Non magister sed mendax


Once again we've the, umm, interesting assertion that it's sugar that is really causing the outbreak of obesity. That this is not true doesn't seem to bother those pushing the tale. For here they are again:

Sugar and carbohydrates are the real culprits in the obesity epidemic - and the public has been falsely told that couch potato lifestyles are to blame, a new report has claimed.

Writing in the British Journal Of Sports Medicine, they said poor diet now generates more disease than physical inactivity, alcohol and smoking combined.

The editorial, by a group of cardiologists and sports experts, says that while obesity has rocketed in the past 30 years there has been little change in physical activity levels.

"This places the blame for our expanding waistlines directly on the type and amount of calories consumed," they write.

Here is that editorial:

A recent report from the UK's Academy of Medical Royal Colleges described ‘the miracle cure’ of performing 30 min of moderate exercise, five times a week, as more powerful than many drugs administered for chronic disease prevention and management.1 Regular physical activity reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, dementia and some cancers by at least 30%. However, physical activity does not promote weight loss.

In the past 30 years, as obesity has rocketed, there has been little change in physical activity levels in the Western population.2 This places the blame for our expanding waist lines directly on the type and amount of calories consumed.

So, what's actually wrong with this analysis?

What's wrong with it is that it's simply factually wrong. As Chris Snowdon has been manfully pointing out all along, calorie intake in both the US and UK has been falling over the decades. As has, remarkably, sugar consumption. To the point that, for the UK today, average calorie consumption is lower than the minimum recommended during WWII rationing. Actually, today's average consumption is below where our grandparents started to lose weight on such wartime rations. It simply cannot be an increase in consumption to blame as there's not been an increase, there's been a reduction.

Given that weight does work on calories input minus calories expended, this means that calorie expenditure must be down. But our magisters here are telling us of a study that shows that exercise levels have not fallen, might even have risen. So, what is happening here?

Quite simply, they are looking at formal exercise, not calorie expenditure. Perhaps more people do go for a shuffle around the block than used to. But that's not going to outrun the effect of us all having central heating these days upon calorie expenditure.

It's getting very difficult indeed to think that magister is the appropriate word here, our opinion is leaning ever more to the word mendax.