Blaise Tapp writes: If the accepted caricature of the French is a bloke in a beret and a stripy jumper with a string a onions around his neck, it wouldn’t be way off the mark to stereotype Brits with an image of a fatty with three inches of bum cleavage on display, a pie in one hand and a pint in the other.
There were grim warnings last week that the obesity crisis - everything seems to be running at crisis levels these days - is becoming so bad that it could only be a matter of time before we are officially the fat man, and woman, of Europe.
This is a title we really don’t want and, according to data that’s just been published by the World Health Organisation, we are on track to overtake both Turkey and Malta as the nation with the highest levels of obesity in the continent.
As it stands, more than a quarter of the adult population, 28 per cent, is classed as obese and, at the rate that we are filling our cakeholes, this could soar to the 37 per cent in the next decade.
Predictably, this unwelcome expansion of our collective waistline, is being blamed on Covid and the fact that millions of us resisted following Captain Tom’s very noble example of walking around his back garden during lockdown and stayed indoors. Not only did many people not venture beyond their front doors but they developed a taste for home delivered grub which, let’s be honest, isn’t all that good for you.
There was a time when we used to laugh at the eating habits of the Americans but now, like pretty much everything else, we are emulating them on this front too.
Despite the many earnest pledges made back in March 2020, I’m not sure I know anybody who learnt a new language or sorted their life out during lockdown but I do plenty who gained at least 20 pounds in weight and discovered how to get hold of Nepalese cuisine at two o’clock on a Tuesday morning.
Scoffing a bhaji and a prawn bhuna while ploughing through all that Netflix has to offer, became a habit that many don’t show any sign of snapping out of.
As someone in need of shifting a stone or four, I am very much part of the problem, although, in my defence, I’m making a bit of an effort. But only a bit.
Since Christmas, I’ve lost more than half a stone, which sounds impressive until I tell you that in December I weighed more than Tyson Fury, who is at least eight inches taller than me.
There’s much, much more I can do, but takeaways are now a treat rather than part of my routine and much of what we eat is freshly prepared. I’m lucky that I have both the money to buy decent ingredients and the time to cook them, but eating healthily is largely down to education, which needs to be driven by the wine and cheese loving folk who run this country.
Mrs Tapp has recently reached her target weight, which has meant that I’ve had to think twice before scoffing double pastries for lunch. Thanks to the dog I’m now walking more than at any point in my life, and that has certainly helped.
The bigger picture is trickier and can only be solved if those who wield power, effectively tackle our obsession with rubbish food.