Dr Grumble's clinic is increasingly full of increasingly fat patients. They are so fat that we no longer have standard chairs in the Grumble clinic. Instead we have ginormous chairs so that fat people don't feel awkward and, well, fat. Our managers insist on this. It is about respect for patients. The obese should be allowed to be comfortable about their size. The downside is that normal-sized people end up looking like Tom Thumb which is not exactly respectful either. But at least small people can still sit down. Grumble's fatties can no longer fit between the arms of a standard chair. Regardless of the need to offer respect to fat people, the extra large chairs are now essential. Last week even one of the special chairs could no longer take the strain and broke. It is not the first time this has happened. We have a big, big problem.
Many years ago Dr Grumble was appointed to work for the Queen's physician. Unfortunately this famous personage had a heart attack not long before Dr Grumble was due to start working for him. As a result he took the decision to retire early and Dr Grumble only actually worked for him for one day and that day, being January 1st was a Bank Holiday. Why your last day at work should be January 1st Dr Grumble has no idea but doubtless there was some good reason. Dr Grumble remembers it because this one day enabled him to put the great doctor's name on his CV. It looks good to have worked for the man who was Head of the Royal Medical Household. Retirement is said to be good for a doctor's longevity. Despite the problem with his coronary arteries, the Queen's physician went on to live to the age of 89 and by some strange quirk of fate died on the Queen's very own birthday.
"Why are fat people fat, Grumble?" asked the prof on Grumble's very first ward round. This was a bit of a fast ball for the ignorant Grumble who had only just started working in endocrinology. Grumble responded by muttering something about hormones.Whether this is still thought to be true or not Grumble does not know but it is a study that could easily be repeated at the vets. All you need to do is weigh the animal, weigh the owner and see if there is a correlation. Grumble's informal observations suggest that fat people do indeed have fat pets. The question is an important one. If fat people really have fat animals then it must be the case that fat people are fat because they choose to eat too much just as they choose to feed their dogs too much. It is to do with the behaviour of fat people and nothing much else.
"Nonsense," shouted the esteemed professor in his dour Scottish accent. "Fat people are fat because they eat too much." Grumble thought about this for a moment and although even the most ignorant reader might think that perhaps the professor might have a point he did think he should query this wild accusation. By then, you see, Grumble had listened to countless fat patients who had told him that all they ever ate was the odd lettuce leaf. So Grumble, perhaps unwisely, spoke up and asked what evidence the professor had for such a wild accusation.
"Fat people have fat pets," he said.
Why do people eat too much? What have we done to create this enormous and worsening problem? Are we doing our population a favour by giving them extra large chairs so that they don't actually feel fat? Have we been right to allow the proliferation of fast-food outlets so that you can stay in your armchair and phone for a pizza? Is it right to give VAT relief on the electric vehicles which propel people, too fat to walk, at great speed through our shopping malls without burning a single extra calorie? Is it right that we go everywhere by car and have it washed at the weekend in a great machine at the service station?
When Dr Grumble was a child we had hardly any of these things. The world has changed. Our society has colluded with our primitive urges to gratify ourselves. Have you never noticed all those ads that tell you that "you deserve it to yourself" or some such nonsense. Don't listen. You might think you deserve a treat but you don't need it. You really don't.
And amongst the things we don't need is too much food. Industry, always just out to make a buck, has conspired to use every opportunity to entice us to buy highly palatable grub that will make us fat. Look at the underhand tactics they use. Think of all those enticing fattening things they lure you with while you wait idly at the checkout with your screaming children in tow. And, as part of another sleight of hand to get us to spend more, portions are getting bigger and bigger. Understand that you are being manipulated. Don't play along with it.
But lets get back to reality. The curmudgeonly Grumble may be able to discipline himself and maybe even his offspring but many cannot. They feel happier in denial hiding behind the cheery smile of the man who beat anorexia. But, please, all this is now beyond a joke. What should we do about it?