|The Daily Mail: It's worse than you feared|
The headline above, and many others like it, are a result of the National Obesity Forum launching National Obesity Awareness Week. They provide no data and no evidence to back up their claim that things are worse than expected. Indeed, the ridiculous projections could hardly be any worse, with the Foresight report predicting that half of British adults would be obese by 2050 and a Lancet report claiming that half of British adults would be obese by 2030. Both of these forecasts are based on absurd methodologies that would, if taken to their logical conclusion, predict that 120 per cent of British adults will be obese by 2150.
The fact of the matter is that the models these predictions are based on (why does it always come back to models?) have already started to fall apart in the few years since they were created as the obesity 'epidemic' conspicuously fails to get worse. As I told Spectator blogs earlier today:
‘We are not seeing an “exponential” rise in obesity, as the National Obesity Forum claims. On the contrary, obesity rose sharply in the 1980s and 1990s but has risen at a much slower pace since 2001 and childhood obesity is in decline. Obesity predictions are based on the bone-headed assumption that the late twentieth century rise will continue at the same rate indefinitely. Even if this were not a ridiculous methodology, any honest attempt to predict obesity rates would accept that the slower recent trend indicates that the likely scenario is better, not worse, than previously thought.’
The UK Health Forum has put out a press release saying something similar, albeit in more guarded terms. I recommend reading Rob Lyons' evidence-based demolition of this scare story at Spiked if you want to hear the truth. Don't trust the newspapers and certainly don't trust the National Obesity Forum.
(Read this old post for a brief history of appalling obesity predictions.)