On Saturday the 7 June the Irish Independent published an article in the review supplement of their paper. It was a full 2 page article titled "Thinking thin but getting fat."
The whole article was based around research published in the lancet by Professor Emmanuela Gakidou, from the University of Washington, US was the lead researcher.
I am not calling into question the research in this piece. Clearly on the methods they state that they used height and weight statistics from the countries included. They were just using Body Mass Index (BMI) scores to calculate the results and openly stated so.
It is the way the figures and information was portrayed in the paper that I was so angry and frustrated with.
Manipulating the figures
According to the stats and numbers published in the review 66% of Irish men over 20 are overweight or obese and 50.9% of women over 20 are overweight or obese. Also 26.5% of girl under 20 are overweight or obese and an almost identical 26.6% of boys under 20 are obese or overweight.
When it comes to the statistics for the over 20 it does not take a genius to see that these figures are rather sensationalist. As for the under 20, I think that they may be somewhat accurate.
I am not hiding my head under a rock and saying there is not a problem of obesity in our country. There most certainly is but to say that 66% of males and 50.9% of women over 20 are overweight or obese is complete nonsense. Publication of such information is not helping to address the real problem.
At no stage in the article was it mentioned that the method used to determine these statistics was BMI. This as you might rightly think is a rather important bit of information to exclude.
Inaccurate and outdated
BMI has been known for years to be an inaccurate way to determine obesity because it uses just two statistics height and weight and then with their calculations determine your score. According to the BMI scale most of my friends and myself included would fall into the 66% that are overweight or obese yet none of us are.
Why is that?
That is because muscle weighs more than fat. If you are fit and healthy and do a lot of training your weight goes up so your BMI scores goes up. None of this is taken into account in the BMI scale.
In my opinion this is really shoddy journalism and just a scare mongering tactic to shock the public.
It is important to question everything and never take what you read to be fact question it.
But the root of this article is most definitely one that needs to be given close attention. Especially the statistics with the under 20 population because obesity is really a growing problem.
Alarmingly the statistics for the under 20 population may not be far wrong.
However we are not going to address the problem with this kind of journalism and scare mongering.
Educate not alarm
We need to really invest in the nutritional education of our children. I believe nutrition and cooking should become a compulsory subject in all schools?
Food is something we put into our bodies every day. Yet so few of us really understand good nutrition and how food effect the body.
This is information that is so important for life and it is yet undervalued and taken for granted. It is almost assumed that we should know what we should eat.
Clearly we do not and need help on the subject.
Schools may argue that nutrition and cooking is something that should be learnt at home, I disagree. There are so few parents that fully understand nutrition. Too many have not been manipulated by food marketing tactics to know good food from bad food.
We desperately need a proper structured education of good nutrition for our children.