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back to article Profs: Human race must become Hobbits to save planet

Public-health researchers in London have come up with a new plan to save the planet: wealthy westerners should all reduce by several inches in height by starving their children. This would not only save food, but make people much lighter, meaning that cars and buses would use less fuel. The new insight comes from Professor Ian …

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Not getting fatter?

Sheesh! When I'm ever in Britain buying clothes, all the shirts marked L - once a reasonable size for an adult male - now seem to be designed for some kind of barrage balloon, the Michelin man, or (most likely) the now-average beer-swilling Britard looking for nightclub-acceptable upper body attire to temporarily replace his Ing-uh-land shirt.

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Anonymous Coward

I say

Get 'em out by Friday

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Alert

3'3" Oh Oh

That puts me at exactly double the required height...

So to be fair to the rest of the world, I should probably kill myself...

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Boffin

Danes?

You did not mention the Danes; as I understand it, they are on average the tallest nation, yet are relatively "green" in their energy consumption, certainly when compared to us in the USA.

I am surprised also that the article would fail to note that (generalized) effects of malnutrition on mental development. Clearly, rather than reducing size through starvation, we should preserve good nutrition, but instead embark on a research program to induce early cessation of physical growth through use of drugs or hormones. Couple this with a marketing campaign to enhance the social stature of short people, and the future looks quite green. Air travel, in particular, will benefit.

In more extreme latitudes, truncating the population and reducing BMI might be a false economy. Looking at my own family's use, apart from electricity (which can be greened, or not, at the generation site) the greatest production of CO2 comes from home heating. Smaller, thinner people, are more easily chilled; all else being equal, a big fat guy will feel warmer, and thus may be able to set his home thermostat lower.

yours, 6'0", 16 stone, despite 50 miles cycling every week, which is another way to reduce the carbon footprint.

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As predicted in 1972 ....

"This is an announcement from genetic control:

It is my sad duty to inform you of a four foot restriction on

Humanoid height. .... "

Time to dig out Foxtrot or "Genesis Live" and crank it up to 11

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Law
Thumb Up

wow

I'm impressed.... !

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Joke

The Government has a plan to get us to 3' 3" or so.

ZaNuLab has been trying to beat us into the ground for years now.

It would appear literally if the claims about the G20 were anything to go by.

Now I just have to hope that my ISP erases the retained tracking info about this posting in one year as promised......

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Anonymous Coward

Agree with 'BMI=bollox' argument!

As a health ex-RL player I stand a shade under 6 feet tall and weigh just under 14 and a half stones. By the government's favoured measure of BMI I am overweight but yet can crack 100 metres in under 12 seconds and can still weight train comfortably despite my 32-inch waist.

Methinks the government need to reconsider this BMI cr@p!

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IT Angle

Units

This would all be so much easier if you would just use the proper measuring units! That is, height in metres and mass in kilograms. It then all just flows neatly:

BMI = mass / (height ** 2)

where mass is in kg. and height is in m.

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Joke

Out by Friday?

You couldn't have made it up - except it was... long, long ago in a distant - probably flared - galaxy

"It is my sad duty to inform you of a 4ft restricton in humanoid height..."

from which it follows logically...

"I hear the directors of Genetic // Control have been buying all the // properties that have recently been // sold, taking risks oh so bold. //I t's said now that people will be shorter in height, // they can fit twice as many in the same building site. // (they say it's alright)"

Bloody heightists

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Hobbits

Well, if we all became hobbits, then we would have a problem, as the favorite passtimes of hobbits are eating and smoking.. so I guess that it would be more of a problem than a solution..

As for solutions, it would suffice to eat less meat and not throw away so much food..

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I think...

it was the Colin Kapp novel Manalone that presented a future where mankind had been slowly shrunk (against their will) to aid the planet or some possibly nefarious authoritarian aim; I will never forget one scene where Manalone is trying to determine what a massive piece of pottery is only to later find out it was one of our cup or teapot handles.

How I loved my sci-fi decades back.

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Bronze badge

Another BMI anecdote

Since leaving my old job and adopting a healthier lifestyle I am down 5 notches on my belt, 4 inches on my trouser waist and 5 percentage points on my bodyfat-reading scales. My BMI hasn't budged.

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Anonymous Coward

BMI is useless, etc.

5'8", ~90kg (14.5 stone), and I get to be considered obese. I must stop all that cycling, rollerblading, and weight training to 'trim' my somewhat trim self.

