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Big Mac nation

Written By: - Date published: 12:00 pm, July 13th, 2009 - 98 comments
Categories: health, national/act government - Tags:

New Zealanders are now the third fattest nation in the world according to a report covered in today’s Christchurch Press.

New Zealand faces a healthcare time-bomb as a new report ranks the country once touted for its outdoorsy, fit population as the third-fattest nation after Mexico and the United States.

Health authorities fear disease and complications caused by obesity will soak up scarce health funding and dumb down a nation due to unhealthy, undernourished children… Obesity is linked to heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.

National’s response? They’ve put junk food back in schools, cut programmes to get kids into sport and announced plans to subsidise McDonalds’ corporate expansion plans. And all that in just nine months.

It’s nice to have a Government that’s ambitious for New Zealand, even if that ambition is for a McDonald’s on every corner, a coke machine in every class room and a type 2 diabetes death in every family.

98 comments on “Big Mac nation”

  1. Bender 1

    National’s Solution: Send the unemployed to work in McDonalds.

  2. infused 2

    I really do love this. You cannot blame the fast food companies. At the end of the day, it’s your choice. Mc’Ds isn’t forcing you to eat their food.

    You can still eat this shit without being unhealthy. Our nations problem is lack of exercise.

    Hell I sit on my ass all day (IT job) I do eat crap quite often, yet I’m at the gym 4-5 days out of 7. Everyones becoming lazy. Oh it takes too long to make dinner, quick snack here, quick snack there, all adds up.

    I don’t buy the whole anti fast food angle you guys are trying to push.

    • Anthony Karinski 2.1

      Why not let McDonalds and school cafeterias sell cocaine, P and heroin? After all it is your choice whether you use them or not.

      • infused 2.1.1

        Yes compare illegal drugs to food. Nice one retard.

        • Anthony Karinski 2.1.1.1

          They’re only illegal because we legislate them as such. Following your own reasoning “at the end of the day, it’s your choice” McDonalds and school cafeterias or anyone else for that matter wouldn’t be forcing you to use the drugs. Just make them available. Same as unhealthy food. So what’s the problem?

          • Ron 2.1.1.1.1

            Infused, AK has a point. Your abusive response doesn’t change that. As a society we make many decisions about what we citizens can and can’t do. You say “I choose not to be a fat bastard”. I could just as easily say “Legalise drugs, I’m too smart to take them”.

          • Swampy 2.1.1.1.2

            Unhealthy food isn’t unhealthy unless you eat it every meal or every day. You can drink yourself to death on water, and you can do yourself some negative health outcomes even eating so called “healthy” food if you omit the balance of nutrients that you need from a variety of food.

            McDonalds aren’t selling anything that is worse than what has been available at fish and chip shops, of which there are a lot more than McDonalds outlets around NZ. I smell a huge whiff of hypocrisy here. No one is campaigning to shut down fish and chip shops.

            • felix 2.1.1.1.2.1

              And that’s hypocritical because someone is campaigning to shut down McDonalds? Someone here?

              Can you show me where? Must have missed that.

  3. In it’s 9 years in power Labour did little to reign in the Food Industry. In fact, if I recall correctly, they were quite happy to let them develop and sign their own accord; which has done little/nothing to address obesity.

    It’s rather rich don’t you think to have a go at National, when Labour’s response will be no different to National’s. i.e. to tinker around the edges.

    • Eddie 3.1

      Sure, Labour didn’t do enough, and what they did do was beaten down with howls of “nanny state” from National and its allies.

      But Labour’s not the Government now, National is. Do you expect me to preface every post for the next two and a half years with “The last Labour Government didn’t do enough in this area, but…” ?

      • gingercrush 3.1.1

        That is what your beloved Helen Clark and her ministers did for nine years.

        • Bright red 3.1.1.1

          Even if they did, which they didn’t, are you saying it was a good thing that they did? because you seem to think it’s acceptable from National.

