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Sunday, 18 September 2016

Health Nanny statistics

We all know what Mark Twain thought of statistics. They have their uses, granted, to identify a possible trend, to establish cause and effect, but sometimes I suspect we in the public domain take it all with a pinch of salt (though not too much of that, of course!)

The news/media reports are not helpful, since they provide only a soundbite, a few paragraphs, and don’t always cite the sample population size the results from which the latest survey is gleaned.

Take the pronouncement by the UK’s Chief Medical Officer, Sally Davies in January this year: “the beneficial effects of alcohol are an old wives’ tale”. She also said something along the lines of “Whenever I consider having a drink of wine, I decide if the risk of cancer is worth it.” In effect, “There was no safe level of alcohol.” Poppycock.

The whole abstinence quango is exposed here, if you’re interested.

Wikipedia commons

The initial ‘units of alcohol’ formulation was at its inception arbitrary, anyway. The latest UK recommended ‘dosage’ of alcohol per week for men and women is 14 (it used to be 14 for women, 21 for men). This doesn’t take account of the different strengths of beer and wine, not to mention spirits. It doesn’t take account of the size of individuals. It’s a scare story, designed to make us feel guilty.

‘An international study of about 6,000 men and 11,000 women for a total of 75,000 person-years found that people who reported that they drank more than a threshold value of 2 units of alcohol a day had a higher risk of fractures than non-drinkers. For example, those who drank over 3 units a day had nearly twice the risk of a hip fracture.’ – Wikipedia, unit of alcohol. Now, that I can believe!

Yes, of course, excessive alcohol intake is dangerous, it seriously affects internal organs, it can destroy health and families. Yet the majority of people throughout the world drink moderately, and research worldwide has suggested that imbibing red wine in particular is good for you (in moderation); it’s part of the Mediterranean diet, as it happens!

Yes, we should exercise more.

Yes, we shouldn’t eat junk food.

Yes, we shouldn’t drink to excess.

All of these assertions about doing harm to our health suggest that we indulge in a continuous diet of junk food, live a sedentary life-style in front of the TV, and guzzle booze till we fall asleep.  If you have a balanced diet and drink moderately, what’s the problem?

These pontificators are not only wrong, they’re insulting. Insulting our intelligence.

It’s the Nanny State mentality. Nanny knows best. [I was going to title this post ‘Health Nazis’ but I’ll settle on ‘Health Nannies’ – though ninnies might be as appropriate.

It’s ‘blame the moderate majority for the excesses of the minority’. It’s easier.


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