Lifestyle “Improvements” Don’t Work

I’d like to welcome back Klaus K, with a translation of an article by him about the recently-published results of a Danish 10-year random intervention study: “Effect of screening and lifestyle counselling on incidence of ischaemic heart disease in general population: Inter99 randomised trial” (NCBI link). The results – that lifestyle “improvements” have no effect on health – are in line with earlier studies such as the Whitehall and MRFIT studies (described here). Which raises the question: Why, if intervention studies invariably show no improvement in health, are large scale population interventions (such as smoking bans) being undertaken anyway? Obviously not for health purposes! 

Some of the links given are to Danish texts.

Public health failure: Lifestyle improvements do not lead to less disease and death

Translated from Danish article by Klaus K,

Sundhedspolitisk fiasko: Livsstilsforbedringer udskyder ikke sygdom og død

“Lifestyle disease”: – Politicians’ eagerness to push the Danes to improve their lifestyles is beginning to look like a gigantic health policy failure. It is now clear that the political focus on the prevention of “lifestyle diseases” will not lead to less disease and death.

Despite the many expert claims that smoking cessation, exercise, and other lifestyle improvements will prevent illness and death, there is actually no proof that this will happen. Even if you could make all Danes stop smoking, it is unlikely to reduce cancer, according to high quality studies.

Experts talk nonsense about smoking again

This is shown by solid evidence from 40 years of costly human trials – the so-called random controlled intervention trials – where health researchers have succeeded in having thousands of healthy subjects switch to healthier lifestyles – including smoking cessation – without any effect on the participants’ disease and death rate over time (12).

The negative results were recently confirmed by a large Danish random trial, the Inter99 study, which examined the effect of medical checkups and “intensive lifestyle advice.” Despite the fact that many of the participants improved their lifestyle, the study ended after 10 years with no effect on morbidity and mortality (3), just like the other studies.

Health checks of the population is money down the drain

And there is reason to pay attention to the results of the random trials. For unlike the comparative statistics of lifestyle and diseases, which is routinely mentioned in the media, random trials can actually tell us something about causes. They are simply of a higher quality than the normal statistical studies, and therefore often called the “gold standard” in statistical studies of diseases (4).

The methodology of these random trials is that the subjects are divided into two groups at random, one group is helped to a “healthy” lifestyle – including smoking cessation – while the other group continues its “unhealthy” lifestyles. Researchers then compare diseases in the two groups over time – for example after 5, 10 or 15 years.

The results have been a big disappointment to the health sector – but they have been clear-cut: Switching to a healthy lifestyle, including smoking cessation, led neither to the reduction of disease nor increased lifespan in healthy subjects. The results of all the trials has been a big round zero.

Result after 10 years of lifestyle improvements in huge Danish study: No effect

At the start of the Inter99-study a team of Danish doctors and health professionals gave intensive assistance to 6,091 locals to get them to improve their lifestyle – with great success: Participants in the “healthy” group stopped or reduced smoking on a large scale (5), they ate more healthily (6) they drank less alcohol (7), and the men did more exercise (8), while the control group continued its “unhealthy” lifestyles.

But alas – after 10 years of lifestyle change, there was no difference between the two groups in any of the measured diseases, neither in heart disease, stroke or in total mortality.

Results: Although significant changes in lifestyle were described among participants after five years, we found no effect on development of ischaemic heart disease, stroke, combined events, or death in the entire study population over a 10 year period.

6.091 people in the intervention group participated at baseline. No significant difference was seen between the intervention and control groups in the primary end point, ischaemic heart disease HR: 1.03, CI 95%: (0.94 – 1.13) or in the secondary endpoints, stroke HR: 0.98, CI: (0.87 – 1.11); combined endpoint HR: 1.01, CI: (0.93 – 1.09); total mortality HR: 1.00, CI: (0.91 – 1.09).

And as the authors note in the article, no one has ever succeeded in reducing cancer in similar trials.

Stop health paternalism – it does not work …!

There is, in other words, still no evidence that it will lead to less cancer and heart disease or fewer deaths if you get people who otherwise are healthy to stop smoking and start living “healthily”. Indeed, there is strong evidence to the contrary: that it will have zero effect.

This evidence is a blow to supporters of the ruling public health paternalism and to successive governments’ health policies focusing on prevention of so-called “lifestyle diseases”.

It has already been shown very clearly that health paternalism does not work: Diseases and hospital admissions in Denmark have skyrocketed since politicians began to interfere in people’s lifestyle – with the smoking law in 2007 as the most significant intervention, and with the other health paternalism that has followed:


Significantly more disease in Denmark after smoking legislation and health paternalism

According to some doctors the disease increases may be due to the so-called nocebo effect: When politicians and the media start talking a lot about health and disease, people tend to speculate more about health and disease too, and thus the fear of getting sick increases. This anxiety itself may be causative.