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>But Lewis

Human proportions don't increase in direct proportion with height... Head size, for instance, hardly changes I believe... So it seems to me not impossible that the square of height formula is a reasonable empirical comparison - or at least no worse than using cube anyway. It doeasn't mean its anything other than a horrensous oversimplification with all the other varitions in body type though.

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Morphology of hobbits

Anybody reading Lord of the Rings would realise that hobbits are anthing but lean. They are short and quite stocky, so hardly conform to the professor's description of a lean race. Perhaps a better way that El Reg could have put this was they we all have to turn into Kate Moss, Keira Knightley or if you are male, maybe Gandhi. I can't off-hand think of a fictional race of humanoids that might fit the bill, but I'm sure somebody will think of something more appropriate than the slightly rotund and well-fed Hobbits who I seem to recall are fond of a good feast with precious little concern to modern dietary neuroses.

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Here's a tip

Any article that mentions BMI, any so-called 'research' that includes BMI - in fact, any reference to BMI whatsoever - is utter bolleaux.

Given that it is thoroughly discredited as a means to measure anything (except, perhaps, the perspicacity of researchers), it should be consigned to the same dustbin as the idea of Labour Party ethics.

Can we have a 'flush this' icon, please?

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Boffin

BMI = bollocks indeed

There's a great article (and easy-to-follow online instructions, explanation and calculator in-line with the article) here: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14483512/

A simple and effective alternative to BMI for measuring if you're genuinely overweight and/or at risk of future complications!

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@Craig

>> That puts me at exactly double the required height...

>> So to be fair to the rest of the world, I should probably kill myself...

Craig, you don't need to do anything so drastic - merely chopping both your legs off should suffice.

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Comparisons

Who in their right mind would use steroid-fuelled U.S. baseball players as a model of health? Why not chinese weightlifters, or 70's eastern european athletes?

Sheesh!

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Read & digest - just dont be having coffee near the PC...

http://www.ealasaid.com/misc/vsd/

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The usual claptrap

We've heard similar things to this before from the lunatic fringe of the green movement.

This is just a variation on their "humans are bad, kill them all (except for us, naturally, cos we're green and responsible)" theme.

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Paris Hilton

Eco tax the obesity foods.

Simply put a carbon foot print tax on the foods that make people fat. That way fat people can continue being fat, they simply pay a proportionally larger amount for their Eco sins.

Some US airlines have proposed charging by the seat and the pound (luggage plus flesh). We could implement this throughout the economy.

If we tax them enough they won't have the spare cash to feed their vending machines, fast food industry, and SUVs.

Paris because us sticks are people too.

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Unhappy

Ignobel?

BMI is a complete waste of energy when it comes to measuring health and fitness. One of my friends is the same height and build as me. We have similar habits when it comes to consumption of beer, curry and fags etc.

The only significant lifestyle difference is that I'm a lazy chubby little slob and he exercises and plays sports regularly. Our BMI is identical to a couple of decimal points, so it seems to be an utter joke to use that to judge our relative fitnesses, let alone anything else.

Following the logic through, if you want some idiot to wiffle about CO2 production, then I'm not the problem compared with him. Whilst we probably both take a similar number of flights a year, and we're both quite good with the recycling buckets, we have very different pollution footprints, which are hardly related to our size. I walk, take the train, and don't eat meat. He drives everywhere and probably eats a small fresian every week.

Conclusion - relating BMI to global warming is my nomination for an Ignobel prize in the next round - it's one of the dumbest I've heard all year.

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Silver badge

Publicise one of the alternatives to BMI

Advantages of BMI:

* The definition is widely known.

* Several people can calculate it even after a modern education.

Disadvantages:

* The formula gives poor results for the very tall, very short and for athletes.

* Even less than unuseful for making national plans about health/weight.

Height/(mass^2) is the wrong formula. So is height/(mass^3). If you scale people equally in all dimensions, mass increases with l^3, but ankle strength increases with l^2. Tall people cannot afford to grow thick and wide in proportion to their height or they will damage their ankles. (Excessively tall people end up in wheel chairs for this reason.)

A tolerable formula would be something like height/(mass^2.3), but people argue about 2.2 or 2.4, so there is no consensus on a good definition. Also, after a modern education, the number of people who can punch <x^y>2.3 into a calculator is quite small.

It would be nice if politicians could understand the weaknesses of the BMI formula, but frankly I think they have many more scary mental deficiencies that this.

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keep thinking...

