A gentle reproach

Giles Coren considers the latest excuse for porco-humanity:

I HAVE HEARD some hilarious excuses from fat people in my time, but the one rolled out in the last item of yesterday’s Today programme managed to flabbergast even me. Indeed, I dare say that obese people all over Britain were so delighted by this new chance to blame their condition on something other than their own moral turpitude that many of them choked on their cornflakes. Except that by 8.53am they had probably already wolfed down their cornflakes and were well onto their third plate of scrambled eggs and bacon with pancakes and maple syrup.

While making a documentary about the obesity crisis for More4 this year, I went to great trouble to show how such excuses as “I’ve got a slow metabolism”, “it’s genetic”, “I can’t afford healthy food” and “I’ve got an underactive thyroid” were in most cases as meaningless and self-deluding as “I’ve got heavy bones” and “like Superman, I have infinite mass”.

I little dreamt, however, that the health editor of The Ecologist, Pat Thomas, would soon be attempting to persuade us, by way of a report in her magazine and a debate on Radio 4, that the critical rise in obesity in the past 20 years has been caused by . . . pollution.

My personal theory is that aliens have converted the Earth into a massive Man ranch and prefer their most delectable morsels of long pig to be dripping with fat.