back to article Forget the climate: Fatties are a much bigger problem - study

The BMI-fuelled "obesity epidemic" bandwagon continues to rumble along, with the latest ridiculous report claiming that swingbellies are now twice as serious a menace to human prosperity as climate change. No, really. The giant brains of the McKinsey Global Institute have assembled this authoritative graph, which ranks the …

  1. Ketlan
    Devil

    I'm three terrorists at least!

    'If you're a fatty AND a smoker, you're almost as bad as TWO terrorists'

    I'm a fatty and I both smoke and drink. What a bastard!

    1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: I'm three terrorists at least!

      At least you aren't illiterate as well

    2. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge
      Coat

      WRONG! (Was: I'm three terrorists at least!)

      You're reading El Reg and operating a computer (possibly with some encryption at some point) so you're also a terrorist. Which means you're actually 4 terrorists at least, not 3. Oh wait a minute...

      1. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge
        Linux

        Re: WRONG! (Was: I'm three terrorists at least!)

        "You're reading El Reg and operating a computer"

        Running Linux as well. That's another point or two right there.

      2. tom dial Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: WRONG! (Was: I'm three terrorists at least!)

        Now if The Register would just enable https we ALL could be terrorist-equivalent at least once.

    3. Adolph Clickbait

      Re: I'm three terrorists at least!

      Well you know what they say. "Inside every lard arse, there are two, maybe three, thin people trying to get out"

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I'm three terrorists at least!

        Yeah the annoyingly skinny bastards I ate for supper last night.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm three terrorists at least!

      Maybe we can launch dead Americans into orbit so that their bloated corpses block out some sunlight and mitigate global warming?

    5. Marketing Hack Silver badge

      Re: I'm three terrorists at least!

      It could be worse, you could be an illiterate fat, smoking, drinking terrorist!

      (Don't forget to strangle a kitten on the way out)

      1. Marshalltown

        Re: I'm three terrorists at least!

        "It could be worse, you could be an illiterate fat, smoking, drinking terrorist!"

        Sounds like someone from Idaho, well, except the Mormons. They mostly don't drink officially.

    6. h3

      Re: I'm three terrorists at least!

      Thing is the tax on the tobacco probably pays for the cost of both.

  2. wiggers

    A better measure...

    Height to girth is a far better number, girth should be less than half your height to be considered 'healthy'. There is a 'new' BMI calculation that uses a more reasonable power of 2.5:

    http://people.maths.ox.ac.uk/trefethen/bmi.html

    1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

      Re: A better measure...

      Height to girth, or chest to belly girth ratios are dimensionless and MUCH better for that reason.

      The BMI based on a power of 2.5 might be better, but why not the power of three that simple geometry suggests? There may be empirical or statistical reasons for the power of 2.5, but it does look a bit like some people do not want to admit how totally stupid the power of 2.0 was and switch to 3.0 directly. After all, if I simply scale a short, skinny athlete by 10% in all directions, his weight should go up by a factor of 1.331, keeping his body fat percentages, height to girth ratios, etc identical. Thus, I feel 2.5 is a compromise, rather than entirely reasonable. Even if some fit was made to empirical data, I am deeply suspicious that the result would be 2.5 exactly, right between the traditional value and the one suggested by geometry.

      1. wiggers

        Re: A better measure...

        If you follow the link they say, "You might think that the exponent should simply be 3, but that doesn't match the data at all. It has been known for a long time that people don't scale in a perfectly linear fashion as they grow. I propose that a better approximation to the actual sizes and shapes of healthy bodies might be given by an exponent of 2.5." So, it is a 'best guess' but, since BMI is only intended to be a rough indicator that suggests other health indicators should be looked at more closely, it's good enough.

    2. Adolph Clickbait

      Re: A better measure...

      Shirley, the size of your strides is best?

    3. cambsukguy

      Re: A better measure...

      hilarious calculator, I would have to be 27Kg lighter to be at the bottom of my acceptable range, albeit only 10Kg lighter to be at the top.

      Since my waist size is almost exactly half my height and the best condition I have ever been in - able to run for several hours - was about 5Kg and 15 years ago, I suspect the new calculator isn't much cop either. 10Kg would leave me lean indeed, 27 Kg, dangerously wasted.

      1. Danwold

        Re: A better measure...

        Same here. I am 65" tall with a 29" waist, I run and swim 25-30k a week and yet this tells me I'm overweight and would be at a healthy weight if I was 23kg lighter. Rubbish I tells ye!

    4. Tim Worstal

      Re: A better measure...

      I once had a long email correspondence with a professor (at, I think, Oxford) trying to work out why 2 and not 3 was the answer. Volume should indicate 3, as the article insists. But the answer came back that it was a bit more complex as not everything does quite scale that way. Trunk, perhaps, yes. Arms, legs, head, not so much. And a surprising amount of the weight of a human isn't in the trunk. That was the gist of it at least. He was willing, in he end, to move to something like that 2.5 but insisted that 3 would be wrong.

      Can't remember all the details but that was the gist of it.

  3. Anonymous Blowhard

    They aren't a problem; they're a solution!

    Two words: Carbon Capture

    1. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge

      Re: They aren't a problem; they're a solution!

      HA but most of their mass is water, so they're back to being a problem*.

