Two things have infuriated me recently (well actually probably far more than two). The crazy idea that if we display calories on menus that somehow we will reduce the level of obesity. Obesity sadly is a fact and the numbers defined as obese are increasing every year.
Smokers are on the increase too and this is despite warnings printed on cigarette packs and a ban on smoking in most public spaces.
Alcohol has warnings printed on bottles and there are restrictions on sale and advertising.
So despite all these dire warnings and bans what have we actually achieved? Not much if the truth be known.
I was in a very small bakery/cafe in Dublin's city centre recently where the menu was displayed on the wall. We were sitting on bar stools facing the wall. I glanced up and saw that beside the price of each sandwich was displayed the number of calories in each item. There was a negligible difference between any of the options apart from one which was the "diet option". If I had seen the calories displayed previous to making my choice would it have influenced me? Unlikely, because I do not eat out very often and I am educated enough to be able to tell bad calories from good. If a sandwich contains good bread, cheese, roasted vegetables and olive oil then yes it will be calorific but the calories are more beneficial than that supplied by a chocolate muffin and a latte full of refined sugar and hydrogenated fat.
Stand in a supermarket any day of the week and look at the items people buy. The people who are on a low budget invariably buy the most amount of processed foods. It is no coincidence that they are the most expensive, the most calorific and the person making the purchase is at the very minimum overweight. Stick a label on the shelf with the calorie content and see what difference that will make to the decision to purchase. I would be willing to bet none.
What is required is education; but that would be too easy and too logical for our legislators. A programme should be introduced in primary schools where the children are educated in nutrition and beneficial calories. The subject should be given the same status as the core subjects. After all the outcome of this education is going to have far more impact on their lives than any amount of maths, language or science.
All of which leads on very nicely to yobs. Yobs in every society are thankfully the minority. However, we now have to legislate for them and not for the rest. Because they can't control their bad behaviour, drinking, drug taking; the rest of us who can - are to be penalised.
In the UK recently I was in a lovely old fashioned pub selling real ales on tap. We were asked were we intending drinking inside or outside and as it was a nice evening we said outside. The barman then started pulling my ale into a plastic glass. When I asked could I not have a real glass he replied "I am not allowed to give you glass if you intend drinking outside". So because there was the possibility that a few yobs could hit each other over the head with a real glass, the 50 people outside sitting quietly, enjoying their beers on a balmy summer evening had to drink from a plastic glass.
Because a minority of people at weekends get drunk, coked up and start fights and cause mayhem the solution is to restrict the sale of alcohol and to increase the price. Once again the majority have to pay for the actions of the minority.
The actual solution is far more logical but would require a declaration of intent. Zero tolerance against any sort of anti-social behaviour and a change in legislation to allow severe punishment for any misdemeanors related to drink or drugs. Yobs need to know that should they behave as yobs the consequences will be swift and severe.
Then maybe the rest of us - the majority, can get on with making informed decisions as to what we eat and what and where we drink, to relax and enjoy our occasional treats without financial pain or guilt.