Fat wars escalate as rival groups row over obesity

13 January 2014

Last week the sugar police were on the beet beat. This week the ‘thinnist’ lobby is claiming that a 2007 report into obesity, which predicted that half the country would be obese by 2050, was ‘an underestimate’. The National Obesity Forum says that ‘it is entirely reasonable to conclude that the determinations of the 2007 Foresight Report, while shocking at the time, may now underestimate the scale of the problem.’

But Christopher Snowdon, the bon vivant from the Institute of Economic Affairs, says that the only thing being underestimated here is the evidence to the contrary. He told Mr Steerpike earlier this afternoon:

‘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.’

Claim your gift

Or to put it another way:

This is now being reported as an *under*estimate. The gap between the red and blue lines is known as “bullshit”.

— Christopher Snowdon (@cjsnowdon) January 12, 2014



Give the perfect gift this Christmas. Buy a subscription for a friend for just £75 and you’ll receive a free gift too. Buy now.

Show comments
  • John Smith

    Like Climate Change, obesity creates lots of well paid over-pensioned jobs. .

  • 8 Ace – £1.49

    Ah, it’s another one of those…

    1 – Declare there’s a problem, shriek loudly about it
    2 – Inflate the ‘threat’ time and again, couple with persistent shrieking from 1
    3 – When it all turns out to be Grade A BS, fool yourself that your shrieking from 1 & 2 fixed the issue
    4 – Find a new non-predicament to concern your self and
    5 – Repeat

    • loftytom

      Is that not the Global Warming protocol?

      • 8 Ace – £1.49

        Amongst others :)

  • madasafish

    The above chart is grossly (!) misleading.

    It is for MALE obesity only.

    The big rise has been in women’s obesity.

    On the basis that the chart is just misleading, I assume the rest of the article is as well.


    • Anthony Masters

      The data being used was from the Statistics on Obesity, Physical Activity and Diet – England 2013, published by the Health & Social Care Information Centre. It is for all adults. The percentage of men that were obese was 22.1% in 2002, and 23.6% in 2011. The percentage of women that were obese was 22.8% in 2002 and 25.9% in 2011. For all adults, those two numbers are 22.5% and 24.8%, respectively.
      The data may be found here:

  • Son of Hayek

    That’s it, I am living in a parallel universe. Back at work today everyone looked fatter after the long holiday.

  • Rhoda Klapp8

    I’ve been collecting that data for a few years now. The NHS issues a report every year. It comes out in Feb. The report usually tries hard to ignore that the trend is pretty flat, and has a tendency to measure different things or state them in a different way each year so direct comparisions are more difficult. They do NOT report that GP-estimated obesity is well below their figure. Ask to see the obesity map, and find out the area trends. That’s interesting. It’s all on the net.

    Now is the obese half going to be the immigrants, or the indigenes?

Can't find your Web ID? Click here