The government’s Health Select Committee has said that the best thing the government could to to combat obesity would be to hit its targets for increased cycle use.
The MPs Select Committee’s obesity report, out today, states:
“If the Government were to achieve its target of trebling cycling in the period 2000-2010 … that might achieve more in the fight against obesity than any individual measure we recommend within this report.”
Unless you’ve been in a media-devoid bubble recently you’ll have heard plenty about a nation-wide increase in obesity and a plethora of government measures and proposals to slim down the nation. These vary from legislating for the correct labelling of foodstuffs, to changing what food is available to children in schools. People from all across the political spectrum seem to be falling over themselves to make pronouncements on how we should tackle the ‘obesity issue’: A Green Party representative on this morning’s Radio Four Today programme even suggested a ban on advertising and celebrity endorsement of ‘bad foods’ like crisps. Bad luck Gary.
But, while nutrition is obviously important, the Select Committee report suggests that the answer may be a lot simpler than all these proposals to monitor, moderate, ban and pontificate: The single most effective weapon in the war on fat, the committee suggests, could be to get more people cycling, more often.
Of course, this involves not just making the roads appear safer to potential cyclists, but actually making them safer by tackling issues such as car speeds and driver awareness and responsibility. It then requires encouraging cyclists to take to the roads and helping them do so safely with road cycling training programmes and, of course, tax breaks on bikes…