Another trenchant attack on state bullying in Spiked today, picking up on a story that slipped under the radar last month, about the National Institute of Clinical Excellence. It turns out that NICE wants men who drink more than two-and-a-half pints of lager a day to be offered – or rather ‘ordered’ to undergo – a liver-scan.
Now, the institute may be right that there are certain health risks associated with such consumption – if you want to live to 90. Its figures may add up – although we fear one million British men drinking to that extent is a severe underestimation.
But what a time it was to float the idea. Only the loons who run the healthist lobby would say: ‘I know: people are about to deliberately enter two weeks of self-indulgence. Let’s tell them they’ll make themselves sick, they’re alcoholics and it’s all their own fault.’
To be charitable, the folks at NICE may be well-intentioned. But would you want to go to one of their parties (rice cracker and coconut water, anyone)? Which brings us to a second outrage from last month: the figures showing a huge expansion of the so-called ‘free-from’ food sector.
So what, you say? If the ‘worried well’ want to waste their money on imagined conditions, is it any business of ours? After all, you can’t ban snobbery, pretension, affectation and self-assumed moral superiority.
But you can point out that their espousal of the ‘natural’ and organic has a baneful effect on food policy – because we can’t Feed the World without agri-business. You can ask if the hypochondria that characterises them has infected the waiting rooms of GPs, who spent £116 million in prescriptions for gluten- and wheat-free staples. You can indeed question if gluten intolerance even exists.
But, then, who cares what you say? You share a bottle of wine a day with your partner. You’re just a problem drinker. You need help.