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The economics of a poor diet

Allan Forrester's neo-liberal slip is showing (TESS, June 28). "There is no real economic reason why so many children have a poor diet . . . this is a price we have to pay for living in a free society. . . people have to be allowed to make wrong choices, and some people do." Children's right to a poor diet: quite a clarion call.

Neo-liberal economists notoriously can't add up. They ignore the social costs of their hard-nosed policies. Children on a poor, fatty diet are thrown open to a range of conditions and illnesses. Type 2 diabetes, strongly associated with obesity, is already epidemic in the US.

If the school meals Bill had been allowed to reach its second stage, then the real economics of encouraging health in children could have been debated. As commentators have suggested, the benefit to society of free school meals is at the very least commensurate with the value of free personal care for the elderly.

Tommy Sheridan's Bill, which I confidently expect to be reintroduced each year in the Scottish Parliament until it becomes law, in no way "takes away from parents any responsibility for ensuring that their children are properly nourished." This is Mr Forrester at his most sweeping, and least logical.

John Aberdein Grieveship Brae, Stromness, Orkney

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