Thursday, June 14

More obesity and diabetes predicted for Havant Borough

As is obvious from my posts, I am interested in real evidence and science when it comes to policy and life in general. New research shows a direct correlation between the over provision of food shops and obesity and diabetes.

The research has been conducted by Professor Makse at City College, The City University of New York. His research shows that individual factors have less impact than collective behaviour. A major influence is the provision of food retailers, including supermarkets, restaurants, cafes and other facilities. The more food related economic activity, the greater the levels of obesity.

How does this translate to local activity in Waterlooville? Well it isn't exactly a secret that the Havant Borough Council have been actively trying to fill the town with cafes, food shops and supermarkets, largely because they approved other out of town retail developments that laid waste to the town centre. The biggest project is the Caetano manufacturing site, now handed over to Sainsburys supermarket. The obsession with the ideology of competition and market forces, will result in higher health bills.

Basically there is a conflict of interest. The flaws in todays unscientific economic theories, result in serious health and environmental problems. This is what happens:

1. You create plenty of opportunities to sell food.
2. Collectively and statistically people get fatter.
3. That results in higher health costs
4. But the current ideology is to limit or reduce state spending
5. The result is a big hole, caused mainly by flawed and unscientific economics that fails to include 'externals'.

Yet the 'right' would advocate personal responsibility, which would be fine if the science supported that idea. But as is often the case, people are social beings, like many species. Yes there is competition, but there is also peer pressure and that is often far more influential.
The science shows that individuals will not determine health, they are instead 'victims' of environmental factors, in this case created by flawed political theories and economics that over supply cheap food.

Will a small amount of spending by the council on health road shows and getting individuals to change do the job??
Again this is not supported by science or any fact. The national government sticking a few public information films on TV, or the council sticking a health caravan in Waterlooville town centre for a day, will do absolutely nothing. However refusing a supermarket planning permission will reduce obesity levels. Yet just about all councils think it is cheaper to allow planning applications for supermarkets. Is it really cheaper to get sued by a supermarket, or is it cheaper to spend millions on obesity and diabetes?? Which is the morally correct choice?

It is interesting that this research is published just as a new series 'The Men Who Made us Fat' starts on BBC2.

Here is the research:
Lazaros K. Gallos, Pablo Barttfeld, Shlomo Havlin, Mariano Sigman, HernĂ¡n A. Makse. Collective behavior in the spatial spreading of obesity. Scientific Reports, 2012; 2 DOI: 10.1038/srep00454

Or if you want it explained in plain'ish' english:

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