back to article Obesity witchhunt is a 'moral panic' - sense out of Texas

A lone researcher has dared to speak up against the obesity health insanity outbreak, one of several sweeping the western world as medical professionals attempt to shift blame for rocketing healthcare costs onto their customers. Samantha Kwan of Houston Uni says that the current obesity brouhaha - with its talk of chocolate …

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  1. AGirlFromVenus

    The Science of a Chocolate Teapot

    For experimental results see...

    http://www.thenakedscientists.com/HTML/content/kitchenscience/exp/how-useless-is-a-chocolate-teapot/

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    Stats

    I like the way the bootnote actually proves the NHS's claim: alcohol is more affordable than it was in the 70's. The fact that cars and TVs are too is not actually relevant, is it?

  3. Ed Blackshaw Silver badge

    "People: eat some chocolate, have a beer (maybe not both at once, yuck)"

    I take it you've not tried Youngs Double Chocolate Stout then. Yummy!

  4. Pete
    Alien

    It was about time that happenend ...

    ... before it furthermore swept on the mainland after having infested Britain and the US.

    Eat this, stereotypers: A fit "overweight" is statistically happier, healthier and has a longer life than a thin, unfit person. The later is just as prone to illness, diabetis and the likes as unfit "overweight".

    Yes, you heard right, big people are NOT unhealthier than others. Big people were once even considered the healthiest in a society, and the only ones to be able to survice bad times as opposed to those not being able to get as much calories digested from the same amount of food.

    AN ALIEN: because they are laughing at us for our combined stupidity!

  5. Tim
    Flame

    Tax Me! Tax Me!

    I didnt realise it before but i think i am doing things which are bad for me, but which only attract regular amounts of tax.

    I drive, not walk. This is only taxed a small amount..... Oh, hang on, wait a minute, no....Its Taxed through the bloody roof!

    I drink alcohol, which only has 15% vat on it now. .... Hang on, No it also has MASSIVE amounts of DUTY as well

    I eat thick sliced white bread. This seems to have escaped the massive tax harpees thus far, but is still well over a quid a loaf.

    i watch too much television, but at least i dont need to pay for that......, Nope wrong again....VAT on the telly i bought, licence fee and sky charges (with VAT).

    I play computer games (yes the ones that attract VAT).

    If i SMOKED, then this would also be TAXED TO THE HILT,

    So, stop banging on about how bad for me everything is. If i didnt do any of it, you ministers wouldnt have your fat country pads and massive expense accounts.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    BMI IS STUPID.

    i recall when i was younger and according to the BMI I was obese. 6" tall (1.8m), 26" (66cm)waist and 48" (122cm) chest and weighing 17.5 st (245lb 111kg) makes me obese.

    Of course I spent all my time lifting weights above my head but that doesnt count.

  7. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge
    Stop

    I agree...

    With this article to a point. However, most fat people are fat because they eat too much and do too little exercise. Whilst I believe there is some basis to claim "witchhunt" I think it dangerous to pin the hope on doctors being the sole cure, as the changing of someones lifestyle is akin to leading the horse to water, and making it WANT to drink it; which is not always difficult.

    The answer is : STOP EATING SO MANY BURGERS YOU LARDY ASS LAZE MONKEY.

  8. Mike Street

    Obviously

    BMI is a lot of nonsense. Heavyweight boxers, by this measure, are all obese. Fitness professionals have known this for ages. By the same token, the '5 a day' and alcohol unit targets were dreamt up with no medical evidence whatsoever. In fact, recent evidence shows that drinking above the limits leads to a longer, healthier life.

    Finally, poeple constantly complain about how much all these, as well as smoking, ''cost'' the NHS, as if without them those people would instead live forever, whereas in fact they will die at some point from something else, which the NHS will also have to treat.

    Fact is, some of the medical profession want you to have a miserable life, presumably because they do.

  9. Hombre sin nombre

    The biggest issue with BMI

    Is that it completely ignores muscle mass. Any reasonably muscled athlete will rate as fatter than the standard lardgut.

  10. vic denwood
    Joke

    What we need is...

    smart rationing cards based on the holders BMI. For those with High BMI their ration would be lower than "standard", conversely for those with low or normal BMI their ration would be higher or normal against standard as appropriate. Food bought outside the ration for High BMIs wanting a top up would be available but with 100% VAT.

    Since we all have to eat, we will all need a smart ration card with biometric details, registered on a national database, to ensure that fraud and impersonation are not carried out. Thus it would provide two complementary services ration control and personal identification.

    No card, no problem... all you can eat at twice the price!

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    Hey!

    =Im stringy, and i'm actually underweight on my BMI by one point (yes, ONE), and i show every sign of living to a ripe old age - 80+...

    AND THERES NOTHING I CAN DO ABOUT IT!!!

    (Exept top myself (not gonna happen))

    its all down to my metabolism, recently ive been eating a 5,000 calorie diet per day, and i still haven't gained a pound! so shove that in your pipe and smoke it.

    AC for obvious reasons.

    Just let me get a mars bar to munch on - its in one of these pockets, im sure of it!

  12. Rob Fisher
    Thumb Up

    Nice one, Reg

    Nice to see this sentiment somewhere on the Reg. Devil's Kitchen has been telling doctors to "shut up and patch me up" for ages. You can also find this kind of sense being talked about less rhetorically and more scientifically on the excellent Junkfood Science blog. It's about time we stopped listening to the health fascists and realised that people are individuals and have different priorities from each other.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    Page vs Coren

    Players vs Gentlemen. Now there's a grudge match I'd pay to see!

  14. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
    Anonymous Coward

    obesity under construction

    The whole BMI business seems a bit squirrely, but the word "constructed" makes one wonder whether we haven't someone who has been on a high-Foucault diet. Short's Latin Dictionary (on-line thanks to the Perseus project) is unwilling to commit to the novelty of "obesus" as meaning fat further than saying "perhaps not ante-Augustan".

  15. lIsRT
    Joke

    A Simple Solution...

    ...to completely eliminate the obesity * hysteria:

    Require that all places where calories can be obtained (supermarkets, pubs, canteens etc.) have doorways of less than 1 foot in width.