      * as everyone knows we'll run out of fresh water within 10 years, starting in the early nineties...

      1. 's water music Silver badge

        Re: They aren't a problem; they're a solution!

        HA but most of their mass is water, so they're back to being a problem*.

        If they are mostly water then that just makes them more of a solution (or maybe a weaker solution. Now I am confused again)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: They aren't a problem; they're a solution!

      One word: Biofuel

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: They aren't a problem; they're a solution!

        "One word: Biofuel"

        Already happening round these parts. The local crematorium supplies "waste heat" to the swimming pool. This warm swimming session brought to you by.......". Admittedly most of the heat is probably from natural gas, though.

        Some fag packet calculations suggest (if I've got my maths right, which is open to question) a human body would embody around 600 MJ of energy. In the UK there's around 1m deaths a year, and factoring this all down that's around 150 GWh if you dessicated them. At say 50% efficiency that's be equivalent to a 15 MW power station, which isn't very much in the context of peak electricity demand of 60 GW.

        1. Matt 21

          Re: They aren't a problem; they're a solution!

          So we need to eat more????

          Ahh, I've got it, we need to die having eaten more curry in order that the methane count is high and we need to collect the boiled off water to solve the water problem too.

          Perhaps we could keep our lardy bodies hooked up to some kind of dream machine so we could be grown more efficiently.......

    3. TechnicalBen Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: They aren't a problem; they're a solution!

      One word "tree" (or "vegetation" take your pick).

      Carbon capture is already there, and nature does it all so much better than we do.

      Icon, as it's all about turning hydrocarbons to their elements and back again.

      1. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge

        Re: They aren't a problem; they're a solution!

        One word "tree" (or "vegetation" take your pick).

        As much as we'd love it to be true, in the real world land vegetation is pretty much carbon-neutral (appart from marshes). The most effective carbon trap is ocean-based, as the dead organisms fall to anoxic depths where they sit for a very long time (until we dig them up and burn them as coal and oil, that is).

      2. Martin Budden
        Boffin

        Re: They aren't a problem; they're a solution! @TechnicalBen

        Icon, as it's all about turning hydrocarbons to their elements and back again.

        I hate to get all technical on you TechnicalBen but you seem to have confused hydrocarbons with carbohydrates.

        Carbohydrate = carbon-containing molecule made by vegetation very recently which can be used as a renewable energy source i.e. biofuel.

        Hydrocarbon = carbon-containing molecule made by vegetation millions of years ago, buried, compressed, and turned into a non-renewable energy source i.e. fossil fuel.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: They aren't a problem; they're a solution!

      Several Words: High protein, high calorie, self-carrying survival food.

    5. I sound like Peter Griffin!!
      Pint

      Re: They aren't a problem; they're a solution!

      A beer for you my Anonymous friend - Carbon Capture indeed!!!

  4. Truffle

    Muscle, not fat

    Apart from one sentence at the end, the entire article misses the vital information that muscle weighs far more than fat. There are many, many people (especially as, in the last 5 years or so, people really are getting on the health 'bandwagon') like myself, who fall into the 'overweight' category despite having sub 15% bodyfat.

    Whether the brackets for the height of people being measured is accurate, its a person's composition which vitally isn't measured in any way using BMI.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Muscle, not fat

      Muscle is also denser than fat. The BMI is a rule-of-thumb measure for Joe Public, it is not a true fatness measure and should not be treated as such.

      1. keith_w

        Re: Muscle, not fat

        That is why muscle, for a given volume, weighs more than fat. Pound for pound, muscle and fat weigh the same. And both, pound for pound, weigh the same as gold, lead or feathers.

        1. Irony Deficient

          Re: Muscle, not fat

          keith_w, gold is weighed in pounds troy, so a pound of gold weighs less than a pound of muscle, fat, lead, or feathers.

      2. Scroticus Canis
        Big Brother

        Re: Muscle, not fat - "BMI is a rule-of-thumb measure for Joe Public"

        BMI is a rule-of-thumb measure for Joe Public retards - FTFY.

        Look up endomorph, mesomorph and ectomorph to get a true grip of how stupid BMI really is (not everyone is built the same) and then realise that your GP/Practice Nurse have never learnt about it (or maybe did, like I did at medical school) but are just pushing the latest NHS crap fad as real medicine.

        Just like the low dietary salt saga; 1mmHg being the difference in blood pressure between a low salt diet and a normal salty diet, not really significant at all. OK some people are sensitive to salt but some are also allergic to peanuts or mushrooms, etc... so we better not allow peanut butter or mushrooms, etc... for anyone.

        Oh and by the way - smoking, drinking fatties tend to have a relatively short terminal illness phase and don't linger on thus costing less in late life health care than those who do. Or so the actuaries say.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Muscle, not fat

      " the entire article misses the vital information that muscle weighs far more than fat"

      The definitions of fatness are the least of the problems here. The original "study" concentrates on GDP, so that 4m deaths from inadequate water and sanitation in the undeveloped world count for almost nothing, whereas 5m deaths largely among the older residents of the developed world top the bill, followed closely by the "overweight".

      Yet even if you wish to look through an economic lens, the work is shoddy. With the developed world suffering from over-stretched welfare systems and inadequately funded pension systems, smoking and heart disease are fantastic economic news - people work till they're fifty-sixty and drop dead with little or no pension being paid. I'd accept that many smokers and fatties linger on in expensive ill health, but that's also true amongst the non-obese, non-smoking population.

