Guardian editorial fails by the end of its first sentence

The British are now the fattest people in western Europe. America is ahead of us, and the rest of Europe is not far behind in the march to ever greater obesity, with all the attendant problems of poor health and shortened life expectancy it brings in its train.

Yet average lifespans keep increasing.

14 thoughts on “Guardian editorial fails by the end of its first sentence”

  1. Not so sure.

    Surely the point is that lifespans would be increasing by even more were it not for growing obesity ?

    Medical advances over the last 40 years have added, say, 10 years to an average lifespan. Growing obesity has knocked off 4 years. Net result + 6 years.

    You only have to look at an advanced country like Japan, with minimal obesity (well, amongst the late middle aged and old) to see its lifespans a good few years ahead of USA and western Europe.

  2. If people choose to stuff themselves, thats up to them. What the “Guardian” crew want is to take away your choice.

  3. Mild obesity increases lifespan.

    The problem is that obesity, like poverty, is a movable feast. It’s not defined in absolute terms, based on the effect on lifespan. It’s defined in terms of the statistical distribution of weight and height. They plot out the bell-curve of human fatness for some standard period, and anyone above the 90% level is counted. Then as the distribution shifts, the number of fat people increases by huge and scary-sounding percentages.

    The basic problem is that the BMI tables were set up around the 1950s, during the post-war austerity. That’s when they were particularly interested in studying diet and nutrition, see?

    The concept is founded on the assumption that the central peak of the distribution represents the most healthy shape to be. But in fact the optimum seems to shift with age, vary from person to person, and is a little bit higher than assumed – in the ‘overweight’ category. Historically, people have been undernourished, and we are only now getting up to a healthy weight.

    Good news, except that it gives the puritans yet another excuse to seize control of our lives.

  4. Seems the two would involve a time lag. You’re assuming the obese people are spread out evenly across the population by age. Older people (who the ones who are dying) will likely not the ones who are getting obese, it’s the 20/30 somethings with a sedentary lifestyle who are piling on the pounds.

    The test will come in 30/40 years when the fat buggers start dropping off in their 60s with heart disease.

  5. Good point from Lee. It’s not 70 year old Americans (or Brits) who are obese but their children and grandkids.

    And then how do you statistically account for other factors ?

    People living longer despite rising BMIs might be because all the low BMI 40 a day smokers are (literally) dropping out of the statistics.

  6. “do people seem to be growing taller too”

    Doors….Old Castles and National Trust things…. Unequivocal yes…..the future of our race is definitely Godzillalike!

  7. BMI strikes again?

    I am fat, even obese, have been so all my life. But BMI is a terrible way of “determining” this, as stressed by thge guy who came up with it in the Nineteenth Century.

    Not all that long ago, the W.H.O. put out tables for most countries, establishing what the BMI startpoints should (according to WHO) be the endpoints for that nation’s BMI readings. Not sure about England, but in both the USA nd Japan the WHO figures for “obesity” and “overweight” were five points lower than the figures calculated by the medical studies within the country.

    Both countries decided to accept the WHO figures. In the USA alone this pushed some 30,000,000 people into “overweight” and “obese” categories. In Japan, when the legislature voted to accept the WHO figures. the Japanese doctors rebelled – and the government returned to the figures given by doctors who actually live and work there. which may explain why Japan has much less of an “obesity epidemic.”

  8. Yet another irrelevant,

    Ah, yes. The new dictat from the LHTD that all posts on blogs must be relevant to? Well, of course, his latest delusion. Thankfully, we have the UTDfDoN to let us know when Tim had transgressed this most important of rules.

    and frankly intellectually embarrassing

    Humour? Hubris? Utter fucking whackjobbery? I really can’t decide. Although, if the first, it is ‘funny sad’ not ‘funny ha-ha’.

  9. This statistic is wrong. The 26.1% obesity rate for the UK (in 2010) is a measured number. The 12.9% rate for France, which the Independent gives for comparison (odd that the Guardian chooses to link to the Indie’s article on the data) is a self-reported number, as are most of the other European numbers. (Data here.) The chart on page 6 here strongly suggests that self-reported obesity rates are lower than measured rates.

    I wrote something about this invalid comparison some time ago when Eurostat made the same error.

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