Sydney: The so-called `obesity epidemic` has been grossly exaggerated by both the media and the medical mainstream, according to an expert.
Michael Gard at the Charles Sturt University, Australia, argues that in their attempts to raise awareness about obesity, researchers and health authorities completely misrepresented the size and nature of the problem.
"Obesity rates have been stable or falling around the western world for over 10 years.
Health in most western countries is improving, while obesity is simply one among the many health challenges we face," a Charles Sturt statement quotes Gard as saying.
"The obesity research community has for the last decade been predicting sky-rocketing rates of obesity and plummeting life expectancy. Neither of these claims are true, nor are they likely to come true any time soon," he adds.
The associate professor says his book "The End of the Obesity Epidemic" has been written for anyone wanting to learn more about the subject of obesity, particularly those with an interest in the science or sociology of health and lifestyle.
It follows his earlier book on the subject, "The Obesity Epidemic: Science, Morality and Ideology" (2005).
"The (latest) book will inform those who are interested in the way western countries tend to breed health panics," Gard says.
"While there was an element of truth about the obesity `epidemic`, it never was, and is not now, nearly as serious as declared by some. The book is a case study in how and why health panics - as scientific, political and cultural issues - grow and spread," he adds.