      1. bitten
        Pint

        Re: Muscle, not fat

        Post 1989 overweight is not pre 1989 overweight. In older days there was fat and healthy, not anymore. Healthy and anorexic on the other hand (was 20 is now 18,5) is the new standard.

    3. P. Lee Silver badge

      Re: Muscle, not fat

      Technically true, but the #1 premature killer in West is heart disease. That's mostly not from being ultra muscley.

      Climate change may kill people in the future. Heart disease is killing a lot of people right now and will continue doing so in the future, so despite the rubbish method of reaching the conclusion, the conclusion is probably correct.

      1. Spleen

        Re: Muscle, not fat

        "Technically true, but the #1 premature killer in West is heart disease."

        That's primarily because fewer people are dying from infant mortality, war, malnutrition and contaminated water, so they grow old enough to die of heart disease.

        People who quote this stat in this particular way seem to be unaware of the fact that /something/ will always be the "#1 premature killer". If we eliminated heart disease it would be cancer (I'm guessing). That wouldn't be evidence of a cancer epidemic.

    4. NumptyScrub

      Re: Muscle, not fat

      Most of these people are obese, and some may even be morbidly obese according to their BMIs.

      It is an epidemic ^^;

  5. Thomas Gray

    How about "Graph Grappling" as descriptor?

    Would fit in with El Reg's penchant for alliteration.

    1. Soap Distant

      Re: How about "Graph Grappling" as descriptor?

      Maybe... attraction to alliteration? :)

      SD

    2. Michael Hawkes

      Re: How about "Graph Grappling" as descriptor?

      Since they're analy(s/z)ing someone else's analysis, maybe it could be "Analysing Analysis". That might be too redundant, even for the Reg, however.

      How about "Data in Depth"?

      "Featured Figures"?

      "Tabulature Tomfoolery"? "Table Tales"?

  6. Omgwtfbbqtime Silver badge
    Flame

    Good article, I'll raise a pint or 6 to you tonight, and maybe a good cigar.

    There is nothing like a good cigar, and a Hamlet is nothing like a good cigar.

  7. tony2heads
    Pint

    fat vs terrorism

    Stand back ! I have a bacon butty and I know how to use it! And I have a drink to wash it down

    1. stucs201

      Re: fat vs terrorism

      I think you've found the problem: A significant fraction of terrorists disaprove of bacon sandwiches (*)

      (*) Note: not the same as saying that disliking bacon sandwiches makes you a terrorist.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: fat vs terrorism

        But think of the TAX the NHS benefits from every time the lard arses go into Mcdonalds and buy their burger and fries.

        Oh wait a min...........................

        1. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
          Childcatcher

          Re: fat vs terrorism

          But think of the TAX benefit the NHS benefits from every time the lard arses go into Mcdonalds and buy their burger and fries.

          Yes, I guess we know how to tax WMDs (because it's not food that's sold at Mickey D's).

    2. Sooty

      Re: fat vs terrorism

      you joke, but you could probaly be arrested for wielding a bacon butty these days

      1. jonathanb Silver badge

        Re: fat vs terrorism

        The ability to eat a bacon sandwich is an important test of your suitability to be prime minister, which Ed Milliband apparently failed.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hail the Fatty Heroes !

    Hmmm sounds the report might have touched a sore spot in many.... :-)

    What the report did not consider is that fat is essentially a carbohydrate and that us swingbellies are actually sacrificing our health and greek god (and goddesses) physiques to contribute to the world wide effort of carbon dioxide sequestration in our adipose rotundities !

    Should we all suddenly become treadmill afficionados and convert from bacon sarnies to kale chips the world production of noxious gases would immediately increase 5 fold.

    Hail the much maligned fatty heroes!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hail the Fatty Heroes !

      Hardly. The amount of energy that went into creating the food and drink that went down your gullet is orders of magnitude more than whatever "capture" you are doing.

      You should be taxed for the extra strain you put on services.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hail the Fatty Heroes !

        "You should be taxed for the extra strain you put on services."

        If you're going to target the obeasts in this way, then presumably fags will come with a subsidy because of their beneficial effect on unfunded pension costs? Contact and adventure sports players will be taxed due to the burden on A&E. Duty will be charged on skateboards, horse riding tackle, and so forth. We should have a safety tax on ladders and power tools. Central heating and gas cooking will be taxed for air quality reasons, the Tube will have a five pound per journey surcharge for its rancid air quality, diesel will be £10 a litre, but current standard petrol cars will be getting a rebate.

        But since you're suggesting a PAYG approach to public services, I'd like to opt out of the welfare state, please, contributions to the EU budget, UK infrastructure investments (always the wrong, expensive stuff that gets built, not the required everyday stuff), overseas aid (wasted and misspent), and the education budget (if I had the money they'd both be in independent schools).

        1. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: Hail the Fatty Heroes !

          fags will come with a subsidy because of their beneficial effect on unfunded pension costs?

          SOOOOOO many ways to read this sentence...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Hail the Fatty Heroes !

            "SOOOOOO many ways to read this sentence..."

