The Independent, 15 October 2011

The government’s new obesity strategy was dismissed yesterday by experts as ‘deeply disappointing and utterly inadequate’, as well as ‘stupid and pathetic’. And no wonder, since it seems to boil down to this: eat less. Which may be a good idea for an individual, but isn’t much of a national strategy. So, to help you win the war on obesity, here are some other things you should do less of.

  1. Obey the law less, or at least appear to do so. Have you ever wondered how many calories Richard Hannay burns in The 39 Steps? He’s on the run the whole time. It’s very slimming. And he saves the nation’s secrets at the end. Win win.
  2. Be less Western. There are far fewer fat Chinese people than fat Europeans. Go East, and feel the pounds drop off.
  3. Be less awake. When you’re sleeping, you’re not eating. I realise it is small comfort to insomniacs to find out that the snoring multitudes are also skinnier. But that’s just how the Big Society works, I’m afraid: you take responsibility for your sleeplessness and attendant hunger.
  4. Watch less TV. Those leg things you have are actually a means of moving you about. They’re not just a stand-in table for snacks. Try walking to the cinema and watching something on the big screen. Don’t buy nachos on the way in.
  5. Be less on the earth. The moon’s gravitational force is a paltry one-sixth of the earth’s. Stand on the scales there and you will barely weigh an ounce. Your BMI will be a thing of wonder.
  6. Be less fastidious. Every time you empty out your pockets or your handbag, you’re reducing the weight you carry around with you. That is the same as moving to smaller weights at the gym. So keep carrying all those receipts and pens and tissues and books. It all adds up.
  7. Be less friendly with thin people. Hang out more with fat people. Will you be objectively thinner? No. Will you be relatively thinner? Yes.
  8. Be less in a hurry. Every time you get a taxi because you’re late, you’re depriving yourself of the exercise of a good walk. Also, make time to chew food properly. Especially toffee.
  9. Be less brave. Coulrophobia (fear of clowns) will keep you away from McDonalds. Pogonophobia (fear of beards) will make you avoid Colonel Sanders. Claustrophobia will make you eschew the lift and take the stairs.
  10. Just be less, in general. You’ll definitely weigh less then.