Why it’s time to ban fast food from public transport
- Credit: PA
It's time to put eating food back where it belongs - on the table, not on public transport, says Rachel Moore.
Eating in public, on the street or on the bus, was 'common', we were told as kids.
Eating because we were bored would make us fat.
Eating meant sitting down to proper meals at the table at regular mealtimes, apart from the odd sneaky bag of chips from the chippie when we hid down an alley in case we were spotted.
It was all about manners, eating what was good for us and doing what was expected of us.
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No one ate on the go. There wasn't much to eat on the go, anyway, apart from the chippie. The one Wimpy in town was a sit-down place. We used to gaze in wonder at hot dog stalls on the street in the states in films. How did they get away with it?
Food was what you cooked at home, ate there and then went out. Unless it was a special occasion and then we'd go out to a restaurant or collect a takeaway to eat at home, or a summer picnic.
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One of the worst anti-social crimes was putting burger bars, kebab shops and takeaways on every high street, even worse near stations and schools.
It became the norm to chomp on burgers walking along the street or on public transport, where people could rock up to enclosed carriages with pungent burgers reeking of cooking oil, onions and gherkins.
Food gradually became available everywhere, at any time of the day and we couldn't say no. Full meal portions became snacks. We started to eat all the time because we could buy food everywhere we went. If it was there we had to eat it.
We were always hungry, but never knew what it really felt to be hungry. We ate for the sake of it, because it was there. The dining table became redundant as families ate when and where they wanted.
Any time any place food has made us selfish, inconsiderate, rude and anti-social – and that's just the smell. No one cares that anyone might object to having the stench of junk food inflicted on them at 8am on the way to work or how their noisy chewing offends. That's everyone else's problem.
But if I wanted to be in close proximity to fast food, I would choose to walk through the doors of an outlet.
I choose not to, so it's as inconsiderate and offensive to inflict on me that distinctive waft of mass-produced junk in a train carriage or on a bus, as it is to smoke a Marlboro red and blow the smoke in my face.
Tolerance of eating junk food in public has grown as smoking has waned. The nation's lungs are cleaner as the nation's girths have exploded.
Eating became the great British hobby - and one we excel at. Fat became the new fit, firing the starting pistol on an epidemic of health issues connected to obesity.
An emergency detour into Tottenham Court Road tube station at 2.30am on the way home from a central London party a few weeks ago revealed a heaving MacDonald's and Burger King, with customers heading, with their paper bags, on to the night bus or tube.
A lack of consideration for other people will never be against the law – but the fight against the flab, now a major public health issue, has made obesity experts call to take fast food off public transport to fight eating on the go.
With people's daily calorie intake doubling, even trebling, every day, it's time to reset social norms and try to push food back into the home and or sit down restaurants.
The podge police are asking politicians to treat scoffing on public transport like smoking and alcohol and ban it because it's a serious enough threat to the nation's, especially young people's, health.
The public mood needs to get behind the call - and push food back to where it belongs, on the table at mealtimes.