            Are there? I could only see the one, that smoking related diseases (lung cancer and circulatory problems) build up over some years with generally modest impact on health, but by the time they are diagnosed they are usually very serious, leading to high mortality rates and low life expectancy. Whilst having an acute hospital episode is always expensive, if you don't live to old age then you don't collect much of your pension, and you don't incur mid-level health costs over a long old age. Most of us will be able to see the health and longevity aspects in their own family history over perhaps the past two generations. And the problem is that as healthcare improves we prolong post-retirement life, increasing the cost of both pensions and healthcare to an economically inactive segment of the population.

            Use to be the case that you worked from 16-65, and expected to live to 72. So 49 years work to 7 year retirement. Now we expect people to work from 18-67, but to live to about 80, so still 49 years working, but now 13 years retirement. And not only is there the healthcare costs to contribute to that extra 6 years, but there's the routine costs of healthcare, the rising dementia and care home costs. I say free fags and big macs all round.

            1. cambsukguy

              Re: Hail the Fatty Heroes !

              Smokers get emphysema, which can be a long-lasting and very expensive malady, more often.

              Smokers get lung cancer, which can be a long-lasting and very expensive malady, more often.

              Smokers get dementia, which can be a long-lasting and very expensive malady, earlier and more often.

              Smoking causes people to discard butts in the street, which is disgusting and dirty and requires money to clean up.

              Smoking caused an economic cost of the loss of business from people unwilling to sit in restaurants and cafes - especially with children - because of the smoke. The loss is almost certainly as large as the so-called benefit of having the smokers there - most of whom remained of course after the ban.

              This is not taking into account what a dying smoker is doing to their children, economically and psychologically.

              I am certain that a smoke-free country would be better off, especially in the long term, than a smoking country.

              We shall see the evidence of this when China's smokers reach a certain age and start to die in massive numbers, slowly and expensively, or cheaply and horribly depending on the state of their state at the time.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Hail the Fatty Heroes ! @cambsukguy

                "I am certain that a smoke-free country would be better off, especially in the long term, than a smoking country."

                Greetings Mr Logic.

                I am certain that in economic (or life years) terms a drug free, alcohol free, car free, processed meat free, TV-and-couch-potato free country would be better off. But you're welcome to go and live in one of those. The nearest I can imagine to that is probably North Korea, where Kim Jong-Un is bravely consuming all those bad things so that the proletariat can enjoy a healthy exercise filled life.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Hail the Fatty Heroes ! @cambsukguy

                  False dichotomy time. Doesn't North Korea have high levels of smoking and very high levels of actual poverty?

                  Singapore is perhaps the closest real example of what you describe. And Singapore has to have very tight restrictions on immigration because so many people want to live there.

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: Hail the Fatty Heroes ! @cambsukguy

                    "Singapore is perhaps the closest real example of what you describe. And Singapore has to have very tight restrictions on immigration because so many people want to live there."

                    A quick internet search indicates that Singapore has high alcohol and tobacco taxes, but that's true of a lot of countries, I was suggesting our volunteer go somewhere that all the things I mentioned are actually unavailable.

              2. dogged

                Re: Hail the Fatty Heroes !

                > Smokers get dementia, which can be a long-lasting and very expensive malady, earlier and more often.

                Actually, that one's bollocks. Smokers get less dementia, probably because we thoughtfully and considerately don't live long enough to get it really badly.

                The cost of emphysema and lung cancer is minimal because so few smokers undergo treatment. Most just die.

                >We shall see the evidence of this when China's smokers reach a certain age and start to die in massive numbers, slowly and expensively, or cheaply and horribly depending on the state of their state at the time.

                That one'll haunt you if it doesn't actually end up happening.

                1. h3

                  Re: Hail the Fatty Heroes !

                  There is a chance it won't. Japan doesn't have those problems and has a very high level of smoking.

                  It is either the fish or the tea. (If it is the tea then China probably won't have the issues).

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "You should be taxed for the extra strain you put on services."

        Then my dear I suggest a general tax on life ! Because anything anyone does in this world is a "strain" on services....

        Following your stream of thought why don't we just do some major "ethnic" cleansing and neuter or let starve the "useless" 2/3 of the world's population so we don't need to grow all this polluting food? That only works of course If I am the one deciding who gets to stay :-)... Oh wait didn't a guy called Hitler try that a while back?

        [For the overly literally minded readers - I am being cynical]

    2. Scroticus Canis
      Boffin

      Re: Hail the Fatty Heroes ! -"fat is essentially a carbohydrate" ¿Que?

      "fat is essentially a carbohydrate hydrocarbon" - FTFY

      Uppie anyway.

  9. IT Hack

    NBA - National Butty Association

    "I'll give you my bacon butty and pint when you pry it from my cold, dead hands"

    1. hplasm Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: NBA - National Butty Association

      "...but ye cannae tak' our fried goods!"

    2. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: NBA - National Butty Association

      "Your proposal is acceptable".

      No, wait... cold bacon butty!

  10. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge

    In terms of costs...

    Remember that the graph is an estimation of the "buden to economy" which is really how much is spent... obviously heavily biased towards 1st-world perceived problems.

    The millions of people who die directly or indirectly from starvation obviously don't weight much (no pun) in such calculations, as they mainly starve because noone spends money on them, so to speak. On the other hand billions are spent every year in campains against gobstuffing. In fact I'd even say that most of the "underweight" bar comes from western world campains against eating disorders, not from 3rd-world people who actually die by the million.

