Saturday, January 02, 2010

Eat, drink and be merry?

As those of you who have been visiting the Throne for some time may recall, I exercise regularly, watch what I eat (though not slavishly) and drink in what I would describe as moderate (whilst others would not) quantities. As a result, twenty-seven years on, I weigh the same amount as I did as a twenty-one year old, with a waistline to match.

So, you may imagine that I would heartily welcome this story in today's Telegraph, warning us all in near-apocalyptic terms, that deaths from obesity have doubled in a decade.

Actually, I don't; quite the reverse.

Ignore for a moment the claim (correct or otherwise) that the number of deaths has doubled and instead concentrate on the total number of deaths involved. Let me quote directly from the article:

"The official figures disclose that in 2000, just 25 people aged between 46 and 55 died “where obesity was the underlying cause of death”. By 2005, the number has increased to 51 and last year it was 70.

The “number of deaths where obesity was mentioned anywhere on the death certificate” rose from 121 in 2000 to 257 last year for the same age group. Similar increases were also recorded for those aged between 34 and 45 and 56-65."

A little research shows that in the thirteen years from 1993 and 2005, between 513,000 and 580,000 died in England and Wales each year. Having no reason to suppose that the figures vary greatly from the end of that period to the present day, let's agree (rather unscientifically, I concede) that the average number of deaths every year in England and Wales averages out at 550,000.

Call me old-fashioned, but a blind man on a galloping horse could plainly see that deaths numbered in the hundreds from that one cause pale into statistical insignificance when compared with a total well over half a million a year.

I do not, of course, for a minute suggest that allowing yourself to become obese is a sensible thing to do; far from it as my first paragraph hopefully reinforces.

But I do wonder what a serious newspaper like the Telegraph is doing printing unsupportable rubbish such as this and if anything even more so at the involvement of Conservative politicians, such as Andrew Lansley, parroting the nannyish, infantilising NuLabour line in suggesting the imposition of warning labels on 'bad' or 'fatty' foods.

Step away from the cream cakes, Mr Lansley and put the marker pen down...

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