Plain packs for chips: enough with the nannying

An alleged health expert, Professor Wolfram Schultz, has proposed that junk food be wrapped in plain, unexciting packaging in order to tackle obesity.

Schultz, who was recently awarded the Brain Prize for neuroscience, said ‘there should be some way of regulating the desire to get more calories. We don’t need these calories.’

His proposal is not only insulting – Schultz seems to think we are at the mercy of pretty packaging – it would also undermine individual freedom.

Adults should have the right to be as fat as they please. It is nobody’s business how healthy you are. And it is no one’s fault but your own if your junk food habit gives you health problems.

The truly troubling thing is that Schultz’s suggestion could well be adopted. After all, cigarettes are now sold in ‘plain packs’ (they’re actually covered in graphic warnings). And public-health lobbyists are constantly comparing junk food to ‘the new tobacco’.

If someone wants a Big Mac, let them have a Big Mac. If they want to wash it down with a huge chocolate milkshake, let them go for it. Adults are trusted to elect their representatives, drive cars and parent children. They can surely be trusted to decide whether or not they want some fries.

First they came for our cigarettes, now they’re after our chips. It’s time to stand up to them.

Guy Birchall is a writer based in London.

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