The leader writer for the Guardian must be a Fat Bastard incapable of controlling his or her urge to buy and eat food. Last week Fat Bastard lamented that government wasn’t doing enough to help people stop eating too much and claimed that “there is a great deal the government can do to help.” Well, Fat Bastard, just what do you have in mind?

“Labelling supermarket food is a start.”

OK. I was at the supermarket today. I bought a tin of peas. When I got home and opened them, guess what? It was a tin of peas! Just what the frickin’ label said! Moreover, the incredibly helpful people at “Bigga Peas” provided me with a nutritional information section which listed just what was in the tin of peas, besides “pea.” Salt content, vitamins, water, sugar – all there, including some info about recommended daily allowances of stuff.

Fat Bastard realises this, but has another problem: “A better approach would be to recognise that many of us buy food when we are hungry.”

Genius. Pure genius. Human beings buy food when they are hungry. Noble prize award for research into the human condition! Fat Bastard must find this phenomenon wonderful and original. I wonder would he be as excited to find that not only do human beings buy food when they are hungry, but we also piss when our bladder is full , sleep when we’re tired, and scratch our balls when they get itchy.

Continuing: “The journey home from work or school is fraught with unhealthy temptations: crisps from the corner shop, a fried chicken takeaway, a call to the pizza company. This is when resolve is at its weakest.”

Yeah…all those nasty food companies manipulating us into gorging ourselves on “unhealthy” food. I walk home every single day of the week past several sandwich outlets, a Burger King, a McDonalds, a KFC, countless other stores in the centre of Belfast City and not once have I indulged myself. But, even if a person does, so what? What does it matter to Fat Bastard? People are responsible for their own culinary decisions. No one stops them in the middle of the street to force feed Kentucky Fried Chicken down their fat throats into their tubby tummies. It’s not terribly difficult to walk past them.

Fat Bastard thinks things are more tricky: “It takes careful planning to ensure there are fresh fruit and vegetables at home.” Careful planning, eh? Wars require careful planning. Buying a house requires careful planning. Building a career takes careful planning. Having fruit and veg in your house takes a shopping trip. It’s as careful as walking into a fruit shop at some point and buying an apple and a cauliflower.

Fat Bastard patronises people with his diatribe against personal responsibility. We just can‘t do it on our own. We need the help of government. We need a reduction in the number of fast food outlets. We need government help to get us exercising more. We need to be told what is good and what is bad. We can’t do it ourselves. He ends with: “Ms Hewitt could do more to help us turn away from the takeaway.” Us? Who is this? It certainly isn’t me.

Fat Bastard is a typical cultural phenomena: blame everyone for the state of your life, except yourself. Many people don’t seem to think they are in control of themselves. Perhaps this is a culture manipulated by those who want to control the lives of other people. If you make people think they can’t cope with normal everyday decisions – like what to eat – then they will be more open to swallowing all manner of interference into their lives.

I’m constantly amazed at the excuses people give for obesity that lets fat people off the hook of their own personal responsibility. Last year The Times newspaper carried a report outlining research by a group of German scientists that concludes that some fat people can rightly blame their metabolism, and a gene that controls it, for making them obese. And thus, fat people everywhere will delightedly hold onto this new excuse for their size, along with the other typical excuse – “water retention.” Burger & fries retention anyone?

We need some common sense. Every time you see an obese person ask yourself this question: did they get that size eating fruit and salads? You’ll find that you intuitively, and quite rightly, answer that in the negative. Even the afore mentioned German scientists have qualified their conclusions to say that the rogue gene is not a very common cause for obesity, that it isn’t the whole problem and sole cause of obesity, and that even among those who have the gene, many still remain thin. So, folks, we can remain steadfast in our position: on the whole, obese people are the way they are because they simply won’t stop stuffing their fat faces with cakes. Pure fact with whipped cream on top.

However, in the recent discussion of obesity I find it odd that very few people are willing to put the blame where it properly lies: with those who eat too much. Discussion, after report, after news column constantly lays the blame at someone else’s doorstep: it’s the fault of food manufacturers who don’t label food correctly, or it’s the fault of all those advertisements on television brain-washing us into eating more chips, cheese or chocolate bars. And most people seem to think that this is “our problem,” and that “government must do something:” perhaps tax ‘unhealthy’ food or legislate some kind of advertising control so as to stop chunky Charlie chomping on cheddar. In other words, a great many people think that the way to make the population of the country slim is to make the government grossly obese.

