Everything’s Fine — Everybody Panic!

Come on. You knew this was going to happen. The data are showing obesity leveling off in many western countries. And the reaction of the food police? Disappointment.

The disappointment among professional fat alarmists about recent weight data, which suggest the obesity rate has leveled off for American adults as well as children, is palpable. Bialik reports that William Dietz, director of the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was “surprised” by the failure of Americans to continue getting fatter, inasmuch as “prominent anti-obesity-awareness campaigns have only been around for a few years.” Note the implication that government intervention is the only plausible explanation for changes in human behavior. “What I worry about is that people will read these numbers and think we’ve got this solved,” says Dietz. “I’m encouraged by the results, but this is no time for complacency.” Or for budget cutting. Such anxieties underlie press releases with headlines like “New CDC Study Finds No Increase in Obesity Among Adults; But Levels Still High,” which are reminiscent of statements from the Office of National Drug Control Policy about the latest drug use survey data.

Sullum also notes the increasing scientific evidence that the “ideal weight” is far from ideal and the longest lifespan goes to those who are about 10 lbs overweight. I’m wondering if we have a “wisdom of crowds” thing going on. There’s always going to be a distribution of weight, from anorexic to morbidly obese. Have countries shifted so that the modal weight is near ideal? I have no idea. But that idea is just as scientific and evidence-based as the stupid BMI crap.