- The Washington Times - Monday, June 4, 2018


The food police and the fat patrols are at it again, this latest “oh no!” courtesy of the World Health Organization (WHO), which is goading “leaders” around the globe to urge us toward regular physical activity to prevent and treat noncommunicable illness.

It’s a noble cause, especially when you consider the fact that noncommunicable diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, breast and colon cancer are responsible for 71 percent of all deaths in the world, WHO says in a new report.

It’s also interesting to note that Scotland is donning the badge of the food police, those ornery groupies who insist on regulating what we put in our mouths. Fruit juices and smoothies are out. “Unhealthy foods” such as bacon, sausage and red meat are limited. (And the lambs won’t be silenced for school lunches). So the mums need to be mindful: If they want Lily and Sean to have bacon with their egg sandwich, they must remember to slip a few slices in a plastic baggie and hope the bacon bullies never sniff them out.

Scots say they’re just looking out for pudgy and obese kiddies amid calls for legislation to restrict multi-buy offers on unhealthy food and drink. (Cup your ears and you can hear the U.S. gasps from Costco, BJ’s and Sam’s Club lovers.)

Parents in Anycity, USA, can taste school menus and see how yucky some of the food is.

Meanwhile, WHO claims that a key to solving the obesity problem is to simply move. Kids and older children, the WHO says, need to be more active. Once-a-week ballet classes might not be enough, and kicking around a soccer ball for 15 minutes a day might not be enough either.

As for adults, chase your sweetie on a stationary bike and work up a good sweat to help beat back heart disease. Also good for adults: walking instead of driving to Whole Foods, where you can buy all the gratifying produce you want for fruit juices and smoothies to pour into your kids’ bottles. (Remember, the food police are in the school cafeteria, not your kitchen.) Older folks should walk, run, bike, swim — whatever gets them out and about.

What’s grating about WHO, though, is its broad call for “leaders at all levels” to push the message and its cheap shot at cities.

“Being active is critical for health. But in our modern world, this is becoming more and more of a challenge, largely because our cities and communities aren’t designed in the right ways,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “We need leaders at all levels to help people to take the healthier step. This works best at city level, where most responsibility lies for creating healthier spaces.”

Begging the good doctor’s pardon, but the lack of healthier spaces — the world’s parks, woodlands and forests, educational and spiritual facilities, farms and outdoor markets, paved and roadways, ponds, pools, rivers and lakes, and sports fields and gym facilities — are not the problem. They are the solution. Government dependence can be a problem, however.

If we mislead people to believe that the government holds all the cards, then what a sicker world this would be.

Sure, even in the United States, it would be nice to have more public soccer, softball and swimming facilities. And I’m certain Puerto Rico, which was blown away by hurricanes last season, would not mind one bit if those facilities were available in nontourist areas. The same goes for folks in parts of Southeast Asia, and West and North Africa.

None of that means the new “WHO Global action plan on physical activity and health 2018-2030: More active people for a healthier world” doesn’t serve a noble cause. Battling obesity, sedentary living, Ebola, Zika, measles and other communicable diseases are all important indeed.

Still, such WHO pronouncements must be taken with several grains of salt, iodized or otherwise, lest they begin proposing heavy-handed government, which always comes with a heavy price.

And the U.S. and the U.K. are the go-to Daddy Bigbucks.

Deborah Simmons can be contacted at [email protected]

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