Same old lines, all new (waste of) money

The UK government launched a campaign today that seems scarily influenced by the likes of Katie Hopkins. The ‘eat less, move more, put out that fag and pour that pint away’ campaign – or the ‘One You’ campaign as it is officially known, is aimed at tackling the over 40’s middle aged spread and has cost the NHS 3.5million to essentially tell you information that you could easily decipher from a tabloid newspaper.

Critics of the campaign have branded it ‘patronising’, especially as it is aimed at a group of adults that are not just set in their ways but are presumably more worried with how to pay the bills than have the government suggest they skip that post work drink or that extra spoonful at dinner.

And while SLiNK magazine and myself are pro getting ‘Up, Out and Active’, there are definitely better ways to encourage and help people towards healthier choices.

The ‘One You‘ campaign asks viewers (there are tv adverts to direct viewers to an online survey) if they feel ‘fat and flabby’, ‘down in the dumps’ or ‘really knackered’ amongst other trivialising statements.

We know that there is a link – rarely discussed – between mental health and obesity – but asking if people are ‘down in the dumps’ not only suggests that the government is once again down-playing mental health needs but also implies that being a certain size will fix all your problems.

Lecturing adults – who are busy generating tax money for the government to sadly waste on a campaign which talks to them like eight year olds, is unlikely to be a great success but will of course allow them to chime, ‘Well at least we tried’.

But I don’t like to bash something without giving it a go. I tried the quiz – which was well laid out but the final analysis called for essentially no skill (you can try the quiz here)

It told me that not smoking was the best decision I have made for my health – thanks!
That I eat pretty healthily – I know this;
And that I should be doing 30 minutes of exercise, five times a week. I know this too, but at the moment twice a week is what I can schedule and I’m cool with that because I am an adult and that is my decision.
I don’t drink excessively (I was not counting my out of character birthday tequila at the weekend). And though the quiz asks for age, when I did it with my Dad and someone older than him, the advice was identical and doesn’t seem to account for scaling abilities or ages; it also doesn’t take into account any existing medical conditions either.

It is essentially utterly frothy at best and a total waste of money at worst.

It ends by giving you 4 apps that can be downloaded to tackle four key areas (exercise, drinking, smoking and food) but again, the likelihood of follow through seems very low. The whole process feels totally impractical and doesn’t take into account just how complicated health is.

In a period where there doesn’t seem to be enough money for district nurses, junior doctors and life saving treatments, do we really want our NHS to spend what money it does have rolling out a campaign that has very little practical end use?

We know that health and fitness and what we put in our bodies is important so why can’t we spend the 3.5million sensibly – like subsidising gym memberships, or ensuring that all areas have facilities for people to work out at. Imagine if we changed the age of allowing people to buy cigarettes or drink! We could subsidise healthier food options or even – and this is radical of course – ensure that food companies are legislated and managed and aren’t allowed to get away with pumping processed food with whatever they like. In an era where food banks are becoming more and more heavily relied on, this kind of waste of money shows just how out of touch the government can be.

Of course at the end of the day, when it comes down to it, the choice, as it should be, is our own. For the majority of us, we can choose the remote or a pair of trainers at the end of each day. And the ability to choose should be ours, after all they are our bodies and our lives but the government should be there to help us make choices and protect us as best they can through sensible subsidies, access and legislation; not patronising, money-wasting campaigns.


-- Editor-in-Chief SLiNK Magazine