This is statistics for dummies of course, but the ideas are interesting, and allow for other conclusions. First, any comparison of two groups for fatness would reach a similar conclusion, BMI is just convenient as medical orthodoxy. Second, assuming that a normal population has no fat people is extremely optimistic. Normal is by definition today's standard, i.e. 40% being overweight. Third, the comparison between 1950s and today might show that we ate 20% less, with limited malnutrition. Fourth, energy intake, work and fatness are not bound by some tight physical formula - there are genes at work, and bodily mechanisms to release slight excesses of energy intake.

So the modelling exercise is not about working too little, or being too tall, but about excessive eating - as observed elsewhere, cutting out unnecessary energy use is a good place to start.

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Unhappy

@ dr2chase

"yours, 6'0", 16 stone, despite 50 miles cycling every week, which is another way to reduce the carbon footprint."

I'm 6'3" but 17 stone, but I only cycle 32 miles a week. I think you just convinced me not to do any more... ;)

If I keep on the weights I'll be even more obese too. There's no escape from the Grey Reaper of Westminster - I fully expect to be 2'6" in height by the time I've finished paying up the cost of A/ bank bailouts B/ punitive taxes for further greenwashing by UK gov C/ punitive cost of children's clothing/sustenance/education (not to mention the crippling load of guilt the white man must bear for reproducing).

Maybe I should just stop now and donate my body to medical research. Or the zoo.

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Boffin

Starve children, get stunted growth and stunted minds

It is a proven fact that malnutrition in childhood results in depressed intelligence. Therefore, children stunted to be 3'3" as adults would also be imbecils. Or maybe, the boffins are trying to reconcile current academic intelligence and height.

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Anonymous Coward

Me too

6'0 15.5 stone, and cycle 50 miles per week. Alright - I consume perhaps 1000cals a day more then I should, but I'm not fat - on the old BMi jobby I'm obese - it's an fing insult....

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Anonymous Coward

BMI does = bollox

Thanks Chris Roughneen for telling the truth. BMI is total crap. The example I cite is Lawrence Dallaglio. If you see him in a pub are you going to go up to him and call him a "fat b*****d"? BMI is merely part of the government plan to try and demonise people who do not fit their "view" of things.

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just....

Grow bigger plants (all that new CO2).

or

Relocate to New-New-UK

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STOP BREEDING

Or why don't we all just stop beeding so much, alot easier to feed less mouths than give more mouths less.

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Mr. Frodo

Indeed.

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Joke

Short People have Napolean Complex

It's time for all of us that are over 5 to 6 foot tall to rid the world of all of the short adult people (and some short children).

Randy Newman said "Short people have no reason to live". He was right.

The sooner we get rid of fat little republican dwarves, the better off we'll be. And they make great cat food! Let's add to the list anyone who is as large around the midsection as they are tall. I hear they make great "Clean Diesel" after they get rendered down to size. Starting with Rush Limbaugh!

I'd like to follow that with Messers Robert & Edwards and any other nimrod that believes in or uses Body Mass Index as a method of determining ones "Carbon Footprint".

Any Fule knows that a carbon footprint is what your shoe leaves on a white rug after you crush the carbonized bones of fat little republican dwarves (or arrogant boffins) with it.

Lester, you're fine just the way you are.

I'm asking the El Reg readership to help sponsor a bill to the UN for the protection of tall people. We have rights too. No longer should we have to careful around short people, they should be required to have signs posted at at least 60" above the floor so we know where those sneaky little buzzards are at all time. Clothes and seating should be designed to fit us tall people, any one else will fit inside our parenthesis. Good lord, have you tried to get a decent necktie, not enough length left to tie a decent Windsor. What about socks? Have you ever seen a one size fits all sock on a size 13 foot (Regular people call those anklets)? Pure torture not to mentions size discrimination! Where are the "Large Tall" clothes? They get chopped up to make the "Extra Smalls". Ladies, you know what I'm talking about. We need to sue the clothing manufacturers for mental anguish and pain and suffering due to their supposition that most of their clients are a size zero and that all published clothing sizes (ES, S, M, L, XL, etc) are a complete lie perpetrated by fashion dwarves. All clothing sizes must be stated by physical dimension and no socks (or pantyhose for the ladies) can be sold without a specific size, no more "Fits size 9 to 13".

From what I see, the ladies have been the most egregiously offended party, the utter lack of clothes for taller women is truly horrible to behold. You can't even buy a decent tee shirt without some asian manfacturer trying to pawn off clothes that don't even fit your teenage daughters figure. Let's not even go near the conspiracy called "Capri Pants".