    Think of the boost to the economy of all those jobs in joinery and manufacturing slimline wheelchairs!

    Imagine the amusement watching those of borderline rotundity stopped -just- out of reach of a vending machine!

    * Ignoring any silly BMI related definitions, let's just assume it means "fat".

  16. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
    Anonymous Coward

    Coren

    "damn near supernatural total body fat percentage of 12.5". As measured by brain scan?

    One wonders who has a fully supernatural tbfp--the ghost of Hamlet's father?

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Moral panic is all the medics EVER had...

    For the last couple of centuries, doctors have watched their fortunes grow. In the UK today. doctors are among our most highly rewarded professionals, and penny for penny among the least effective. People are at last starting to wake up to the fact that mounting health expenses are down to what the extended medical industry creams off the top of the public purse, not what the patients try desperately to obtain at the bottom.

    And it's not as though all that many patients are ever actually CURED of anything in reality - at GP level anyway. When medical advances happen, it's rarely down to doctors - far more likely to be chemists and pharmacists - and even they are motivated these days mainly by profit. And today, as over all those years, the medical professions have more fads and fashions than the ladies' clothing industry. Remember way back when doctors thought it was good for you to smoke? (Trick question - they never THOUGHT it was OK to smoke - they KNEW it for a fact).

    So what's a doctor to do to justify a salary 4 or 5 times the national average? The only tactic left, it seems, is to say "Yes I'm earning a LOT of money - and I'm not solving your medical problems. But that can't be MY fault - I'm an educated professional! So it must be YOUR fault!" QED.

    Try telling any doctor today that you have never, in fact, led the kind of lifestyle that produced a 'lifestyle illness' and you'll be met with exasperation, disbelief and sarcasm. It HAS to be your fault. It SURELY cannot be that medics simply don't know - and never did know - half as much as they'd like you to believe.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    BMI is a poor measure

    Those who are fit, but towards one extreme or the other (e.g. body builders or distance runners) will show as obese or under-weight respectively. Despite the fact that they are still supremely fit.

    Fat is also good up to a point. It allows you to miss lunch by an hour and not pass out. It keeps you warm. It protects muscles. And, women take note, it gives you a nice figure!

    Of course, none of those are excuses for being an unhealthy lard-butt and something does have to be done about the appalling state of people in Britain.

  19. Svantevid
    Happy

    Thank you

    Riiiight... thank you, Mr Page, for reminding this rarely drinking, non-smoking 12 stone 5'10" (if I've converted those heathen units properly) man that he will be a drain on society. Eventually.

    Hey, maybe worrying about it will shorten my life. In which case this article wasn't just amusing and instructive (as your articles usually are), but actually useful in real life. :-)

  20. Dave

    Squares and Cubes

    Seeing as BMI is the ratio of a length squared to weight, whereas we all know that weight is proportional to volume, which is length cubed, it's obvious that people with extremes of height, be tall or short, are going to be penalised by a system based on a square law. I'm slightly more overweight than Lewis Page, given that I'm only 6'2" but about the same weight but I don't consider myself to be overweight.

  21. blackworx
    Thumb Down

    Not the medical profession's fault

    I'm surprised at you Lewis.

    As rough and ready and as completely useless as a reliable indicator of future health problems BMI may be, we are kind of stuck with it, because people want numbers - as a society we are absolutely OBSESSED by weight and BMI as a measure of overall fitness - and no *real* method of ascertaining the ratio of fat to lean tissue is even remotely as accessible.

    On the BMI scale, at the borderlines between the categories it imposes, there is a lot of leeway and it is entirely up to the individual's judgement (or their health professional's if they really need help deciding) as to how to interpret the result - and whether they want to investigate properly. At the extremes of the scale there is almost no room for doubt, save for extremes of body type i.e. pumped up body builders vs willowy couch potatoes. It is the willowy couch potatoes who need to worry, as the BMI system won't flag them up (whereas the body builder would probably come out as morbidly obese but there is no way they are not going to be aware of the shortfalls of the "system" and will probably know their body fat percentage to a tenth of a percent). On the other hand a big fat bloater can have no doubt when BMI tells them they are just that - a big fat bloater.

    Bottom line is if you're fat, you know it. BMI and the medical profession are not at fault - they are only trying to get the message across in terms that even the terminally hard-of-thinking can understand. It is the diet companies like Weight Watchers and Slimfast who prey on peoples obsessions who need to be given a slap.

    Tried every diet going and can't seem to shift the weight? Do really well but always put it back on again? Well then here's a diet that's guaranteed to work - it's called THE EXERCISE DIET. Put down the fork and get on your bike.

  22. Johnny FireBlade
    Thumb Down

    Moving goal posts

    It doesn't really help that health "professionals" have moved the goal posts drastically regarding obesity in recent years to massage their statistics. Obese used to mean so overweight, one can barely move without assistance. These days, it's a bit of a belly and a double chin!

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    hmm...

    What a great article. I sure all those fat persons reading it will be so happy for the ammunition. But wait, you claim that you want facts to be used? I loved the 'have a go at the cost of skinny people bit', that’s brilliant, but kinda contradicts the very assertion you made at the start of the article. You want to stick to facts… Ok there is some grounds for concern over the BMI thing, but the facts are clear - Fat people need to learn to stop eating as much food. If you do this, you will live longer and I won't have to pay taxes to pay for the myriad of problems poor diet has on your health. Furthermore, I might actually be able to sit on a train/bus seat without interruption cause some chubber chooses to sit beside me and can't confine his/her bulk to the one seat they paid to occupy.

  24. JAK
    Stop

    BMI isn't perfect but....

    is it really that bad a place to start?

    Most people aren't muscle queens, or rugger buggers so if you do have a high BMI there is a strong chance that you are a bit of a porker

    There are other tests which can be run,

    give the side of your gut a smack... wait.... wait.... wait.... is it still wobbling about?

    Yes? then you're fat, deal with it

    Although this doesn't mean I agree with taxing the hell out of anything mildly enjoyable, it just seems that people always get so arsey about the BMI. It is only a guideline, you know if you are fat or if you are thin you just don't want to accept it

  25. Mr Chris

    Fatties vs Shotputters

    Heh.

