Monday, November 27, 2006

Four big, fat myths

The latest in a series of articles by John Luik on the obesity myth, this one in the Daily Telegraph is written with Patrick Basham and it outlines that the obesity epidemic is a myth with four key propositions:
  • that we and our children are fat
  • that being fat is a certain recipe for early death
  • that our fatness stems from the manufacturing and marketing practices of the food industry, and
  • that we will lengthen our lives if only we eat less and lose weight.
However, as Basham and Luik explain 'there is no scientific evidence to support these myths'.

What is interesting is to argue these points as they are taken as axiomatic gospel by so many. The knee-jerk response is to suggest that if you disagree with any of the four key propositions you are, in effect, arguing for obesity, heart attacks and general lack of fitness. The difficulty is to point out that being fit, longevity of life and positive body image are not being promoted by the obesity myth and, in particular, by its incessant social engineering of children.

But if there is no scientific evidence to support the myth, why are so many agencies and people out there promoting it? Look to see who gains from adherence to the myth and its embedded constructs: then you see why it is perpetuated. As Luik has written elsewhere, it is far easier for health officials to rail against imaginary risks than it is to grapple with finding cures to systemic problems and the global reality of wealth translating into better health. Once you have a wealthy society, what is left for government agencies to manage?