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I find it extremely sad when a member of the House of Lords publicly states that people who are obese have no one to blame but themselves, and then calls those who are obese “stupid”. This sentence caused the peers to cheer loudly. After these comments, Health Minister Earl Howe appeared to agree with him.

It is clear that Lord Tebbit, and many peers, display little love or compassion for people struggling with weight problems. It should be noted that he, and many other Tory peers, are the very people who allowed fast food chains to open on numerous street corners, forcing the closure of existing cafĂ©’s (which had existed for fifty to one hundred years).

When Lord Tebbit was a member of the Government, it was known (in the Department of Health) that fast food was very cheap and unhealthy, and contributed to obesity. Was this information made available to the public? No.

It should also be noted that the Government failed to address the problem of unhealthy school dinners, which contained little nutritional value and did not contribute to the health of school children. School meals were found to be very fattening and contribute to weight gain (due to the high amount of fat, salt and sugar used). Besides this, the same Government sold school football pitches and running tracks, which reduced or eliminated physical activity for many school children.

These days, very little Physical Education is encouraged in schools. With the rise of mobile devices, and instant sources of entertainment (computers, social media, smartphones and video games), a huge number of children lead a very sedentary lifestyle.

The factors listed above have contributed to the rise in obesity levels, but Lord Tebbit ignored all of them and instead blamed obese people.

So, where should the actual blame lie (for the obesity epidemic)?

I would start with the Government. I also blame the Education Boards, school curriculums and schools themselves. Parents of obese children must also shoulder some blame, as they are failing their children with a lack of education and guidance.

Politicians make speeches about the importance of education but they never follow through when they are elected. We all advocate a fit and healthy lifestyle for children, so they should be educated about the dangers of sugar and fat. They need to know what is harmful to their health. There should be more sport available for young children, and they should be encouraged to exercise (such as walking, running, swimming, football, tennis, rugby and so on).

The Government should take charge of this health crisis by issuing health warnings about the fast food chains, instead of bending to their wishes. They have become so powerful that they now influence Government decisions. The government should provide guidance to schools, hospitals, social workers and parents about obesity and the dangers.

Parents also need to lead by example. It is more difficult for obese parents to help their children to stay healthy, as children copy and follow the eating habits of parents. It is time that parents placed limits on the time children watch TV, play on the computer, use iPads and iPhones. They need to encourage their children to play sports and to use the recreational facilities available to them.

Now is the time for a change, before obesity costs the country billions of pounds, and bankrupts the NHS. Obesity is a global problem and one that is not going to go away. The authorities need to face the facts and issue guidelines to help people deal with obesity. Obese individuals need help to increase their health and fitness habits, but certainly don’t need the insulting remarks made by Norman Tebbit.

Overcoming obesity takes time, but it can be done when people change their eating regime and lead a healthier lifestyle.