    While Lewis may be one of the comparatively few exceptions, most of those I hear whinging about the BMI not being accurate aren't exactly weightlifters or Oxford Blues.

    For the vast majority the BMI is a useful guide as to the healthiness of your weight. And remember kids - while it's less effort than exercising, trying to prove the BMI isn't accurate won't make you less fat.

  26. A

    If your GP says you're under/overweight do your own BMI calculations

    My brother was told by his GP that he was dangerously underweight, and that he should significantly increase his caloric intake.

    The next time my brother saw the same GP he was told "Ooops, nevermind, I added it up wrong".

    So my advice is, do your own sums, and do use a calculator ;)

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    I don't need the BMI to tell me

    What my tight britches tell me every day....too much lard in the bucket.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Tax Me! Tax Me!

    "If i SMOKED, then this would also be TAXED TO THE HILT"

    Not if you're smoking what I am :)

  29. Richard
    Stop

    Correlation != Causation

    BMI should only really be a starter for 10, not Judge Judy & executioner.

    The conversation should be "I see you have quite a high/low BMI, let's have a closer look at other risk factors like your parachute jumping and interviews on the Today Programme" rather than "I see you have quite a high/low BMI, you're going to explode/implode and DIE!"

    Quetelet never claimed health implications - BMI was only intended as a population classification mechanism to see if it fitted a standard probability distribution. It's the flipping insurance industry that added them as a magic risk indicator. AIG's recent performance should tell you how good magic risk indicators are...

  30. ian

    GOOOAAAALLL!

    My goals in life are to:

    1. Live to be an embarrasment to my children

    2. Become a burden on society

    3. And to do the above for as long as possible.

    I hoist a 20-kilo beer stein, thus getting both my alcohol and my exercise in one go!

  31. Jason DePriest
    Boffin

    Another extreme to consider

    Your realize that there are actually people with strange metabolisms.

    There are those who eat with wild abandon all manner of calories while sitting around doing nothing and gain no weight.

    There are those who eat intelligently and in moderation while engaging in modest exercise and lose no weight.

    For these groups, the BMI is less than useless. You'd need some sort of endocrine system analysis to assess the health of someone like that.

    Though I reckon the skinny lay-about would rather stay that way while the rotund power walker would gladly take medication to help with a hormone problem.

  32. M7S
    Stop

    BMI may not be good, but increasing weight is a problem

    Generally there is a problem with people getting fatter, less healthy etc. My old section officer was probably hugely obese by any scale but could cover 100 yards quicker than most and take someone down at the end of it, mind you after 100 yards you were home free as he bounced to a halt then.

    My first resuscitation on ambulance duty was for someone equally overweight and it took eight of us to lift him out of the spectator stand he was in (footy fan, go figure) and cart him upstairs to somewhere I could jump up and down on his chest. He was so large that effective CPR was impossible, so whether its genes, depression or lack of self discipline (believe what you will, the food he regurgitated told me lots), Darwin got him in the end. Not that that is much comfort to his family as he was only about 40ish.

    For whatever reason you are overweight, its a question of by how much, as at sometime you might need to be carried somewhere, and usually there's only two of us coming to help you. Remember the article on El Reg a week or so ago about fire crews having to come and lift heavy patients? It really can be that bad.

    Eat Drink and be Merry by all means, but I'm not going to stuff my back for you after a certain point. I have a family to support.

  33. Jonny F
    Happy

    The BMI "overweight" threshold has changed over time.

    BMI is not that bad.

    The accepted thresholds for being BMI normal and overweight, etc have changed. The thresholds 10 years ago were different to the values accepted today.

    And BMI is not designed to tell you if you will have lots of health complications later. It doesn't make that claim, even if others might.

    It does correlate very well, in the general global population, with body fat, and as such is a useful tool.

    Does it work for everyone? No, not much does. But stop all the whining. And stop the excuses. It doesn't work for you if you are very fit or very very unfit. That's probably not you.

  34. Pete

    There's a very real problem here

    OK, Pop Quiz time: which is more - the number of people with AIDS or Type 2 Diabetes?

    Ans. Diabetes, by a factor of 4 or 5, throughout the world[1]. Even african countries are now seeing people with the condition - brought on from eating too much and not exercising.

    Now, consider all the fuss about AIDS. All the publicity, all the changes people made to their lives to reduce the risk of contracting it. Now multiply all those initiatives by 4, and that would be a proportional response to obesity. With luck, after years of changing peoples' attitudes, we might start to see the kind of drop-off in numbers that we saw with AIDS.

    However, taxing fat or other daft, knee-jerk reactions, are not the answer: just as taxing sperm or hypodermics wouldn't help with AIDS. It needs education and social change to fix this problem.

    [1] source: FT weekend magazine about a month or so, ago.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Point Missed

    That first quoted paragraph tells you that this researcher is hopelessly naive. The idea of taxes on sweet or fatty foods has little to do with people's health and everything to do with tax revenue.

    Taxing fags* has proved that such taxes simply do not work. Many people are effectively addicted to eating "unhealthy" food and the goverments of the world know full well that these people won't stop eating these foods just becase the price goes up by a few percent. So they apply their taxes and see a healthy increase in tax revenue.

    Did people stop using their cars when fuel prices went through the roof last year? Did people stop smoking because a duty was placed on cigs? Will people stop eating chocolate and pies if a tax is levied on them?

    I'm just waiting for the black market in illegally imported choccy and burgers

    * No apologies to the merkins.

  36. Steve

    Basic geometry?

    If BMI is "calculated by dividing weight by the square of height", then surely an increase in height will lead to a reduction in the BMI, not an increase.

    If the numerator stays constant and the denominator rises, you get a smaller value.

  37. Anonymous John
    Joke

    Re Fatties vs Shotputters

    I'm not overweight. Just not tall enough.

  38. Tony

    @john

    I wasn't going to respond to your post, but I've changed my mind. So doctors are useless and overpaid?

    May I ask when was the last time that you had to tell a grieving couple that they had lost their child because some chav in a 4 x 4 was too busy texting his girlfriend to see a child on a bike?

