Saturday 18 January 2014

Obesity charlatans

From the BBC...

Can anti-smoking tactics solve obesity crisis?

New guidelines from the National Obesity Forum suggest using "harder hitting" anti-obesity campaigns, akin to anti-tobacco campaigns, in the UK.

The National Obesity Forum is a tiny single-issue pressure group. It has no authority to produce "guidelines" or anything else. It is a pharma-funded lobby group that has managed to provoke the bovine British media into proclaiming that the obesity 'epidemic' is worse than expected.

As the excellent BBC Radio 4 programme More or Less pointed out yesterday, this is a lie. An egregious lie. A complete lie. A deliberate and premeditated lie. (It didn't use those words exactly.)

Asked by More or Less for evidence of a worsening obesity, Tam Fry, chief spokesman for the National Obesity Forum, said:

"We have no actual statistics and figures"

So why claim that 'obesity is worse than expected'?

"A little exaggeration forces the message home"

That's all it takes to make front page news in Britain in 2014—"a little exaggeration".

If there was any integrity left in the UK media, these charlatans would never be allowed on the air again. And yet their lies suit the BBC's longstanding agenda of making eating the new smoking and so it warrants a special article in the specious 'magazine' section. Even a pasting by More or Less—one of the few BBC shows that justifies the license fee—is not enough to halt the bandwagon.

The in-your-face smoking campaigns of the past, [president emeritus of the Hastings Institute, Dan Gilmore] says, effectively convinced people both that their actions bothered others and posed grave danger to themselves.

When it comes to obesity, he says, "the public has not as thoroughly been terrorised [sic]."

What a charming message. If only we could terrorise more people, what a wonderful world it would be.

Any smokers reading this will know exactly what fatties can expect in the years to come by way of stigmatisation and 'denormalisation' (or, if you prefer, terrorism). There's no point lingering on the blatant evidence of the slippery-slope in this article and its headline. If you can't see by now that the same hateful tactics used against smokers are being deployed against consumers of salt, sugar, fat and alcohol then I'm afraid that you are an idiot.

Whether idiot or not, please make sure you listen to the More or Less item in full. It is a voice of reason in a desert of hysteria. It's a shame that the BBC doesn't ask the More or Less team to fact-check every news story *before* they report it. Sadly, I doubt the BBC News crew care about the truth.


Pat said...

The anti-obesity campaign also has a practical weakness in that it is far from clear what the actual cause is, so there is no simple to understand action that a person can take to avoid it.

Ivan D said...

This post illustrates the frustrating nature of the BBC in that it employs people capable of high quality critical journalism but prefers to showcase agenda driven idiots who simply regurgitate whatever the likes of Tam Fry tell them. Radio 4 has a much smaller audience than BBC News so the vast majority of the population will be influenced by headlines based on lies rather than the facts.

No doubt Fry will be awarded a CBE or even a knighthood at some point at the recommendation of a politician not dissimilar to Diane Abbot.

nisakiman said...

The anti-obesity campaign also has a practical weakness in that it is far from clear what the actual cause is...

Well, Pat, it is a well documented fact that when people stop smoking they invariably put on weight. As smoking prevalence has fallen, so 'obesity' has risen. A connection, perhaps?

Fredrik Eich said...

Since 2007 the fall in smoking prevalence has pretty much stalled and given that nonsmokers are twice as likely to be obese compared to smokers it would follow that there could be a small effect there. In addition since the crash of 2008 people have less cash to splash and so possibly spending patterns on food have changed. And we know that people are drinking fewer units of booze.
So maybe the loss of weight gain is just an indication that we live in an over regulated and soon to be very bankrupt country.
Just speculation.

Fredrik Eich said...

Ok, we live in a country that is already bankrupt..

Jonathan Bagley said...

Pleased about Lore or Less. Look forward to listening to the repeat tonight. I emailed them, with a link to one of your previous articles which included a graph of obesity trend, and suggested they interview someone from the NOF about the prediction of 50% overwight by 2050. As they didn't reply (they usually do) I suspect they already had the Tam Fry interview arranged.

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Jonathan Bagley said...

Listened to the programme last night. Excellent interview. Finished immediately after Fry made his comment about a bit of exaggeration being justified. Very effective, but only with listeners of the programme. If he said the same to a random group of people, the worrying thing is that most of them would agree.