Junkfood Science: Little kids are not grenades

July 26, 2008

Little kids are not grenades

Making claims that scream more hysterically of an impending cataclysm of dead bodies still won’t change the evidence. Nor will aiming another scare strike at children. Now, we’re all supposedly under threat of a ticking cancer time bomb.

While its Second Expert Report had been unable to find any tenable associations between body fatness or diets and cancers after reviewing 2,471 studies on 17 cancers, a World Cancer Research Fund spokesperson was quoted in the Telegraph today, warning that because of growing numbers of fat children, they’re storing up future cancer cases and creating a ticking cancer time bomb. Actually, the WCRF website shows that no new press releases or research has been released, so this story would appear little more than creating news on a slow news day, using fat kids.

Raising the panic bar won’t change reality. The Health Survey for England data shows there’s been very little change in child obesity rates over the past decade. As Dr. Peter March, co-director for the Social Issues Research Centre in Oxford, UK, had concluded: “There have been no significant changes in the average weights of children over nearly a decade. This can be taken as evidence that there has been no ‘epidemic’ of weight gain.”

And while the Telegraph also claims that soaring childhood obesity rates are predictive of a doubling of cancer rates in America by 2050, this doomsday forecast isn’t supported by any evidence here, either. And, as scientists at the National Center for Health Statistics at the U.S. Center of Disease Control and Prevention concluded after reviewing 40 years of actual NHANES and vital statistics data on 2.3 million Americans: there are no viable associations between overall cancer mortality and any BMI category. They found no credible evidence to support beliefs that anyone dies of fat: “Our results showed little or no association of excess all-cancer mortality with any of the BMI categories. None of the estimates of excess deaths was statistically significantly different [from null].”

News isn’t always news. And kids are not little hand grenades waiting to grow up into cancer bombs.

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