    Basically this kind of "analysis" is the typical self-feeding crap: because we spend a lot of money on it it means "obesity" is a big problem, so we obviously need to spend more money on it.

    People love that crap because you can't be wrong. It's bit like stock market analysis: if I'm a "big name" I can say that company x is a good bet and company y a bad one. The actual wealth and management quality of the companies don't matter a bit because investors will read my paper and invest in company x, causing the share to rise and making it a good bet, while they'll dump company y causing it to crash. Perfect fortunetelling.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: In terms of costs...

      A very good point. We should take the money we waste of fatties (who can solve their own problem by simply eating less) and use that to help the starving.

      I like that idea, has a whole yin/yang feel to it.

      1. billat29

        Re: In terms of costs...

        Actually we should FEED the fatties to the starving. And seeing as all the taste in meat comes from the fat, then I am going to make several really good meals.

      2. cambsukguy

        Re: In terms of costs...

        Always made me wonder why fat people of my acquaintance and otherwise, always saying how hard it is to lose weight don't use the "Going to Darfur" diet.

        I have known a few people who have travelled to such places to help, as doctors or aid workers etc.

        Without exception, each one has returned lighter, often unhealthily so, by our standards at least. With the sun and the extra wrinkles, some looked 10 years older after only a few months.

        As one might expect, regular food brought them back to looking well but there is always that feeling that eating too much is sinful after seeing what they have seen.

        And, of course, being who they are, often the best of us, they are looking to head back there or elsewhere.

        Still, there is no harm is someone going to help and hoping to help themselves too, more than one life could be saved.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Time to start taxing these lard buckets

    People should get assessed annually (perhaps a proper medical check) and that should include a check on how fat they are (can't use BMI, it's not that great a measure).

    If you are overweight, a scaled % gets added to your income tax until you stop shovelling food down your gullet, get off your fat ass and do some exercise. Or get help with whatever is causing the compulsion to eat.

    This could be doubled up with an eye exam so that the blind drivers can be removed from the roads.

    Yes, this would all cost but I conjecture that the savings from lower costs, less accidents and the early detection of disease would more than offset any cost.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Time to start taxing these lard buckets

      Economical incentive does not always work.

      If a person already cared about a cost, they'd curtail it already and not need a further financial incentive.

      Same applies to gambling or alcohol addictions. It's mainly an education and welfare problem. Education so people know the dangers and how to escape the situation and welfare so they don't fall to it as a comfort to other ills.

    2. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge

      Re: Time to start taxing these lard buckets

      If you are overweight, a scaled % gets added to your income tax until you stop shovelling food down your gullet, get off your fat ass and do some exercise.

      I'm sure it sounds like a good idea to some, but real-world evidence (mostly based on correlation, not direct causation, but that's all I have) suggests that in rich countries the less money you have, the fatter you get. Because instead of stuffing your gob with aspararus, aragula, ananas, abalone and aardvark*, you use McDonalds and Pizza Hut as your stomach balast.

      So a fat tax will not actually work. Mandatory exercise camps, on the other hand...

      *OK, not really

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Time to start taxing these lard buckets

      "If you are overweight, a scaled % gets added to your income tax until you stop shovelling food down your gullet,"

      Strange isn't it. Round these parts people scream in outrage over their loss of freedom due to NSA and GCHQ's vast datascraping. Yet when it comes to food, many of the same people think that anybody larger than they are should be forced not to eat as much. Hey, overweight people, we've decided you're not capable of exercising choice, so we're going to force you to fit our idea of how you should look.

      I'm bang on the quack's view of a healthy weight, but I'd like to stand shoulder to shoulder with my big boned bretheren for their right not to be treated as third class citizens, not to be unduly harassed or ridiculed, and to be allowed to behave as they see fit.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Time to start taxing these lard buckets

      I'm for the "Logans Run" option

      1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

        Re: Time to start taxing these lard buckets

        I'm for the "Logans Run" option

        Don't you mean "Logan's Waddle"?

      2. LucreLout Silver badge

        Re: Time to start taxing these lard buckets

        I'm for the "Logans Run" option

        The irony being that the movie itself is a "runner" and was scheduled for deletion a long time back. Great movie though!

    5. Ike Aramba

      Re: Time to start taxing these lard buckets

      It wouldn't be a surprise if a significant portion of our obese fell into the economically inactive category. If you also want to reduce the benefits paid to these people you'd have my support, however if you want to tax obese people more just to feed our bloated & obese government then count me out.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Time to start taxing these lard buckets

        It wouldn't be a surprise if a significant portion of our obese fell into the economically inactive category.

        It's tempting to conclude this, but the real data isn't quite as clear cut. Obesity does correlate with lower income, but the actual difference between the most deprived quintile and the second quintile is fairly modest. For men even the top quintile shows limited difference. The only relatively low obesity group by income are women in top income quintile. See figure 1 in this:

        http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CCgQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.noo.org.uk%2Fuploads%2Fdoc%2Fvid_16966_AdultSocioeconSep2012.pdf&ei=H0BvVJy9OoLkaonDgLAB&usg=AFQjCNG_cH_3mexqxPk_osubygQ6XDVKPA&bvm=bv.80185997,d.d2s&cad=rja

  12. Simon Bacon

    Web site request

    Can the Register please implement a filter by author on their web site so that I can exclude the ill informed rantings that a few of their journos seem to get away with. (Page & Orlowski I am looking at you.)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Web site request

      "(Page & Orlowski I am looking at you.)"

