Marks & Spencer, one of Britain's largest grocery store chains, announced its plan to hire 1,500 food police to patrol supermarket aisles and lecture shoppers on the contents of their carts. Reminiscent of grade-school Hall Pass Monitors, these health food patrols will donofficial Healthy Eating Adviser badges while harassing customers about the fat, sugar, and salt levels of their purchases.
Not to be outdone, retail competitor Sainsbury's has launched its own set of gastro guards to walk the beat. And the store donated ｣3 million ($5.9 million) to MEND (Mind, Exercise, Nutrition and Do It!), a government sponsored program that trains "food advisors" and deploys them at stores and classrooms. With more patrols, police, and monitors filtering into every aspect of life, the United Kingdom's big brother looks increasingly like a vice squad.
The English city of Bolton is a prime example. The city's director of public health admitted to the town's local paper that "just providing information on healthy lifestyles is not enough." Instead, officials rely on strong-arming citizens through community initiatives. So Bolton health and education officials have teamed up to deploy squads of fat fighters and surveillance teams to local schools. Taking from the workload of local bullies, these groups will actually pull kids out of class for mandatory weigh-ins.
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