          • gingercrush 3.1.1.1.1

            Are you deliberately stupid? Or did you not witness in the house, “blah blah National didn’t do this or blah blah Labour did such and such better than National blah blah blah”.

            As for your second point. Of course if National and by association National voters/right-wing voters kept going, “why didn’t Labour do this” its going to become pathetic. But the fact this government has only been in since November. I think we’re fully entitled to criticise the Labour party.

      • Swampy 3.1.2

        When I believe that this is not huge left wing whining against McDonalds as “an evil American multinational corporation” is when some consistency is shown and the same people start campaigning against corner fish and chip shops – of which there are far more.

    • So Bored 3.2

      So right, lard arses who drive high end cars and do corporate lunches should have their gym memberships revoked and the cash put toward the Jonkey cycleway….sell the Porsche and get a bike….

    • burt 3.3

      Yes the failed policies of the 2K’s will take decades to reverse. We are justified to blame Labour for this thru till about 2018.

      Perhaps Labour and their folic acid in bread was the first step, make the shit poison so people stop eating it and all loose weight. Way to go eddie – blame National cause it’s all that nasty John Keys fault.

  4. Simon 4

    I’d be more worried if there were any compelling evidence that obesity is causally related to poor health. Frankly, I’m glad National’s cutting back on the Government-funded fat-phobia (a thin silver lining to an otherwise pretty black cloud).

    • QoT 4.1

      I’d be more worried if there were any compelling evidence that obesity is causally related to poor health.

      Fuckin’ THIS.

  5. I think the cunning plan is for life expectancy to reduce. This will increase job vacancies and reduce the eventual demand on the state for superannuation.

    No really, this may be the plan.

    I can’t think of any other rational reason for this government’s actions.

    • Simon 5.1

      Except that obesity actually decreases your chances of morbidity, according to new research.

      Still might be the plan, but it’s hardly a rational one.

    • So Bored 5.2

      Its actually a diversionary tactic by the NACTs to avoid Mr Brownlee being seen on a bike in Spandex…finally they get something right.

    • Jarvis Pink 5.3

      @Simon

      “obesity actually decreases your chances of morbidity”

      You’re making some pretty unorthodox claims in this thread Simon. Care to link?

  6. Joshua 6

    Eddie, how is that National’s “response to the report? All of those actions occured prior to the release of the report. And instead of criticising the Government, how about you actually set out how those programs were working and what you would do if you were the responsible Minister.

  7. Labour’s solution to the obesity “epidemic” – Parekura Horomia

  8. Sting 8

    How sad, kiwi got lots of Fat Flu.

  9. Butts McButts 9

    So…wanna quote the other bit in the link?

    “The report puts New Zealand’s obesity rate at 26.5 per cent in 2007, Mexico was at 30 per cent in 2006 and the United States led with 34.3 per cent of its population classed as obese in 2006.”

    2007. Hmmm. Ok. So how had this improved since, say, the late 90s?

    http://www.socialreport.msd.govt.nz/health/obesity.html

    “In 2006/2007, the age-standardised obesity prevalence rate for the population aged 15 years and over was 25 percent. This was similar to the 2002/2003 rate of 24 percent but a significant increase from the 1997 rate of 19 percent.”

    Uh oh! Looks like the last few years of National and most of the Labour governments were pretty much diabolical for obesity rate prevention. Guess no one really is in a position to point fingers here.

    • Eddie 9.1

      I don’t think you get it. It’s pathetic to point fingers as an excuse for inaction. Fact is we have this problem and we have this government, so what are they going to do about it? So far all they’ve done is set us up for even fatter kids and a more unhealthy future.

      Simply saying that Labour didn’t do enough on obesity, while true, is beside the point. And it’s particularly dishonest coming from people who screamed “nanny state” every time they did try to do something to address the problem.

      • leftrightout 9.1.1

        Labour’s attempts to ‘address the problem’ in reality were token gestures. It wasn’t the “nanny state” label that stopped them from taking more effective action.

