.

"Certain American companies are monitoring what their employees eat at lunch, and if they eat too much of the wrong type of food they get a call in the afternoon from the company doctor, they get a lecture, and maybe are even threatened with dismissal if they go on eating that type of food."

He also cited the "personal crusade" announced by Scottish First Minister Jack McConnell to change the unhealthy eating habits of the Scottish people.

Antony Worrall-Thompson
Chef Antony Worrall-Thompson supports the campaign
"We do know that up in Scotland they have got a bad record for eating the wrong things.

"But as soon as you get politicians talking about personal crusades that suggests a form of coercion because you cannot believe a politician is going to wait 30 or 50 years for people to be gradually educated to eat better.

"They will start, for example, to use taxation as a form of social engineering. Only recently the left-wing think tank Demos called for additional taxation on fatty foods and dairy products, and that's where we think enough is enough.

"If people wish to eat themselves to death by eating too much fatty food that has to be their choice. It is up to them how they wish to live their lives."

Educate, not regulate

Chef Antony Worrall-Thompson said it was fine to educate people about healthy eating, but any type of regulation would be wrong.

"We have got to nip this culture in the bud. Let people make their choice."

Dr Ian Campbell, author of the Fatmanslim Diet, said the aim of health promotion was to give people the information to make a choice about whether to adopt a healthy lifestyle.

But he said: "We have a major problem with obesity, and we really have to look at all measures possible.

"The government has to do something, and people have to take personal responsibility for their weight."

However, Dr Campbell said a fat tax would be highly controversial, particularly as the poorest members of society tended to have the most fatty diets.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The FOREST director responds to a slimming author
"Government is taking over our lives"
See also:

13 Dec 00 | Health
12 Sep 02 | Health
09 Sep 02 | Leicester 2002
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