Why are the British the fattest nation in western Europe? New research from the OECD confirms the fact that we've won this unwelcome competition yet again in 2012. If you look down onto Britain from space right now, all you'll see is triangular slices of pizza disappearing into spheres. Those spheres are our bodies. Those pizzas are delicious. But between them, they're a national nightmare.
Year after year, we're subjected to yet another government campaign to get us to be a little less fat. Essentially, they all boil down to the same basic message: “Would it really hurt you if you put a carrot into your droopy prole mouth instead of a dead animal’s love handles every now and then?” And every year, without fail, Britain says: “Sod off. Would it help if we got a little bit fatter instead?” And every year we do. To paraphrase the old xenophobic joke: How do you hide money from a Brit? Put it in the vegetable drawer.
What we forget is that we haven't been able to hide our shame from the world. Everyone knows. If we had to fight a war against Germany now, their propaganda-masters would portray us by the tags that have become recognisable across Europe. The lardy-bottomed lardmeisters of the world. They'd draw pictures of British fighter pilots struggling to get into their planes, and crude flash-animations of soldiers turning away from their trenches to fight each other over the last cream bun. Actually, they probably wouldn't be crude. Germans are very slick flash-animators these days.
We are now the second-fattest race in the developed world behind America. Obesity rates have quadrupled in the past 25 years. Go out onto any high street right now and you'll see teams of documentary makers surreptitiously filming fat people from the neck down in order to get some B-roll for their next “ticking obesity timebomb” documentary. That's how bad it's got.
Even the French – national cuisine: croissants and butter – have only got 12 percent obesity levels, which is a range scientists still refer to as “jolly”. We're fatter than Belgians. Fucking Belgians – the people whose national cuisine is chocolate, steak, beer and cheesy-chips slathered in mayonnaise. We're now on 26.1 percent overall fatness. A quarter of Brits. Look at the three people nearest you. Do you see an obese one? No? Well then it is you.
How did it end up like this? Britain has never exactly been renowned for its stunning good looks. Yet the manner in which we've insistently punched our own face in could be the first documented national mass-suicide since Cortez was raping his way around South America. Bereft of an empire, we're like some middle-aged gal whose husband has just fucked us off for a younger model. We're stuck in the frump zone. Nothing really means anything any more, so we simply crave sugary death. It is a death we can easily have. Americans may be fatter. But according to the stats, they've been levelling out lately.
Historically, the fat-explosion in Britain only really started to bite in the 90s. But when we go for it, we really seem to go for it. We're still on the J-curve of fatness, and predicted to add an extra 10 percent of obese people to our national girth over the next decade. Our supermarkets are known throughout the world as the home of the “buy one Ryvita, get one pizza-flavoured tub of ice-cream free” offers. We have terrible kebabs. And we seem to use chocolate bars as compulsive anti-sadness wands like no other culture on earth. The advertising industry who are constantly pushing these rumbling clouds of toxic lifestyle choices clearly don't care. They have their cocaine to keep them thin. What do the rest of us have? Only the prospect of eating fewer calories and exercising more. And who wants that?
We have a choice. We can either start to take this thing seriously. Or we can take the easy way out. So I vote we take the easy way. We do what our great absent prophet Tony Blair would've done and just redefine the problem so it doesn't exist any more. Everyone's always talking about an “obesity crisis”. But maybe it would be better if we viewed it simply as “the great human transformation”. A necessary step in our ongoing evolution. After all, anyone who has ever inspected a suit of armour knows that even a few hundred years ago we were all much shorter. And when you imagine the Battle Of Hastings, in order to be completely historically accurate you should imagine a lot of midgets poking each other in the eye. It should basically look like an outtake from Time Bandits Go To Normandy. Thus it is with Britain getting fatter.
In a few hundred years, our great-great grandchildren's 130kg arses we will be wheeled and carted round Hampton Court in specially adapted golf buggies, and they will marvel at how their ancestors managed to fit through these narrow doorways. What freaks they were, these exiguous little people, with their sallow faces, their fully-functional renal systems and their easily-visible genitalia.
Follow Gavin on Twitter: @hurtgavinhaynes