    Or have you ever had to explain to someone that they have terminal cancer and have perhaps only days to live; or, that a loved parent has dementia and will live for another 20 years as a complete vegetable?

    Have you ever had to try to maintain life in a dying person? (I have; I'm told that I spent just over 6 minutes performing heart massage and mouth to mouth - it seemed like 60 minutes)

    Or have you worked in an A & E on a Saturday night - you get lots of people that have consumed vast quantities of booze, so drunk that they don't realise they have broken limbs, that try to assault the people that are actually trying to help them.

    Perhaps you have seen a child so battered that it is bleeding from every orifice, frightened out of its mind - and listen without comment as the parents tell you it "fell down the stairs".

    Maybe you have watched as someone with advanced carcinoma sneeks out of the building for a quick puff of a cigarette that will kill them, and watch as they cough and wheeze, but still stick the damn thing in their mouth for one last drag.

    And may I ask which you would prefer; advice and medicine from someone that actually is trying to help you get well, or from someone that is supplying what they have been told to, based upon how much profit they can make?

  39. Anonymous Bastard
    Joke

    @ Anonymous Coward

    "i recall when i was younger and according to the BMI I was obese. 6" tall (1.8m), 26" (66cm)waist and 48" (122cm) chest"

    When reading this I first thought '26" waist and 48" bust? phwoarrrr' but now I see I'm thinking of the wrong gender.

  40. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    Another way

    How about the government taxes you based on BMI/body fat and you have to pay them an extra £1000 a yr to be a lard bucket

    Of course knowing this government, once that law was in place, you have liposuction or go on a diet and you'll then be charged with tax evasion.

    PS some docs do do a good job... especialy the ones who nailed me back together after I got squashed by a car

  41. /etc
    Thumb Up

    Keats

    "it's totally unclear that dying expensively early on ... is a worse result for society than the alternative."

    Yeah, thank God John Keats, for example, died so young. We might have had a few more of those boring poems.

    And you a writer, Lewis!

    I'm not suggesting that as long a life as possible should be anyone's aim but neither can you measure the benefit to "society" of what comes out of someone's life across their lifespan in purely economic terms.

    On the larger questions -

    Obesity *is* an increasing problem - haven't you seen some of the people walking - rather, waddling - down the street? or some of the men standing around in the supermarket queues with bellies that make them look like they're pregnant? Never mind their lifespan - in the long run we're all dead, as Keynes said - but can they possibly be enjoying life as much as they might? At the very least the poor prunes couldn't run for a bus without panting, wouldn't dream of throwing a ball for their children, and probably wake in the night burnt with acid reflux. But, of course, this is none of the government's business. I'm with you there, if that's what your thinking. And, since the current administration can't even manage governmental functions with a modicum of competence, they'd better not poke their nose into things outside their proper role.

    As for Coren, I bet you could take the little weasel with no problem.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What pure rot this commentary is

    I can't speak for GB, but obesity is indeed an epidemic problem in America and it something isn't done about it, it will break our healthcare system. And long-term obesity kills. Period. This is unquestionable. While we shouldn't torment fat people, we don't enable them with lies either. My wife was 80 lbs overweight and she was beginning to have serious health problems -- all of which were directly attibutable to obesity: high blood pressure, hyperclycemia, menstrual irregularities, etc. She's lost 70 lbs so far and has kept it off for three years. Within one year, all of her health problems have disappeared and she's as healthy as a horse.

  43. Pierre Silver badge

    Oh, that's why!

    I never realized that the actual reason why the F-22 will get it's shiny arse kicked by the Eurofighter anytime is not because it's a lousy aircraft, but because the pilots are overweight. Now *how* *much* does a shot down F22 cost to society again?

    Ha! Take that Samantha Kwan of Houston Uni!

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Costs of living/dying

    I'm always very interested by the "costs of healthcare" issue being raised for smoking, drinking or obesity related issues. Yet everyone seems to have forgotten that there are costs both ways.

    Someone who lives to a hundred is a burden on the state usually from the day they retire. They stop paying taxes and start receiving a state pension, as well as continuing to get healthcare (which they increasingly need). This compares to someone who goes out in a blaze of glory at 60 with a heart attack bought on by obesity who is likely to cost the state very little. People dying of lung cancer or liver cirrhosis end up somewhere in the middle in terms of cost.

    And I have to say I love the comments telling people to eat less and exercise more. If they really think that is the issue then why is the problem not already solved. Most people actually eat more calories than they expend with exercise. The difference is that some people have metabolisms that burn extra calories without additional effort whereas the efficient metabolisms store it away for use later as fat.

    Finally, thanks for the point on diabetes. It is rather irrelevant though since (1) type 2 diabetes is easily controlled and rarely kills (2) type 2 diabetes is not infectious. The reason we worry about aids is because it is infectious and kills; but also because it has such a long latent period where people are asymptomatic. The most deadly diseases out there have these latent periods where someone is infectious but asymptomatic since that is the period where the disease spreads.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fantastic news

    This means that for the first time since the 1970s class B and C drugs will be 70% more affordable than alcohol (and chocolate).

    I wonder what teenagers will choose now that booze is off the menu?

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tombo

    Maybe people are just getting shorter.

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Now this is a nice piece of propaganda

    "Ans. Diabetes, by a factor of 4 or 5, throughout the world[1]."

    AIDS case increase has been greatly reduced over the last 20 or so years through education and what not (drug warriors, take note!). I don't really see why you are comparing it to AIDS other than for shock value. AIDS is tragic because, without treatment, it kills you pretty fast and gruesomely, not because it is widespread. Compare type 2 to maybe the number of people infected with the plague and see if that fits what you are trying to accomplish. OH yea, and being fat takes a really long time to kill you. But yea, they're pretty much the same. O_O.

    "Even african countries are now seeing people with the condition - brought on from eating too much and not exercising."

    Contrary to all the "give Rachael $20 for food" commercials (rachael is prolly in her 50s by now) , not all of Africa is starving. I would be more shocked if you said "there are no cases of type 2 in Africa." But as far as propaganda goes, this is pretty good. Zomg, even Africans are fat. Guess we can stop sending food, huh? (oops unintended consequence there.)

