The Case for Winding up Public Health England

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Some of what Public Health England does is worthwhile. This includes protecting us from public health hazards, and preparing for and acting upon public health emergencies.

It claims to promote healthier lifestyles, to advise government and to support actions to achieve this. Unfortunately it has taken as its remit to urge more controversial laws intended to promote what it sees as healthier. It pushed for the sugar tax and relentlessly pursued smokers. It recommends alcohol limits plucked out of thin air without scientific basis, limits so low that everyone laughs at them.

Now it wants our breakfasts limited to 400 calories and our lunches and dinners to 600 calories, and it wants supermarkets compelled by law to serve ready meals so limited. That would put a day’s calories at 1,600 calories, well short of what would be healthy for most people. The difference between men and women has disappeared, even though their different metabolisms have not. It wants candy bars reduced to 100 calories maximum.

It has become a bossy killjoy, apparently intent on making us all miserable in the cause of what its personnel see as good health. There are ways of encouraging healthier lifestyles other than the strong-arm tactic of banning things. What is achieved is to make people nervous about enjoying themselves, raising stress levels, and probably having a net negative effect on their health.

Public Health England should now be wound up and replaced by a body whose remit is limited to health hazards and emergencies. We would all be a lot happier if this happened, and that would probably make us a lot healthier.

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