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.