Another shocking study on obesity- the numbers are crazy

In the health-writing game you come across a lot of studies.

Research is carried out by university scientists into all kinds of topics…. from the effects of different diets to the healing power of certain foods.

Some of them are animal studies – so they only suggest a potentiality for the same thing to be true in humans.

Some of them are human studies – but they can number as few as 5-15 participants.

Some are only carried out over a matter of weeks or months.

All of these have elements of subjectivity, I’d say, despite the rigour of the researchers.

But then there are OTHER studies.

Ones that overwhelm you with the sheer scale and number of human beings involved.

Where you cannot ignore the conclusions.

Where you cannot just wave it away dismissively.

I think this latest study from Lund University in Sweden is one of those.

It was a study into the link between obesity and cancer.

And it tracked four MILLION people over FORTY YEARS.

Big numbers, right?

From this extensive research they found 19 more cancers linked to obesity – adding to the previous list of 13 – bringing the total to 32.

They found that a 5-point rise in BMI increased the risks of the original list of 13 cancers by 24% for men and 12% for women…

And for the new batch of 19 cancers, the same rise in BMI added a 17% increased risk for men and 13% for women.

Dr Jennifer Baker from the Childhood Obesity Working Group said: “Obesity may increase cancer risks through chronic inflammation, alterations in metabolism and changes in hormone levels.”

She adds, “Given nearly 60% of adults in Europe are living with pre-obesity or obesity, these results show we are likely facing a significant increase in cancer cases.”

This really couldn’t be more serious.

So why are politicians so slow to act?

There was an article covering this news story in The Mirror with a massive headline “Obesity Cancer Risks DOUBLE” with the word “DOUBLE” in caps locks, coloured in a sickly yellow colour.

You’d think that in a society where we see alarming headlines like that, people would be outraged at the way food is produced and marketed to us from a young age?

If it said “Cancer Risks DOUBLE for Smokers” and we still allowed tobacco advertising, people would call for it to stop.

Which is what happened when we all understood the real dangers of smoking (information which the tobacco industries spent a lot of money to supress).

Yet here the same thing is going on with our diet….

And yet…

Very little happens.

Sure, there are changes, traffic light systems on packaging, “lighter” versions of foods produced.

But nothing significant or fundamental that will change the way people shop, cook and eat food.

And look at another headline which I found in the same newspaper – The Mirror – the very next day.

“Online gamers bombarded by junk food ads”

This article revealed that children who use the live streaming game site Twitch get bombarded with promotions for 52 minutes out of every hour they spend on the site.

That’s almost the entire time they are on there!

This is because the bans and restrictions that have been introduced on regulated TV channels are pushing marketers to find new ways to reach vulnerable kids.

So they’re diverting attention to interactive entertainment platforms and sites like YouTube.

Which means that even with rules in place for TV, radio and print media…

It’s still the wild west elsewhere.

Lara and I have a friend with an 8-year-old boy who rarely watches regular TV – he spends almost all his screen time watching YouTube.

Officially, YouTube banned food ads on children’s content in 2020, but according to a 2023 study from the University of Connecticut, junk food is still pushed in much of it.

They reported that 66% of videos from the most popular “kid influencers” on YouTube featured a food item.

This is worrying because 40% of English teenagers are now obese compared with 30% in 1995.

But no matter how old you are, no matter if you have kids or grandkids to worry about…
This Health Crisis Costs Us All
The NHS is on the verge of spending more on treating obesity-related problems than any other health condition.

Diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, and now 32 types of cancer.

Yet when Rishi Sunak became Prime Minister, he put aside plans to bank junk food ads and buy-one-get-one-free offers on unhealthy snacks.


Well, I’m going to stick my neck out here and suggest that it was because he was prioritising the interests of the food industry.

Last year, The Times revealed that food industry lobbyists were copying the techniques of ‘Big Tobacco’, bribing ministers with free confectionery, stoking fears about job losses and bombarding government staff with correspondence.

Make no mistake, behind the scenes big players are acting against the interests of the public.

And we end up paying for it – with our health and with our taxes.