People in Britain seem to be consuming food and drink in ever more alarming quantities and calory-enhanced ways pretty much non-stop.
This Christmas I took my son to the UK to see his English family, which involves a car trip from my mum's place in Manchester down to my dad's near Reading. It's a journey I used to hate as a child, seven to eight hours of fighting with my older brother in the back of an aging Renault 4, a nightmare broken only by a visit to the Wimpy bar (the equivalent of McDonald's today) in Banbury. These days the motorway links and a much better car turn the trip into one of just four hours, which my son still sees as an unnecessary punishment for some crime he hasn't committed. And as we take in the various winter sights of my native land – fog, fog and more fog – we also remark upon the size of the people we see in the streets and at the service stations, noticeably different from that of the land where we live. For the British have gone the way of the Americans, and the common sight of mobility scooters and disabled bays used by people who seem to be massively overweight rather than elderly or actually disabled is quite frankly disturbing.
What differences are there in the British diet to provoke such a worrying trend? Well the most noticeable difference on supermarket aisles, in shops and in people's houses has to be the omnipresence of snacks and lavish sweets, whether in the form of crisps, giant-sized mega double triple chocolate bars, cakes laden with cream or assorted sugar-filled treats. They are truly everywhere, and what's worrying is that people seem to think they eat them as an accepted between-meals filler.
Sadly this is delusional. People in Britain seem to be consuming food and drink in ever more alarming quantities and calory-enhanced ways pretty much non-stop. My son and I watched on as, much like chain smokers light their next cancer stick almost before they've put out their last, people consumed sugar-filled drinks – and not just refreshments, but also huge bucket-like teas and coffees - together with a snack of any kind, before moving onto another sweet, a biscuit or three and then another snack before sitting down to what was often also a large plate of food in comparison to Mediterranean standards. And not very healthy looking food at that. Unfortunately I can't claim exemption from all of this, as each time we visit we watch my mum pulling packets of crisps and biscuits from a footstool which appears to double as a bottomless snack pit and my dad sucking incessantly on his Werther's originals. I can only hope my son's Mediterranean side wins out and he learns to eat more moderately and quite simply, well.
I'll leave you with a recent anecdote from an early morning flight to Liverpool: the English couple behind us scolded their sugared-up small children bouncing off our and their seats in between slugs of their own whiskey and sugared coffee with, “How many times have we told you? You can't have your doughnuts until you've finished your crisps!” Britain may not have to wait for global warming, it may only be a question of time before it actually sinks under the weight.