Sunday, 27 November 2011

Where Are All These Obese Women?

The media reported yesterday that the UK has the highest proportion of obese woman and the second highest proportion of obese men in Europe. It would appear that nearly a quarter (23.9%) of British women is obese as are 22.1% of men.

What I want to know is where the hell they are all hiding?

Logic would suggest that at least two (20%) out of  every ten woman I know are clinically obese, and forgive me obese folk, obese is big, not overweight, big and  I would notice – but I don’t because they are just not there (as in 20%)!  That said, I do know (and like) obese women, but totting up family members, friends and colleagues, obese women total 9.5% and overweight women 4.7%.  (I am overweight but have not included myself in this total – although that said I wear size 16 clothing which would suggest I am not overweight, yet my BMI suggests I am, and damn it I know I am!).

These figures (of course) only relate to my little circle of female comrades, whether they are family, friends or colleagues and are therefore not a true representation of female fattiness countrywide.  Yet, my wanderings in the mean streets of the city do not thrust this large population of large women in my face – I would notice – so yet again I would ask – where the hell they are all hiding?

I don’t trust stats and these stats are based on this report from the European Health Interview Survey.  The UK figures are based on this Health Survey for England, 2009 which clearly states in Main Topics that “The HSE 2009 was a short survey with a relatively small sample size….”

The questionnaire is here (pdf).   Scroll down to pages 44-8 which deal with height and weight and notice that reasons for refusal (to be weighed) are part of the questionnaire. 

So assuming that some will refuse to be weighed - and are not excluded from the survey (guesstimates used?) - the outcome must be slewed.  Whatever the case, this admitted small sample size has been extrapolated to reach a desired outcome?  And, and this is an important and, when this cross-section of the general public were chosen randomly to represent a true cross-section of the general public, how could ‘they’ know that this random selection did not include a disproportionate amount of obese people?

I will muse on the above while I eat enormous amounts of chocolate (don’t like it very much really) as I exercise by wiggling my toes.

Where are they all hiding?

(On a serious note, I do understand and appreciate that obesity is associated with many health problems and is not really recommended as a ‘lifestyle’.)

Anna :o]

PS  I don't know why there are strange gaps in the first paragraph - but I can't correct.  Maybe because my beloved comp is still not well?


Martin said...

Call me a cynic, but I wouldn't mind betting that the slimming industry has a pretty strong lobby when it comes to publishing statistics on obesity.

Frances Garrood said...

I hate to betray my county, but quite a few of them are hiding - or not hiding - in this neck of the woods...

Author Doc said...

Frances, I live down the road from you and I fully concur with your observation

Anonymous said...

Are you kidding me? I have studied in England and at least in London, they are everywhere! I now live near Chicago and I would guess at least a quarter of the women I see downtown are obese.

I think part of the answer is a lot of the obese are the "underclass". You probably don't encounter them in your daily life.

NorthernTeacher said...

Underclass? I think you must mean poor.

I know several 'obese' professionals. Some just seem to eat more than they need and others have health problems that can be associated with being overweight, though I don't know what came first.

You're right about the stats, Anna. Seems to be a good example of Bad Science.

HyperCRYPTICal said...

Thank you for your kind comments folks.

Martin ~ I suspect you may be right!

Frances, Author Doc ~ I can't argue with what you see! Perhaps 'they' are all hiding, thus over represented in your part of the country? (A walk through mean city streets after work this a.m. yielded no observed obese woman - one man, yes. (Perhaps they all stay indoors?))

Anonymous ~ Not kidding! Can't say what I can't see! Maybe these ladies prefer London or Chicago?

I live in an area of the country that could be regarded as poor and truly, not 23.9% of obese ladies observed. Where are they?

Northern Teacher ~ Stats very suss - truly a good example of Bad Science!

Anna :o]

Jenny Woolf said...

Suggest you head to Wilts and West Berks, I've never seen so many obese people of both sexes. I'd guess it's because they dont get the chance for exercise, they drive everywhere because public transport is infrequent and expensive, and local cafes seem to serve nothign but high cal and high fat junk. Why the government won't put money into cycling I can't think. The average food in Holland is just as fatty and junky but there's been a government policy to walk and cycle for years and you hardly see anyone obese, although there are plenty who are somewhat overweight.