By Antonia Uri
Nae ower lang syne, there wis an outcry on social media. Cancer Research UK haed juist release’t new advertisin, fit wis intendit tae mak a verra clear pynt. The ímage clearly read: “Obesity is a cause of cancer.” Ae quine wisna too impressed wi this idea, an cried on Twitter that it wis ‘fat-shamin’ an that the chairity should tak it doun. Than, aa o a sudden, a haundfu o trolls pop up (at least hauf o them wi eggs for profile picturs) gaun on about foo “fat fowk juist need tae get a grip an gang on a diet.” Nou, ‘at’s fit got me rile’t up. The UK is the maist obese kintra in Europe. Nae ane o the maist, but the maist. Aye, it’s aafu, but it’s nae wird o a lee aither. Tae really pit ‘at statistic intae perspective, Cancer Research UK maks it pretty clear on their wabsite that obesity can cause thirteen types o cancer aathegither, sic as kindey cancer, breist cancer, intestine cancer an oesophagus cancer. Sae foo can we improve the state o our population’s health an tak the pressure aff our NHS? Foo can we pit a stap tae the cancer epidemic that could be comin if we dinna dae something about the astoundin rate o obesity? Ah dinna think bullyin owerwecht fowk online is the wey tae dae it.
First an foremaist, aab’dy haes tae tak intae consíderation that there’s hunners o reasons fit wey some fowk are owerwecht. It can quite aften be the case that an obese person juist haesna got the energy, motivation or confidence tae get out o their bed fan it’s still pitch black outside an heid tae the gym tae dae an hour o cardio at 5am ivery mornin. But, dinna forget that there’s countless ither causes an aa. Ane o the biggest causes is haein ither health issues which can lead tae wecht gain. Ah, masel, hiv gaed fae bein a fit an healthy black belt, trainin in mairtial airts fower times a week, tae nou, some days nae bein able tae climb a set o stairs, since developin pernicious anemia fower ‘ear ago. There’s fowk fa struggle wi wecht gain because o thyroid problems, fowk fa mebbe arena sae able tae gang tae the gym efter becomin injure’t at wark, or in a caur accident. A study bi the NHS also fund that 58 per cent o fowk fa suffer fae depression are at a higher risk o becomin obese. O course, it’s a vícious cycle consíderin that bein obese can be fit causes some mental illnesses in the first place. Fowk fa are über fit an healthy can sometimes be aafu quick tae judge, but obesity is something aafu personal, an aafu complex. There’s nae juist ae wey tae tackle it, especially fan it’s caused bi unnerlyin health issues.
Juist a few weeks past the sugar tax cam intae play. There’s been plenty o argiments for an agin it (especially fae Irn Bru fans), but will it really help? Aye, mebbe taxin sugar-filled products will reduce the nummer o puir fowk fa are obese, but nae the rich anes. Onybody fa can afford tae continue tae pey for fit they crave, be it a bottle o fizzy juice or a bag o skittles, will dae so. Ye can see this easily fan ye compare the Canary Islands wi Scotland, for example. Out on islands sic as Gran Canaria an Lanzarote ye’ll see packets o cigarettes lyin about in ivery shop imaiginable, an a jumbo pack o 200 will set ye back about €19. In Aiberdeen, for the same brand ye’ll pey upwards o a tenner, for a pack o 20. ’At’s 90 per cent less cigarettes for mair than hauf o the price. Yet still, 20 per cent o Scotland’s population arena pit aff bi the high taxes an continue tae pey the comparably high price tae be smokers. If onything, a tax on sugary products will only prevent them fa live in poverty fae bein able tae indulge in a treat fan they fancy ane, an will therefore dae nae verra much except for braidenin class divísions even mair. If a sae-caad ‘solution’ causes a bigger social gap in ma kintra, than tae me it’s niver really gaun tae be an effective ane. Taxin aabody’s sugary treats isna the sweetest o ideas; there’s better anes.
Obligatory fuid education in primary scuils is a must. Teachin younger generations aa about fit healthy fuid an drinks are an foo tae prepare them is the best wey tae mak the futur brichter, an less obese. Scotland is a kintra rich in agriculture, so it’s even mair imperative an aa that our bairns unnerstaund far the produce that they eat is comin fae. They need tae ken that fish fingers come fae the North Sea an that chocolate milk disna come fae broun cous. Bairns also need tae be taucht foo tae enjoy treats like sweeties ’ithout gaun ower the score: a better idea o fit calories are, an foo they wirk, is ’ithout a dout something ah wish that ah haed learnt at the scuil. This could gang haund in haund wi mair obvious nutritional information on sweetie papers etc. Ah’m nae sayin that packagin o sweeties should follae the fitsteps o cigarettes an be completely colourless wi naething but ímages o fowk on their deith beds, but if fowk are taucht tae unnerstaund the meanin ahint nutritional information, an it’s made a lot mair prominent on aa fuid packagin, it wad nae dout mak an aafu difference.
It must be said that tellin an obese person tae “juist lose wecht” is nae far aff tellin a depressed person tae “juist be happy.” It’s juist daft! Obesity is an aafu problem for those fa are lívin throu it, an for our NHS, but scare-mongerin fowk isna the wey tae fix it. The idea ahint the sugar tax is nae a bad ane, but there’s far better weys o achievin lower levels o obesity. It’s time tae stairt thinkin about educatin young bairns mair about fuid sae that the nixt generations arena faced wi the same epidemic.
Antonia Uri is a twinty-ane year auld Doric-spikkin student o Modren Furrin Leids at Aiberdeen University. She is currently the Alba Editor at The Gaudie, an a scriever for The National. Claik awa wi her on Twitter @teuchtertoni.