Rosie Boycott, a self-proclaimed feminist, has declared that women like her are the reason for the current obesity epidemic.
Rosie is at the head of London’s Food Board, working with major Sadiq Khan, and her interesting view claims to be an explanation for the sudden increase in obesity across the board.
Boycott’s opinion is sure to be unpopular with feminists, many of whom won’t agree with her views. Boycott’s job is to improve the so-called food strategy in London so that citizens will become healthier and enjoy better diets.
Her general management job may be in question after making such radical comments.
She now says that obesity is an unintended consequence of the liberation of women. If anyone should be close enough to know the facts, it might well be her. Boycott started a radical feminist magazine during the 1970s and has seen the results of decades of campaigning first-hand.
“It’s certainly been fuelled by the fact women work and that we have changed things and we have allowed this huge change to happen,” she said. “I said ‘don’t cook, don’t type. You’ll get ahead.’ We lost it. Schools gave up cooking. Everyone gave up cooking.”
She told a crowd at the recent Hay literary festival that putting women into the workplace signalled the death of the family dinner. Instead, she says, people began to eat for convenience – often resorting to fatty and artificial foods. Women no longer had time to plan, shop for, prepare, and cook healthy meals while they were in the workplace.
So, what is Boycott’s idea for helping people to start shedding those extra feminist pounds? She recommends a number of courses of action to get the ball rolling. These include cooking at home, avoiding takeaway foods, and staying away from frozen ready meals that are eaten in front of the television.
Whatever the cause may be, those of us in food jobs do need to be working on a solution. The NHS is spending more than £20 million a year on weight loss surgery, and that only counts the procedures which were deemed necessary to save the life of an obese person. The true cost of obesity is much higher, as it includes treatments for all kinds of related conditions.
Plenty of commentators have been quick to disagree with Boycott’s ideas, dismissing them as an old-fashioned view of the situation. Many complain that there is no reason why men can’t take over the cooking in the household. They also point out that many women do manage to cook healthy meals for their children and partners even whilst working full-time jobs. They say that Boycott’s views are reductive, and anti-feminist: putting women back into the kitchen and suggesting that the household chores are their domain only.
Others suggest that it is not feminism which is to blame for the decline of healthy eating, but rather a lazy society. Rather than searching out good food and educating themselves, the majority of people are happy to eat whatever looks easiest and tastiest, falling victim to advertising campaigns and convenience.
One thing is for sure: the government across the UK, not just in London, is increasingly becoming concerned about ways to reduce the obesity epidemic. Especially in children, this is an issue that cannot be ignored for long. The Labour manifesto for the General Election includes provisions such as banning junk food advertising during daytime television. The theory is that if people aren’t being blasted with images of unhealthy food on a regular basis, they might be more tempted by healthy options instead.