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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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    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.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I say

    Get 'em out by Friday

  3. Craig
    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...

  4. dr2chase
    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.

  5. Hugh Pumphrey

    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

  6. Law
    Thumb Up

    wow

    I'm impressed.... !

  7. Anonymous Coward
    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......

  8. Anonymous Coward
    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!

  9. A J Stiles
    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.

  10. Julian I-Do-Stuff
    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

  11. Aitor

    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..

  12. Chris Simmons

    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.

  13. Mycho Silver 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.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  15. JimC Silver badge

    >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.

  16. Steven Jones

    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.

  17. John A Blackley

    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?

  18. Jason Togneri
    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!

  19. steogede

    @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.

  20. An ominous cow herd

    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!

  21. Jemma Silver badge

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

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

  22. Paul

    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.

  23. Jared Vanderbilt
    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.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  25. Flocke Kroes 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.

  26. Britt Johnston
    Thumb Up

    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.

  27. goggyturk
    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.

  28. Brian Miller
    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.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    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....

  30. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  31. Pete

    just....

    Grow bigger plants (all that new CO2).

    or

    Relocate to New-New-UK

  32. David Simpson
    Thumb Down

    STOP BREEDING

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

  33. Warhelmet

    Mr. Frodo

    Indeed.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    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".

  35. raving angry loony
    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...

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    @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!

  37. Anonymous Coward
    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

  38. Anonymous John

    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.

  39. dr2chase
    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.

  40. Joe User

    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.

  41. Dave Daurelle
    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.

  42. Graham Marsden
    Pirate

    Why am I reminded...

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

  43. Anonymous Coward
    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

  44. Graeme Sutherland
    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.

  45. Anonymous John

    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?

  46. Stewart Haywood
    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.

  47. 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...

  48. skeptical i

    '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.

  49. Secretgeek
    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.

  50. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    Weak pseudo-science and a complete strawman.

    You really should stick to reviewing shiny things.

  51. Len Goddard

    A very old idea

    This idea formed the theme of Colin Kapp's novel Manalone, published in 1977.

  52. A J Stiles
    Thumb Down

    Yes BMI = bollocks

    BMI is pretty meaningless, indeed. But it looks impressive, to stupid people who are easily impressed.

    You might just as well say that the perfect weight is your height minus 1, times 100. (Which is a fancy way to say ignore the whole metre, and treat the remaining centimetres as kilos.) So if you are 1m60 tall then you should weigh 60kg., if you are 1m80 tall then you should be weighing 80kg, if you are a full 2m. tall then 100kg. (And you shouldbe paying double on the buses for taking up seats on both upstairs and downstairs decks, you great big freak :) ) This is really no more riduculous than using BMI.

    The idea of charging airline passengers by the kilo can be shown to be flawed. An unladen 747-400 weighs 178756 kg. and can carry 526 passengers and crew. That means, there is already 340kg. of plane for each person on board! Doesn't sound so reasonable now, eh?

  53. M7S
    Joke

    They've watched too much Star Wars

    To save the planet, as well as living like the Ewoks, they want us to look like them.

    Mind you are those funeral pyres carbon neutral? I bet there are some toxins in that armour when it goes up in smoke.....

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    BMI obsession is besides the point...

    On a recent program on obesity, it was revealed that for an adult weighing 35 stone (I don't recall the exact age) a persons daily calorie intake exceeds colorie burning by one apple - every *three* days! If you take into account the assumed much reduced exercise, and the actually rather realistic claims of lower metabolic rates (even resting metabolic rates are primarily determined by muscle mass, which is primarily determined by exercise) then fatties actually should be expected to eat far less than a person of average fitness. And of course that is a result that has been found in studies for decades, but dismissed out of the must-be-continually-stuffing-their-faces prejudice.

    If your looking for high-consumers of food, look for body builders and people who do lots of exercise. The one increases resting metabolic rate, and the other simply burns lots of energy through activity.

    Actually, a lot of thin people have very high body-fat percentages - major organs atrophying to make room for fat. This causes health problems that are far more serious than obesity, but is invisible. The cause is supposedly too much food and too little exercise - but hang on, how come these thin-fat people don't get obese? That's what's supposed to happen to people who eat too much and don't get enough exercise, isn't it?

    The basic problem is the assumption that people will naturally stuff their faces until their stomachs are full unless they have willpower. That's how people justify their prejudices against obesity - the obese are supposedly morally inferior people who lack willpower. Reality is that appetite is regulated based on the need for the major nutrients - especially protein, which is the only major nutrient that isn't purely for energy and which can't be replaced by some other nutrient.

    If you aren't getting enough protein, you will stay hungry no matter how much fat - *OR* carbohydrate, no matter how complex and unprocessed - you eat. Being hungry, your autonomic stress response will be active. And when your stress response is active, your body tends to burn muscle and lean tissue for energy rather than fat.

    Your choices are either to eat - and if you're not eating enough protein, get fat - or to apply willpower, and thus atrophy your muscles and internal organs and replace them with the fat from the little that you are eating.

