Back in 1998, Labour’s Gordon Brown was so convinced that diesel cars caused less pollution that he gave the people of the UK a lovely tax break for buying one. They made the fuel more affordable than petrol, and did everything they could to move us all away from dirty petrol to their lovely clean diesel! Less than 10 years later, they told us that they got it completely wrong and it is in fact diesel that is the devil in disguise, and were going to emulate the Dutch and French and offer us incentives to scrap our diesel cars! The government screwed up on one source of energy and they are, in my opinion, still screwing up on another – food. Or is it that they don’t want us living beyond an age where we are a financial contributor to the wealth of the nation and therefore continue to recommend food that silently reduces the life expectancy of its citizens?

For many years, and against mounting evidence, the governments
still did not take a stance against cigarettes. Even today, with full knowledge of the fact that one in two smokers die of a smoking-related illness, they still allow them to be sold. Why? It is a well-known fact that governments, make heaps of revenue by putting hefty taxes on cigarettes. But I believe there is an even bigger reason. Take the Russians. When I was there in 2016, it seemed that everyone smoked. I did some research and the life expectancy of the average Russian male is only 64. Contrast that to Canada where very few smoke and men live on average to the age of 81. If that 17-year difference was the reality in the UK, it would cost the government hundreds of thousands of pounds per person in pensions. Now you could argue this idea is nonsense. Surely if someone suffers from cancer then the hospital bills will be huge? But they are still very small compared to supporting someone for another 17 years with a pension.

In 2015 pensions cost the taxman £74 billion in the UK and the number is set to grow rapidly over the next 30 years. In 2015 the NHS cost a little more than £100 billion to run, but when we consider that expense covers people of all ages, we realise that extending our lifespan might not be in the government’s best interest. Maybe they are better off putting us up in hospital for a short period and demonstrating lots of care and compassion, while prescribing lots of tablets that often do more harm than good (plus the government gets considerable tax from the pharmaceutical companies) and then freeing up the hospital bed for the next unfortunate.

Put simply, in my opinion, governments that pay out pensions have little motivation to help us live beyond retirement age. Once we turn from an asset into a governmental liability – in other words from a taxpayer into a drain on resources – they secretly would prefer for us to no longer be around. Even if in the short-term we become a burden on the healthcare system, it’s more economical than us living for two or possibly three more decades. The same goes for food. If governments know CARBS and sugar cause obesity, cancer, Alzheimer’s and many more life-shortening diseases, we can understand why they are not entirely motivated to let everyone know about it. Plus, just consider how huge the packaged food industry is and all that lovely tax it gives to the government.

Imagine what would happen if the government forced manufacturers to put health warnings on all food containing sugars and dangerous chemically-enhanced oils. It would result in a huge drop in sales and lead to the closure of so many ‘get fat quick’ factories that the government would lose huge amounts of tax revenue. We can understand from their perspective why it’s best to remain in denial and just keep quiet.

Misrepresentation and research

In 2012, Derren Brown flipped 10 coins in a row and all were heads
– everyone thought it was pure magic. However, it took thousands
of coins to be flipped and nine hours for it to happen. On TV we saw only the final minute of Derren Brown’s attempt and not the previous nine hours of failure. Why is this relevant? Simply because much of today’s governmental advice is based on research funded by the food industry. And as we can see, if you take snippets of information in isolation, you can manipulate research to show only the results you want to show. If you want 10 heads in a row, then just isolate and measure the last 10 flips to prove your case. If you produce cereals and want to demonise fat and praise sugar, you can always twist research to support your case. If you can’t, then keep on doing more and more research until a small selection can be isolated to back up your claim.

Still don’t believe me? In the 1940s, cigarette manufacturers were still using research papers proving that smoking had health benefits! One advert even claimed ‘More doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette’, while another stated its product was ‘for your throat’s sake’. And in 1949, if you really wanted to be healthy and at the top of your game then you simply needed to ‘smoke a Lucky to feel your level best’. Even though by this time there was evidence that smoking was harmful, they were backed up by the type of statistics Mark Twain warned us about and the coin flicking techniques of Derren Brown.

In 2016, news broke that, 50 years previously, the sugar industry-funded Harvard University scientists to conduct research that downplayed sugar’s role in heart disease and to instead put the spotlight on dietary fat. Globally, the food industry spends millions of pounds on so-called nutritional research. One recent report in America suggested that as much as 90% of the studies that food giants fund, result in outcomes that favour the sponsor’s interests. Lobbyists, in-house laboratories and misguided research are both big businesses and it is rife. I’m not normally a sceptical person, but when it comes to any nutritional or biological research, if it is in any way funded by someone with vested interests, I just don’t believe it’s of any substance. There is a great book by our good friend Dr Malcolm Kendrick called Doctoring Data. It’s a fascinating insight into how we – the general public of Great Britain – have been misled and misguided over recent decades. One of the things that Malcolm tries to stress is how so
many pieces of research come to the wrong conclusion by linking correlation with causation. Maybe you read a newspaper headline
that says something like “Eating Red Meat Causes Heart Disease”, yet what the article doesn’t state that is that it reduces the chances of other diseases. Or another headline “Wine Increases Cancer Rates By 12%”, yet what it doesn’t tell you that moderate consumption decreases the chances of heart disease and that in hotspots in the world where there are more centenarians than normal, red wine consumption is partly credited with their longevity! Plus, these studies are nearly always anecdotal and based on surveys and questionnaires, not controlled trials. For example, there was once a survey that said, “Eating Bacon Kills”. What a load of rubbish. These type of negative headlines are just to sell newspapers and the research is often supplied by someone who is trying to sell the opposite of bacon, i.e. the cereal companies. One of two things might have occurred in this research: firstly, the correlation might be that people who eat bacon might be most likely to never fast, or might always have it with bread, or use it as a hangover cure, or are eating breakfast when others are exercising, are you with me on this? Secondly, it might be just fake news!

The only research you should ever listen to is when thousands of very similar people are recruited for a trial, and are then split into two random groups and the only thing that changes and I mean the only variable is the thing you are testing. Then, the trial must last many years and the rate of illness or death between the two groups measured. Do you really think, anyone will ever fund that type of research to see if bacon is unhealthy? Of course not. These types of properly researched studies are known as controlled, randomised and interventional, and they are very rarely behind any breaking news article. Please promise me one thing, if you ever read a newspaper headline again, ask yourself 5 questions.

  1. Were thousands of similar people involved?
  2. Was the study over many years?
  3. Was the study group properly controlled?
  4. Was it randomized? (This means that there are at least 2 differentgroups in the trial and the people taking part are put into one orother group at random.)
  5. Was it truly interventional?

If you feel even just one of these five didn’t happen, just take no notice of the article at all. It’s just large corporates trying to manipulate
your future spending habits using a Derren Brown type technique
or newspaper companies using negative stories (sadly bad news still sells more papers than positive) to sell more newspapers. Oh and one more thing. The Internet. Sadly, when one of these crazy stories break, it spreads like wildfire on the internet. Within days you do a search to see if there is any substance behind the headline and you get back thousands of results saying the same thing. So much so, you believe it must be right. The reality: it’s just that one bit of (probably fake) research that everyone is regurgitating and claiming as their own!

Steve Bennett

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