BBC Scotland on obesity: My complaint, their tiny grudging acceptance

On 20th of June 2018, I wrote:

‘New research suggests that more than 1 in 3 women in Scotland will be morbidly obese, that’s at least 100 pounds above their ideal weight, by 2035. The research presented today in Vienna at the European Congress on Obesity indicates that women who have been to university are likely to be more adversely affected than those who didn’t.’

From a report in Medical Express: ‘rates of morbid obesity in adults will reach 5% in Scotland (compared to 4% in 2015), 8% in England (2.9% in 2016), and 11% in Wales (3% in 2015) by 2035.’ So, 1 in 20 Scots are expected to be morbidly obese by 2035. Even if the percentage for Scottish women is higher than for men, 1 in 3 is highly improbable. There are three serious problems with this report. First, the error confusing obesity with morbid obesity thus failing to inform viewers in a manner promised in the BBC’s charter. Second, the failure to report on the key finding that morbid obesity, in Scotland, is expected to plateau at 5% while soaring past that figure elsewhere in the UK. Third, the failure to report on the explanation for the above trend. The researchers offered a clear, confident and simple explanation for the significantly slower growth in obesity in Scotland – Scottish Government policy initiatives and resource allocation. For example: ‘The government put a massive push on developing a route map for how we can actually combat this. They put together resources from the NHS that were proving to be effective. They did put a lot of work into it.’ The effectiveness of the above initiatives can be seen in this: ‘almost no 15-to-24-year-old males in Scotland are expected to fall within this category, compared to 6% of the same group in England.’

CAS-4940361-J4C08P: Good Morning Scotland

In the report on obesity, at 09:00, we heard nine, long, compound sentences yet no reference was made to key role played by Scottish Government policy initiatives and resource allocation as stated clearly by the university researchers. In the Independent newspaper report, for example, we were able to read that the researchers offered a clear, confident and simple explanation for the significantly slower growth in obesity in Scotland – Scottish Government policy initiatives and resource allocation. For example: ‘The government put a massive push on developing a route map for how we can actually combat this. They put together resources from the NHS that were proving to be effective. They did put a lot of work into it.’ Why was this omitted?

Today, I received a paper response from Fraser Steel of the Executive Complaints Unit.

He has accepted that on the mistaken use of the word ‘morbid’, there ‘was a failure to observe the BBC’s standards of due accuracy’ and he is ‘upholding this aspect of your complaint’ with publication on the complaints pages of bbc.co.uk but no corrected broadcast.

As for the matter of attributing credit to the Scottish Government’s initiatives, their (BBC) source was, it seems, only the abstract of the paper and this did not mention it. That relying only on an abstract might be a bit shoddy does not seem to occur. Also, he argues that Reevel Alderson saying that ‘Scotland was expected to far better’ was adequate to ‘reflect the relevant findings.’

I’ve run out of steam and will probably let it go now.

 

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4 thoughts on “

  1. Toni Young July 21, 2018 / 7:44 am

    I’m a member of Pensioners for Independence. I’m going to suggest at our next meeting that we try to counteract the BBC output at our weekly stalls.
    I already receive comments on the sticker “BBC is Misreporting Scotland” which is on the back windscreen of my car. I’ve managed to surprise a few people with some corrections to BBC crap. It’s only a few, but it gets it out there.

    Like

  2. sam July 25, 2018 / 4:30 pm

    I hope you follow it to Ofcom.

    I have made complaints to the BBC about how it reports health inequalities. Research points to poverty and inequality as fundamental causes of health inequalities.

    The remedy is the redistribution of power, wealth and income. Scottish governments can’t do that most effectively without more devolved powers.

    http://www.healthscotland.scot/media/1053/1-healthinequalitiespolicyreview.pdf

    On page 6 of this Ministerial Review are sensible policy proposals that can’t be introduced without more devolved powers. BBC Scotland never refers to the fact that Scotland cannot act most effectively against health inequalities. It fails to report concerns from academic researchers that UK policies will worsen health inequalities.

    Also, the Wings poll results here strongly suggest that BBC Scotland is failing to meet the terms of its Charter and its mission. So many Scots are not well informed about what is devolved.

    http://www.healthscotland.scot/media/1053/1-healthinequalitiespolicyreview.pdf

    Obesity is less common in more equal societies – so says Equality Trust and, for the last 40 years or so the UK has been becoming more unequal as a result of Westminster policies. I am saying pretty much the same story in my complaints about health inequalities and I intend to goon to Ofcom. I’d be pleased to have your company.

    https://www.equalitytrust.org.uk/obesity

    Is it possible to crowdfund a Yes for Scotland newspaper?

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  3. johnrobertson834 July 26, 2018 / 7:29 am

    Thanks for this great addition to the post. I hope it wasn’t too late to get the attention it deserves. I haven’t taken it to ofcom – too scunnered at the moment.

    Like

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