        Part of solving the problem involves stepping in and taking on the Food Industry. Neither National nor Labour are committed to doing so. You can bleat on about how National are the government but what real initiatives are Labour promising to do about it?

      • mickysavage 9.1.2

        I agree with Eddie.

        Increasing obesity occurred at the same time as living standards and employment rates went up. Now that it is a problem some commentators here are saying that it is all Labour’s fault and they should also be criticised for not doing enough. This I cannot understand … because … they … were … doing … more.

        Maybe National does have a cunning plan. If enough kiwis lose their jobs and can no longer afford to feed their families properly then obesity rates will go down. And reducing real wages (also a National plan) will mean that workers will have less money to spend on food.

        Any they can always get on their bike and go on the John Key memorial bike trail! Think of all the kilos they will shed! Think of all the energy they will use trying to find the bike trail before giving up and realising there is not 1 kilometer of newly created bike track nor one new job from it.

        Maybe National has a plan. Shame it is not coherent.

      • gingercrush 9.1.3

        And it’s particularly dishonest coming from people who screamed “nanny state’ every time they did try to do something to address the problem.

        Go and name the things Labour did to address the problem.

        That you think allowing schools to stock unhealthy food is somehow something that is going to make kids fatter is frankly pathetic.

        So you have pointing to National subsidising jobs at Mcdonalds and overturning a policy of healthy food at schools as somehow making kids fatter?

        Aren’t you embarrassed by your ludicrous plans that these two actions will somehow cause monumental problems for kids in the future? Also once again to you and mickysavage what things did Labour do to prevent people from getting fat. Or should we actually say, by allowing working for families the Labour party directly enabled kids to get FAT. Not to mention the high levels of fat kids are far more likely to come from Labour voting households.

      • Swampy 9.1.4

        No
        They haven’t done any of that. Kids are only in school less than a quarter of their time. Saying that junk food in schools makes a serious difference is absurd.

        I’m always amused how much nanny state left wing governments keep trying to get schools to do this, that and the other, when parents spend a lot more time with their children and they should be responsible for doing all those things. Labour knows of course that the school system is where they have got a real chance to brainwash people against their parental and family beliefs.

        • BLiP 9.1.4.1

          Meanwhile, the John Key National Government Inc uses its power to force bakers and the corner dairy to mass medicate the population with synthetic folic acid regardless of what parents and families believe.

  10. Nick 10

    It isn’t mentioned whether the study used the BMI as it’s indicator. If it did, and it probably did, then the study is flawed as the BMI is a farcical way of measuring obesity.

    • infused 10.1

      Thats very true. According to BMI, I shouldn’t be alive right now/

    • Researcher 10.2

      Nick and Infused, BMI actually provides a pretty good estimate of obesity and body fat. Controlling for sex (no, not the act), 90% of body fat can be explained by BMI. Statistically speaking, this makes it a very good estimate. Not farcical as Nick suggests. But then Nick’s comment provides support for the hypothesis that a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing.

      Sure there is individual variation, but at a population level (and that is what we’re talking about here), BMI is pretty bloody good.

      Infused, BMI is a risk factor, not a prognosis.

      • burt 10.2.1

        Researcher

        BMI actually provides a pretty good estimate of obesity and body fat.

        Except for people who have more than average muscle bulk, short strong people, tall lanky people and it also makes no allowance for general body shape as a result of racial genetic traits.

        So yes, excluding people who don’t fir the “100% normal” classification – it’s pretty good.

        • Researcher 10.2.1.1

          Murray, you are missing the point. If you want to know about populations, which is what we’re doing here, BMI is a good measure. On an individual level you can use common sense. If you have a BMI of 32 but are extremely lean with a lot of muscle, you know you don’t have an obesity issue. At this level BMI is useless, correct. However, there are very few people like this and they won’t skew the data by very much at all. With a few control variables you can get very close to a perfect match between BMI and % body fat. I know, because I have the data in front of me. You?

        • Researcher 10.2.1.2

          I meant Burt.

