Filed Under: Big Fat Lies

Tons Of Fun With Statistics

Amidst all the “news” that the heaviest kids may benefit from dietary guidance by adults, a fatter apocalypse has dawned. According to a report published in the new International Journal of Pediatric Obesity, nearly half of children in the Western Hemisphere are projected to be overweight by 2010. The report, titled “Worldwide trends in childhood overweight and obesity,” has seen widespread media coverage, but the same attention hasn’t been given to its implausible leaps of logic or to the deep financial conflicts of its promoters.

Since the actual report isn’t publicly available yet (we had to call up the funding foundation in England to get it), it’s no surprise that no reporter has discussed the dubious assumption that powers its media-friendly claim. Authors Youfa Wang and Tim Lobstein make their projection — that 46.4 percent of schoolchildren in North and South America will be overweight by 2010 — by looking at past body weight trends and “assuming they continue on a linear basis.”

Using the authors’ methods, we can see that 110.4 percent of schoolchildren will be overweight in 2050. That’s right, our kids will be so fat that the fat will start forming additional children.

After this statistical absurdity, it’s almost not worth mentioning that the International Journal of Pediatric Obesity is funded by the International Association for the Study of Obesity, whose corporate sponsors include F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd. and Abbott Laboratories (click here for IASO’s annual report and scroll to the third-to-last page). Roche, as it’s known in the U.S., happens to make Xenical, while Abbott makes Meridia — weight-loss drugs both. We could go on about how author Lobstein works for the International Obesity Task Force — another IASO financial conflict extravaganza — but we think you get the picture.

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