NOBODY could accuse Swindon of failing to do its bit to tackle childhood obesity.

Our figures – more than 17 per cent of Swindon children in Year Six are officially obese – are more or less in in line with the national rate.

Fortunately, the council is doing rather more than some of its counterparts elsewhere in the country to deal with the problem, which can cause all manner of health issues.

School nurses diligently track children’s health, and there are any number of advice sessions, healthy eating classes and whatnot.

There’s something I’ve been wondering about for years, though, and it’s nothing the council has any control over.

Why is it that there isn’t a heck of a lot more information about nutritional content on the packaging of our food and on our supermarket shelves? It’s not as if keeping us better informed would cost the big food manufacturers much, is it?

In fact, the manufacturers and supermarkets need not even do the work themselves. They could all club together, each paying a few quid to employ some independent scientists in a lab - scientists whose sole task would be testing food and drink and writing easily-understandable assessments for display on packaging and in shops.

Instead of the current system, which seems to involve small print listing stuff from some old-time chemistry set, things would be a lot more comprehensible.

They might say, for example: “Here is a fine, wholesome product using high-quality ingredients which have been processed in such a way that the goodness has not been evaporated, boiled out, burned off, chemically extracted or otherwise reduced to a state of knackerment.”

For somewhat less healthy options, the assessment might be: “This product is very tasty but because of the salt and sugar content it should be thought of more as a treat, whether for grown-ups or children. On no account leave this product with unsupervised youngsters.

“More importantly, do not leave an open packet of this product anywhere within reach while you are watching the television, reading a book or attending to your social media. If you do, the chances are that you’ll inadvertently consume four or five portions, feel ever so poorly and experience bleak self-loathing.”

Still other products might be assessed: “This rubbish contains horrible ingredients sourced from places where life is cheaper than a supermarket own-brand thin crust pizza about to reach its sell-by date.

“The cumulative taste experience of these ingredients in their unenhanced state is roughly akin to what one might expect from a mouthful of damp cardboard, or perhaps those little polystyrene packing granules which look a bit like Wotsits or Quavers but aren’t.

“In order to prevent you from realising this, the manufacturer has thoroughly marinated the product in enough toxins to mutate a rhinoceros. Give this muck to your kids only if you want them to turn out looking like something kept in a cellar in a horror film.”

I really can’t see any potential downsides to such a system.

Obviously, if our lawmakers put through the necessary legislation, they might be less likely to be given juicy directorships by food manufacturers in later life, but I’m sure that doesn’t matter to them.

Think? Reason? How dare they?

DID you read our story about the lack of university students from the less affluent parts of Swindon?

In one neighbourhood, only 7.6 percent of 18-to-25-year-olds go on to attend university - less than a quarter of the national average, which stands at about 38 per cent.

Many people wonder why this is tolerated in a supposedly civilised country.

Well, the answer is simple. One thing most university courses, whatever the subject and be they undergraduate or post-graduate, have in common is that they encourage people to think, to reason and to question.

The notion of vast numbers of people being able to reason, think and question is utterly horrifying to many of the folk who run the country. It’s been horrifying them for years, irrespective of their stated party political allegiances.

The more the children of ordinary people think, reason and question, the less willing millions of them will be to work in horrible conditions for peanuts and regard doing so as a privilege doled out by the friends of the folk in charge.

And if lots of children of ordinary people learn to think, reason and question, many of them will end up competing with the children of the folk in charge for the best jobs.

Obviously, the folk in charge cannot simply forbid the children of ordinary people from going to university as this would be illegal and generate bad PR.

However, they are able to make a university education so ruinously expensive that countless people from lower income families decide they’d rather not bother.

I hope this clarifies the matter.

  • RAIL users in Swindon are currently awaiting a potential fare increase of 3.6 per cent.

Unsurprisingly, this has generated a great deal of controversy.

Personally, I think that when the fares are decided, a similar system to the one regarding lateness should be adopted.

Train companies are allowed to claim their services are on time even if they’re 10 minutes late, so I reckon passengers should be allowed to hand over a few quid less than the stated fare and be treated as if they’d paid in full.

I have an awful feeling that the police might be called if anybody actually tried that, however.