      • burt 10.2.2

        A “friend” of mine at 6’4″ and 125 kg and according to BMI is morbidly obese. He’s about 9% body fat and pumps heaps of weights daily in the gym – but he is morbidly obese… It’s crap and we all know it but some morons actually believe one size fits all.

        • Maynard J 10.2.2.1

          No statistical measure is 100% accurate. What do you see more of? Huge bastards, or 6’4″ people who weigh 125kg?

          What about a measure we can believe in such as type-2 diabetes. If that was rapidly increasing, or deaths attributed to morbid obesity were, then you could probably argue that BMI is useful.

          How? Becaue there is no reason to suspect that the number of 6’4″ 125 kg people is increasing, and plenty of reason to believe that more people are obese. The relative change in BMI is therefore probably a useful indicator. Unless you shortsightedly dismiss it out of hand through an inability to apply statistical data.

          • burt 10.2.2.1.1

            So you think one size fits all then – I’m not surprised.

            • Maynard J 10.2.2.1.1.1

              I clearly said the opposite, but I am not surprised you came to such an incredibly stupid conclusion.

            • burt 10.2.2.1.1.2

              Maynard J

              Current trends are seeing more people getting fit as well, increase in muscle mass and increase in fat mass have the same effect on BMI measurement.

              Tell me again how height vs weight tells us a good story that is usefull for making decisions that effect the entire country.

            • snoozer 10.2.2.1.1.3

              these are statistical correlations burt, not statements about the individual.

              Sure there are exceptional people whose weight is all muscle (just as there are people with exceptionally high body fat who can be overwieght despite being light for their height) but most of the time if you’re 6 foot and 100 kg, it’s fat and you’re just seriously overweight.

              Yes, yes, I know not every case… it’s called a normal distribution. Check it out.

            • burt 10.2.2.1.1.4

              snoozer

              I think that is crap. My own BMI is useful to me, it gives me a number which represents my weight vs height. I know myself if I’m increasing fat or muscle and therefore my own BMI could provide me with a level of feedback that is meaningful to me. It’s not like blood pressure or resting heart rate where getting fitter (loosing fat and building muscle) shifts it toward the “good’ end of the scale and loosing fitness (getting fatter and loosing muscle) shifts it to the bad end of the scale.

              A naturally skinny person who starts regular exercise will increase their BMI. Two people with identical resting heart rates, identical blood pressure and equivalent fitness may have very different BMI’s yet you seem to think it is meaningful as an across the board measure.

              It’s far too simple a measure to be used in a meaningful way. Body fat percentage might be meaningful but I understand that is not something that is easily worked out on via a form on the browser however that is not making a meaningless number like BMI suitable. You might as well measure wrist circumference compared to trouser size and call that meaningful because many people fit within a “normal’ range.

            • Maynard J 10.2.2.1.1.5

              Burt: It’s crap and we all know it but some morons actually believe one size fits all.

              I: It is not perfect but it can be used as a relative measure if other factors remain constant and it is a useful indicator given there are other indicators saying the same thing.

              Burt: So you think one size fits all then I’m not surprised.

              That is quality.

              Why should I tell you again? Any moron could work it out the first time.

              “Current trends are seeing more people getting fit as well…”

              What current trends are these? And by fit do you mean people with a healthy weight, good muscle and lower levels of fat, or people who are 6’4″ and 125 kgs? Getting fit would probably be weight neutral – many people do it to lose weight, while some do it to bulk up. Pie therapy has one goal alone 🙂

        • Izzy 10.2.2.2

          I think I’m in danger of agreeing with burt. Somebody help!!! 🙂

        • Researcher 10.2.2.3

          Firstly, Burt, your “friend” has a BMI of 33, which would be obese, not morbidly obese. Secondly, that is an individual. Your “friend” will know if he is obese or not. For research purposes it is actually very useful and pretty accurate.

          • burt 10.2.2.3.1

            Researcher

            Oh excellent, he’s just obese – I better tell him because he will feel much better about himself now.

