Thursday, 8 July 2010

Silly Season At The BBC: Obesity and Exercise

To be fair, though, it's not just the BBC - it just reported it on its website and then followed it up with a debate on Today this morning between a silly man called Fry and some other dude who wasn't quite so silly - it's a bunch of extremely silly scientists who have published a very silly paper on the relationship between exercise and obesity in children. To call the scientists' conclusions "silly", as covered in the BBC web story is, however, to be very generous. They're not merely silly, to my mind they're potentially dangerous.
The researchers at the EarlyBird Diabetes Study, based at the Peninsula Medical School in Plymouth, has been following a group of more than 200 city school children for the past 11 years.
As part of the long-term study, they monitored body fat and exercise at regular intervals over three years.
They found no indication that doing more physical activity had any effect on weight, but they did find that children who put on weight did relatively less exercise.
And so it goes on, hedging and blurring its way to the final, soggy-wet-fish-in-the-gob conclusion - that without exercise children get fat and when they get fat they do less exercise and, because of their big tummies, crave more food. Well, duh.

How many millions of pounds was wasted on this ridiculous study just so the ultra-bleedin' obvious could be restated, but couched in pseudo-scientific terms, complete with the thinnest of anecdotal statistical 'links'?

But that's not the point is it? The real point, if the the Today broadcast this morning was anything to go on, is that this just represents yet another extension of the ongoing battle between intervention and information, between the answer of the Left (to ban and order) and the libertarian Right (to inform, suggest and trust).

The BBC, in its boundless silliness, has clearly decided that Andrew Lansley's decision to reverse the previous government's failed policies on people eating too much and not exercising enough, and save enormous sums of money into the bargain, must be challenged - because a new study, however silly, says so; because something called the "National Obesity Forum" says so. Because the improbable Mr Fry, who wants to regulate the entire food industry and then, presumably, eating itself, says so.

In other words, because nanny (the interventionist Left) says so. If it wasn't so pathetic it really would be silly.

Oh, by the way, if you want children to be less fat, feed them fruit, milk, bread & butter and beans on toast and let them play for as long as they want every day - which will be a lot. Oh, right, in Labour's Britain, even play must be regulated - and the streets aren't safe any more (we are led to believe by the generally hysterical media), so buy the little darlings an Xbox and plonk them in front of the TV out of the way...and see what happens (has happened).

Unlock your children, folks. They need the exercise!


  1. I really don't think it's anyone's business whether people are fat or not.

    It's not the government's business to interfere with people's smoking, drinking or eating habits or much else.

    The time to interfere is when any of these things impinge on other people's when I have to pick my way over drunks in the street for example (well not me personally of course. I'm not THAT important, but when one has to pick one’s way....sounds a bit posh, don’t it?).

    If people are fat, they will be fat. I've got a mate who is diabetic, fundamentally because he is a greedy git, but he knew the dangers and he suffers the problems pretty much in silence. One of the things that irritates me is that he gets all his prescriptions for free, because he used to eat too much. Wrong!

    If people smoke they will probably get some lung or throat problem, but that's their business; surely no one could be unaware of the dangers. Common sense would tell you that sucking smoke into your lungs just has to be bad for you.

    If people drink heavily they will get liver problems, and I've watched someone die of that... Ouch it was sore, but it was their business; they were warned, they ignored the warnings. C’est la vie. Adieu papa!

    The tax on drink and cigarettes mean that these people are entitled to more than their share of the NHS. We should not complain.

    Maybe we should tax cream cakes?

    I think, given that some people are incredibly unaware of ...well, just about everything... that may be the responsibility of the government to ensure that the dangers are known. Other than that it comes down to individual choice. I certainly don't want some overpaid fat cat from Whitehall or Edinburgh telling me what to do on his way to collect his knighthood.

    Btw: Hasn’t Today been dumbed down? It used to be interesting and informative. It’s gone the way of everything else on the BBC... commercialised in the hopes of getting ratings. Next Radio Three will be having a “Top 10” show with Paris Hilton or Jordan! Time to sell them off.

  2. Well said tris!

    And yes, I agree, Today is showing several of the symptoms usually associated with the onset of chronic dumbing down, John Humphrey's obvious senility being one of them.

  3. I agree that kids need to get out more. I see less kids these days playing outside or playing sports and more kids staying in and playing video games. I remember, when I was a kid, I couldnt wait to go outside and play and I didnt want to come in. I had a bike that I would ride around my neighborhood and down to the beach (given I lived on a military base and it was safe in the late 80's to ride around without a parent).

  4. Great comment, NG. In late 70s USA (where I spent a fair bit of my childhood) and 80s UK, life must have been safer for kids because troops of us were outside all the time! And we exercised more at school. We were just more physical and active back then I guess, possibly because there were far fewer distractions (nothing else to do).

    When I think of the miles and miles I used to cycle on my lovely old Austrian Puch, pocket radio hanging from the handle bars, 50p to my name, it amazes me. Don't really do that any more for some reason...

    Where did it all go wrong? ;)


Any thoughts?