Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Stay skinny with McDonald's

Some obese children yesterday

A "freelance dietician" and her colleagues from London Polytechnic have published a survey of school children's eating habits in BMJ Open and have inevitably used it to push their nasty little statist agenda.

Half of inner city school-kids in deprived areas may be consuming fast foods/drinks at least twice weekly

Yes. And. So. What?

Conclusions: This study revealed a very high frequency of fast food consumption among the schoolchildren. Taste, quick access and peer influence were major contributing factors. These schoolchildren are exposed to an obesogenic environment, and it is not surprising that in this situation, many of these children are already overweight and will likely become obese as adults.

They're "exposed" to fast food joints, the poor dears. It's not as if they seek these places out, is it? The study notes that 61 per cent of these kids get free school meals. Doesn't say much for Jamie's School Dinner Revolution.

“Clearly, actions need to be taken to either limit the ability of these children to access fast food outlets or to change the foods they purchased at these outlets (e.g. less calorie dense, with more fruit and vegetables, with less fat and salt).”

What?! What does 'limiting the ability of children to access fast food outlets' mean? Close down the restaurants? Tie the children up? As for changing the foods available to private customers by private restaurants, I refer you to the case of Arkell v. Pressdram.

No doubt this cowpat of a study will be receiving ample press coverage tomorrow, but one important aspect of it will equally doubtless go unmentioned (because it doesn't feature in the press release).

When the researchers weighed these children they found something rather interesting. Here are the average body mass index (BMI) figures for each group by frequency of visits to fast food outlets. Bear in mind that a 'healthy weight is 18.5 to 25:

Weekly visits        BMI

Every day:            17.8

4-6 times:              18.3

2-3 times:              19.6

Once:                    20.3

Less than once:     21.4

And, for those of you who like your statistics with a little visual stimulation, let's see how that looks on a graph.

As you can see, the kids who eat the most 'junk food' are the skinniest—indeed they are slightly underweight—whereas the kids who eat the least weigh the most. Bit of a hole in the theory there, no?

Interestingly, it was observed that there was a significant trend that those who with greater BMIs reported purchasing fast food less often.

That's more than 'interesting'. It is a crucially important observation if you are going to go around demanding that fast food restaurants be closed down and have their menus tampered with by bureaucrats on the pretext of fighting obesity. What you see above is a perfect inverse relationship between consumption and body mass.

Based on our observations, it appears that those who have higher BMIs are less likely to consume fast food as often.

That's one way of putting it. Another way of putting it would be to say that people who consume fast food more often have lower BMIs. If the relationship was the other way round, this study would be cited as proof that fast food causes obesity. But since the findings go in the opposite direction, no such cause-and-effect is claimed and the researchers instead imply that there is reverse causation (ie. fat people avoid fast food restaurants because they are fat).

This is hardly the first time such a result has been found...

...there was no significant association between increasing takeaway and fast food consumption and obesity as measured by BMI corrected for age and gender. This is not a new finding. For example, French and colleagues found no significant relationship between frequent consumption of fast food and being overweight in their analysis of a cohort of 11-18-year-old boys and girls. Similarly, Simmons et al found no correlation between increasing takeaway consumption and obesity measured by either BMI or waist circumference.

So what is all this guff in the abstract of the report—and in its press release—about the 'obesogenic environment' that requires urgent government action?

We're being played like a cheap fiddle, folks.

An anti-obesity campaigner yesterday


Robert the Biker said...

"obesogenic" , why do I get the feeling that this is about to join "islamophobia", "homophobia", "racism" "second-hand smoke" and all the other faux outrage lefty talking points.

drr said...

We're being played like a cheap fiddle…

A Crapivarius, I’d say.

JuliaM said...

"What does 'limiting the ability of children to access fast food outlets' mean?"

Well, if they can squeeze it past the disability lobby, perhaps every new fast food restaurant would have to have a maze, rather than a doorway?

Or a moat... ;)

Anonymous said...

The kids who eat fast food walk around freely.
They have the fast food whilst out and about (walking).
The kids who don't eat the takeaways stay indoors do not exercise enough and pile on the weight.

Rob said...

Classic upper-middle class snobbery at poor people disguised as concern for their welfare.

Anonymous said...

Now, if they were warning about the dangers of frequenting certain fast food outlets in Rotherham and the like they might have a point.

But somehow I doubt that bothers them.

J A Y B said...

From what I've seen of school meals in the UK they are better off eating burgers and chips.

Paul Griffin said...

Let's not also forget that ALL major fast food chains (MacDonalds as a prime example) have put a good deal of effort into removing both fat and salt from their offerings whilst adding vegetables and salads, which people seem to like. I have long championed MaccyD's in the UK for their maverick approach, which is not the same in other geographies. Clearly the study didn't produce the results they wanted!