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Saturday 10 December 2016

The Irish will be the most obese in Europe by 2030? Fat chance of that

We've had an obesity warning
We've had an obesity warning

So the World Health Organisation says we could be the fattest country in Europe by 2030.

Bull. The one thing history has told us is that predictions like that are not worth the paper on which they are written.

In 1925 all the predictions for the future were centred on peace and prosperity. Within 15 years we had the Great Depression and the Second World War.

In 1985, Ireland was bleak, economically crippled and devoid of opportunity. By 2005 we were the economic envy of Europe. In 1990 HIV/Aids was a death sentence and was regarded as one of the great threats to world health. By 2005, it was a treatable illness.

predictions

We are really, really bad at long term predictions. Did anyone get a 15-year lead time on the rise of text messaging, or the creation of Facebook? Or the saturation of the mobile phone?

In fact, one of the truths of humanity is that the things we factor into our long term predictions as risks for the future are almost never the things that cause us real problems.

September 11 and the rise of Islamic radicalism was not well predicted (as has been shown in numerous subsequent analyses). The economic devastation that was wrought upon us in 2008 was (as we've grown weary from hearing) very, very poorly predicted.

So the notion that someone can predict the relative fatness of all of the countries in Europe and place them on a league table is as specious as it is silly.

In 15 years time we might be the fattest on the block, but we might be the skinniest. Who knows?

Although to be on the safe side, we should probably lay off the chips a bit.

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