      This is where you need to be:

      http://www.theguardian.com/uk/technology

      But on a more serious note, the article is using an inflammatory headline as clickbait. Other than that's its reportage, and nothing wrong with it. The comments section on the other hand is a bit dispiriting, with more than a few AC's queuing up to put the boot in. Nice to know they're so lean, athletic and clean living. Or maybe they're just cunts.

    2. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Web site request

      "(Page & Orlowski I am looking at you.)"

      Yes, I found myself wondering if somebody had challenged Lewis Page to write an article of as many straw men as possible. Ironically, straw men aren't normally obese according to the BMI scale, unless it has been raining a lot and they've been left outside.

    3. Kubla Cant Silver badge

      Re: Web site request

      @Simon Bacon

      A simple solution might be to check the byline before you read the article. But you sound like somebody who never misses an opportunity to be outraged, so I suppose that would spoil your enjoyment.

      1. Beornfrith
        Coat

        Re: Web site request

        @Kubla Can't

        Given the topic at hand and with a name like Simon Bacon perhaps the simplest solution would be to just eat him?

        Waste not, want not etc etc

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Web site request

          "with a name like Simon Bacon perhaps the simplest solution would be to just eat him?"

          In principle I'd not have a problem with trying a slice, dry cured, medium sliced and cooked crisp, please. But what if he's got something nasty like BSE? Wouldn't we have to kill him before 30 months if he's for the table? I suspect we may be a bit late for that.

  13. b0llchit
    Childcatcher

    Skinny vs Fat

    Well, terrorists are a skinny subset of the population. Therefore, skinny people are much more likely to be terrorists than the fatty kind of people.

    The only conclusion this allows is that both fat and skinny people cost us all a lot of money. We'd all be better off killing both parts of the population. It also would reduce the smokers to a mere minimum and certainly reduce the emissions of dangerous gasses.

    Now, since war and unrest is a small subset of the costs, it would probably be correct to assume that a one-time expenditure for global correction would not be too bad. Especially seen in the context where the new order is unlikely to proceed with current statistical sets and will start a new lie^H^H^Hdataset.

    1. Anonymous Coward 101

      Re: Skinny vs Fat

      Yeah, but a fat non-terrorist will still be more expensive to society than a thin terrorist. By the way, have you ever seen a fat terrorist, or a drunken one?

      1. b0llchit
        Pint

        Re: Skinny vs Fat

        The terrorists will take care of the fats, the alcoholics will kill the terrorists in a road-accident, the alcoholics will drive into a ravine after scooping up some elderly crossing the road, the smokers will die out coughing, the remaining elderly demented have no clue what is going on anyway, and the sensible rest of us will sit by, watch tv and die from intolerable boredom.

        What is left is a clean earth...

      2. Kubla Cant Silver badge

        Re: Skinny vs Fat

        have you ever seen a fat terrorist, or a drunken one?

        It's going back a bit, but Brendan Behan* was an IRA volunteer and pictorial evidence suggests he sank a good few Guinesses with consequent effect on his girth. He may not actually have been a fat, drunken terrorist, but I bet a few of his co-volunteers were.

        * Lest I unleash a storm of Hibernian protest, let me say that I intend no sleight on the man's literary output.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Skinny vs Fat

        By the way, have you ever seen a fat terrorist, or a drunken one?

        Does Bob Crow count? Can't begin to calculate the life spans lost to this clown and his ilk.

  14. Anonymous Coward 101

    I note...

    ...there is no entry on their table for costs due to dementia and other old age illnesses. If they had, where would that come out? Did they factor in the fact that smokers tend to die proportionally less from old age illnesses compared with non-smokers, thereby saving society money? If one ignores this saving, the societal costs of smoking are indeed massive: I suspect they have deliberately left out the savings to make smoking appear more costly than it is.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I thought Lewis was a British, technical journalist

    But he expresses his weight in US style pounds rather than stone and, anyway, being an journalist on tech. stuff, has he not yet learnt about the metric system? If we assume that some non-brits and non-yanks read TR occasionally, this would be the correct system that, after all, even Lewis must have learnt at school and possibly in the Royal Navy.

    Still, 16 or 17 stone or 105 or so Kg.!

    Back to the units: I often think his "technical" and "scientific" credentials seem not to be up to the matters subject to his comments. This is just further evidence to support my suspicions. If one is uncomfortable with both the units used in one's own country and in one's supposed field of expertise ....

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yawn

    Another clueless anti-science article from Lewis "I can do whatever I want" Page.

  17. kdh0009

    The joys of misrepresenting data

    Good article, and a candidate for FoTW in its own right.

    However you have slightly missed the climate point being presented by the nice graph on page 1.

    The whole reason we have a climate change debate is because doing something about climate change is expensive, whilst not do something about climate change is essentially free (or at least the problem of some future generation to calculate). This is the explanation all of the red-state governers use to justify doing nothing about it.