            FFS: You acknowledge that the results make sense to individuals but you persist in your assertion that it is valid across the populus. Waaaa-ho – make up a number that means nothing and grade the country with it. Stay in research – you would be bloody dangerous in policy development or implementation.

            • Researcher 10.2.2.3.1.1

              Firstly, I said that a BMI of 33 would be obese. I didn’t say HE was obese.
              And with all due respect, you simply don’t get it.
              Almost all medical research is based on populations (unless, spare us all, the postmodernists get their hands on it). Results may vary for individuals. However, the data is still a useful starting point at an individual level.
              Paracetamol works a treat for mild pain relief, but I am sure you can come up with lots of examples (individuals) for whom paracetamol doesn’t work. That doesn’t mean Paracetamol doesn’t work.
              Would you refuse a cancer treatment or bypass surgery because it relies on population-based research?

            • burt 10.2.2.3.1.2

              Researcher

              I would refuse cancer treatment is my need for it were based on factors that indicated I should have it when I don’t.

      • So Bored 10.2.3

        Too right, look at Blubber Boy aka Whale Oil, he is the first person to get BMI into triple figures, and thats just the bit between the ears. Truly dangerous to all parties.

  11. ryanmalkmus 11

    i’d rather a nanny state in my school lunch than nanny corporations

    • burt 11.1

      You could do it yourself but then there would be nobody to blame. Much easier when nanny “someone” tells us what do do isn’t it – then we are not responsible for creating little fatties ourselves.

  12. toad 12

    Bender said: National’s Solution: Send the unemployed to work in McDonalds.

    They could start with Cameron Slater.

  13. Doug 13

    There is a strong link in obesity between mothers and daughters and fathers and sons, but not across the gender divide, research suggests.
    Stuff all to do with School lunches.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/8144376.stm

    • Researcher 13.1

      Doug, thanks for that link.
      However, parental BMI while still the single best predictor of BMI, only explains about 10% of BMI, so there are a lot of other factors that play a role. Among others are exercise, sleep, television, home ambient temperature, and on, and on.

      • burt 13.1.1

        BMI can tell us all that… wow – I though it was a meaningless number but it records how much TV we watch – amazing!

        • Researcher 13.1.1.1

          There’s no point in trying to have a reasonable discussion, is there burt?

          • burt 13.1.1.1.1

            No – you have made up your mind that BMI is valid for decision making – probably because body fat testing is too hard and requires a process that can’t be completed by a moron with a web page to plug two numbers into.

            • Researcher 13.1.1.1.1.1

              I wouldn’t use BMI for decision making on an individual level. Then it’s a guide only. However, for research purposes it is fine. You need to get your head around the difference. And no, obtaining body fat isn’t that hard with the right equipment, but you win, because you called me a moron. That’s how you win debates – well done.

  14. I’d be more worried if there were any compelling evidence that obesity is causally related to poor health. Frankly, I’m glad National’s cutting back on the Government-funded fat-phobia…

    That fairly significant fact seems to be entirely missing from debate on the subject. There’s an almost religious belief out there that we know obesity causes heart disease and type 2 diabetes, and also that we know how to reduce obesity. Those are by no means “known,” so if the govt doesn’t agree with you on this subject, it isn’t a poor reflection on the govt.

  15. gingercrush 15

    Simple question gcrush- What is National going to do about obesity?

    Likely nothing. But that is how it should be. Because unlike the Labour party and Labour voters we don’t actually want a government that puts millions of dollars into programs and policies that actually won’t work. Your solution to everything is to simply throw money into pathetic programs that don’t work. Unlike the Labour party we’re not into telling people how they should run their lives and we believe in something called INDIVIDUAL RESPONSIBILITY. At the end of the day you can’t actually go into families homes and tell them what to do. I’m aware that is a foreign concept for you lefties. But unless families are willing to be responsible for themselves and makes changes in their families lives to improve the health of their children. There is very little any government can do about it.