A major flaw in the whole debate is the assumption that there is such a thing as “unhealthy” food. No food is inherently unhealthy. It all depends on the dosage. People are eating too much and not doing enough physically. Fat people don’t get fat by eating a cake. They get fat by eating 100’s of cakes, burgers, fries, and the like, all day every day.

This isn’t just a problem amongst the adult population either. It seems as if the ‘little ones’ aren’t really all that little anymore. In fact they’re turning into beach balls with legs. In response to this child-expanding phenomenon, we had, some time ago, the publishing of a draconian, even hysterical, Health Committee report, which more or less stated that virtually everyone must carry the can for this: everyone, that is, except for parents of fat children and fat people themselves, whose only can carrying is that which takes place in the 10 yards between the local supermarket and the family car.

One of the more bizarre sections in the report was the criticism of the government failure, after 10 years of trying, to implement a “walking strategy.” Outrageous! Think of all the lives that could have been saved if government had only released details of that wonder-working phenomenon known to most of us as “putting one foot in front of the other.” It is noteworthy that human kind has done remarkably well without a “walking strategy” ever since primitive man first lifted his knuckles off the ground to pursue hairy mammoths. Unfortunately these days human beings are themselves turning into mammoths through their reluctance to move.

After bombarding us with emotive statistics and horror stories, such as that of a 3-year-old child dying from obesity (which, as it turned out, was caused by a medical condition rather than over-eating – a minor fact pushed to the sidelines for the purposes of social engineering) the report suggests some tactics, many of which caused not just a few raised eyebrows.

It recommended a voluntary ban on junk food advertising aimed at children, followed by a government ban by 2007 if this fails. What in the name of Burger King is this meant to achieve? Children do not earn money and I’ve certainly never seen any doing the weekly family shop at Tesco. They eat only what their parents give them. If your child is obese then stop giving them too many sweets and burgers and ensure they get exercise. Of course, one of the reasons for such a measure is to aid parents when it comes to a child’s supposed “pester power.” What? I realise that some parents are far too stupid to have children, but is there really a new breed of parent that can’t even use a mere 1 syllable word – “no” – when a child asks for it’s third packet of potato crisps or a daily trip to Burger King?

Another insane recommendation was the suggestion that food sold in supermarkets should be labelled in accordance to a traffic light system: red for high in fat, and green for, well, lettuce, I suppose. This idea is based on fuzzy thinking and would be most unhelpful. Foods that are high in fat might also be high in protein, calcium and iron – all of which are essential in any healthy diet. Again the underlying problem is the assumption that there is such a thing as unhealthy food or “food that makes you fat.” But, as I have said, no food is inherently unhealthy, it all depends on the dosage. One cheeseburger a week is not going to make you obese or have a drastic effect on your health (unless, of course, its surface area is 20 square feet), although 10 cheeseburgers a week certainly will. Moreover, you don’t even need to eat fat in order to get fat. If you were to eat incredibly humongous portions of pasta you would soon find yourself expanding at the middle. Why? Because your body has a rather miraculous process by which it creates and stores fat all by itself. Neat, huh? I love biology.

The tone of such reports and news columns are also quite worrying. Consumers are treated as if we’re gormless, gullible and feeble victims of business marketing, or brain-dead zombies irresistibly susceptible to corporate programming. Of course, people do make bad choices, but it must be recognised that people do indeed have a choice, and that we must all learn to look after ourselves rather than be spoon-fed the typical mush from Nanny. No marketing is irresistible, and so in virtually every case obesity is caused not by corporate brainwashing, but entirely by personal volition. No amount of government programmes or medical assistance is going to prevent people going to the fridge at 2am to polish off that sizable wedge of cake insidiously lurking with it’s army of calories behind the semi-skimmed milk.

The solution to the problem of obesity is much easier that this national puzzle that it has become. We don’t need to visit health food shops to buy minute portions of ‘vital’ vitamins, ‘essential’ oils, or some weird brand of ‘indispensable’ small red seeds at grossly overweight prices (having never used any of these ‘essential,’ ‘vital,’ or indispensable products perhaps I‘m just very lucky to still be a living, breathing entity). In fact, the solution is even easier than living according to the Atkins diet. All we need is a new, amazingly simple, diet. And thus I present this new diet, fated, hopefully, to take over from Atkins. I call it “Graham’s Stop-Start Diet.” Stop stuffing your fat face. Start moving your fat ass.

Stephen Graham