Health Politicians have naively thought that they could be seen as “good” by making the Danes “healthy”. Instead of respecting people’s chosen lifestyles, they have spent billions of tax dollars on an at best completely useless and at worst harmful crusade upon peoples private lives.

This crusade has been organized with advice of pharmaceutical lobbyists who orbit the politicians at Christiansborg on a daily basis. The situation is starting to look like a public health disaster – and pharmaceutical lobbyists have reason to be satisfied. After all, disease is what they feed on.

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53 Responses to Lifestyle “Improvements” Don’t Work

  1. magnetic01 says:

    Poor Stantonitis Glands, the glorified mechanic, is having a big cry…. “More money. Where’s my money? MONEY! Gimme MONEY”.

    Quick. If we don’t give Glands and his TC buddies loads… loads… more money, “evil” Big Tobacco will again engulf the world.

    Send donations to Stantonitis Glands personally at the University of Califraudia (San Bancisco).

  2. Tony says:

    I’m sure that you and most of your readers will have read this long ago but it’s certainly one to copy and keep if you haven’t done so already:

    The Scientific Scandal of Antismoking

    And so is this one which is less well known:
    The Women’s Health Initiative Dietary Modification Trial

    It was described by Sandy Szwarc here:

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      The rise of a pseudo-scientific links lobby

      Every day there seems to be a new study making a link between food, chemicals or lifestyle and ill-health. None of them has any link with reality.


    • beobrigitte says:

      With respect to: The Women’s Health Initiative Dietary Modification Trial


      Among postmenopausal women, a low-fat dietary pattern did not result in a statistically significant reduction in invasive breast cancer risk over an 8.1-year average follow-up period.
      Annoying, isn’t it? What is “invasive breast cancer risk”, anyway? Breat cancer requiring an invasive procedure? Or just breast cancer?

      The gem follows immediately:
      However, the nonsignificant trends observed suggesting reduced risk associated with a low-fat dietary pattern indicate that longer, planned, nonintervention follow-up may yield a more definitive comparison.

      nonsignificant trends suggesting?

  3. Tony says:

    Sorry Frank. Too many links in my post. Now in your dungeon.

  4. Nightlight says:

    “Which raises the question: Why, if intervention studies invariably show no improvement in health, are large scale population interventions (such as smoking bans) being undertaken anyway? Obviously not for health purposes! “

    The chart from Denmark shows you one reason — the sickness industry makes more money, the more people they scare away from the traditional natural remedies, such as tobacco and alcohol, and driving them to pharmaceuticals. The costs of health care as well as the incidence of numerous diseases (especially autoimmune such as allergies, asthma, IBD, low thyroid,…, plus depression, anxiety and other psychological conditions) have been skyrocketing since the war on tobacco went into overdrives (chiefly due to big pharma’s entrance, from early 1990s).

    Then look at the price of pack of cigarettes — it is 7-10 times higher than it would have been in a free market. Government is looting huge amounts of money from the poorest and weakest populations, those who self-medicate with traditional remedies mostly because they cannot afford goods & services of health industry.

    So, you have a triune criminal syndicate, rivaling in its inhumanity anything in history of evil, between health industry, big pharma and big government, extorting chiefly smokers, but also worsening health (and health care costs) of general population by herding everyone away from the ancient medicinal plant, tobacco, into big pharma’s toxins and sickness industry’s lifestyle quackery.

    • harleyrider1978 says:

      NN I do believe that the Pharma Industry is finally being taken to task and hunted as a political Animal around the Globe.

      That’s the source for likely 80% of the war on people.

      China nailed them for BRIBERY and here in America Im seeing the move towards busting them too especially over the ZEROCARE law…………

      In fact its a very very likely event we could possibly even see Owebama sign a repeal of his own landmark ZEROCARE LAW. If certain things continue on their pathway.

      Politics created the problem and it will be politics that has to cure it……….

      • Nightlight says:

        It’s just the biggest thief, state, putting a squeeze on the smaller ones. Big tobacco had its shakedown, now the big pharma and general health industry are getting their turn. The biggest thug can’t let any among the lesser thugs rise and get too big.

  5. mikef317 says:

    This will go to the dungeon because of the number of links. Free me, Frank! (Does WordPress have a “trusted commenter” command that would allow more than two links?)

    The failure of lifestyle intervention has been known for a long time. Tobacco Control just won’t admit it.
    Some links on MRFIT (Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial). Nothing comprehensive. I did this a few years ago, and other than checking that the links still work, I haven’t re-read the material.