    Of course I have a solution for this problem. But I suspect if I actually mentioned it I’d be labeled as a racist.

    • snoozer 15.1

      “At the end of the day you can’t actually go into families homes and tell them what to do”

      So you would be against: any action committed in the home being a criminal offence? Against iodine in salt? Against building standards? Against any public information campaign whatsoever?

      To name but a few ways in which the government goes into people’s homes.

      OK. You’re against the government doing stuff to counter obesity. How do you feel about the government doing things that make obesity worse (considering its your tax dollars that end up paying the costs)? Do you support the government selling obesity-causing foods for a profit in its schools? So you support the governemnt subsidising a fast-food outlet?

      • Psycho Milt 15.1.1

        How do you feel about the government doing things that make obesity worse

        That’s just begging the question – ie, you’re taking as being already decided the question of what makes obesity worse, when it’s anything but decided. Before you get to hassle the govt for doing things you believe make obesity worse, you’re going to have to demonstrate that obesity will rise as a consequence, and that the govt could reasonably be held accountable for that rise. Good luck…

      • gingercrush 15.1.2

        Do you support the government selling obesity-causing foods for a profit in its schools? So you support the governemnt subsidising a fast-food outlet?

        1. I believe in choice. That is what that proposal is about. Can you actually point to any evidence that stopping fatty foods sales in schools actually solves the problem. Where do you think children are going to go? They’ll either get their parents to make their lunch or they won’t go to the school tuck shop but a dairy. You don’t believe that will happen? In Britain where they have extensively changed what they sell in schools have seen more and more children make their own lunch. In many ways that is a good thing except they’re not actually making lunches that are healthy but unhealthy or they are going off-school and buying unhealthy food.

        2. This policy would happen regardless of who was in power. Secondly providing jobs doesn’t actually lead to unhealthy kids. What a stupid concept you seem to be coming up with. So you lot blather on about how there are no jobs being created by this government and unemployment is at record highs and blah blah blah. Yet you criticise when the government is actually doing something. Lets be real. Mcdonalds would expand regardless of MSD subsidising jobs. So the idea that this wouldn’t happen is naive at best. I do however, think subsidising mcdonald jobs is pretty stupid. Not for the reasons you point to. But simply because I would sooner the government didn’t waste its money on such things.

        —-

        • felix 15.1.2.1

          I’d like to hear more about your race-based proposal, ginge.

          I promise, hand on heart, that I won’t call you a racist.

      • Swampy 15.1.3

        The foods contribute to obesity when people choose to have an unhealthy lifestyle. Nearly every food in existence can be abused, even so called “healthy” foods if eaten in excessive quantities cause fatness because all foods contain energy and excess energy leads to fatness.

        If you look closely at anti obesity campaigning it contains a selection of the usual left wing people railing against business corporations and capitalist pigs etc etc ra ra ra. This is fundamentally the Green Party’s ideological corner. It’s a little funny but I don’t recall hearing them complaining about Labour’s decision to put folic acid into bread.

        The government is not selling such food for a profit in its schools, because the government does not run those schools, their boards do.At the end of the day the subsidy for McDonalds has nothing particularly to do with McDonalds and everything to do with providing work opportunities for people who need them.

        • felix 15.1.3.1

          The Green party is very clear on folic acid – you’re not.

          You do know we have a National government now, don’t you Swampy? Do you support the National govt decision to add folic acid to bread?

        • BLiP 15.1.3.2

          Perhaps you were out of the country or maybe in jail at the time or there was some other reason you were unable to access the media, however, the Greens opposed the introduction of synthetic folic acid into the food chain right from the start – for your information and as part of the long road of edification you have ahead of you, be advised: the Greens managed at least to get an exemption for “organic” bread.

          The Greens’ opposition continues today.

          I wonder why you’re not lamenting the John Key National Government Inc’s “Daddy State” elmination in your freedom of choice over what you eat.

