What better way to start the week than with some shrill scaremongering?
From The Times:
Obesity will send today’s children to early grave
Britain’s “couch potato culture” is in danger of raising a generation of children who will die younger than their parents, according to stark new figures.
What "stark figures" would these be?
Eighty per cent of children were not eating the recommended five daily portions of fruit and vegetables, yet half have chocolates, sweets and soft drinks every day, the research found.
The five-a-day recommendation is entirely arbitrary and never had any evidence behind it. It only started to be used in Britain ten years ago. Since we don't know what proportion of previous generations ate their five-a-day, we have no reference point against which to compare them.
As a graph I showed in a recent post demonstrated, fruit consumption is much higher than it used to be and vegetable consumption has remained steady (except potatoes, which 'public health' folk don't consider to be proper vegetables because you can make chips out of them).
The claim that today's children will die at a younger age than their parents cannot, of course, be disproved for another seventy years, but it flies in the face of rising life expectancy...
...falling deaths rates...
...and rapidly falling mortality from the disease most closely associated with obesity—heart disease...
The Times report does at least acknowledge the latter of these facts:
Deaths from heart disease have fallen sharply in recent years but Mr Gillespie said: “We’ve got a generation growing up which will buck that trend and potentially they will be the generation that lives less long than the generation above them. It really is as stark as that. If that isn’t a wake-up call, then what is?”
Read: if hysterical speculation based on the failure of children to consume an arbitrary quantity of fruit and veg does not demand a new prohibitions and tax rises, what will?
Never mind that eighty per cent of adults also fail to eat their five-a-day and yet are living longer than ever.
Never mind that these adults who are living longer than ever are also fatter than ever.
Never mind that one in three children born today are predicted to live to the age of 100.
And never mind that obesity amongst children has already peaked and is falling.
But what really caught my eye about The Times report was the president of the Faculty of Public Health's justification for the government to barge its way into our dining rooms. We have a duty to the state to be healthy, he says. It is a question of national survival and productivity.
Professor John Ashton, president of the Faculty of Public Health, said: “This isn’t wishy-washy open-toed sandals stuff. If we really want to compete with India and China we need fit, healthy adults. If, as a country, we have obese and de-energised people, they’re likely to be less productive over their lives.”
The “wealth of the nation” would suffer if unhealthy children were allowed to grow into unhealthy adults, Mr Gillespie added. “The healthier a nation is, the more effective it is.”
This is certainly not "wishy-washy open-toed sandals stuff". On the contrary, a quite different type of footwear comes to mind...
We don't exist to serve the state, Professor Ashton. The state exists to serve us.