    I’d recommend Carl Seltzer’s paper to anyone. EVERYTHING ELSE IS VERY TECHNICAL. The original MRFIT paper, I believe. JAMA editorial on the study. Some letters on the study. Two more letters. Looked for but couldn’t find the Lewis Kuller statement that Seltzer references (but see a link to one of Kuller’s papers below). Carl Seltzer on MRFIT. Good read for a layman. Tobacco Institute, Intervention Studies. L. Kuller 1991 MRFIT. The rehabilitation of intervention? MRFIT 1996 update.

    More than most people want to know about MRFIT??

  6. smokervoter says:

    I don’t know exactly why I care about smoking bans in Lubbock, Texas like I do other than the fact that this one could serve as a dangerous new template for other cities. But I once did some back of the envelope analysis on the place after Harley put up a link and the political junkie/amateur mathematician/machiavellian in me bared it’s fangs.

    Read this article if you’re so inclined.

    It’s my rather guarded opinion that councilman Jim Gerlt will join Republicans Karen Gibson, Glenn Robertson and Jeff Griffith in voting this one down. The default leftwing Democrat-statist Latino Victor Hernandez will undoubtedly vote Yes. That depends on whether he’s an old-school Tex-Mex guy or a newfangled goody-two-shoes California Legislative Latino Caucus type. They are hell on earth for smokers. Tex-Mex, not so much.

    Lubbock Smoking Ban Could Expand to Regulation Inside Cars and Homes

    We’ll see how good I am at Texas political science analysis shortly.

      • harleyrider1978 says:

        The texas bans started in San Antonio with the big latino Mayor there pushin it along with council flunkies. The Mayor was later put into an Obama administration job……..

      • smokervoter says:

        Bingo! I’m not too shabby at this political analysis thang, if I don’t say so myself.

        Mayor Robertson originally wanted to put it up for a community wide vote. If just 19.7% of Lubbock’s smoking community showed up, there’s your 7,501 votes needed to kill it dead. Assuming there’s any truth at all to the ‘70% want to quit’ crapola, 19.7% is well within the remaining 30% hardcore ‘F-you antismoker’ crowd.

        As it turns out there were comments allowed on it, and there were non-smokers with the usual ‘I hate tobacco smoke but…’ qualifiers who objected nonetheless on private property rights grounds. Depending on the turnout I think it would have gone down to defeat in a community-wide election.

    • smokervoter says:

      “Councilman Jim Gerlt wrote on Facebook Thursday, “To those of you concerned about my vote on tonight’s smoking ordinance, just let me say I have heard you and agree that the proposed ordinance is way, way over the top.”

      • smokervoter says:

        Mayor Glen Robertson, who has a track record of speaking against ordinances that are in place to keep people from hurting themselves, said that isn’t the case with the coalition’s concerns.

        “You can’t argue with the facts; secondhand smoke is a killer,” he said, also noting residents can choose not to go into an establishment that allows smoking. “This is not a black-and-white issue.”

        To me this lends a lot of credence to Carol’s approach that we need to attack and attack hard at the scientific fraud. Here’s a mayor who was initially against the ordinance on nanny state, slippery slope, government overreach grounds suddenly convinced of the secondhand smoke harm to employees theory and almost ready to cave in. By whom? No doubt the American Cancer Society, in a roundabout way, got to him. And not a peep is heard out of the tobacco production companies. Of course not, they’re in bed with them.

        Take that away through a landmark RICO legal opinion and you dispossess him/her of that completely erroneous notion.

    • nisakiman says:

      I didn’t read all the comments on that article about Lubbock, but I did read a fair few, and I think only one of them sort of half-heartedly agreed with the proposed legislation. All the rest of the commenters thought it was a terrible idea and an infringement of their liberties. If those commenters are representative of the city, then it would be a very unpopular move.

  7. harleyrider1978 says:

    Civil rights act of 1964 under attack and about time!

    Public Accommodation and Social Engineering

    Mises Daily: Friday, October 24, 2014 by Nicholas Freiling

    Last weekend, city officials in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho ordered the owners of a local wedding chapel to conduct same-sex marriages or face jail time. One-hundred-and-eighty days of jail time, to be exact, plus a $1,000 fine for each day they continue to decline.

    The chapel’s owners, ordained ministers, are suing on the grounds of religious freedom, saying the mandate forces them to contradict their religious beliefs.

