Thursday, 4 July 2013

Some nannying (and wrong) fussbucktry from Keighley's MP


More nonsense on how to solve the problem of fat kids:

“We are locked in a national battle with childhood obesity and the rising tide is not going to subside without action from politicians, parents, schools and children themselves.

“Just an hour of physical activity each day can make a very big difference. We also need to look at helping parents make better choices about the food they’re serving up, while protecting the next generation from the dangers of sophisticated junk food marketing.”

I guess it got him a headline. But only by some pretty creative non-solutions to the supposed problem.

However, first the problem:
This report provides further detail on these changes, examining the trend over time by sex as well as by age group (Figure 2). This shows a slightly different pattern when split by sex; between 2010/11 and 2011/12 obesity prevalence showed a statistically significant increase among girls in both Reception and Year 6, but showed no significant change among boys in Year 6 and decreased (but not statistically significant) for boys in Reception.

This looks to me like an improving picture and certainly not any sort of 'rising tide'. And when we take account of the recent Early Bird study, there is every reason to be confident that obesity is not likely to increase in the coming few years:

All children gain weight during growth, but EarlyBird is interested in the excess gained. It finds that over 90% of the excess weight in girls, and over 70% in boys, is gained before the child ever gets to school age

Moreover the Early Bird study also questioned the effectiveness of physical exercise as a response to obesity:

Those who do less in school do more out of school, and end up doing the same overall. Less than 1% of the four-fold variation in physical activity among children can be explained by the five-fold variation in PE provided at school. The original report was based on a single school term but EarlyBird has recently extended the analysis to four consecutive school terms. The result was replicated, and it leads the researchers to question government policy of linking physical activity to recreational facilities.

And finally - just for completeness - our MP is wrong about fast food marketing:

 ...there was no significant association between increasing takeaway and fast food consumption and obesity as measured by BMI corrected for age and gender. This is not a new finding. For example, French and colleagues found no significant relationship between frequent consumption of fast food and being overweight in their analysis of a cohort of 11-18-year-old boys and girls. Similarly, Simmons et al found no correlation between increasing takeaway consumption and obesity measured by either BMI or waist circumference.

Obesity may be a problem but calling for more physical exercise and veiled threats to food advertisers is not the right public health response. But I guess that blaming it on schools and burger bars rather than fat mums is a better bet politically!



Anonymous said...

I live near 3 schools, infants through to 6th form, yes there
are a few overweight children, but not in my opinion to
warrant such an outcry from so called health experts, and there are
2 chips shops in the vicinity, but I think walking to them and

back would work of any calories consumed.
My biggest concern is the (what looks to me) young girls who
look anorexic, I think that is a bigger problem.
To your earlier article,
yes,I think fat familes have fat children.

singapore sling said...

What if the rate of obesity declines from far too high to too high? Then it's still too high for a healthy society and these kids will never get the chance to take part in normal childhood activities of the kind I enjoyed. Not something to be shrugged off.