Tuesday 5 March 2013

Viva España

The BBC has wet its pants over the latest public health press release. Apparently Britain is the sick man of Europe (if you exclude lots of European countries), whereas those paragons of health—the, er, Spanish—lead the pack. As the Guardian reports...

They may be out of work and struggling with financial disaster, but the Spanish have the highest healthy life expectancy in Europe – and beat Australia, Canada, Norway and the USA as well.

So, what is Spain's secret of long life? Is is their smoking rate?

Spain has achieved progress in reducing tobacco consumption, with current rates of daily smokers among adults standing at 26.4% in 2006, down from 41% in 1985. However, smoking rates in Spain still remain higher than the OECD average of 23.3%

How about "hazardous drinking"?

According to a survey by the European Commission (EC), Spain is among the worst European countries for the abuse of alcohol, only Ireland, Romania, Germany and Austria have a worse record.

Then it must be their low rate of obesity, right?

Adult obesity rates in Spain are higher than the OECD average, and child rates are amongst the highest in the OECD. Two out of 3 men are overweight and 1 in 6 people are obese in Spain.

This all adds up to a bit of a mystery if, like the BBC, you have swallowed the public health fantasy that under-regulation of the food, drink and tobacco industries is the true cause of ill health. Perhaps the Guardian hits the nail on the head with this observation...

Spain has an excellent healthcare system, ranked seventh in 2000 on the only occasion the World Health Organisation has compiled a league table. The UK was 18th.

I suppose we could try to improve the NHS (the envy of the world if you exclude 17 countries who do it better), but that would involve the doctors having to do the job they're being paid for instead of issuing press releases and drawing up lists of demands. And that would be asking far too much, wouldn't it now?


As usual, the Daily Mash has a sound take on this latest excuse for the government to stomp on your face...

Statistics show the UK is falling behind other European countries at not ignoring doctors or creepy government health campaigns.

Now the government has pledged to reverse the trend by giving more money to doctors and commissioning a series of creepy health campaigns.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “We’re also going to need lots of new laws about food and alcohol and tobacco that will be devised by people with a form of OCD that can only be described as ‘raging’.

“It is going to be unbelievably annoying. Don’t you just hate it here? Still, what are you going to do about it? A big fat nothing, that’s what.”


Dick Puddlecote said...

The French puritans are hailing only 1% of deaths in Denmark being alcohol-related. But they are 18th in the list, 12 places below ... France.

Ivan D said...

Of course the BBC have no bias whatsoever and a complex analysis of many factors that affect longevity can be legitimately boiled down to another plug for the anti tobacco, alcohol and food lobbyists. There is absolutely nothing at all wrong with claiming that heart disease is avoidable and why bother with trivialities such as the years of life lived in good health not really aligning with the lifestyle factor data you keep banging on about?

All of this is absolutely fine if you are not supposed to be an impartial, quality broadcaster and would not dream of employing a public health industry obsessive in an editorial position.

Unfortunately the BBC is supposed to bring us quality impartial news but instead employs people with agendas who subject the British public to a barrage of public health propaganda on an almost daily basis.

All that is missing from this BBC article is the usual plug for minimum alcohol pricing.

James Burr said...

"NHS report says NHS not to blame for patients' deaths" shocker!

I heard all the coverage today and started to think I was the only human left on the planet with the power of critical thought.

1) The above - no mention that the NHS might be slightly biased when it comes to "explaining" why so many of us dying. And this on the day the NHS CEO was hauled over the coals whilst bleating that patients dehydrating to death wasn't his fault.

2) They blamed "smoking and booze" primarily, with diet as a nice add on, and then without anyone thinking anything was odd, actually named examples of "good countries" - Spain, Greece, Italy and France - ALL of whom have far higher smoking rates than us!!

3) They then said the stubborn death rates were in the young in people under 25 - yet we know that most (if not all) smoking-related diseases are diseases of old age. People are not dying of smoking-related lung cancer at 23.

4) They then said the one success was in heart disease which had dropped enormously. Er, isn't heart disease supposedly a "smoking related disease?" So now we are supposed to expect that smoking has caused an increase in some diseases and a reduction in others? Either their conclusions in this report are bollocks or they're lying about heart disease being related to smoking (I'm not putting lying about both beyond them, either).

Then on Today at least, the whole report was rounded off with one of the presenters saying it was all thanks to the smoking ban (wow, don't even need the anti-nutjobs when you have them on staff, do you?) before saying the ban had been "an enormous success." Oh and then adding how "fantastic" the NHS is, for good measure. Good impartial reporting there - by what measures? Who says?

The whole thing stank. Apart from the fact it seemed designed to deflect attention from Staffordshire and to also add extra pressure for the wobbly minimum pricing policy, the presenters attitudes amazed me. On no other policy, from any party, would they just say, as fact, that it was "an enormous success." Yet with the smoking ban it's different.

There really is some directive somewhere saying that they have to say black is white often enough so people start believing them. I've lost count of the number of recent pub closure articles I've seen that don't mention the ban. Just amazing. And sinister.

Thank God for this site and a handful of others, like DP and Frank.

nisakiman said...

Apparently Greece came in at No 3 in the EU health / longevity survey, and they are far and away the biggest smokers in EU, with, I believe, more than 40% of the male population being smokers and close to 30% of the female population.

I had the EU smoking prevalence PDF bookmarked, but when I tried to access it just now it wouldn't let me in. Timed out, it said. Hence no link. Sorry.