    "Now, consider all the fuss about AIDS. All the publicity, all the changes people made to their lives to reduce the risk of contracting it. Now multiply all those initiatives by 4, and that would be a proportional response to obesity."

    Lol. what kinda of fucked up Al Gore logic is that? We should spend 5 times the amount of fat education to eradicate it because there are 5 times more fat people than aids victims? I'm pretty sure fat people know being fat isn't good for them, they just have more important things to worry about. I'm glad you aren't in charge of my bank account.

    "With luck, after years of changing peoples' attitudes, we might start to see the kind of drop-off in numbers that we saw with AIDS."

    Wow you actually countered your own "start with a bang" point with your conclusion. Your first attempt at scaring people was to say that type 2 is 4-5x more prevalent than AIDS (zomg AIDS IS BAD!!), and in your conclusion, you say there aren't that many cases of aids.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Let's work this out then...

    Fact - A human body only utilizes energy ultimately presented in ONE form; glucose (stored as Glycogen in the muscles and common body fat in fat-storing cells)

    Fact - Whether fructose, maltose, lactose or dextrose - it will all be reformed into GLUCOSE (sugar by any other name is just as sweet and deadly)

    Fact - A body gets glucose from ingested food, fat stores or de-aminated protein muscle ONLY

    Fact - A human body can ONLY make body fat from glucose, NOT from directly ingested fats, so eating fat DOESN'T make you fat...

    Fact - Up to 85% or more of ingested carb content by mass (anything from ANY plant) converts to glucose

    Fact - 80 to 90% of protein ingested by mass is WATER

    Fact - ONLY a maximum of 10% of ingested fats can be converted to glucose by a human body (hence occasional floaters in the loo after a fish-n-chip dinner :)

    Fact - Fibre-rich foods also provide glucose, just in lower amounts over a longer period

    Fact - The liver can and regularly does break carbs, proteins AND fats into glucose; you cannot utilize them as an energy source otherwise

    Fact - Most humans go through life following the primary energy path - energy derived from ingested food

    Fact - Most humans would need to cut ingestion of carbs while maintaining protein intake to lose bodyfat (low-carb diet)

    Fact - Most doctors preach ingested carbs as part of a 'balanced diet', when they can safely not be eaten (see Carnivore in your dictionary of choice)

    Fact - Carbs are more responsible for blood-sugar fluctuations than any other food group

    Fact - Categorizing carbs into simple and complex carbohydrates doesn't paint the correct picture on what is good for you and what is not. The amount of glucose ultimately derived from a food is the best way to rate how useful a food is to your system over a given period of time (glycemic index is the closet match)

    Fact - Carbs are the CHEAPEST food produced and sold to people in the developed world today

    Fact - Poor people tend to consume more useless carbs than other groups of people because THEY CANNOT REGULARLY AFFORD MORE

    Fact - the £10,000 available for gastric banding to morbidly obese people could be better spent on an annual fitness regime and planned meal structures to effect a true lifestyle change.

    Fact - This comment has been written by a morbidly obese person age 28, who has lost a combined total of over 40 stone over the last 8 years but gained it all back because i could not afford to maintain the regime that assisted me in my weight loss.

    Fact - my biggest ever weight loss was over 8 months, when i lost eleven stone (2004)

    Fact - i currently weigh 41 stone (260 kilograms)

  49. Mike Flugennock
    Thumb Up

    Beer + chocolate = unappetizing? N'ah, c'mon.

    You've obviously not tried Brooklyn Chocolate Stout. Mmmmm, double-ultra-yummalicious. Ideal. Combines two of my favorite comfort foods: chocolate and stout.

    And I'm still hanging in there at 6ft, 165lbs. Got the kind of metabolism women hate -- the kind that runs like a Carerra on the Autobahn at 4am.

  50. Argus Tuft
    Coat

    just ban all cars bigger than a SmartCar

    and the lardies will have to walk to the pub....

    (might get cold on the walk)

  51. Pierre Silver badge

    At the fact overweight AC

    Most if not all of your so-called facts are actually half-truth or plain wrong (mostly plain wrong actually). Especially the bits about glucose and carbs. That's from a physiologist.

    Carbs won't make you fat. Although McDonald's or pizza hut's "carbs" will because guess what: they're actually mostly sugared fat.

    However, I have to agree that an unhealthy diet is much easier to get than an healthy one. Not necessarily cheaper though. Just easier. So yeah, when you don't have time or don't wish to cook, you eat trash and end up overweight. Or you could go for plain rice and salad, it's actually almost exclusively "carbs" but you'll still lose some weight. Not as appetent as a triple fatburger with extra cheese, though.

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Go

    @ Pierre - 17th March 2009 23:13 GMT

    Which part about glucose and carbs is wrong? UP TO 85% of carbs consumed by mass converts to glucose?

    That is actually a fact (some nutritionists actually believe its up to 95% of certain carbs as consumed by mass)- as i said; it depends on what carbs you are consuming. Obviously not 85% of a celery stick will convert to glucose, but how much will a bowl of white rice? Pure carb with very little fibre content.

    Please do not confuse losing muscle with losing body fat - the two are very different. If you want to lose lean body muscle you can go ahead and munch on carbs and cut down or remove protein (some vegetarians/vegans do this, and they end up looking like bean poles) because your body will strip down your non-essential protein mass to shore up essential functions (hence the whole essential amino acid boo-haa-haa)

    Look, you can gain fat whether you follow a carnivorous or vegetarianvegan eating pattern. This is because ultimately the liver can and regularly does break carbs, proteins AND fats into glucose. Eating rice and salad as a meal will not provide you with amino acids, so you may lose some weight, but you.re not gonna lose fat on that - GUARANTEED. You lose more lean body muscle than fat when you bias your diet towards vegetarian/vegan eating habits, and that is unhealthy too.

    Just as the human body can only use energy presented to it as glucose, also it needs essential amino acids to synthesize or replace key protein structures.

    Try again with the formula, and speak from a technical point of view, not an emotional one if you can please.