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Alert

Extreme solutions for a happier world

Nuclear and biological warfare, it's the only real solution. Drop the Earth population to something manageable, then let the zombies manage the rest. Let's also note that zombies have a great BMI, and they help keep the fatties in check.

hmm. need either a biohazard or "beware of zombies" icon...

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@Steven Jones

"I can't off-hand think of a fictional race of humanoids that might fit the bill..."

The Asgard from Stargate: SG1 would probably do nicely. They have the additional advantage of apparently going around naked and not having any genitals or hair - thus implying that the clothing industry and clothes washing (very bad for the environment) go away, and that makeup, hairspray, and other personal primping items (necessary for attracting a mate and all bad for the environment) go away as well.

Seems like a win-win, eh?

Plus, they have awesome spaceships and can handily defeat a Goa'uld mothership - *also* very good for the environment!

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Paris Hilton

re: He is a slightly larger, exact copy of his smaller self; an almost identical physical specimen

While I'll not dispute blind obedience the BMI scale is wrong - I believe your reasoning about scaling a person up is flawed - Does the brain & skull (or any major organs) increase the same proportion as the height - if most of the height gain is in parts of the body that weight the least then you'd expect less than a cube relation between height and weight

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3' 3" is a title, surely?

This could fix a number of problems.

Housing shortage? Two storey houses could be easily converted to four, and the top two rented out.

Nobody buying new cars? You'd have to when you couldn't reach the pedals of your old one.

Pollution? Your new half size car wouldn't generate as much.

Congestion? All motorways could become six lane ones, simply by painting three more white lines down them.

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Happy

@ goggyturk

I find that cycling helps the Bad Attitude (ensures a steady supply, while nonetheless allowing me to enjoy it), so please don't stop on account of my experience.

I read, very recently (Bicycling Science, 3rd ed, a recent birthday present) that if we wish to burn fat, that we should engage in longer but somewhat less energetic bicycle rides. Shorter, faster rides tend to burn more glycogen. Unfortunately, to paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, we bike with the commute that we have, not the commute that we wish we had.

Note, however, in support of shorter people, that the "best size" for competitive cycling of the Tour de France sort, is not so tall. So clearly, we are dinosaurs.

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Food Nazis to address methane creation

While they're at it, why not ban the planting of cabbage, Brussels sprout, beans, broccoli, etc.? The drop in human methane production should put a big dent in global warming.

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Pirate

Just a rehash of an old idea.

I first heard about this approach in a series of panels by Al Capp in the 1960's. Per person, 3 foot tall people will use less energy, but there will be a lot more room for all their children. It will all even out.

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Pirate

Why am I reminded...

... of Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal"...?

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Unhappy

Or ...

See the BBC website for a less ranty version of this story that doesn't degenerate into fantasy:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/8004257.stm

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Alert

Come the Apocalypse...

With the collapse of the banking sector, impending environmental breakdown, and no doubt some whack-brained scheme from a DARPA boffin who thinks that Skynet is a good idea, I'd say that the future's looking a bit Mad Max.

Let's face it, in a post-apocalyptic landscape stalked my mutants and trigger-happy cyborgs, you want to be (or have around) a big, burly bloke with biceps like the Brecons.

By declaring war on tall men who are blessed with a high BMI, the government is threatening human survival. Obviously they're being typically shortsighted.

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r@ O

"See the BBC website for a less ranty version of this story that doesn't degenerate into fantasy:"

Where's the fun in that?

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Joke

Eat less meat....

..and eat more beans. That will cut CO2 output. The only thing is, and I speak from personal experience, the fart output goes up. Fart is far worse as a greenhuse gas than CO2.

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Law
Alien

@ David Wiernicki

"Plus, they have awesome spaceships and can handily defeat a Goa'uld mothership - *also* very good for the environment!"

And even they bow down to the awesomeness of macgyver... that should say something! :p

Thor icon... sniff... poor Thor...

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'Merkins seem to be hitting both extremes.

While many (most?) Merkins are approaching double-wide territory (did you know that T-shirt "blanks" -- for screenprinting or what- have- you -- can be had in up to size 7XL? That's XXXXXXXL or extra- extra- extra- extra- extra- extra- extra- large and probably requires its own wash cycle), there seem to be many skinny Minnies wandering around as well.

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Joke

A good start?

Go and stand in the sea up to your waist at Skegness for an hour.

Abracadrabra. Instant reduction of 3".

Oh...in height? Bugger.

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IT Angle

Weak pseudo-science and a complete strawman.

You really should stick to reviewing shiny things.

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