FOR the western world, where
obesity is widespread and increasing numbers of people are planet-shaped,
a figure of dietary inspiration has emerged from a cave in Gujarat, India.
He is Prahlad Jani, who, in his solitary 70s, claims to have eaten or
drunk nothing for decades. He has baffled doctors in Ahmedabad who noted
that the hermit consumed no food or drink for ten days and appeared
unaffected by abstinence.
Will this remote, mystery man leave his mountain
fastness and reveal the secrets of no-nosh nutrition? If so, it could
scupper Atkins dieters and while putting millions in food production out
of work, could convince the bulging masses that they had, at least, a slim
chance of a melt-down of their all-too-solid flesh.
So far, the
Gujarat air-gulper has provided not one crumb of discomfort for the
world’s £63 billion fast food industry, a section of which is planning to
hit Britain, a nation already facing terrorist threats and possible flu
epidemics, with a calorific cosh in the shape of a heavyweight doughnut,
so high in fat content that it has been dubbed a weapon of mass
Krispy Kreme doughnuts could be equally successful
in Britain’s sweet-toothed, salivary circles. The first KK shop outside
north America opened last month in Harrods and 100 are planned to tempt
British tastebuds in the next five years.
With 48 varieties, varying from
200-390 calories - an average helping of Scott’s Porage Oats with skimmed
milk has 181 calories and a Jacob’s chocolate Club biscuit, 113 calories -
the doughnuts have been roundly condemned by Dr Ian Campbell, the chairman
of the National Obesity Forum, for having no nutritional benefit and being
"just another example of cynical exploitation."
although Catherine Collins, the chief dietician of St George’s Hospital,
London, claims they are "lovely", but, in a stern ukase, warns that
because of the high-fat factor, they should be limited to one a day.
that could raise an alarming vision among British gustatory echelons of
American world doughnut domination that would co-exist with Coca Cola
imperialism and accelerate into Britain another American lifestyle import
- obesity. I dismiss such fears because I have already seen the national
waistline expanding steadily and believe that Britain no longer marches
into the future but waddles.
Julius Caesar preferred fat men
rather than "lean and hungry" potential conspirators. In Britain, he could
hardly miss increasing numbers of citizens looking, as PG Wodehouse
observed, "as if they had been poured into their clothes and had forgotten
to say ‘when’." I have seen American settlements mainly populated by
protein-enriched, carbohydrate-crammed people with figures resembling
melted candlegrease and in Russia’s Black Sea resort of Sochi, I have
watched Soviet citizens with figures like public monuments leaping into
waves with hoarse, proletarian cries and the impact of depth charges.
one who plumps for medium weight - I am shaped like a badly-rolled
umbrella - I am not surprised to see the fat of the land so prominently in
our midst. The nation, in fact, is on an eating binge and, according to
the International Obesity Task Force, over 40 per cent of Britons will be
obese within a generation unless urgent action is taken to remedy bad
You can sense Britain as a vast human tapeworm by
seeing many supermarket trolleys with enough items - including large
stocks of biscuits, cakes and sweets - to stock a garrison for a week and
sitting beside people in cinemas who crunch vast quantities of popcorn and
slug soft drinks with the sound of cement mixers and are obviously not
eating for health but for fun.
Cyril Connolly, the journalist
and author, described obesity as "a mental state brought on by boredom and
disappointment" - in other words, comfort eating. For many people
nowadays, sheer, joyous, unrepentant greed is probably the main cause.
Already campaigns inducing people to eat healthily may be bearing fruit.
McDonald’s, which reported profits in the three months ending in June,
down from £300 million to £282 million, has introduced new menus that
include less fat in products and more pasta and salads.
make our often cheerfully-corpulent citizenry lean towards slimness? "Fat
chance," say cynics. Prahlad Jani may have the answer to over-indulgence.
Can we expect him to reveal it? Don’t hold your breath.