Three years ago, the government predicted that:
One million children will be obese by 2010 if no action is taken
We were assured by the BBC that:
The government says it is the "most accurate estimate so far" of future obesity rates.
It was nothing of the sort. All they did was make the bone-headed assumption that a straight line could be drawn from the past, through the present and into the future. And then add some. It was never anything other than a wild guess designed to coincide with the appointment of Caroline Flint as "minister for fitness" and to generate some support for the campaign to force school-children to eat Jamie Oliver's horrible cooking.
Naturally, the fake charities and the rent-seeking vultures began to circle. For the National Obesity Forum, it offered another excuse to push their pharmaceutical pay-masters' "shit-yourself-thin" weight-loss drug Alli.
For that fat fascist Liam Donaldson, it provided proof that there was an "obesity time bomb" ticking away (he claims to have coined the phrase in 2002).
For cranks like Harriet Harman it provided another reason to demand more interfering bloody laws, starting with a watershed ban on 'junk food' advertising:
"Childhood obesity is one of the great challenges of our age. Many parents tell me that it is increasingly difficult to help their children to eat healthily because of the constant bombardment of adverts for junk foods."
There was never any chance that obesity would rise so quickly in such a short space of time and, today, with 2010 just two months away and the earlier scare having served its purpose, the government has issued new figures. In every case, the estimates have dropped, in many instances dramatically.
They originally predicted that 30% of 12-19 year old girls would be obese. That figure has now been downgraded to just 9%. The prediction for boys in the same age bracket has been reduced from 19% to a mere 6%. 34% of girls between the age of 2 and 11 were supposed to be overweight by 2010. Now, they say only 17% will be - half the earlier figure. Bear in mind that these forecasts were only made three years ago. How can anyone - even these hopeless pecker-heads - get it so wrong?
The BBC describes this as a "levelling off" of childhood obesity rates, as if these figures were ever anything other than figments of the imagination. And rather than admit that their earlier estimates were pulled out of their overpaid arses, campaigners and politicians are claiming that this last-minute reassessment vindicates their policies.
Gillian Merron, Minister for Public Health, said:
"The encouraging news that child obesity may be levelling off is thanks to the hard work of families, schools and the NHS, supported by government initiatives such as 5 A Day and Healthy Schools."
"But obesity levels are still too high and we need to keep the momentum going – that's why I'm delighted to see our campaigns such as the Change4Life Healthy Towns being so successful."
Christine Haigh, of the Children's Food Campaign, didn't miss the opportunity to demand further coercive legislation:
"These figures are good news and seem to show that some of the initiatives on childhood obesity are working. But despite the speed of growth in obesity seeming to slow, the numbers of obese children is still rising [that's a lie - Filthy] and these figures suggest that the government will miss its current obesity target in 2020.""This is not the time to go slow on our efforts to cut obesity and there is still an urgent need for government to do more to protect children from the worst excesses of junk food marketing, stop product placement of junk food on TV and tell industry to improve food labelling."
Headlines such as 'Child obesity is levelling off' and 'Child obesity has peaked' reinforce the impression that the Change4Life campaign (start date: Jan 2009) and other cash-burning projects have finally defused the time bomb.
What goes unsaid is that child obesity rates peaked way back in 2004. Office National Statistics figures show that even while the panic was being generated in 2006, childhood obesity was not just "levelling off" but falling.
This closely mirrors the situation with Sir Liam Donaldson's other bête noire, binge-drinking. Just as alcohol consumption started falling in 2004, so too did rates of childhood obesity. In both cases, the supposed epidemic began to subside several years before these clowns started passing stupid laws and spending vasts sums of money.
It's the same old story. Come up with a fantastically pessimistic prediction which requires urgent and enormously expensive action and then claim credit when the nightmare scenario fails to materialise (see also swine 'flu). What goes unmentioned - because it can never be conclusively proved - is that the nightmare scenario was never going to happen in the first place.