The environment inside our skins
The obesity epidemic (Report, 11 October), like lung cancer, has a single chief cause which can be found by following the money. The profit from this epidemic can be found in the pockets of the food industry. We now accept that polluters pay for polluting the environment outside our skins, but we have another equally important environment inside our skins. Over 100 years ago Claude Bernard introduced this idea and said: “The stability of the internal environment is the condition for the free and independent life.” Much research since Bernard’s time has verified the importance of the internal environment and hence the importance of what goes into it.
The cost of treating obesity in the NHS should fall on the shoulders of those who profit by causing it. The food industry cooperates well in defending its products, so it should have no difficulty in deciding how to apportion the costs of this epidemic and helping to restore our free and independent lives. Gwen Parr Pulborough, West Sussex • Look at those old photos of wartime children in Britain – not a fat child in sight. Sugar was rationed then, and I still have a distaste for sweet food. Perhaps sugar should be seen as the drug it is. Drug dealers go to prison. Problem solved. Lizzie Hill Guildford, Surrey surroundings, sarcastically. “I could lose all of this?” Which is why Brexit pub logic goes something like this: so what if the country collapses economically? At least then they will know what it feels like to be us.
Remain still don’t get why so many people voted leave. They keep repeating that it is the poor who will lose out the most, appealing to Homo economicus. They keep believing that it was stupidity or gullibility that made poor leavers side with dangerous fools like Boris Johnson. But that is not going to cut it. The people who really hate the way Brexit is going are the people who have got something to lose. When you have nothing to lose, being told you could lose it all doesn’t count for much. Which is why the more Nick Clegg and his Waitrose friends speak of the coming apocalypse, the more some will feel: fine, bring it on.
This logic has understandably panicked the progressive middle classes. But the language of the cliff edge offers little fear to those well practised at falling off it. And until we find a radical way to rebalance our economy, such that all share in its benefits, the middle classes will find that democracy will sometimes hand power to those who are perfectly prepared to play chicken with economic failure.