  16. Maynard J 16

    Gingercrush, if you want individual responsibility you will have to find out a way to make people pay for the crap they individually choose to eat, to ensure the burden they collectively inflict upon the health system is accounted for and not a negative externality inflicted on society by purveyors of cheap, unhealthy food who make a fortune at society’s expense. If you find society will not tolerate that tax, you could look at something, like the government taking action to reduce the cost to society…

    I am also not sure that this tax (or sticking with individual choice when unhealthy food is fast and cheap compared to the good stuff, making it an inherently stupid thing to leave up to choice) will do much for our productivity, but then messing with productivity should be left to the private sector anyway, right…?

  17. gingercrush 17

    Yes yes yes. Tax on unhealthy food is pointless. Especially when it is difficult to say what is or what isn’t unhealthy food.

    How about people paying a share of the health costs they’ve used because they were selfish and decided to be fat?

    • felix 17.1

      “Of course I have a solution for this problem. But I suspect if I actually mentioned it I’d be labeled as a racist.”

      Come on ginge, share with the group.

      I promise I won’t call you a racist. Cross my heart and hope to die. Of diabetes.

      • snoozer 17.1.1

        lol.

        Come on ginge. What should the govt do to get more bang out fo your tax dollars? Surely something can be done so so much of your money won’t go on healthcare for people with diabetes? (oops, I’m proposing is sounding awfully like preventative action)

        Go on. Tell us your ideas. Even if it’s racist. It’ll feel good to get it off your chest.

        • Pascal's bookie 17.1.1.1

          Yeah. We might have to start speculating.

        • felix 17.1.1.2

          Come on ginge.

          Let’s just get the ideas on the table – if it’s a good idea it’ll stand up on it’s own, and we’ll let the pc brigade worry about whether it’s “racist”.

          Myself, I couldn’t care less if it’s labeled “racist”, a good idea is a good idea. Fuck ’em if they’re scared of the truth.

          Come on ginge, lets be bold and get the ball rolling.

  18. felix 18

    There was a pretty good interview on b today with wittle Wuke Hawison of the Wibertawianz talking about this issue.

    His solution?

    Less tax = more money to buy healthy food.

    Bwilliant.

    Audio here.

  19. Have started a new blog focussed on policy, I thought that the obesity epidemic was a good place to start. Check out my thoughts at http://policynotpolitics.blogspot.com/

  20. Have started a new blog focussed on policy, though that a good place to start would be the obesity epidemic. Check out my thoughts at
    http://policynotpolitics.blogspot.com/

  21. burt 21

    Researcher

    I once asked a Dr why the “baby charts” are different in NZ compared to the UK. Why the average weight and length is different. The reason I was given is that the NZ charts are based on NZ averages and I was left with the impression that Pacific Island children are heavier on average than “white” kids. OK, I have no problem with that and it explained why on one scale one my kids were below average weight and on another they were not.

    So, is BMI adjusted for race ? If not then I’ll agree that on a ‘world population’ average it is good from a stats perspective but I still won’t buy it for a single country with it’s own racial mix.

    • Researcher 21.1

      No, raw BMI scores are not adjusted. They are simply a ratio of weight for height. But when we use BMI in research, we usually adjust them for sex, race, age etc. Once you do that, the results you obtain using BMI are virtually identical to those if we were to use % body fat.

      I’m not saying that everyone agrees that BMI is the best measure. It might not be. Some argue that hip/waist ratio is better. Others say that body fat % is. My initial response was to Nick who claimed BMI was farcical. It isn’t, and I’m trying to explain why. Not sure I need to be abused for that.

      • QoT 21.1.1

        Except for that whole thing where it is farcical. Seriously, a statistical measurement conceived 100 years ago by someone with no medical qualifications which assesses people like Stacy Jones and Dan Carter as “overweight”? Yeah, that’s a research tool I can get behind.

        For a pictorial depiction of the utter lunacy of the BMI: http://kateharding.net/bmi-illustrated/

        • Researcher 21.1.1.1

          No, the problem you are highlighting is that of cut-offs for overweight, obese and morbidly obese, not BMI itself.

