Wednesday 31 August 2011

Fat Freedom

Sam Bowman writes:
Politically active groups of doctors are possibly the greatest single threat to personal freedom that there is in the UK today. Their motivation isn't necessarily their wallets, but their egos. Bullies like to use the state to push people around so they feel powerful.
The government (and the electorate, for that matter) forces people to be in the NHS. You have no choice in the matter, and you can’t opt out of it. Jamie Whyte put it well: "first the do-gooders conjure up the external costs by insisting that no one should have to pay for his own medical care, then they tell us that they must interfere with behavior that damages our health because it imposes costs on others." This is perverse and illiberal. The tax would only affect the poor – rich people's spending habits wouldn't be dented. How easy it must be for doctors to pontificate about the need for a fat tax, knowing that such a tax would hardly affect them at all.
This creepy, controlling paternalism has plenty of fans in politics on both sides of the partisan divide. Doctors are the politicians' enablers, lending the weight of their “expertise” to the nanny instinct of the political class in exchange for the feeling of being important. No amount of expertise – medical or otherwise – should give somebody the right to interfere with another adult’s choices. Nor should democracy be used as an excuse to violate the sovereignty of the individual. If fat people are costing the NHS money, that's a mark against having an NHS, not against having fat people.
Here's an upcoming conference to be held at Lincoln University, just down the road from Canterbury.
Public Health Association Conference Information
31 August – 2 September
Lincoln University, Canterbury

Creating our Future – Now
The conference Creating our Future – Now is about looking at what current public health practice is doing successfully to create a healthier future for all New Zealanders – across the socioeconomic spectrum. It will examine what makes environments and communities sustainable and resilient, and what it takes to come back from disaster. It will focus on the health of the country’s smaller ethnic groups, particularly the Asian community which is the country’s fastest-growing, but is often overlooked.

The conference is the biggest event on the 2011 public health calendar and will include papers from people working on issues that are current ‘hot topics’, such as:
  • Income inequality in New Zealand – what it means for the gap in health status between differing groups of New Zealanders.
  • Child home safety – are we tackling a “wicked problem” with tame solutions?
  • Junk food sugars resistant even to regular teeth brushing
  • The unrecognised value of the “Oldie Army” after the Canterbury quakes
  • The harm to male-female relationships contained in beer advertising
  • Casinos offering warm welcome to lonely refugees: the harm gambling does to the Asian community
  • How to reach teenagers about the dangers of tanning: is technology showing the effects of premature ageing the answer?
  • Healthline 10 years on: has it met its goals of saving money and helping those who don’t use primary care services – the elderly, adolescents, Maori, Pasifika and the poor.
  • Growing Up in New Zealand – is intervention at birth “a bit late”?
  • Diversity versus social justice – how inequities are created
  • Climate change and health – what public health practitioners can do to help mitigate the worst effects
  • Recovery from disaster – what can Christchurch learn from international experience?
Go check the conference website for abstracts of some of these papers. I, for one, wasn't aware that male self-identity was largely created by beer commercials. I suppose I ought to watch some rather than flip channels....


  1. So beer contains alcohol, has too many calories and harms male-female relationships. In addition, production and consumption are not carbon-neutral and I am sure someone will find a link between beer and delays on post-earthquake recovery.

  2. Please tell me this Pythonesque satire.

    I am glad these heroes have found a bit of time to mitigate the worst effects of climate change though.

  3. Overused word of the year: resilient