Though it is generally a given that anything emanating from the Guardian's editorial pages is rubbish, Scott Burgess points to a particularly inane and fact-averse piece on the latest fad 'epidemic' of obesity by Polly Toynbee. Polly's general thesis is that America[1], being the exemplar of all that is bad (read: unequal/nonsocialist) in the world, can be linked to every bad health outcome/epidemic/cause celebre in the world- and that furthermore an axis can be created linking increasing American-ness with increasing bad outcomes. Presumably Scandinavia is the antithesis of America, and so it occupies the antipode of Polly's axis of social evil.

Quoting Scott, who's quoting polly (double nested quotation!):

"It is inequality and disrespect that makes people fat" ...
"obesity took off 25 years ago, up 400% in the years when inequality has exploded." ...
"The inequality/obesity link is mirrored internationally. America has by far the most unequal society and by far the fattest. Britain and Australia come next. Europe is better and the Scandinavian countries best of all ... the narrower the status and income gap between high and low, the narrower the waistbands."

Scott proceeds to examine each unsupported assertion and matter of factly destroy each and every one. Brilliant! It is such a complete destruction of the Toynbee thesis that you should, of course, read the whole thing, but I'll quote the conclusion:

Unfortunately, no statistics are available as to the obesity rate in Belarus, which leads the world in income equality, and therefore represents Polly Toynbee's vision of heaven on earth.

Polly is correct about one thing, though. As she puts it:

"This obesity debate is full of humbug and denial."

I couldn't have said it any better.


fn1. And to a lesser extent Great Britain, one presumes, but only to the extent that the GB PM agrees with a Republican president.

Share this

You have to love the

You have to love the ideological purity (hypocrisy) from the classical liberals.

"a given that anything from the Guardian is pure rubbish"

Well, my faith in rationalism and liberalism is restored. By the way, Hayek would be rolling in his grave if he could read "this" rubbish...

Nice bit of selective

Nice bit of selective quotation there, cutting out the necessary qualifier "generally".

Am I to understand that since I have a healthy disdain for the Guardian's positions/opinions on world views, that somehow I'm being hypocritical and Hayek would spin in his grave? I'm not really following you, since Hayek wasn't a believer in 'everyone's views are equally valid'... Rubbish is rubbish, and over time when a paper of record continually publishes inanity, the evolved response would be to discount that paper's opinion...

And, further, am I to understand that you have no response to the meat of Burgess' critique of the Guardian's Polly Toynbee, but merely object to the tone in which I presented the rather devestating negation of Toynbee's argument & thesis?

Speaking as a Scandinavian

Speaking as a Scandinavian (Icelandic) I can tell you that the part about Scandinavians being the least obese of peoples is, of course, bunk. Icelandic children are fast reaching their US counterparts in obesity and will soon be, on average, fatter than the oh-so evil American capitalists. The same trend is evident in the other Scandinavian countries.

It would of course be interresting to learn the author's views on why Brazilians and other South-Americans aren't more obese than they really are, considering the gap between the rich and the poor in these countries.