    But while the religious freedom perspective on this dispute is probably better for the chapel’s public relations, this issue is just as much economic as religious. Without the specious concept of “public accommodation,” disputes like this wouldn’t arise. Only because this category is accepted in the first place can the courts find justification for forcing vendors to service the demands of customers in ways that defy their religious convictions.

    Public Accommodation

    According to Congress, “public accommodations” are businesses and facilities open to the general public. The idea first made its way into American law by way of the Civil Rights Act of 1964: Title II of that Act prohibits discrimination in places of “public accommodation.” Specifically, the law reads:

    All persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, and privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, as defined in this section, without discrimination or segregation on the grounds of race, color, religion, or national origin.

    This description is followed by a list of qualifying establishments. These include inns, restaurants, theaters, sports arenas, stadiums, and “any establishment which is physically located within the premises of any establishment otherwise covered by this subsection, or within the premises of which is physically located any such covered establishment, and which holds itself out as serving patrons of such covered establishment.”

    Such establishments are prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, disability, gender or sexual orientation, allegedly on account of their being open to the public.

    The Problems

    On the surface, barring owners of public accommodations from discriminating on the basis of race, color, disability, etc., seems like a nice thing to do. Why would any business owner in their right mind turn away business from someone because of some harmless genetic trait, anyway? But this type of mandate has some serious problems.

    First, by defining certain businesses as places of “public accommodation,” the Civil Rights Act of 1964 turned the force of law into a mechanism for social engineering. The Act is based on the premise that discriminating on the basis of race is wrong, and it utilizes the force of law to make business owners behave in accord with this moral dictate. But law is not supposed to engineer social behavior. If this were not so, being mean, rude, hateful, inconsiderate, unpunctual, selfish and/or a bad parent (among many, many other things) should also be illegal. But we don’t all have the positive right to be loved, appreciated, surrounded by selfless people, and/or have great parents. There is a logic to this. Our rights only say what others cannot do to us – not what others should do for us. Public accommodation and the Civil Rights Act pervert this framework, however, and say that business owners must serve everyone, regardless of their religious convictions, thereby creating a positive right to be served at any store open to the public — stores that would not exist had the owner not invested his own capital toward its creation.

    Second, the right to be serviced at any place of public accommodation has unenforceable and awkward implications. This is because inherent in the demand for service is the demand for quality commensurate with what other customers received. If Hitching Post Wedding Chapel must marry same-sex couples, is it not implied that its ministers marry the couple with the same attention and quality with which they married other couples? But the obvious problem is that quality is subjective — while the same-sex couple may not be happy with the outcome and allege that the chapel did a subpar job because of their moral qualms with homosexual marriage, the chapel’s owners can just as easily allege that they did the best job possible. Who is to determine whether the wedding (or whatever relevant product or service) is of equal quality to others the chapel has supplied? Are judges and juries to decide whether one product or service is of equal quality to every other products or services of equal price?

    For another, more blatant example, consider New Mexico photographer Elaine Huguenin. In 2008, Elaine was forced to pay $6,637.94 in attorney’s fees to a lesbian couple whose wedding ceremony she refused to photograph. She lost her case on the grounds that her photography business was one of “public accommodation,” and therefore subject to the nondiscrimination clauses in the Civil Rights Act of 1964. But if she had agreed to take photos, would the lesbian couple have had grounds to sue if they weren’t of equal quality? Is the jury to examine photographs and determine whether Elaine worked as hard taking one as she did another?

    The reality is that this is an illogical law that cannot be enforced equitably and whose transgressors cannot be tried impartially.

    Finally, by dictating who business owners must serve, “public accommodation” as expressed in the Civil Rights Act turns business owners into mere managers (instead of owners) of their respective businesses, legally forbidden from determining for themselves which customers they will serve. Their businesses exist at the whims of policymakers, who with the stroke of a pen can direct their business operations toward the fulfillment of some arbitrary social end. But this begs a question: If business owners are not the effective owners of their companies, who is? The answer is government. By mandating that certain businesses serve customers that their owners deem (for whatever reason) unserviceable, government decision-makers become the effective owners. According to the Act’s logic, it is government, after all, that licensed the business to operate in the first place. Government, then, should be allowed to determine who can and cannot patron the business. Public accommodations’ owners’ freedom to engage in commerce is merely an illusion. They are only free as long as they comply with overbearing government regulations.

    But this, of course, is no freedom at all.

    Of course, some might object and argue that the law should be a means for elected officials to engineer social behavior, or that freedom to engage in commerce really isn’t that important. If this is where you stand, then we have more serious disagreements.

  8. harleyrider1978 says:

    It appears Cameron sold the UK out yet again

    EU reaches agreement to cut emissions by 40 per cent

    The outcome is expected to be welcomed by the UK government who voiced support for an “ambitious” 40 per cent emissions reduction target ahead of the talks, but opposed a nationally binding renewable target saying member states should have the freedom to decarbonise in a “flexible way”.

