Fat is a capitalist issue

16 Aug

The men who made us fat … employ an army of food scientists and psychologists to trick us into eating more than we need, while advertisers use the latest findings in neuroscience to overcome our resistance.

They hire biddable scientists to confuse us about the causes of obesity. Just as the tobacco companies did with smoking, they claim weight is about “personal responsibility”. After spending billions on overriding our willpower, they blame us for failing to exercise it.

Readers of this blog know of my dismay with George Monbiot over Syria. It’s not just that he’s wrong. God knows, we can all of us be that, and in any case many of my friends are also wrong on why Assad is vilified by leaders and media. That doesn’t make them no longer my friends – or if it does, the loss is not of my making. No, my dismay has to do with the manner in which Monbiot conducts his Damascus bashing: his traducing of those who don’t share his view, and refusal to engage with relevant experts who’ve thrown down serious challenges to allegations underpinning Syria’s (and Russia’s) demonisation. See for instance my post of last November.

But I’ve never let that dismay get in the way of appreciating what Monbiot does get right. I’ve seen his views evolve from idealistic environmentalist to effective monitor of the links between the trashing of our planet and interests of big money. More recently I’ve seen him expand his focus (and not always wished he hadn’t) as with his writings on loneliness, and willingness to expose to the world, without self pity, his experience of prostate cancer. This is the Monbiot I continue to admire.

I’m happy therefore to recommend his piece in yesterday’s Guardian on the alarming increase in Western obesity. Fat may indeed be a feminist issue but, as George lays bare with customary – Syria excepted – incisiveness, it is also a capitalist one.


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