    If you accept the current healthy-eating dogma, then you avoid meat because of the fat content - but by doing so, you also avoid protein. Truth is, calorie for calorie, it makes no difference whether you eat fat or carbohydrate - each will convert to the same amount of bodyfat. Vegetarians will point out that our ancestors 5 million years ago lived almost entirely on fruit - but our ancestors a mere 50 thousand years ago were more carnivorous than modern wolves. And look at the eskimos - no fresh vegetables anywhere to be seen, a diet consisting almost entirely of animal products, and virtually no obesity at all until Western foods reached the area.

    A few years ago, a documentary investigating the Atkins diet concluded that the Atkins faithful had the wrong explanation for it working. The real reason was that people on the Atkins diet tended to eat a higher proportion of protein in their diet, and that suppressed the appetite. The implication - though not made explicit - was quite clear. Protein was acting as some kind of evil appetite-suppressing narcotic. Ridiculous. If protein stops people feeling hungry, the logical reason is because the nutrient they needed in the first place was protein.

    As for the problems caused by excessive protein in body-builders, well, they have to force-feed themselves, and they find that an unpleasant chore. A clear indication the appetite stops when you've had enough protein, and that these health effects are extremely unlikely to happen to people who simply include a bit more protein in their diets.

    Incidentally, yes there are plant-based foods with lots of protein. Unfortunately, we don't digest it properly unless we eat meat as well - up to a third of the plant protein is wasted. Why do we digest all that vegetable protein if we eat meat as well? My guess - something in the meat triggers protein digestion. Hardly surprising given the diets of our recent ancestors. But don't expect research into additives that allow more efficient digestion of plant proteins - by far the most likely outcome is systematic ridicule and demonisation of anyone who dares suggest that a vegetarian diet isn't perfect.

    BTW - yes, I am obese. A year ago I was even more obese. Two years ago, I was even more obese than that. Three years ago, well, I think you can see the pattern. I don't do Atkins by any means. I just replaced all that rice, baked potatoes etc that was supposed to be helping me lose weight with chicken breasts and fish fingers etc that *did* help me lose weight. And my exercise levels have increased - but not as a result of willpower. Just having more energy from not feeling ill all the time. That is enough to lose weight - and the weight loss is accelerating over time. In another year or two, I may be able to walk down the street without being ridiculed and spat at.

    In my opinion, the current healthy diet and exercise dogma has a major role in creating the obesity epidemic. Easily available high fat food wasn't as rare in the past as people think, for factory-employed city-dwellers exercise would have been far less than now (large numbers of people were rejected for military service in the first world war because they were too weak and unfit) and the proportion of fat in the average persons diet has been decreasing (NOT increasing) for decades - yet obesity was a rarity right up until people started obsessing about their diet and exercise.

    And I haven't even mentioned the possible epigenetic affects of all those self-starvation-obsessed future mothers.

  55. Gav
    Thumb Down

    Sloppy

    I might find this article more convincing if it didn't interchange England and UK/Britain though out, as if they were synonyms.

  56. storng.bare.durid
    Paris Hilton

    If we shrink...

    will our absolute penile lengths remain the same?

    lol just kidding.

    Seriously, the advantages of using the BMI calculation is it's quick and easy to use. It may not be a specific indicator of obesity but you have to admit it's pretty sensitive, depending on your cut off points of course.

    If you have someone with a higher than 'normal' BMI you could then eyeball him, or /shrug get out the calipers. That should give you an idea if that individual needs any help with weight loss.

    Not completely useless a measurement, it's a useful tool but you have to know its limitations.

  57. Alfonso Vespucci
    Black Helicopters

    to all those old hippies out there

    Foxtrot was a warning not a manual, man.

    Black Helicopter because it's the Watcher of the Skies

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Warning From the Past

    Ironically I was listening to 'Shrink' by The Dead Kennedys

    on the way in to work this morning. Not going to post the lyrics

    here and spam but goggle for it and be afraid..

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Go

    @AC - 17:19 GMT "Capri Pants"

    Erm, you mean those things that used to be called pedal pushers?

  60. Dominic Shields
    Thumb Down

    Hmm a lot of denial here

    Its interesting isn't it? Any proper definition of BMI will say something like the Wikipedia entry does "It is meant to be used as a simple means of classifying sedentary (physically inactive) individuals with an average body composition"

    However and this is where people get confused, it is actually rather good at doing what it is not meant to be for, as a rule of thumb for whether an individual meeting the criteria above is prima facie in a healthy or unhealthy weight range.

    The largest ever report into Cancer published in October 2007 had a key recommendation of

    http://www.dietandcancerreport.org/?p=recommendation_01

    "PUBLIC HEALTH GOALS

    Median adult body mass index (BMI) to be between 21 and 23"

    The point I always emphasise in these discussions is if you have an overweight or obese BMI, go and have your Body Fat % professionally measured, that would settle things wouldn't it?

    Of course the final twist in the tale is that individuals of high BMI and low body fat % still have a worse outlook than individuals of low BMI and low body fat %.

  61. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    @ Graham Marsden

    Just what I was thinking myself ...

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