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Read "The Diet Delusion"

    After several decades of complete confusion - thanks to the bumbling incompetence of the scientific community and our government masters - I am now beginning to understand the relevant aspects of human metabolism, through reading Gary Taubes' groundbreaking book "The Diet Delusion". Taubes himself is a journalist, not a scientist or doctor, so he has no axe to grind and no tenure to chase. He contents himself with reporting the facts, ever since Mr Banting found he was unaccountably obese in the 1860s and was eventually restored to slimness and health through a diet that eliminated starchy foods. Then we had Ancel Keys and his cholesterol theory, and a gentleman named Newburgh who insisted that fatties simply have no will power. (Neither of those theories has ever stood up in experimental tests, which usually prove exactly the opposite).

    A word of warning - "The Diet Delusion" is a fairly massive, both in length and content, and will take several days to read. That's purely because Taubes lays the groundwork properly, gradually building up his explanation in simple terms that any lay person can easily follow. There turns out to be a lot of groundwork, but by page 400 you will be reading about the chemistry of insulin, triglycerides and fatty acids - and enjoying the intellectual stimulus.

    Bottom line: Taubes has showed me that all my own empirical observations and experiences have a reasonable explanation, and I have not been going mad when the calorie sums didn't even begin to add up. The reason is one I hardly even dared to think of: the scientific establishment has failed utterly in its duty to inform us lay people of what is good and bad for us. Much of what governments tell us to do is not only useless, but positively harmful.

  54. Dave Cable

    Chocolate and beer do go together, sometimes!

    Try Maltesers in your Guiness. It's a taste sensation!

  55. Francois
    Go

    @Tony

    Thanks!

  56. Trevor
    Pirate

    @the fact overweight AC

    Wow. Your leg muscles must be huge. I know my leg muscles can't lift that much weight. let alone walk around as well.

    Congrats on the weight-loss by the way. If you are that successful why not start your own slimming world or something. That way you can get the money to keep yourself more trim, if you really wanted.

    Jolly Rodger, coz his BMI is minimal

  57. Justin Stone

    BMI

    BMI will never work because Muscle Mass weighs more than Fat.

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Photos

    "6' 3" and 16 stone"

    I think we need some photos!!

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @FatAC

    "This comment has been written by a morbidly obese person age 28, who has lost a combined total of over 40 stone over the last 8 years but gained it all back because i could not afford to maintain the regime that assisted me in my weight loss."

    What exactly are the huge costs involved in eating normal amounts and walking about?

    Unhealthy diets are almost exclusively expensive in terms of money; they're very very cheap in terms of time, however. So, basically I think you're pretending the problem is money when it's actually laziness.

  60. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    It's just another kind of fascism

    Now that it isn't acceptable to vilify people for being darker-skinned or gayer than some kind of "norm", then the mob has to have a new target. And fatties will do nicely thanks, because "it's their own fault".

    Bullying isn't right, no matter how you wrap it up in pseudoscience. Doctors are mostly failed vets and Giles Coren is an overeducated cock who hasn't even got the decency to be as funny as his old man was, which wasn't very.

  61. goggyturk
    Thumb Down

    Beat you

    6' 3" and 17 stone... I was told that my 'ideal' weight was 13 stones the last time I had this discussion, to which my response was "which limb do you want to chop off first?". There's no way I carry 4 stones in fat and I actually gain weight when I exercise regularly, because muscle is denser than fat - shock!

    The BMI is a piece of shit, anyone who's been subjected to a medical knows that.

    Here's another idea - why not just use your common sense, enjoy eveything in moderation and ignore all the hysteria-bullshit perpetuated by these publicitards.

  62. Anomalous Cowherd Silver badge

    Fact?

    Fact: you don't get to 41 stone through bad luck and being poor.

    Stop complaining, walk to the market and buy some fucking vegetables. Learn to cook. Give up ready meals, COMPLETELY. Eat less meat - you don't need it every meal, the good stuff is expensive and the cheap stuff full of fat. Give up booze and lose that sweet tooth - try water instead of that diet coke I know you live on. Take the gastric band. Go for a walk. And take some fucking responsibility for your situation.

    Cooking from scratch may not be as convenient as heating a ready meal but at 41 stone, my friend, I would suggest convenience is no longer your top priority.

  63. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fact

    When one consumes fewer calories than one burns, one will lose weight.

  64. Matt Cheney

    BMI Bollocks

    The BMI is bollocks as it doesn't account for body structure, lean muscle mass, etc. For me to get to a "healthy" BMI I'd have to weigh 170lbs. I'd look like walking death weighing that little.

  65. The Fuzzy Wotnot
    Thumb Up

    You can only get so fat...

    The UK and Europe are catching up to the US, more fatties, but there comes a point when everyone can only get so fat, average of around say 22-25st. I know, that's what happened to me before I woke one day and realised I'd be dead soon if I didn't shift it pronto!

    My local town centre is about 50% fast food places, 50% every other types of shops. We only have at population of about 60,000, yet we have 7 pizza places, 8 curry houses, 11 chinese takeaways, 5 chip-shops, 3 kebab houses and 3 major supermarkets! Just one little tin-pot place in the middle of the country, definately nothing special about our town that attracts so much crap fast-food!

    I must say there definately seems to be a rise in the number of tubby kids now, maybe I just notice them more!

  66. John Smith Gold badge
    Joke

    Hmm. Texans. Witchunts.

    Run, fat boy, run!

    Needed saying. I've just downed a rather good bread pudding.

    Feeling a bit sleepy now.

  67. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fact!!!111!!1111!!eleventyone!!!

    Actually eating healthily is more expensive than eating fatty shite. Take a look at any supermarket and you can buy ready meals for a quid that are really bad for you. That quid won't go very far in the fruit and veg department*

    Fat does not get converted to glucose and then back again. fat is digested to fatty acids (and glycerol) which is then [directly] metabolised through the Krebs cycle.

    Glucose does not get stored as fat. Glucose (and other carbohydrates) are metabolised for cell energy in preference to proteins and fatty acids and when there is an abundance of calories taken in then the excess glucose is stored as glycogen and the fatty acids in fat cells.

