This article is a continuation of ‘Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics’ commentary.
Unveiled UK Government obesity strategy
Interestingly until Boris Johnson caught Coronavirus, obesity wasn't on the governments agenda.
Jamie Oliver has rather commendably campaigned in this area for some years. He deserves far more credit than he gets. To increase awareness about obesity Jamie Oliver undertook a series of interviews. One interview with nice chap Adam Fleming. Jamie stated over a quarter of all children’s fruit and veg comes from pizza alone. An amazing stat but is it straightforwardly amazing or is it amazingly untrue. Well, let me tell you the tale.
Jamie Oliver's team where asked where the statistic came from. They provided this statement. Jamie was referring to the fact that more than third of the veg children eat is highly processed. This results in one fifth, of children’s veg coming from pizza and baked beans. Not quite the same fact. It is a completely different fact. They are talking about veg not fruit. Also, they state a fifth not quarter. Plus, it is not just pizza. They have smuggled baked beans in too.
Putting those three major things aside other issue arises with Jamie Oliver's statement. His team pointed to a 2016 document published by the food foundation charity.
They exist to change food policy and business practice. They aim is to get people eating healthily. Number three on their list of food facts. Seventeen percent of children's veg comes from pizza and baked beans. The charity provides a table of the top ten contributors to veg intake for adults and children. The biggest source for both adults and children was what they call other veg. This includes homemade cooking. In second place with children baked beans and in seventh place pizza.
And where did the food foundation get these figures from?
The Food Foundation said they no longer calculate figures in that way. Nonetheless they thought their 2016 analysis was based on the 2014 government survey. Unfortunately, they could not produce the methodology applied (how the calculations were made). It is not possible to work out how it was calculated using government veg data. The reason data doesn’t include pizza or baked beans as separate categories.
So, to summarise it is not true that twenty five percent of children's intake of fruit and veg come from pizza.
It is not true if you accept food foundation's analysis. It would be less than four percent but even that seems shaky. It is simply not possible to know how they did their calculations.
Nonetheless UK obesity rates are undeniably too high. The food industry has and continues to try to make us doubt the facts. BBC Radio 4 broadcast an informative series called 'How they made us doubt everything' well worth listening to. Even if the evidence is overwhelming lobbyists, public relations companies know exactly how to make you doubt the evidence even your common sense.