    But the graph is correct in that the ECONOMIC impact of climate change itself is either low (or massive, but incalculable in $ :-) )

  18. Frankee Llonnygog

    The real threat

    It's that fat bugger that keeps getting stuck in the sewers. What's he doing down there any way?

  19. wolfetone Silver badge

    I'm not exactly skinny. I am 6ft 3, and I weigh in at 18st 6. I play Rugby (switch between Prop and Second Row), and before that I used to do Boxing for 10 years until I had to retire because of my knee. The lowest weight I could get to while boxing was 15st. And believe me I tried to get below 14st 4 which would have taken me down from Super Heavyweight to Heavyweight which would have given me an advantage.

    What cost have I been to the NHS due to my weight? None actually. I'm not diabetic, and I don't have any diseases. I'm expecting heart disease because my Dad had two heart attacks and the men on my mothers side of the family have all died from heart attacks. The only cost I have been to the NHS was through my own bad luck.

    A busted knee done by falling off a bike trying to exericse.

    A broken thumb from falling off a bike a second time trying to get fit to go back boxing.

    A broken elbow from slipping on some mud, trying to get fit to go back boxing.

    Several torn muscles from trying to get fit to go back to boxing.

    Partially torn Achilles in my last bid to get boxing.

    I left boxing, then I had the following:

    Torn hamstring suffered 2 minutes in to my Rugby 2nd Team debut.

    Torn hamstring suffered in my first training session back after the hamstring.

    3 broken fingers suffered in a tackle. (Pulled the blokes shorts down, I deserved it).

    Hernia after being taken out by a back.

    So, really, I've been a burden to the NHS - but only by getting fit. Do you know how many injuries or illnesses I've had that I've had to go to the NHS with in the last 12 months when I've done no exercise?

    None.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Hernia after being taken out by a back."

      Would that be a 'girl' in your patois? Or was he a 'Lomu' ?

      I gave up rugby after they started using me for a portable rucking ram.

      :-)

      1. wolfetone Silver badge

        I don't know what he was, but he was 5ft 5 and a twig. I'm running to the touchline thinking "Holy crap I'm going to score" then BANG. Took the legs from under me, I go flying up in the air, and crash landed on my backside.

        And they're handy to have in a ruck, you should have stayed :P

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      So, really, I've been a burden to the NHS

      You're a disgrace! You should be taxed to the hilt!

      I'm not exactly skinny. I am 6ft 3, and I weigh in at 18st 6. I play Rugby (switch between Prop and Second Row), and before that I used to do Boxing for 10 years

      Errr, no, I didn't mean you, sir. I was talking about....about......ermm....that short fat bloke over there.

  20. Joefish
    Boffin

    Someone selectively omitted 'having children' from that list, I notice.

    That's if you really want to talk about social burdens...

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Obligatory

    Eat healthy, exercise, die anyway...

    Die young and fat or old, skinny and pissing and shitting yourself in your 90's because your body has outlived your brain.

    1. Michael Thibault
      Pint

      Re: The Obligatory

      So simple, really!

      A cold one? This one's on me.

  22. Teiwaz Silver badge

    McKinsey Global Group should be included in the own graph.

    For producing this steaming pile of wank. Social burden my arse., they're no doubt getting paid from the taxes of people who do something useful all day to come up with this drivel.

    Mind you, I actually had to plod through the local Shopping Center today as the out-of-town outlets let me down. Gawds, it was closer to Day of the Living Dead than I remember, a Lot of them looked like denim blamange, but at least they were spending.

    Far, Far too many shoe shops too.

    1. Hig Hurtenflurst
      Happy

      Re: McKinsey Global Group should be included in the own graph.

      The Shoe Event Horizon may be sooner than you think.

  23. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    From a humorous "calendar of the year's great events" printed in Punch, around Christmas of 1971, in which every second month American Scientists proved some activity caused cancer:

    December: American Scientists prove living causes cancer.

  24. NotWorkAdmin

    Smoker? Sure.

    And pretty sick of being told I'm a burden to society and/or the NHS. This is untrue. My ridiculously overpriced habit more than compensates for any cost via it's extreme taxation. Couple that with the favour I'm dong the NHS by ensuring I don't get to 80 and cost them a fortune at that stage.

    Not to mention the diabolical situation whereby I have to buy them at the same sales point as lottery tickets. I'm absolutely sick of queuing for 10 minutes to get a packet of smokes while having to listen to retards discussing whether they will or will not quit their jobs when they win the bloody lottery.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Smoker? Sure.

      So why exactly do you persist in something which may kill you slowly and painfully?

      Incidentally my father was persuaded to give up by his GP. At the time he didn't see the point because he expected to die of a heart attack like so many people he knew. Now at over 90 he is still walking to the shops, costs the NHS very little - he has not had to have an overnight stay in hospital in over 30 years - and has good quality of life.

      Unless you know for certain you are going to die prematurely of something else, smoking really is a mug's game.

  25. The last doughnut
    Pint

    Lewis clearly you are a very, very bad man, so have a Friday pint on me. Cheers!

  26. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge
    Alien

    Depends on your point of view

    There are some who think that a bit more fat is a good thing.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    but of course the sacred cows left untouched.

    they wouldn't dare list "high birth rate" for couples and individuals responsible for live birth numbers exceeding a couple's replacement by 4X or higher.

