Thursday 25 March 2021

Chris Whitty - back to the day job

Chris Whitty had barely got his feet under the desk at the Chief Medical Officer's office when COVID-19 came calling. This week he gave an online lecture to remind us what his day job is when he doesn't have a real public health issue to deal with. 
The subject was obesity and he took up where Sally Davies left off. He doesn't seem quite ready to call for a ban on people eating on trains, but he stuck to orthodox 'public health' line about the food 'environment' being the problem and the government being the answer. 
Have a read of his slides.

Chris Whitty is not a member of the public. He is a highly paid member of a state bureaucracy. The public 'engages with the food industry' by buying the food they like from a range of products unparalleled in human history. Chris Whitty and his cohorts engage with the food industry by threatening them, telling them how to make their products, raising prices and restricting what they can say to the public. 
Whitty et al. are part of a special interest group that knows woefully little about food production, human behaviour or economics. They seem to think there is a market failure, but cannot explain why. Their sledgehammer approach is going to create lots of problems and solve nothing.

I can't see exactly what is shown in the photo of Whitty's supermarket. Presumably it is the confectionery aisle (are those Easter eggs?). If this is how the CMO is portraying the food environment in Britain, it is frankly dishonest. 

Next slide please.

How can we emulate the success of Ethiopia and Bangladesh? That's the big question in 'public health' today. 

Incidentally, calorie availability - which is what this scatter plot actually shows - is not a great measure. According to the source data, the 'daily supply of calories' is higher in Norway than in the UK and it is above 3,400 in both countries. Even in Africa, it exceeds the 2,500 calories recommended for an adult male. I don't know about Norway but the average person in Britain consumes a lot less than 3,400 calories a day, and the amount has declined over the decades, even if you make big adjustments for under-reporting.

Next slide please.

This is just a list of everything the 'public health' lobby has been demanding in the last few years. Nearly all of it has been done or is in the process of becoming law under Boris Johnson's spineless government. 

Whenever Chris Whitty says that something is a "political question" or a "matter for politicians", all I hear is "we are going conjure up so much junk science and produce so many dodgy models that it will become politically impossible for the government to take anything other than the most authoritarian course of action." Regular readers will be familiar with this approach from 'public health', but more people have seen how it works in the past year.

Speaking of junk science...

Aside from the flimsiness of the correlation and the bizarre way the categories have been split up, anyone who says there is an association between the proximity of fast food outlets and obesity has not bothered to look at the evidence.
Next slide please.

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