    President of the European Council Mr Van Rompuy, tweeted that the agreement was the “world’s most ambitious, cost-effective, and fair” climate energy policy.

    EU Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said: “The EU climate action commissioner is very proud that the 28 EU leaders, despite economic uncertainty and other severe international crises, were able to get their act together on this pressing climate challenge.

    “A binding 40 per cent CO2 reduction effort domestically in Europe is not an easy task. It can only be achieved through a major transformation in all parts of the society.”

    She added: “In order to get Europe on the right track towards a low-carbon society, it is extremely important that the leaders also accepted the renewables target binding at the EU level just as the Commission proposed.”

    Martin Schoenberg, head of policy at Climate Change Capital, the environmental asset manager and advisor, said the 40 per cent target was the “minimum needed to signal continued political commitment to decarbonisation” but added the deal was a “major achievement”.

  9. west2 says:

    I am confused again.

    In the Study – – Effect of screening and lifestyle counselling on incidence of ischaemic heart disease in general population: Inter99 randomised trial they say in the section “What this study adds”:
    This study confirms that health checks followed by lifestyle counselling in a general population are not effective in reducing the burden of IHD in society and should not be part of a country’s health policy.

    Yet write in the section “Policy implications”:
    Another example was the smoke-free laws leading to a marked decline in mortality due to ischaemic heart disease.32 The effect of these small societal changes revives Rose’s prevention paradox and indicates that they are a much more powerful tool to combat ischaemic heart disease than are screening and counselling of individuals

    ref 32 32. Lightwood JM, Glantz SA. Declines in acute myocardial infarction after smoke-free laws and individual risk attributable to secondhand smoke. Circulation 2009;120:1373-9
    This seems to be a meta-analysis of all the Heart Attack ‘miracles’, the validity of these studies (if I recall correctly) have been called into question at the larger population level.

    Despite no difference in the Healthy/Non-Healthy populations in the study, they seem to be suggesting that forcing a policy (smoking ban) on a whole population is successful (Rose’s Paradox). Can someone explain how this works or what I am missing here?

  10. magnetic01 says:

    The heart attack “miracles” following smoking bans is just another antismoking con (with Glands at the forefront). Snowdon has a good recent summary:

  11. harleyrider1978 says:

    The “30 minute” experiments that the statement is based on have nothing at all to do with the exposures one might get on a park bench sitting next to a smoker or even with what one would normally get in any decently ventilated bar or restaurant.

    The exposures in the supportive experiments involve smoke concentrations at levels of 400% to 2,000% as high as what used to be measured in the middle of the smoking sections of pressurized airplanes!! (Which used to be held up as one of the worst smoking environments.)

    The experiments take nonsmokers who avoid smoke in all their daily home, social, and working life, force them to sign papers

    acknowledging the “danger” they are about to be put in, and then sealing them in smoke-choked chambers that nonsmokers would run screaming from if they weren’t being paid $100 to endure 30 minutes for science. . . . When the poor souls come stumbling out blood test measurement show small changes that could theoretically relate to heart disease.

    The changes are like ones other experimenters find when they feed subjects a bowl of corn flakes and milk…. but in the kooky world of antismoking research those results get twisted into representing an unusual and deadly threat.

    And remember: they only get those results in EXTREME conditions, nothing like normal restaurant/park or even decent bar/casino exposures. . . . The Antismokers today are lying just like Big Tobacco did back in the 1950s.
    Antismoking extremism needs to be put to rest. Smoking is unhealthy like a lot of other things, but the smoke from burning smokers at the stake smells a lot worse than Newports. . . .

    Cornflakes, White Bread Could Boost Heart Risk
    ‘High-glycemic’ carbs like these hamper blood vessel function, study shows.

    THURSDAY, June 11 (HealthDay News) — Eating a diet rich in carbohydrates that boost blood sugar levels — foods such as cornflakes or white bread — may hamper the functioning of your blood vessels and raise your risk of developing cardiovascular disease, a new study suggests.….

  12. harleyrider1978 says:

    Indolethial Dysfunction what a racket of junk………..

    Low levels of exposure, including exposures to secondhand tobacco smoke, lead to a rapid and sharp increase in endothelial dysfunction and inflammation, which are implicated in acute cardiovascular
    events and thrombosis.”

    And when we move beyond fear mongering by half truths, we realize that a hearty thanksgiving dinner, results in identical effects almost universally.

