BBC 1 has been in overdrive on this story as have the ‘newspapers.’ BBC Scotland has been quiet on it. You’ll remember how much the public really needed to know more about Scotland’s (fake) obesity crisis back in November 2018:
BBC Scotland once more hide SNP Government’s policy success to create scare on obesity in women
Don’t we have a diabetes crisis to inform the public about? Too much of a challenge to make one up?
Diabetes going into decline in Scotland?
There were 295 753 people diagnosed with diabetes in 2018.
That figure turns out to be the first fall recorded, from 298 504 in 2017, on record. See:
Though the 2 751 decline is a small figure compared with the expected increase of around 7 000, they combine to make a c10 000 turnaround in the trend. The smaller increase in 2017 compared to 2016 may also suggest the beginning of the trend.
Diabetes and obesity together in decline in Scotland?
So, what could be causing this? As you know, obesity is a major factor in the increase of Type 2 Diabetes across the globe. Obesity is also increasing across the globe, but the rate of increase is flattening out in one country, Scotland, and government initiatives have been identified as key probable factors in this.
In their public anxiety drive on obesity in November 2018, BBC Scotland ignored two pieces of reliable research and rejected my complaint regarding their distortions.
Research from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, reported in the Independent on 26th May 2018 suggested:
‘Under current trends it is predicted that 11 per cent of the population in Wales will be morbidly obese in 2035, roughly 340,000 adults, while Scotland is likely to plateau at about 5 per cent and England will rise to about 8 per cent.’
The researchers offer a surprisingly clear, confident and simple explanation for the significantly slower growth in Scotland – Scottish Government policy initiatives and resource allocation:
‘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.’
I appreciate that the trend graph relates to combined male and female obesity, but the table below shows that for other than two groups, the prevalence of obesity in Scottish women is expected to be significantly lower than that in England or Wales and notably much lower for the 15-24-year-olds most likely to have experienced, in schools and colleges, the ‘Scottish Government policy initiatives and resource allocation.’
Table: Predicted % prevalence of obesity
Published on the 26th November 2018 but ignored by the Nomedia, new research findings supported the London School findings:
From Growing Up in Scotland: Overweight and Obesity at Age 10:
‘Historic data from the survey shows that the prevalence of overweight [in Scotland] including obesity remained relatively stable between 1998 and 2016, fluctuating between 28% and 33%. However, in recent years levels of obesity have shown a steady decline dropping from 17% in 2014. This is largely due to a decline in obesity amongst boys which has dropped from 20% in 2012 to 12% in 2017 [40%].’(14)
‘The results are broadly comparable with similar UK research. For example, analysis of data from the Millennium Cohort Study showed that the proportion of healthy, overweight and obese 5-year olds becoming or remaining obese by age 11 were 6%, 32% and 68% respectively (Mead et al, 2016). Comparative figures from analysis of administrative data from the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP)13 in England were 8%, 43% and 77% (Copley et al, 2017).’ (25)
So, compared to England, 25% fewer healthy 5-year-olds becoming obese by 11 in Scotland. Similarly, 25% fewer overweight 5-year-olds becoming obese and 12% fewer obese 5-year-olds remaining obese.
While the London School research directly attributes credit to Scottish Government policy initiatives, this merely associates them. See:
‘Food available in and around schools has also been a focus of policy aimed at improving children’s diets. Legislation requiring local authorities to ensure schools provide food and drink of an appropriate nutritional standard has been in place since 2007 with accompanying guidance’ (17)
‘Progress towards achieving the goal of a more active population has been made through a range of activities in recent years including the implementation of the National Walking Strategy (Scottish Government, 2014c), the Cycling Action Plan (Scottish Government, 2017b), the Active Schools programme, Community Sports Hubs and the Legacy 2014 Physical Activity Fund10. Of particular relevance for children and young people is the Scottish Government’s commitment to expanding the Daily Mile to ensure that Scotland becomes the first ‘Daily Mile nation’ with roll out to nurseries, schools, colleges, universities and workplaces. Recent research results suggest the Daily Mile is effective at increasing levels of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA), reducing sedentary time, increasing physical fitness and improving body composition.’ (17/18)
Do we need to help BBC Reporting Scotland, again:
‘SNP health initiatives threaten jobs at Diabetes UK’
A fine piece of reporting. As someone who is most assuredly not obese, but was shocked 20 years ago to be diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, I am optimistic about what you have reported.
At the time of my diagnosis, I did a fair bit of research into the condition, particularly the aspect relating to life expectancy. There was actually a public lecture given in your old haunt of Paisley University about historic trends. There were two things which struck me. Firstly, there was the increase in the numbers of cases particularly in the western world and the concomitant increase in levels of obesity. The presenter showed a map of the USA, pre war and only a few states had levels of obesity among the general population causing concern. In the second map c25 years later, every state in the union was above these levels. The presenter suggested diet and decreased physical activity were to blame. (Personally, I think that the hidden use of corn (maize) and corn syrup in foods has been a major factor and this is a result of bungs to big agriculture) secondly, despite the rise in percentages with diabetes, life expectancy of diabetics was also increasing markedly. At the time of the lecture, expectancy for type 2 was a few years less than that for the general population. Today, I think there is o significant difference and, indeed, those being treated it’s metformin might actually have a slightly LONGER life expectancy.
When I was diagnosed my GP made clear that it was my responsibility to MANAGE the condition. They would help and advise, but, basically, it was up to me. I have followed the guidelines, which are, in large measure, those the SG is promoting. It takes time for attitudes to be changed and for ‘trends’ to be reduced and reversed. It is only a single year data, but, taken in conjunction with the London data on obesity it, is possible grounds for optimism.
The BBC, like much of Nomedia, takes a hostile and contemptuous stance towards people with diabetes (as they do with any condition which they deem to be ‘lifestyle choices’ – i.e. the sufferer is to be blamed for her/his lack of moral fibre). Usually, articles about obesity are illustrated with photographs of hugely obese people and assemblages of fatty and sugary convenience foods. Both types of image are inviting scorn. Undoubtedly body fat, mainly visceral, is a very strong factor in the incidence of diabetes and, maintaining it at a safe level is important. Having a healthy diet is one strand, but, to deal seriously with this we have to deal with the big food conglomerates and agribusiness, which is not something Nomedia will do, so, they blame the victims. The other strand is active physical exercise, which, for all of us should comprise, to a great extent, just walking about, rather than using cars as much as we do. In addition, we need also to run, swim, cycle, play sports, etc and get out in the fresh air. This entails tackling the motoring lobby, principally private car use, but also getting freight companies to move away from diesel power to other sources of energy for vehicles and shifting more to rail. This entails tackling the motoring lobby and the petrol companies. Again, Nomedia will not tackle this in a serious way. Instead, we have the phone ins attacking cyclists, with the aggressively oafish Alan Douglas spluttering reactionarily and campaigns agains parking controls and bus lanes (yet more attacks on the hard pressed motorist)
PS if you could have provided evidence that pigeon droppings are found somewhere near the houses where diabetics live, you could have had the BBC ‘health’ correspondent interested.. when I came out of Sainsbury’s superstore at New Cross Gate in London, an hour ago, there were three pigeons sunbathing! I have seen them doing this before and there is some evidence of droppings in the vicinity. As I am diabetic, I am sure that causality could be inferred.
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Thanks Alasdair, great addition getting a fair bit off your chest there! Take care in London, No (is) Mean City!