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A weighty problem? Yes, but it’s all down to will power

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If you are looking down and can’t see the bathroom scales – even although you have both feet planted firmly on them – your body mass index has obviously been compromised by your weight divided by the square of your height.

For those of us flummoxed by this equation, it could mean you are grossly overweight or classed officially as obese. It’s an epidemic and nobody knows the antidote – other than to reduce the amount you eat, obviously.

After the festive feasting comes payback time: I don’t mean our credit cards, but what is accumulating just as rapidly around our waistlines.

For many, it isn’t just about shedding the odd few pounds – it can be depressing battle leading to serious disease, diabetic amputations or death.

Scotland is wallowing in its own fat. We are always near the top of any obesity league.

What can we do about it? Or, more to the point, what is the Scottish Government doing other than talking about it?

I have my own theories, of course, but I am not sure if they might infringe human rights.

Mass hypnotising of the nation is a possibility. It could make us impervious to the excessive temptations of things which taste good.

I know hypnotism can work: when I was a trainee, my journalism lecturer was also a part-time hypnotist. He gave us a private demonstration one day and I suddenly became convinced I was on a fishing boat being tossed about in the North Sea.

I was staggering all over the lecture room in deepest Essex in what felt like a Force 9  gale, and no drink was taken – honest. Maybe he guessed I was pretty gullible and made a good victim.

Forced labour on POW rations is another good one. I know, human rights again.

Taxes on food could be worth a go, so people can’t afford to eat the bad things – but starving the public might also break some obscure EU law.

OK, back to the drawing board.

Or, back to the scales. Are miracle diets still big, if you know what I mean? Do they ever work?

If you have the required willpower to make a successful dieter then you could have done it anyway without any help. Those who are on and off the diet merry-go-round don’t have the willpower and are meat and drink to diet sales people.

When a diet finishes it must feel like getting out of jail as some slide backwards in the grip of an addictive personality.

My Genghis Khan approach to social change might sound extreme, but there is something in it.

For hypnotism –  substitute a relentless mass campaign to brainwash people into positive behaviour.

For forced labour on rations – let’s try moderate exercise and smaller portions.

For taxes on food – ban ridiculous cheap food offers which force us to eat more or throw stuff in the bin, and tax the things which are ridiculously full of bad stuff.

The prospect of taxing “bad” foods caused some to argue that the most deprived will suffer. Really? Suffer more than dying from obesity?

The Scottish Government has intervened controversially over drink driving and to load cheap booze in the shops with minimum-pricing rates to deter alcohol abuse.

Enforcing a virtual zero-tolerance drink-drive limit north of the border has not stopped the hard core maniacs, who should be locked up automatically or banned for life.

I am not convinced minimum pricing will stop hard core drinkers, either.

Look to smoking for a similar example. I trod on a crumpled cigarette packet the other day and I saw a picture on it of someone dying from some awful mouth disease caused by smoking  – yet there are still 10,000 smoking-related deaths in Scotland every year.

There was no minimum pricing, but cigarettes were a lucrative money-earner for the Treasury which loaded them with taxes in every Budget. People still bought them no matter how deprived.

Food is viewed differently because it is a basic human need which lifts it above alcohol and smoking. It can be just as abusive, however, and obesity is probably going to be a lot more dangerous and costly to the NHS and society than alcohol.

Child obesity is attracting a lot of attention and, you’ve guessed it, Scotland is high up in the bad-boy league over this, too. What chance have kids got if their parents set an atrocious example?

But is this an angle from which to attack the problem by trying to break the cycle early in life and prevent children becoming heavyweight adults of the future with all the guaranteed misery?

The Scottish Government not only got its fingers burned, but also saw its doomed named-person plan go up in flames after the Supreme Court likened some of its actions to a “totalitarian state”.

I have to say, when I first read the policy I thought it had been made up on the back of a fag packet as it was so full of holes and vagueness.

But the question now is whether or not the Scottish Government has the stomach or willpower to intervene in parental responsibility once again, but targeted specifically at feeding and exercising kids, or to support taxing the worst foods and fizzy drinks.