It's just not what I wanted to see after a busy day at the office. Just got home - traffic was shocking with the onslaught of Scotch mist (torrential rain) - attended to one or two ‘must do's' before sitting down to a relatively healthy, cooked-from-scratch dinner (note - trying to practise what I preach).
Popped on the news, the usual stuff about life in 2006, and then it happened. An utterly horrible image appeared on the box - a young girl glugging away at a litre bottle of cooking oil. It almost made me choke on my corn on the cob!
Apparently, kids today drink the equivalent of five litres of cooking oil a year as a result of their packet-a-day crisp habit. According to the British Heart Foundation (BHF), nearly a fifth of kids eat two packets of crisps a day and it is their campaign, aptly titled ‘Food4Thought’ that is trying to expose hidden salt, fat and sugar in common foods.
What made me laugh was the response from the Snacks, Nuts and Crisps Manufacturers Association who claimed the BHF had overestimated the oil content in crisps by calculating the oil in larger 50g packets rather than the standard 35g packet. They said it should have been calculated on two and a half teaspoons per packet, not three and a half. What?! Two and a half teaspoons per packet is still a horrendous thought - in fact breaking the annual amount down into a ‘teaspoons per packet’ figure only makes the imagery worse in my mind.
This recent BHF campaign may in part be a response to the recent Department of Health report estimating that by 2010 there will be one million obese kids in England alone. The NHS, already busting at the seams, can only be reading with dread the projected explosion of diabetes, cancer, heart disease and stroke in the years to come.
And so to my point - it took a while but better late than never. The nation’s attitude to food, as identified by the BHF’s campaign and the Department of Health’s report, paints a worrying picture. And if the NHS can’t cope with the financial implications, who can? Patricia Hewitt, secretary of state for health, raised this very concern at the recent Institute for Public Policy Research event I attended.
Quite simply, it’s the responsibility of the individual to weigh up the risks associated with their lifestyle and put adequate financial protection in place for themselves and their family if things go wrong. Hoping for the best and thinking the state will bail us out is a fantasy. As a nation, we have to face reality, even if it does mean watching a 16-year old downing a litre of cooking oil . Double yuck!
Nick Kirwan is protection market director at Scottish Widows.
The views expressed are those of the author and not those of the company he represents.IFAonline
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