It’s not often that I add something from the junk food shelf to my garage petrol bill, but the other day my chocolate cravings got the better of me, and somehow a ‘Drifter’ managed to overpower my conscience and leap onto the counter.
It used to be my bar of choice, but it had been a while since the two of us had crossed paths, so imagine my surprise at what they had done to the ‘chewy chocolate bar that you can really get your teeth into.’
My old biscuit and caramel friend had been shrunk, so much so, that he may as well have been re-labelled ‘Rifter.’
It seems it is a familiar tale of woe with many of my ‘Facebook friends’ who complain of similar, smaller experiences – ‘Mars Bars have been narrowed and the thick chocolate swirls have disappeared from the top’. ‘Wagon Wheels, which used to be as big as your hand, are only fit for dinky toys’.
Apparently, this is down to a new phenomenon called ‘shrinkflation’ – the process of making things smaller, charging us the same money and hoping we don’t notice that we have been ripped off.
The Government is now proposing to borrow the shrink-ray gun and point it at fast food and ready meals, not for profit, but to help tackle the rising childhood obesity epidemic.
As I have mentioned in this column before, a third of children in this city are overweight or obese, and the figures are getting worse. Much of the rise is blamed on inactivity, fast food and ready meals and there is no doubt that urgent action is required.
The Government are now drawing up guidelines to drastically cut calories in popular fatty and sugary foods that are commonly eaten by children.
Manufacturers will be asked to make their products smaller or change the ingredients – in theory, burgers would be made thinner and crisp packets smaller and kids would eat less, in theory.
You see this new code will be voluntary, with no penalties, so they are going to have ask Mr Ronald McDonald very, very nicely if they want him to halve his hash browns or fiddle with his fries.
Campaigners are calling for compulsory regulation of products, along with a ban on TV advertising of junk food .
But, I think there is also an easy way to help stop children eating stuff which will put them in an early grave – education. The future health of our young in this city and beyond, is as important in my opinion as science, maths, English and physics, so with immediate effect we should re-introduce food education onto the curriculum.
Let’s make it compulsory for schools to have at least one lesson of physical education every day of the week, the kids might not thank us for it, but within a couple of months they will be able to throw away their elasticated trousers.
Let’s teach our children what is good for them, and what is not. How to make more than just beans on toast and why burgers will eventually give you a backside the size of a small horse. As a society, we are letting them down, we are allowing them to be poisoned without providing the antidote and we should put pressure on those in power to effect change immediately.
Let’s save the children.