  22. Reality check:

    1. 3 News had the Min of Health pointing out the study doesn’t compare apples with apples, so it’s unlikely NZ is actually in third place. http://www.3news.co.nz/News/Health/New-Zealand-getting-fatter-statistics-suggest/tabid/420/articleID/112335/cat/59/Default.aspx

    2. Try googling ‘all-cause mortality bmi’ and discover how far from settled the premise that high bmi is a “health time bomb” actually is.

    3. So far the low-carbers are the only ones with a credible proposed mechanism for insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Should the govt immediately restrict school tuck shops to steaks, chicken drumsticks and nuts? Maybe a tax on grains and fruit as well as sugar?

    4. “Healthy” and “unhealthy” foods currently remain matters of opinion rather than fact, outside of factors like bacteria or toxin levels.

    5. No matter how fervently you believe, correlation still doesn’t equal causality.

  23. Researcher 23

    No matter how fervently you believe, correlation still doesn’t equal causality

    No, but correlation is not NOT causation either. Once you satisfy the Bradford-Hill criteria and back it up with data from experimental animal models, you get pretty good evidence for a causal direction.

    Let me ask you, do you think smoking causes cancer/heart disease?
    Do you think drink-driving should be illegal?

    If you do, then your opinion is based on correlation data.

  24. If you do, then your opinion is based on correlation data.

    I have no problem with correlation data per se, just with people leaping to unwarranted conclusions from it. Smoking and lung cancer is a pretty good one. There you have people doing a particular thing that’s easily compared with people not doing that particular thing, and you have an increased risk factor for the people doing it in the thousands of percent higher than the people not doing it.

    Pretty good evidence for not smoking, alright. Cf the correlation between BMI and heart disease or type 2 diabetes – no useful point of comparison between doing something/not doing something, and increased risk factors ranging from tens of percent to not measurable. Anyone who thinks the govt has a clear mandate to take particular actions based on that is a religious believer, not a scientist.

    • Researcher 24.1

      I’m not denying that for a continuous scale like BMI, it is difficult to set a useful cut-off point. Again, at an individual level BMI is possibly not that useful. However, at a population level, once BMI creeps over 30, and especially 35, risk for heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes do increase.

      I think it would be useful to get away from the terms “normal” or “healthy” (BMI 20-25) “overweight” (BMI 25-30), “obese” (30-35) and “morbidly obese” (35+), as these terms are so incredibly loaded. In research these terms don’t have the same connotations as they do in everyday language. Perhaps “very low risk” (20-25), “low risk” (25-30), “moderate risk” (30-35) and “high risk” (35+) might be more useful.

      As for your point about smoking, the same issue arises. 1 cigarette per day or 30 per day carry different risks. And one can always think of examples of people who smoked 40 per day and lived to be 100. Again, at an individual level it is difficult to predict risk, but at a population level it becomes pretty reliable.

  25. Maynard J 25

    Yes, Psycho Milt, but there is a *very* strong correlation between being morbidly obese and having specific ailments. BMI is a weaker (but still useful) indicator of morbid obesity. You have to be whoppingly muscle-bound to be classified as morbidly obese, and not be morbidly obese.

    Anyone who discounts the link between morbid obesity and morbidity is neither scientist nor religious believer, but a fool.

  26. Swampy 26

    Pretty low and nasty, a type 2 diabetes death as you try to attribute to National. Isn’t is just really convenient to blame this on National, it didn’t just suddenly blow up since the election did it.

    As you well know children can and do have access to plenty of junk food outside the school environment, they are only in school for about a quarter of their time. Who is responsible for the other three quarters. Is the government responsible for that, or parents?

    There are, now, fish and chip shops on just about every corner, they don’t have the range of healthy stuff that McDonalds sells these days, and they have been around forever, this message of yours is really full of cheap shots at a few trivial National policies that will not have any negative impact on health outcomes at all.

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