Junkfood Science: Another example of cognitive disconnect

May 27, 2007

Another example of cognitive disconnect

A reader from Australia sent in this wonderful example of cognitive disconnect surrounding news there that the “Obesity epidemic is spinning out of control.” Despite increasingly more Australians over the past ten years eating their fruits and vegetables, getting regular exercise, and not smoking or drinking, it has made no difference in rates of overweight or obesity.

But, but... “everyone knows” that eating “badly” and not exercising cause obesity.

So, even though the evidence continues to demonstrate that eating right and exercising don't impact obestiy rates, the proposed solution is: do it more!

Yup, that’ll work.

The Sidney Morning Herald reported this morning:

A report card on the state's health released by NSW Health today shows more than half the state's adult population is overweight or obese, up from 41.8 per cent 10 years ago. Data collated for the 2006 NSW Population Health Survey shows messages about the importance of regular exercise, adequate fruit and vegetable intake and the dangers of smoking are getting through...

More than half of all adults now eat the recommended minimum of two serves of fruit a day, jumping from 46.1 per cent a decade ago to 53.4 per cent. And more than 40 per cent now eat three or more vegetables a day, up from 34 per cent. Almost 55 per cent exercise enough and the number of people drinking at risky levels is down 10 per cent to 32.8 per cent....

[Adrian Bauman, professor of public health at Sydney University] said: “We need societal change - we've got to get serious about portion size, junk food advertising to kids and food labelling - so we can engineer the choices we make."

Health Minister Reba Meagher said the Government had launched a series of major initiatives in recent years to tackle obesity and promote better health, including the Live Life Well campaign, an interactive website providing tips and practical advice on smoking, exercise and good nutrition. “Individuals need to take responsibility for their lifestyle choices ....

Just weeks ago, we reported the results of the clinical trial conducted in 29 medical clinics across Melbourne to teach healthy eating and lifestyles to overweight children and their families. This intervention program proved ineffective. In February, we posted the results of the NSW Health report which found that “children are more active today than they were in 1997, while the incidence of overweight and obese children continues to climb.” Today’s kids are bigger and more active.

Just where is this crisis? The biggest disconnect came in January, when the Australian Bureau of Statistics released its findings that Australians are among the longest-living people in the world, even though according to the International Obesity Task Force, they’re supposedly the fattest in the world, too. So much for the “obesity shortens life” theory!

The facts continue to be so inconvenient to government agendas to “engineer” lifestyle choices. :)

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