Thursday, November 13, 2014

Pollan, Bittman, et. al Play Fast and Loose

Michael Pollan dusts off his 2008 appeal to President Obama and updates it with help from Mark Bittman and others, calling for a "national food policy".  Along the way he touches on his lame history (Nixon did not change food policy in the 70's) and makes projections which are dubious (to me).

An example of their playing fast and loose with facts:
"Today’s children are expected to live shorter lives than their parents."
What does the link tie to?  An academic article which pushes the importance of obesity and challenges SSA's projections of steadily increasing lifespan.  But it says, in the last paragraph:
"Unless effective population-level interventions to reduce obesity are developed, the steady rise in life expectancy observed in the modern era may soon come to an end and the youth of today may, on average, live less healthy and possibly even shorter lives than their parents."
Emphasis added--there's no way a college professor like Pollan should create a flat statement from such a carefully hedged sentence.
They come up with a $243 billion cost of diabetes in a context which implies out-of-pocket costs, but don't mention that a quarter of that is not healthcare costs, but estimates of loss of productivity. 

While they concede that Congress is responsible for agricultural policy, they ask for an administration food policy, unsupported by Congress, without any discussion of how their proposal would change the position of Congress or last beyond this administration.

Note: Although I'm crediting Pollan with the piece, it's possible one of the others is responsible for the problem.

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