    Population, and population density, are the root problem that needs to be addressed.

    Develop a highly effective (even 60% or barely effective) airborne contraceptive spray and dose the world for a few months.

    1. Cpt Blue Bear

      Re: but of course the sacred cows left untouched.

      Every problem we have is ultimately caused or exacerbated by over population. But, as you say, its a sacred cow (and there's no money to be made from it)

  28. ecofeco Silver badge
    Coat

    It has to be said

    That's some fat irony right there.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fat people cost money?

    This always makes me laugh when people complain about us fatties.

    I'm 5"11 (Yes, I'm also a shorty laugh it off) and weigh 16st dead on, have done for years. I dropped to 13st once, but that was due to only eating once every couple of days at one point due to being told not to eat so much.

    Contrary to popular belief, I only eat twice a day, I have a bowl of shreddies in the morning at 6am, and a microwave meal for dinner at 8pm.

    That's it, I don't have sweets or other junk in between (I don't get time frankly).

    My cost on NHS? Zilch, I am on the "Do Not Resuscitate" list, I actively refuse to go to any hospital or doctor regardless of the condition at hand, heck when I broke my wrist recently, I did not go to hospital or doctors, I simply bandaged it myself and took a few painkillers.

    Yet routinely I hear this crap about I should eat less, or I should stop costing the gov so much money blah blah.

    But the fact is, I cost your society less than you do!

    Heck I've never even claimed benefits, not once.

    I try eating less, but if I don't eat I get light headed, I always try to wait until that happens before eating but the fact is, if I don't eat I'd probably die.

    I've literally passed out from not eating before.

    So do me a favour, stop trying to tell me what to do.

    (I don't smoke and I'm not an alcoholic either)

  30. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    I would say they're about the same sized problem for the world...

    Climate Change - no problem

    Obesity epidemic - no problem

    ...

  31. WatAWorld

    How short the memories of main stream journalists are, they've forgotten already.

    The sad fact is that the few peer reviewed studies show that the optimum weight for middle-aged and older adults is an "overweight BMI", that "normal BMI" is as bad for life expectancy as a "Grade I Obesity BMI" and that being underweight is as bad as having a "Grade II Obesity BMI".

    Much of the mainstream press even covered these Australian studies (done on regular Australians, not famine victims).

    But how short the memories of main stream journalists are, they've forgotten already.

  32. WatAWorld

    "data journalism" How about "statistically inspired journalism" ...

    You're looking for a better term than "data journalism".

    How about "statistically inspired journalism" or "statistical journalism"?

  33. PaulR79

    Best reason to diet yet

    " subjects in the former, heftier band actually lived longer than the lightweights."

    I don't want to be at the stage in life where I'm essentially an old baby needing people to wipe my bum, feed me and put me to bed. This could be the reason to finally start losing the excess weight I've been carrying around.

  34. 2+2=5 Silver badge

    Interesting that the top 4 are all the result of addictive behaviour...

    NT

  35. DocJames
    Facepalm

    BMI is perfectly good as a population measure of obesity (or lack thereof). Unless the average person is close to spherical, cubing height does not make sense. It reflects population mortality stats, but is inaccurate at a personal level (or at least, not conclusive).

    Much like reducing salt intake - mentioned in a post above. You can drop your BP by around 2/1mmHg - yes, systolic by about two and diastolic by about one. Completely irrelevant for individuals. This is fantastic on a population level however, as you'll shift the entire bell curve *just a little bit* and have dramatic effects on stroke (very expensive) and heart disease (also expensive).

    This data is unsurprising given what they are trying to show. They're looking at economic activity. This is driven by the Western world, as that's where the GDP is. Terrorism is not a big problem (despite the media/political hype). Obesity is.

    And finally, will everyone stop pretending that smokers cost less as they die earlier? They shift their health care costs, but do not remove them. They also reduce their lifetime work - mainly by dying. 90% of health care costs are said to occur in the 18 months before death, at any age. Certainly the frail 90 year olds I see have had little to no health care before the age of 80... whereas the 60 year olds often have significant illnesses that have been going on for some time.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I blame Chris Jenner

    So this article is about how Kim Kardashian's ass broke not only the internet but the world economy and all the health care simultaneously ? Wow, who knew ?

  37. grumpy feline
    Devil

    It's about tax

    McKinsey are about marketing (and arse-covering), and politics is marketing (and arse covering).

    So what they are saying is that politicians can make a case for taxing fat people etc, and the anceint voters will nod and agree, irrespective of the underlying facts, with little risk of burned backsides.

    Indeed the whole point is that the argument can be won in the face of facts. Such is the devilry on display here. Nice innit?

  38. Wzrd1

    Obesity is a medical term that has moved quite far from BMI nonsense

    Moderate obesity has increased risk of diabetes and atherosclerosis. Severe to morbidly obesity have tremendous risks of both diseases and more.

    So, how does this come into giving some credence to what was written in the pseudo-study?

    Diabetes is expensive to treat and decline is either rapid or gradual, depending on glycemic control. Arterial disease is also expensive to treat and decline is equally variable, but metrics on efficacy are not especially great for various controls.

    That all said, something will always kill us, something will always e expensive to treat. Well, at least until we develop some kind of post scarcity society. I predict one chance of three of that happening, slim chance, fat chance and no chance.

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