Director of lifestyle economics at the Institute of Economic Affairs. Author of Selfishness, Greed and Capitalism (2015), The Art of Suppression (2011), The Spirit Level Delusion (2010) and Velvet Glove, Iron Fist (2009).

Obesity, the new terrorism? Hyperbole has nowhere left to go

Keeping the obesity panic on the front pages requires an escalation of hyperbole that can never end well. In a…

11 Dec 2015

Anti-sugar fanatics are watching how many biscuits you buy

Today is the start of Sugar Awareness Week. If you haven’t heard of it before, it’s because it has just…

30 Nov 2015

Headlines about rising childhood obesity have one flaw: they aren’t true

‘One in five children obese leaving primary school’ is the headline of a BBC Health news story today. The article…

27 Nov 2015

One fact the sugar tax report misses out: our consumption has been falling for years

Public Health England’s long-awaited report on sugar was published yesterday. I say ‘long awaited’ but hardly anybody had heard of…

23 Oct 2015

Jamie Oliver’s sugar panic is making kids think they are doomed to an early death

The Jamie Oliver show arrived in Parliament yesterday as part of the health select committee on childhood obesity. Perhaps it…

20 Oct 2015

Jamie Oliver’s guilty sugar secret: his own recipes are full of the stuff

Imagine a country in which state-subsidised television networks wheel out popular celebrities to scare the masses into supporting more taxes.…

4 Sep 2015

Denmark’s fat tax was a failure — but revisionists are trying to rewrite the story

The short tale of Denmark’s ‘fat tax’ can be easily told. After being voted for by an overwhelming majority of…

6 Aug 2015

The myth of the ‘middle class drink epidemic’

With alcohol consumption falling every year for over a decade it is becoming increasingly difficult to sustain the myth that…

24 Jul 2015

What you don’t realise about the strange new advice on sugar

‘Like putting Dracula in charge of a blood bank’ is how Action on Sugar’s Simon Capewell described Ian MacDonald’s role…

20 Jul 2015

Why public health zealots are wasting their time complaining about advertising

The belief that advertising is designed to sell more of a product, as opposed to selling more of a certain…

9 Jul 2015

What you need to know about ‘alcohol-related deaths’

The latest figures for alcohol-related hospital admissions were published last month and, over at the Alcohol Policy blog, James Morris lamented…

2 Jul 2015

‘Health guidelines’ are about forcing a change in the law, not changing behaviour

According to the Daily Mail, the NHS intends to ‘slash safe drinking limits’. The article is light on evidence, but…

29 Jun 2015

Why obesity predictions are propaganda

Two weeks ago I wrote an article for the Spectator in which I argued that obesity predictions are not worth…

22 Jun 2015

Vapers deserve to be angry – they are under attack

There is a perception – on Twitter at least – that vapers are angry and abusive. Ben Goldacre recently described…

10 Jun 2015

The anti-smoking pressure group whose wackiest ideas always become law

Every few years, Action on Smoking and Health draws up a wish list of all the policies it would introduce…

1 Jun 2015

Ignore the latest fad theory. The ‘secret’ of weight loss is to eat fewer calories than you burn

Before I got sidetracked by bogus obesity predictions, I was discussing the equally bogus controversy about whether physical inactivity is…

11 May 2015

I don’t trust these latest obesity predictions from the nanny state

Seventy-four per cent of men and 64 per cent of women in Britain will be overweight or obese by 2030, or…

6 May 2015

Why are we getting fat while exercising so much? Try reading George Orwell

Last week I mentioned a widely reported article in the British Journal of Sports Medicine which claimed that ‘physical activity…

5 May 2015

Cheap alcohol leads to violent crime, say ‘experts’. Where’s the evidence?

Stanley Cohen, the legendary criminologist and author of Folk Devils and Moral Panics, once commented on ‘the unique dilemma of…

29 Apr 2015

The dodgy science behind the claim that exercise doesn’t help you lose weight

You may have heard the news that the nation’s doctors have had a change of heart about physical activity and…

27 Apr 2015