Sunday, 15 April 2012

Obesity rates are falling not rising - so why must doctors lie about this?


We've got rather used to the various clubs of doctors - BMA, RCS and suchlike - telling us that alcohol consumption is rising when it isn't (even the BBC now recognise that it is for heaven's sake). Now these New Puritan institutions are lying about obesity:

According to the latest research, 48% of men and 43% of women in the UK will be obese by 2030, a trend that will significantly increase the prevalence of strokes, heart disease and cancer, and lead to higher costs for the NHS.

Now unfortunately, the Guardian doesn't link to that latest research. However, the latest actual statistics from the Office of National Statistics tell us that rates of obesity are falling:

Despite the government ignoring the anti-obesity lobby's urgent suggestions for traffic light labelling on food and suchlike, the latest figures show that obesity amongst men has fallen to 22% and the female obesity rate has fallen to 24%.

So something must have changed - either the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges are scandalously misinformed or else the British public has been on a massive eating binge in the last year (those latest figures are from 2011).

Ah but what about the children say the doctors:

Charlie Powell, campaigns director of the Children's Food Campaign, applauded the academy's intervention. He said: "Andrew Lansley should act on this excellent set of robust recommendations, but his track record suggests that he will once again ignore the advice of our best medical experts."

Ah yes those children - I don't have figures for everywhere but I'm pretty sure Bradford won't be out of the ordinary in terms of obese children -  here, for Year 6 children, there has been a slight fall over the past three years and the rate remains below 20% (marginally above the national average). And note that this uses the very discredited measure of Body Mass Index.

None of these actual facts supports the argument of the Academy that we should set about banning advertising & sports sponsorship, fast food outlets near schools and celebrity endorsement. Let alone introducing "fat taxes".

There really isn't a growing obesity crisis and doctors should help people who get too fat rather than seek to punish the vast majority who never get past being slightly chubby.



Ivan D said...

Powell is a left wing vegan activist who we are forced to pay for because he works for a “charity” that has very little public support.

Stephenson is sadly typical of the senior ranks of his profession. Good doctors practice their craft. Bad ones get promoted and play politics through the anachronistic and not very scholarly Royal Colleges.

In both cases, ending public support would be in the national interest.

Dembones said...

"Being overweight is actually associated with reduced mortality rates. Being well nourished is healthful. In fact, looking at the data on nonsmokers, ages 29-59, those who are "overweight" or "obese" (BMI 30-35) have 66 to 77% of the mortality risk of government-approved "normal" bodies (BMI 18.5-25). For an average 5'4" woman, that means weighing 145 to 205 pounds is the least risky; for someone 5'11", the lowest risks are at 172 to 247 pounds.

But being underweight, even after accounting for smoking or illness, is 25% more dangerous than being "normal" weight. And it's considerably more dangerous when compared to either "overweight" or "obese" (BMI 30-35): 89% to 62%, respectively. After the age of 60, being underweight becomes especially hazardous and is the riskiest of all: almost 200% greater risks than those associated with "normal" weights, 266% greater than "overweight," 145% more than "obese" (BMI 30-35), and even 29% more than the most extreme obesity (BMI >35). In contrast, obesity only reaches the same risks as underweight among younger ages (25 to 59 years) at the uppermost extremes of BMIs over 35, which represents a mere 8.3% of the population. That's a far cry from the government's claim that 66% of us are "too fat."