SIRC Media Watch Archive
Comment and Opinion – January 2004

Run for your life by Dale M. Atrens. As both No. 10 and the popular press remind us on a daily basis, we are becoming fatter at an alarming rate. According to current projections by next Christmas most of us will show up in aerial photographs. An Australian newspaper warned that obesity was increasing so fast that today's parents will outlive their children. This suggests a lifespan reduction of more than 25 years in a single generation. We are told that the key to avoiding this grizzly fate is to become more active. Although health authorities are loath to admit it, the sky may not be falling. Their recalcitrance on this essential point may stem from the fact that stable skies are bad for business. There's nothing like a riveting health scare to keep the cash registers jingling. During the great leap forward of corpulence longevity has increased greatly. It is absurd to expect this salutary trend to stop in its tracks and suddenly drag us into an abyss. Full article.

A SAD occasion. January 28th is Salt Awareness Day — or SAD for short. It is organised by a group called Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) whose Chairman is the ubiquitous Graham MacGregor, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at St George's Hospital in London. But rather than being an opportunity to increase appreciation of this fundamental, life-preserving ingredient in our diet, SAD 2004 promises to be a very joyless occasion. Full article.

"We ARE traffic!" – Critical Mass and the politicisation of the bicycle. Critical Mass has existed as an "unorganised coincidence" since the early nineties, when a group of cyclists in San Francisco decided to cycle home from work en masse on the last Friday of every month. The initial numbers involved were small – around 45-50 attending the first rides – but the movement (if it can be called this) has blossomed into a world-wide phenomenon, with rides across the globe attracting thousands of cyclists and Critical Mass itself becoming a symbol of successful, peaceful protest. However, the word "protest" is a loaded one, and despite the significant presence of Critical Mass cyclists at events like anti-capitalist May Day protests and marches against the 2003 Iraq war, Critical Mass literature is keen to emphasise the lack of dogmatic ideology behind the rides themselves. Full article

Thin excuses. A young man named Colin Ord is featured in a BBC Online story plugging the Food Standards Agency's determination to be tough on the cause of obesity. They are, we are told, 'calling together a high-level team of chefs, nutritionists and advertising agencies to discuss whether more can be done to discourage children from eating the wrong foods.' The hapless Colin Ord, who once weighed 33 stone at the age of 15, portrays himself as a victim of 'junk food' marketing, noting that one of the main factors contributing to his massive girth was "the way food was marketed towards my age group. You would see promotions on the television by fast food restaurants tied in with films, and you would get little toys, etc." Neither he, nor his mother apparently, was aware that these foods, eaten to gross excess, might damage his health.Full bulletin