We’ll snack if we want to

The European Association of Obesity has declared that the UK’s culture of endless snacking needs to stop. And the best way to do that, according to the public-health fanatics, is to ban junk food on buses and trains.

The chairman of the National Obesity Forum, Tam Fry, backed the idea, saying: ‘When I was growing up, my mother always taught me never to eat in public. It was the norm then. But somehow, we have become used to the idea of snacking all the time, guzzling on the go, so that our buses and trains are reeking of burgers and the thought of going more than a few hours between meals is long forgotten.’ Other supporters of the ban claim that passengers would welcome the move as it would save them from the temptation of fast food.

But so what if some people eat burgers on buses, or have five meals a day instead of three? Is this really a matter for the authorities? Fry’s pining for prudish 1970s Britain – when eating on the go was apparently taboo – is faintly ridiculous. If someone eating fast food on public transport is annoying their fellow passengers, that conflict will usually be worked out between those involved. We don’t need bans and regulations to save us from snackers.

This proposal reminds us of the deep snobbery that drives anti-obesity campaigns. Something tells me the crackdown on ‘guzzling on the go’ won’t apply to the Islington twentysomethings snacking on quinoa and vegan falafel on the Overground to Hackney Wick. Fry and his colleagues might frame this as a matter of politeness, but what they really want is to punish certain sections of the public for their lifestyle choices.

Let’s tell the busybodies that we’ll snack if we want to.

Izzy Lyons is a writer based in London. Follow her on Twitter: @LyonsIzzy

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