    A big mac, walking from the heat into the cold and a number of other physical activities that require that body to regulate blood flow and heart rate, will also fall into this same category. It is simply your body’s natural defense mechanism working splendidly as it should.

    And that is the health risk?

    Junk Science is what its called! Normal reactions by the body to natural occurring events is what the smokefree insanity has been using to claim second hand smoke causes! Its all pure make believe!

    Mental Stress Induces Transient Endothelial Dysfunction in Humans

    Conclusions—These findings suggest that brief episodes of mental stress, similar to those encountered in everyday life, may cause transient (up to 4 hours) endothelial dysfunction in healthy young individuals. This might represent a mechanistic link between mental stress and atherogenesis.”

    Put anyone who is sufficiently scared by any substance, gas, animal, insect or whatever, in a sealed box with the subject of their distress and you have the result you want.

    Suddenly shouting Boo! behind the researcher will have a similar effect.

  13. harleyrider1978 says:

    The myth of the smoking ban ‘miracle’

    Restrictions on smoking around the world are claimed to have had a dramatic effect on heart attack rates. It’s not true.

    Heart attacks plummet after smoking ban’ declared The Sunday Times earlier this month, as it reported that England’s smoking ban has ‘caused a fall in heart attack rates of about 10 per cent’ (1). A few days later, The Scotsman upped the ante, informing its readers that ‘Smoking ban slashes heart attacks by up to a third across world’ (2).

    Tales of heart attacks being ‘slashed’ by smoking bans have appeared with such regularity in recent years that it is easy to forget that there is a conspicuous lack of reliable evidence to support them. It is almost as if the sheer number of column inches is a substitute for proof.

    The most recent reports are a case in point. Although The Sunday Times claimed a 10 per cent drop in heart attacks, nowhere in the 500 word article was a source mentioned and no one was quoted giving this figure. The ‘study’ the newspaper referred to does not exist, and the anti-smoking pressure group Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) – not renowned for downplaying the risks of passive smoking – went to the unusual lengths of posting a notice on its website the following day to point out that ‘the figures reported in The Sunday Times yesterday (and now circulating elsewhere) are not based on any research conducted to date’ (3).

    Although the story quickly went around the globe, no one seems to know where the figure came from. It’s all rather strange. Basing journalism on anonymous sources is commonplace in the world of politics, but it is surely not necessary in the realms of science.

    The second story – reported by a host of news organisations, including the BBC – also had no new data to report. Instead, it took its cue from an article in the journal Circulation which examined previous smoking ban/heart attack studies. If nothing else, the Circulation paper offers an opportunity to reflect on just how feeble the collected evidence is on this issue (4).

  14. Rose says:

    Diseases and hospital admissions in Denmark have skyrocketed since politicians began to interfere in people’s lifestyle – with the smoking law in 2007 as the most significant intervention, and with the other health paternalism that has followed

    I’m not a bit surprised.

    • nisakiman says:

      I would imagine that after the smoking bans people’s stress levels will have increased significantly, and I am of the opinion that stress is the major factor in non-com diseases like cancer and heart failure. Not only does stress put extra pressure on the heart, it also lowers the effectiveness of the immune system, thus allowing other nasties to invade.

  15. harleyrider1978 says:

    Couch potato lifestyles could kill the welfare state, landmark report warns

    Britain’s appalling couch potato lifestyle is one of the worst in the world, and could cause the collapse of the welfare state, bombshell report warns

    Couch potato lifestyles have left the UK with one of the lowest levels of activity in the western world, and without change, the welfare state could collapse, health officials have warned.

    A landmark report by Public Health England (PHE) says lack of exercise is as dangerous as smoking – directly contributing to one in six deaths.

    Officials warned that the UK population is now 20 per cent less active than it was in the 1960s, with half of women and one third of men damaging their health through lack of physical activity.

    Almost two thirds of the UK population do not do enough exercise, the report warns – while in Germany and France, the figure is less than one in three.

    Officials say that without major changes in the way people live their lives, the welfare state in Britain could collapse under the burden of self-inflicted diseases, which are fuelled by obesity, alcohol and smoking.

    Its forecasts show that the population of England is 20 per cent less active than it was in 1961. If trends continue, we will be 35 per cent less active by 2030.

    It comes as separate research suggests that children would be more active if Britain switched to continental time by moving the clocks forward an hour.

    Lighter evenings would increase the amount of time children engage in moderate to vigorous physical activity each day by an average of two minutes, the study of 23,000 children by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found.

    The findings, published in the International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity, showed activity levels were 15 to 20 per cent higher on summer days when the sun set after 9pm, than they were in winter when darkness fell before 5pm.

