Damp down your instinctive feeling that statistics are really boring for a few moments and bear with me. On the UK Office of National Statistics web pages there is some fascinating evidence that the diet we are constantly told is good for us is probably making us fat. (Fatness being the current manifestation of everything bad that there could possibly be about a human being of course.)
Basically the ONS summary of its data says that British people are getting fatter at a rate of knots. At the same time they are eating less fat and sugar and less calories 🙂 I just have to quote some of it.
“The prevalence of obesity in England has increased markedly among both adults and children since the mid 1990s. In 2002 it was similar for both sexes; the rate for boys and girls was 17 per cent and for adults was 23 per cent. In 1995 the equivalent figures were 10 per cent for boys and 12 per cent for girls, 15 per cent for men and 18 per cent for women.
There is no evidence that the average calorific intake or consumption of foods rich in fat and added sugar has increased in the UK since the mid 1980s. Men aged 19 to 64 in 2000/01 reported a daily energy intake of approximately 2,323 kcal (a reduction of 6 per cent since 1986/87). Women in the same age groups reported 1,642 kcal, a reduction of 3 per cent.
Reductions over the same period were also observed in the contribution of total fat to total energy intake (from 38 to 34 per cent in men and from 39 to 34 per cent in women) and saturated fat (from 15 to 13 per cent in men and from 17 to 13 per cent in women).”
After the “obligatory five pieces of fruit a day injunction – an old moan on this blog – (for which it produces no evidence but shows how many people at different ages eat it) the food page says that people are eating less saturated fat and replacing red meat with chicken.
Now, this stuff bears a good few explanations:
First, it seems a fair guess that many of these people were lying. I think people are more likely to lie about what they eat now than they were fifteen years ago, as we have all got more and more neurotic about our food. So, I wouldn’t becessarily take this at face value.
However, if it’s even partly accurate, the majority (the MAJORITY) of people are clinically obese or overweight*. I don’t know what it’s like where you live but I can’t see that around me.
But, taking the definition of clinically obese as having come to mean a bit plump and above – doesn’t this suggest that eating less fat and eating fewer calories are utterly doomed strategies for staying slim? Eating chicken with the skin and fat trimmed off appears to be more likely to be associated with fatness than eating old-fashioned meat. And so on.
Let me repeat – eating less fat doesn’t seem to make you thin. Now I know fair amount of the blame here goes with the use of hydrogenated fats that are stuffed into all those “healthy low fat” spreads that people still choose over butter, in the belief that they are better for them.
Eating fewer calories doesn’t seem to make you thin.
The website mentions that people eat many more prepared ready-meals and get less exercise. Well, hmm, now that seems more like it.
** Men were more likely than women to be overweight (or obese), 67 per cent compared with 58 per cent. This compares with 58 per cent of men and 49 per cent of women ten years earlier.