'Fatties to get cash for losing weight?' I suppose we should not be surprised by the government's latest wheeze, contained in the £372m Healthy Weight, Healthy Lives report, out this week.
Apparently inspired by successful trials in America (a country that's truly got obesity licked), this idea was doubtless meant to clamp down on abuse of a previous government handout, in which money was given to cash-strapped 'fatties' so they would eat more fruit and veg - but left them free to spend it on crisps, burgers, fags and booze.
I can see what will happen next. We'll see more crash diets, followed by rapid binge-induced weight gain - once the handout has been pocketed, of course.
And I can see what's coming with traffic lights and Guideline Daily Amount labelling. The government passes new legislation even more easily than it hands out cash. But for once, following the 2004 White Paper, it left the food industry to reach consensus on "a clear, straightforward coding system so that busy people understand at a glance which foods (1) can make a positive contribution to a healthy diet, and (2) which [foods] are recommended to be eaten only in moderation or sparingly".
Having failed to reach consensus, PM Gordon Brown and now secretary of state for health Alan Johnson warned it would legislate. So, traffic lights it is, then. It surely wouldn't allow the Food Standards Agency to be undermined, would it?
The fact that neither GDAs nor traffic lights has addressed the first aim of this coding system also continues to be ignored. But again that's typical of the government. As well as handouts and legislation, it's spinning new initiatives to cover up the fact that old ones still haven't been initiated.