Thursday 12 September 2019

Public Health England admits that its policies won't reduce childhood obesity

According to the Daily Mail...

Childhood obesity rates in the UK are to continue to spiral over the next five years, a damning report has found.

Continue to spiral? Let's have a look at the existing trend from the Health Survey for England.

If it looks like the rate hasn't risen for fifteen years and is lower than it once was, congratulations, there is nothing wrong with your eyes.

In its latest forecast, Public Health England predicts the number of obese primary school children could jump by up to four per cent by 2024.

More than 34 per cent of 10 and 11 year olds are currently classified as obese, with the new forecast now between 33.4 per cent and 38.1 per cent.

No. That's the number of children who are classed as overweight or obese. The childhood obesity measure has no basis in reality, and the overweight measure is even more absurd. None of the children who are classed as overweight are fat, nor are most of those who are classed as obese.

If you look at the projection, PHE reckons the number of 11 year olds with 'excess weight' will rise from 34.3 per cent to 35.7 per cent, but the confidence interval ranges from 33.2% to 38.1% so it doesn't really tell you anything, even if obesity predictions were based on something more than guesswork, which they aren't, and if the government's measure of childhood obesity reflected childhood obesity rates, which it doesn't.

In any case, obesity forecasts are consistently wrong.

Professor John Newton, the PHE's director of health improvement, admitted it was a 'reminder we need to redouble our efforts on childhood obesity'.

Ah, yes. Doubtless this was the entire purpose of this worthless prediction.

But he claimed it was 'important not to interpret this trend as a sign that what we're doing at the moment isn't working'.

Heaven forfend! What a balancing act Professor Newton is having to perform. It must be tricky trying to scare the public into believing that the situation will get worse having introduced policies that you insist will make the situation better.

By 2024, Public Health England intends to have taken 20 per cent of calories out of food. Its target for taking 20 per cent of sugar out of food is supposed to have been reached by next year. By 2024, the sugar levy will have been in place for six years. And yet the impact of all this (and more) on childhood obesity will, according to PHE's own figures, be diddly-squat. Can we have our money back please?

Out of around 556,000 children of primary school-leaving age in the UK, 170,000 are overweight to some degree, figures showed in May last year.

Where are they? Show me them.

Professor Newton also called for tighter advertising laws around promoting junk food to children. 

Of course he did.
'Advertising is the other thing - there is good evidence we need to ensure children and families are not bombarded by advertising for unhealthy foods,' he said. 

Thus, Public Health England continues to sell us a web of lies. Its measure of childhood obesity is obviously, demonstrably, laughably wrong. Its projections are based on nothing. Its anti-obesity policies have not worked in the past and will not work in the future.

Can we shut this money pit down now?

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