    BMI *is* a reasonable measurement of weightiness as long as you aren't a serious athlete. If you *are* a serious athlete then you are not going to be worried that you are too fat so to discredit BMI with whines that "ZOMG, I have a BMI of twelvety-nine but I lift 200Kg with one arm and run 4000 miles on my lunch break so BMI is like, teh craps" is just whiney whining by almost certainly overweight people.

    I agree that the only real way of seeing if you are healthy is by looking at any wobbly bits (or protruding bones for that matter) in a mirror and then seeing whether you can have a conversation with someone after walking up 3 flights of stairs**

    Finally, regarding doctors. I believe the main focus of ire here is against the standard GP. I know mine is. These people are lazy, useless, overpaid whingeing bastards who should be beaten with sticks until I am bored with beating them. Surgeons, paramedics, A&E doctors etc. (anyone who works in a hospital, basically) are brilliant. GPs are less than such.

    *of the supermarket, this is not reference to genitalia

    **If you have to have a break on teh way up then you already fail

  68. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    @lIsRT

    Require that all places where calories can be obtained (supermarkets, pubs, canteens etc.) have doorways of less than 1 foot in width.

    So i have to leave my todger out of doors? Surely you jest!

  69. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    @Pete - taxing sperm

    I don't think they'll stand still for much of that taxing business...let me know how it goes when you round them up and lay a tax on 'em.

  70. Steve

    @ Fat Facts

    "Fact - my biggest ever weight loss was over 8 months, when i lost eleven stone (2004)"

    I work late so often buy takeaways rather than cook dinner, I drink coke all day long, take in far too many calories in beer form and never get any exercise. My ENTIRE BODY doesn't even weigh eleven stone.

    Unless your "fitness regime" includes paying a personal assistant to come round and hide all your food, I don't see how you can blame your 40 stone weight on a lack of money.

  71. Pierre Silver badge

    @ AC

    "some nutritionists"

    Some nutritionists are also clearly leeches. Swindlers, if you like. I typed a point-by-point answer to your "facts" but it was apparently blocked by our iron-fisted moderatrix for some reason. Too busy to re-type the thing, it was a bit long. But I can assure you that a whole lot of your "facts" are actually plain wrong. Eat more carbs, less fat, cook by yourself and drink water (or tea or whatever but NOT Coke) and you should be better. Gee, with such rubbish beliefs not wonder you're overweight. "I can eat as much bacon as I want, it's the bread that makes me fat". Yeah sure.

  72. Anonymous Coward
    Go

    Fact eleventyone!!! By Lee Posted Wednesday

    Hi Lee,

    Please look up Glycogenesis and get back to me yeah? And read the reply above this one from me if you'd like to correct some assumptions about my lifestyle.

    thanks..

    Fat Bloke

  73. Anonymous Coward
    Go

    @ AC By Pierre...

    Please explain a weight loss of ELEVEN stone over 8 months by following a low-carb regime, and i will be a happy person.

    I don't consume copious amounts of Cola; i've been off fizzy drinks since Dec 2006

    I don't eat bacon or other high-salt foods because that would trigger high blood pressure, and my 140/82 (measured last week, twice) will do me fine for now considering my body weight

    I have never hired a personal assistant as part of my fitness regime; i walk uphill to my gym (20 minutes), spend half an hour on the treadmill at 50% incline and 4/9 on the speed setting, usually completing a 4-5km walk and sweating like mad... then i walk home again...

    I eat takeaway maybe twice to three times a month; it tends to be chinese or carribean, as i can't even stand most pizza sold in the country (stodgy, oily and stinks)

    I can tell you that i consume alcohol up to 4 times a year; i know this because i only go drinking with a select group of friends and this is only when we can meet up. I have never been drunk

    You seem to be judging a book by its cover - i stopped doing that ages ago for the obvious reasons...

  74. Pierre Silver badge
    Stop

    Hi AC

    I'm not going to argue over a diet now, because I'm not a nutritionist (thank god for that) and *my* diet qualifies as "very poor" because I'm mostly a lazy bast*rd. However, we are the same age and I weight 65 to 70 kg (depending on how much I exercise) for 175 cm. A bit on the thin side probably, blame it on me being lazy and/or too busy, I tend to skip meals (and I do exercise quite a bit).

    Anyway, my point was that your so-called facts are mostly wrong (except for the bit about the gastric band, and also the fact that trash food is heavily advertized, easily available, and appetent). My detailed rebuttal -which was sniped by the moderation team, probably for being uselessely long and boring- was a scientific (physiology and biochemistry) one. I'm not going to retype it because it would take quite some time, it would probably be killed again, and I don't really give a fuck anyway -and I'd bet you don't, either.

    Your weight loss on a low-carb diet can probably be explained by the fact that your energy intake was adjusted to fit (or be a bit below) your energetic expenses, and not by the "low carb" part. These diets -in my very modest opinion- are mostly trends, but again, I might know a thing or two about normal human physiology (my paycheck would tend to say so), but I'm in no way a specialist in obese people's metabolism, so I might very well be mistaken. Extreme cases might, after all, call for extreme measures. Understand me well: I still don't believe in these trendy diets, but I have no way of proving they are rubbish. Put in another way, your "facts" were scientifically wrong so you certainly failed to prove that your diet has a scientific basis, however, there still might be one. I doubt it though.

    In short, whatever works for you is probably good, and, as a psychologeek friend of mine would put it, "Obesity starts in the head" (yeah, he's a strange guy).

    Be careful not to be abused by charlatans and swindlers. They abund. "Rip off the fatso" is one of the most lucrative occupation in western countries since "investment bankers" is getting risky. If the "facts" you presented here were given to you by a "nutritionist", I strongly suggest you kicked his/her probably skinny arse and find a real one.

  75. Pierre Silver badge
    Joke

    PS

    Just to finish on a (dim)witted note, I almost regret not being overweight because I will never get to use the good old "I'm not big, I'm near".

  76. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @AC RE: Me

    I read up about Glycogenesis which, as I suspected is the process by which glucose is stored as glycogen. Please enlighten me as to how this is at odds with my statements (I presume these are the relevant ones):

    (1) Fat does not get metabolised into glucose

    (2) Glucose does not get stored as fat

    especially given I made the statement:

    (3) excess glucose gets stored as glycogen

    I have not made any statements about your lifestyle, but if you want to play then hell, I'm game.

