Allister Heath has picked up on the excellent work that Chris Snowden has been doing over at the IEA on the obesity issue. Weights are indeed rising but it is not because we are all eating more. The reason that's not the reason is that we're not all eating more: calorie consumption is falling as it has been for a century. The current median diet is today well below the level at which people would lose weight under WWII rationing. Something else has changed and it's actually the amount of energy we expend, not what we consume, which has. As regular readers will know we think that it's central heating which is the big issue here, not in fact exercise. Which, given that the main energy expenditure of mammals is temperature regulation makes a lot of sense to us.
However, Heath makes clear something that can be used as a very useful little tell tale:
We aren’t addicted to high fructose corn syrup either. For reasons relating to tariffs and agricultural policy, Americans consume 25 kilograms a year, against less than half a kilogram for us.
If anyone starts going on about how it's fructose which is the problem, or HFCS, then we can immediately dismiss them as a crank. Or at best, woefully misinformed. Because people are turning into fatty lardbuckets at similar rates in the US and UK. And across Europe too, where HFCS consumption rates vary. So, given the huge variance in fructose consumption, but the same problem everywhere, then it cannot be the fructose causing the problem.
This is not, obviously, a startling revelation, but it is a handy little mnemonic. Warbling on about fructose just doesn't cut it we're afraid.