The en­vi­ron­ment in­side our skins

The Guardian - - LETTERS -

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.

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