So I was in the supermarket the other day (I'm in England at the moment) and happened to be behind a girl who was, well ... fat. As her stuff went past on the belt, she was discussing with the cashier (also fat) about her progress, or lack of it. The conversation was familiar: along the lines of "well, I stick to my diet plan for a week or three, lose a few pounds, and then it all goes right back on again".
It might sound as if I'm poking fun here, but I absolutely am not. I felt terribly sorry for this girl (and the cashier, who appeared to be stuck on a similar treadmill) because clearly, nobody had ever told her why she is fat, and what she might do about it. How do I know? Because I could see her shopping. Snacks. Biscuits. Low-fat chocolate "treats". A couple of ready meals. There was a conspicuous absence of actual food and a surfeit of coloured plastic wrapping with "healthy eating" slogans and WeightWatchers branding on it.
The terrible thing is this. What she was buying was basically compliant with received wisdom about losing weight. It was all low-fat, portion-controlled, and calorie-counted. But it clearly wasn't working, and I wanted to tell her why it wasn't working. But you can't do that, can you?
Why is it that, if someone is reversing into a lamppost, it's OK to bang on the car and tell them to stop? If you see a lost child at the mall, you can call over the security people to help find their parents. If you see an old lady struggling with her shopping, it's OK offer a hand. But if someone is eating themselves into an early grave, unaware of what they're doing, it's socially unacceptable to say anything. Unsolicited advice is rarely welcome, but unsolicited advice about diet is about as welcome as an improper proposition.
So, obviously, I didn't say anything.
What would you have done? Have you ever offered unsolicited advice about weight loss - even to friends and family? Is there anything at all that we can do, as individuals, to stop this madness? I've posted here for a few years and it's gratifying to see people pick up on tips or advice and find success. But it often feels like tilting at windmills when Big Ag can advertise their junk food as healthy, and get a nudge and a wink from government.