Social skirmishes

● According to recent research by the Food Standards Agency, four out of 10 people do not know that fat and sugar can be bad for them. This then is the catalyst for a big debate about how to best “inform”, “educate” or “engage” people about healthier lifestyles.

Where do they find these people who think this? Nobody I know – family, friends, clients – thinks that. Why don’t these researchers ask me?

But then I realised something. I get asked all the time. But I avoid taking part. People in the streets with clipboards often look me in the eye to “engage” me in some research only for me to avert my gaze and move away.

So, the people who do stop and answer questions must be visitors to the country for whom English is largely a mystery, confused older people who think they recognise the researcher to be a former neighbour’s little girl, and people who, frankly, in their everyday lives have sharp objects removed from their vicinity.

So, perhaps public research should be more honest. The Food Standards Agency’s headline should have been “Four out of 10 people who haven’t the wit or wherewithal to avoid people with clipboards did not think that fat or sugar could be bad for them.”

We could all then treat it with the respect it patently deserves.

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