    The report by Public Health England says the typical lifestyle in Britain, with long hours spent in desk jobs, high levels of car travel and evenings spent watching TV or playing computer games is endangering the health of most of its population.

    It warns: “Social, cultural and economic trends have removed physical activity from daily life. Fewer of us have manual jobs.16 Technology dominates at home and work, the two places where we spend most of our time. It encourages us to sit for long periods – watching TV, at the computer, playing games or using mobile phones and tablets. Over-reliance on cars and other motorised transport is also a factor.”

    Health officials say other high-income countries like Finland, the Netherlands and Germany, perform far better, with most people taking much more activity as part of their day.

    “Around one in two women and a third of men in England are damaging their health through a lack of physical activity,” it warns.

    “This is unsustainable and costing the UK an estimated £7.4bn a year.2,3 If current trends continue, the increasing costs of health and social care will destabilise public services and take a toll on quality of life for individuals and communities.”

    Government guidelines say people should do at least 2 and a half hours of moderate aerobic activity a week, which could mean a brisk half-hour walk from Monday to Friday.

    Alternatively, an hour and 15 minutes a week of vigorous activity – such as running or singles tennis – is enough to meet the requirements.

    Adults should also do some “muscle strengthening” activities, they say – which could mean weights in the gym, yoga or heavy gardening.

    Children are advised to take at least an hour of physical activity every day, which should range between moderate-intensity activity, such as cycling and playground activities and vigorous-intensity activity, such as fast running and tennis.

    They are also advised to do some muscle-strengthening exercises, such as tree-climbing, games such as tug-of-war, or gymnastics.

    If those who took no exercise, introduced activity into their daily lives, one in ten cases of stroke and heart disease could be prevented, the report says.

    More than 40 per cent of women and 35 per cent of men spend more than six hours a day desk-bound or sitting still, it adds.

    Shockingly, it warns that the lifestyles of those aged 16 to 24 are as sedentary as those of pensioners.

    The landmark report says changes in the trends are needed to protect the welfare state from collapsing under the burden of lifestyle diseases, with increasing numbers suffering health problems and being left unable to work.

    “Getting the nation moving every day is essential. At a national level it will help keep the welfare state economically viable. At a personal level it’s fun and sociable – and helps people stay physically and mentally well,” it says.

    Launching the report, Public Health Minister, Jane Ellison said: “Whatever age you are, physical activity is vital for maintaining good health, quality of life and independence: for young people, it is vital to get into healthy habits for life.”

    It follows a 5-year plan for the NHS published today, which warns that the health services may not survive without reforms and action to tackle unhealthy lifestyles.

    The report by Simon Stevens, NHS chief executive, warns: “The future health of millions of children, the sustainability of the NHS, and the economic prosperity of Britain all now depend on a radical upgrade in prevention and public health.”

    “Put bluntly, as the nation’s waistline keeps piling on the pounds, we’re piling on billions of pounds in future taxes just to pay for preventable illnesses.”

    The plans will see NHS funds pumped into schemes which provide those who lose weight with cash prizes, or get workers to compete to lose pounds.

    Mr Stevens said he wants businesses to sign up to such initiatives, to improve the health of their staff, but said “some national funding” would be invested to encourage employers to sign up.

    The report from Public Health England says just thirty minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity can make a big difference to health.

    “Physical activity does not need to be strenuous to be effective,” it stresses.

    “Thirty minutes a day of moderate aerobic activity can be a brisk walk, a swim, or even a spell of gardening. Each ten-minute bout that gets the heart rate up has a health benefit. Although sport can be part of the picture, activity can also be more informal,” it says, in a bid to encourage the nation to take up dancing, or everyday activities such as walking or cycling.

  16. The Blocked Dwarf says:

    Frank,Maybe someone has already mentioned this but on Radio 4’s PM program a little while ago , the interviewer let slip that the EU’s sums behind the “Cluedo” bill are perhaps based on the UK’s booming ‘Black Economy’ and the interviewer mentioned prostitution and Tobacco Smuggling!

    It seems the EU Bean Counters have realised what ASH and Gov.yUK haven’t, namely that if you stifle the economy with petty spiteful laws and obscene levels of tax on a legal product but your coast is only 25 miles from a country where the prices are considerably less….

    No doubt we will have to pay the billion + bill , I do hope Cameroid phones up Debs and thanks her for costing us even more than she does already.

    • Rose says:

      That’s what puzzles me, where did they get the figures for illegal tobacco from?
      They wouldn’t by any chance be based on the guestimates of our over zealous campaigners would they?

      “”The number of illicit cigarettes smoked in the UK rose by 49% to a billion in 2012, suggesting a reduction in enforcement action, the MPs said.”