    Being overweight is one thing, being that overweight is something completely different. Assuming that the information you have supplied is true (on the internet you can never safely do so, but I see no reason not to at this stage) then you are exceptionally overweight with what appears to be a mostly healthy lifestyle.

    So you appear to have a major problem, whether glandular, hormonal, metabolic or, and please take no offense, you are deficient in the lifestyle related truthiness department.

    Whichever is the case you need better help than walking to a gym, certainly after losing 9 stone the only reason you put it back on can't be the cost of healthy food.

  77. Anonymous Coward
    Go

    Correction for Lee

    I immediately apologize - that was a typo.

    The process i meant to refer to is Gluconeogenesis.

    Two specialists (NHS), one private consultant, three nutritionists later, they cannot find what is wrong with me. I lived on exactly the same food and exercise regime as my brother (who is thin and of socially acceptable proportion) for six months. He lost two pounds; i gained three stone. We kept a food diary and took it to my GP, who promptly accused me of cheating. We were sharing a flat, going for exercise together (gym discount) and working at the same company. Go figure.

    Hey, at the end of the day, if the penny-pinchers have decided that fat people are going to be taxed based on their BMI, there is nothing i can do to stop it. I may be in the minority, but i have a serious problem, and i have tried and continue to try every day to lose the fat that seems to burden the society i live in. Pity society refuses to accept that this is a problem; maybe because they associate eating with pleasure and as such must somehow have made the assumption that people who eat more than others are seeking some sort of pleasure more than everyone else.

    I am stuck between wishing that none of you EVER know someone real close who is fat e.g. your kids/eventual spouses etc, or that you ALL get fat and get lumbered with that which you thought you could resist till kingdom come.

  78. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Answers

    "Two specialists (NHS), one private consultant, three nutritionists later, they cannot find what is wrong with me."

    You're eating too much.

    "I lived on exactly the same food and exercise regime as my brother (who is thin and of socially acceptable proportion) for six months."

    You might think that, but I'd guarantee that you're wrong.

    "He lost two pounds; i gained three stone. We kept a food diary and took it to my GP, who promptly accused me of cheating. "

    You're GP was sort of right. What's happening - and it's pretty common - is that you are eating and blanking it out of your memory. Alcoholics do the same thing with drinking - they'll remember the two pints they had at lunch and forget that they worked their way through a bottle of vodka over the rest of the day. How many people with drink problems have looked at a pile of empties in total and honest disbelief?

    You're snacking - for sufficently large values of "snack" - and your addicted mind is simply discounting those snacks in order to prevent your concious mind from being able to see what's going on and doing something about it, which would be a threat to your addiction. Your addiction has direct access to your brain and can literally change your perception in order to maintain its access to the addictive substance.

    Get a headband with a camera and wear it 24hrs for a week (one frame per second would do) and then show the result to your Doc or your brother. The result will probably shock the hell out of you, assuming that you can manage to leave it on without cheating (which again you will probably not remember doing).

    You have a mental illness and it needs treated - keep trying to find a physical reason for your weight and you're wasting your time.

  79. Pierre Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    @ annoyingly clueless AC

    "that was a typo. The process i meant to refer to is Gluconeogenesis."

    Would you please be kind enough and stop this cut'n'paste of random cool-looking words from some Wiki article that you didn't understand?

    Given the bad faith you display here, it's probably safe to assume that even the personal "facts" you gave are at best inexact. That closes it really. Go back to eating lard, as you seem to believe it's good for you.

    Oh, and about your food diary: put the bloody things on the scale. Stangely enough, "pizza" is a single line, but one slice of pizza is not the same as 2 pizzas and a half.

  80. Anonymous Coward
    Go

    And this is the problem with the world...

    Such closed-mindedness coupled with prejudice usually belongs to people to whom misfortune has not yet befallen..

    I will continue on my path, costing you idiots an arm and a leg on the NHS, taking two seats in trains and planes while paying for one, forcing you out of queues whenever i feel like, and generally making your lives a nuisance with my physical presence, simply because when i asked for help, i was told i didn't need it.

    Is that more along the lines of what you wanted to hear? Prejudices satisfied? Job done...

    Off to find something fattening, and you'll pay for it in the future :)

    Bon Appetito, dumb azzes!!

  81. Tom Cooke

    Drugs

    "Most people who get hooked on heroin start on marijuana". Yes, but even more start on *milk*. Think about it :-)

    Post hoc, propter hoc.

  82. Andy Bright

    Cost of Healthcare

    In the US health care is a for profit business. Can anyone guess what could go wrong with that idea?

    Let me ask you this then. Which hospital does better financially? The one that charges up to 6 times as much for everything from surgery to paper towels then sends the patient home as sick as when they arrived (repeat business) or the one that offers affordable health care and gives preventative advice to their communities?

    Here are is a list of common billing 'errors'

    * Repeat billing: charged twice for the same procedure, supplies or medications.

    * Length of stay: Were you charged for the day you checked out?

    * Correct charge for type of room: If you were in a shared room, confirm you're not being charged for a private one.

    * Time in OR: Sometimes hospitals charge based on an "average" time needed to perform an operation rather than the time your operation actually took.

    * Up coding: Happens when a doctor changes an order for medication and/or service from an expensive version to one that costs less, like generic medications. And yet you're billed at the higher rate. And sometimes you're billed for both. Keep on top of this one; it's the most widespread of all common billing 'errors'.

    * Canceled service: A medication, procedure or service that was prearranged and then canceled later will still show up on your final invoice.

    * Everything from a box of tissues to your bedclothes will be given some exotic, technical name and charged at many times the cost you'd pay if you bought it yourself.

    * Hospital room telephone calls. Excellent opportunities for profit abound.

    I haven't even got to the fact that US drug companies charge US customers 2-3 times the price they charge national health care services in countries like France, Britain or Canada. Or that hospitals will introduce new coding standards as often as possible to disguise the true nature of the services they're billing for.

    Fat people and smokers are the cause of all our health care woes? Riiiiight.

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