From the land of the green Huntsman boot comes a piece of research to make all snowflakes ponder. A study from Exeter University reveals that (shock, horror yah?) the total armoury of the nanny state is as naught in affecting healthy-living choices when compared to the one overriding factor of poverty.

Dr Jessica Tyrrell, who led the research, said: “Our findings suggest that it is premature to target any particular aspect of the environment or behaviour to try to reduce obesity.

‘There is no ‘silver bullet’ to reducing obesity risk. It is misleading to suggest public health measures should be targeted specifically at fried food reduction, fizzy drink consumption or TV watching in those genetically predisposed to obesity, as some previous studies in leading medical journals have suggested. Instead, the data are consistent with proposals that public health measures should aim to alter all aspects of these fattening factors in small ways.”

The study concentrated on sugary drinks, fatty foods and sedentary lifestyles. But we’re sure that – had it extended to drug use, smoking, alcohol and gambling – the findings would have been the same. And we note that ‘in small ways’ is at least a step towards saying, ‘by butting out.’

Because, thank God, the state can’t lecture people into living as it thinks they should, and the poor have other things to think about – not least some consolation for the hardship in which they find themselves, often through no fault of their own.

The road out of poverty – out of all ills – is generally assumed to be education; and as we should all know, educere is the Latin for ‘to draw out’. Thus, to educate someone – as opposed to teach them – one must equip them with the critical and analytical skills to form their own conclusions.

This is the best gift we could give the poor in our schools, not the social-engineering propaganda that so often passes for a syllabus. They already know that ‘Because I said so’ is an insufficient answer to the question ‘Why?’. The state would do well to wise up.

by Julia Dixon