      How would they know?

    • Rose says:


      Where does the UK’s illegal market fit into this?

      “Prostitution and illegal drugs are contributing around £10 billion a year to the British economy, according to official data released last May.

      More than half of that – £5.3 billion – is attributable to prostitution, according to estimated figures from the Office for National Statistics. Illegal drugs are worth £4.4bn.

      Other illegal activities, such a the smuggling of alcohol and tobacco, are already included in GDP and make up some £300m.

      Illegal drugs and prostitution are worth 0.7 per cent of British national wealth, which is roughly the same proportion as agriculture, gambling and accommodation services which includes hotels, bed and breakfasts and caravan parks.”

      • laurieknight says:

        So the UK is being taxed by the EU for illegally imported cigarettes, most of which were purchased in other EU countries like France and Belgium, hence any tax paid was paid in those countries. The economic benefit has gone to France so they should pay this tax

  17. beobrigitte says:

    When politicians and the media start talking a lot about health and disease, people tend to speculate more about health and disease too, and thus the fear of getting sick increases. This anxiety itself may be causative.

    This whole thing started with focussing on PREVENTION. And once a person has reached the age of 40 there are invites to make an appointment with the local GP to go for an “health MOT”.
    We all know about mechanics fixing fictional faults when a car has to pass it’s MOT; now people are required to pass an MOT, too, with fictional faults being fixed?
    The most effective method of inducing fear is to tell people that their children will die if ‘nothing is being done’.

    This week the US has an absolute gem:
    Does this sound somehow familiar?
    This year’s NLPPW theme, “Lead-Free Kids for a Healthy Future,” underscores the importance of testing your home, child and learning how to prevent lead poisoning’s serious health effects.

    “One out of every three children in Cerro Gordo County are at risk for developing learning disabilities, nerve problems, kidney damage or death because of lead poisoning,” said Jenna Willems, Healthy Homes Program coordinator at the Cerro Gordo County Department of Public Health. […]
    […] “We are trying to educate the community, because lead poisoning is completely preventable,” Willems said.

    So, all the old lead pipes (the ones that the grandparents used) have not been replaced many years ago when the scare about lead poisoning started?

    Health checks of the population is money down the drain

    Absolutely. And it is a lot of money being thrown out the window. Furthermore, the hypochondriac population feeling the “need” of having their health MOT clog up the system, preventing those who actually do need medical help from getting an appointment to see their GP in good time. But since these hypochondriacs will respond rather intensely when they hear that their blood pressure is >120/80, their is cholesterol levels a little high, they will insist on treatment; ANYTHING to make them feel better whilst some “oldie” with serious organ problems just has to wait; they are old, anyway….

    Treating the healthy = 100% success.

    Off topic:

    I do wonder what this money will be used for, should Dave-in-trouble-on-all-fronts decide to pay up. How much of it is “needed” to be dedicated to “healthy living”?

    I wanted to konw what the opposition thinks:

    Despite Cameron claiming victory on opposing nationally binding renewables targets, it’s hard to find a positive in such a stringent reduction in carbon emissions when the best resource to build a prosperous future is lying under the British Isles in the form of shale gas.

    The black market in carbon trading, where big businesses agree to switch the tallies of their consumption in order to stay afloat, is a well-documented pastime.

    But given all the trouble our booming black market seems to have landed the UK in today, apparently the main reason for the recalculation of our EU contributions, it would seem we can’t borrow or steal, only beg.

    The addition of black market values in the calculation of GDP is a very recent development. The trade in counterfeit cigarettes is estimated to be worth £3.6 billion per year alone.

    So, the counterfeit cigarette trade/black market is taken into account in this bill?


    (Cannot find a statement of smilie-Ed)

  18. beobrigitte says:

    Frank, the dungeon has another visitor…

  19. This German article may explain why lifestyle “improvements” don’t work. It says that the body knows best what is good for a person. Acting on “what you feel like” will likely be the best diet you can eat:

    • Nightlight says:

      I always followed my own feedbacks and ignored “health” advice of sickness industry. If their advice had any effect, it was to do opposite from the advice. After all, they are business (companies or bureaucracies) which profits from sickness, hence over time their advice will optimize itself to increase their profits, thus the sickness of those that follow it.

      • The evidence from the random trials indicates that there is no such thing as “a preventable death” or even “preventable diseases” caused by peoples lifestyles.
        Thus the concept of “lifestyle disease” cannot be proven to exist in the random trials – the only type of study that can proove or disproove such a hypothesis.

        This is bad news for the “public health” establishment and for totalitarian politicians – but it is very good news for the people and for freedom.

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