In recent years we’ve constantly been told that we’re experiencing an ever-rising tide of alcohol consumption, with all the attendant problems it brings. But, in reality, it has been falling since 2003, and many indicators of alcohol-related harm such as arrests for Drunk & Disorderly have fallen too. Funny how you don’t read that in the Daily Mail.
Likewise we have often been been warned of the “obesity timebomb” that by 2050 was going to result in 60% of the population becoming officially obese, and a whole generation dying younger than their parents from all the attendant health complications. Well, surprise surprise, it turns out that isn’t happening either, and indeed obesity rates have started to fall.
This has been achieved despite a decline in the proportion of the proportion of the population following the (made-up) official “five-a-day” guidelines, and scarcely any reduction in the rate of smoking – although of course there may be some connection between smoking remaining steady and obesity ceasing to rise.
In reality it is always dangerous to assume a trend will continue indefinitely, as human nature is always ultimately likely to provide a restraining factor. The statistics may suggest that 60% of the population will become obese, but looked at subjectively, is that really credible?
But of course we rarely hear any good news on health indicators reported in the media, as it goes against the agenda of those who want to control our lives and impose a régime of joyless austerity on everyone.
As the great H. L. Mencken said many years ago, “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed - and hence clamorous to be led to safety - by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.” Indeed it’s very hard to find any scare that in hindsight hasn’t turned out to be at best much exaggerated and at worst wholly spurious.