Opinion – Policies and actions to shift eating patterns: What works? | Food Climate Research Network (FCRN) -John Gelmini

I would like to share my views on dealing with obesity and the related issue of poverty.

John Gelmini



What works is variable tax on foods, people not drinking carbonated drinks and people not drinking on an empty stomach.

This is a matter of political will and the toughness to legislate against tobacco companies,processed food manufacturers and the chemical industry.

Less fish and chips, frozen Mars bars, pre-packaged junk food and getting out of bed before Jeremy Kyle starts his programme and doing some walking at pace also helps.

Dr Alf’s basic question is not answered by denial nor pretending that sensible self-control on the part of everyone, rich and poor alike, is the key to tackling obesity.

Certainly the wealthy can afford trainers, de-luxe gym memberships and the like but Nicholas Soames is not the only very corpulent rich man in the world and from what I saw when I lived and worked in America will not be the last.


Poverty is a much wider issue, and to prevent it, you would have to reverse a number of unstoppable trends, including the automation and robot process, outsourcing of much of the work that the poor can do, and the gap between rich and poor widening as fast as it is.

You would have to change the way the poor think, by getting them to practice mental exercises, and be in an alpha brainwave state which rich people are generally in most of the time.

That would mean changing the education system and most of the teachers.

None of that is easy to do.

Some among the poor have the innate ability to rise above their personal misfortunes and grinding poverty. Let me share a personal example.

My late mother, who had to leave school at the age of 12 and came to this country (UK)  from a village in Southern Italy,  which the Nazis destroyed during their scorched earth policy in 1944, prior to the Allied invasion through Sicily – she knew no English, had that ability as did my late father, who had to leave school at 14 despite having won two scholarships and ended up here in the UK in 1948, doing work which the then Ministry of Labour prescribed.

Both of my late parents could actually think for themselves and kept their own counsel, worked and saved diligently and put up with being laughed at and ridiculed, rather than following the herd, which is a recipe for poverty in old age as many studies have shown.

Social workers and middle class ‘do- gooders’ have no answer to poverty because the answers come from within people and are largely mental.

We see this with pools and lottery winners who fritter away their new wealth and revert back to their former status and we see it with the “clogs to clogs” syndrome whereby an impoverished founder of a business creates an empire only to have dissolute grandchildren lose it all.

John Gelmini