Thursday 5 May 2022

World Health Organisation admits its anti-obesity policies don't work

From The Times...

Britain is on track to be the fattest nation in Europe in a decade, with the rise in obesity driven by takeaway services such as Deliveroo and sedentary lifestyles, a World Health Organisation expert has warned.

By the early 2030s, 37 per cent of British men and women are expected to be obese, a report from global health chiefs says. The present figure is 28 per cent.

Regular readers will be aware that obesity predictions from the likes of the WHO are worthless. As I wrote in 2015... 
In 2006, a Department of Health report predicted that 28 per cent of women and 33 per cent of men would be obese by 2010. Although a prediction for just four years in advance sounds a modest task, 2010 came and went with obesity rates of 26 per cent for both sexes.

In 2007, the well-regarded Foresight report predicted that 'by 2015, 36% of males and 28% of females will be obese'. Figures for 2015 have not yet been published but the most recent data for England show rates of 26 per cent and 24 per cent respectively.

Undeterred by these failed efforts at clairvoyance, The Lancet published a report in 2011 which predicted that nearly half of all British men and 43 per cent of British women would be obese by 2030. It would take an extraordinary surge in prevalence for this to come to pass. Current rates are below The Lancet's lowest confidence interval and appear unlikely to catch up.

Leaving the WHO's prognostication skills to one side, the claim that UK obesity rates will rise from 28% to 37% in the next decade does not say much for the WHO's anti-obesity policies. By 2030, the tax on sugary drinks - which the WHO portrays as one of the 'best buys' for tackling obesity - will have been in place for 12 years. The food reformulation scheme - which is apparently so effective that it is being rolled across Europe by the WHO - will have been in place for 14 years. Heavy restrictions on the promotion and sale of so-called junk food will have been in place for 8 years. Mandatory calorie labelling will also have been in place for 8 years. A ban on advertising food that is deemed high in fat, sugar or salt on TV before 9pm and online any time will have been in place for 7 years.

The WHO would doubtless say that the government should do even more, but this not nothing, is it? Once the last of these policies is rolled out next year, Britain will have the most far-reaching anti-obesity legislation anywhere in the world. If this stuff worked, you would expect obesity rates to fall by at least a few percentage points. Instead, the WHO reckons they will rise by a third and Britain will overtake Turkey and Malta to become the fattest country in the WHO Europe region.

Hardly a glowing endorsement of their own policies, is it?

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