back to article BIG FAT Lies: Porky Pies about obesity

I often wonder why it is that people bother publishing “research” papers that are obviously incorrect. Is it that they're getting paid to spout bollocks? So who ate all of these? Tax payers mainly Or, is there some thought that we're all too stupid to realise that they're teabagging great big hairy ones at us? The latest …

  1. Ketlan
    Thumb Up

    Good stuff.

    Bloody hell, a Worstall article I actually agree with, apart from the weak dig at Ed the Millipede, which at least was mildly amusing.

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Good stuff.

      I agree with the general gist of the article, but it is missing a couple of finer points.

      1. Obesity cause is not food overconsumption. It is the food that has changed in the 70 years between the war and now. The people during the war did not get their gob stuffed with food where everything is marinated in glucose-fructose syrup. Anyone trying to repeat the food industry claims that the stuff is harmless is full of shit. Example: Prior to coming to the UK I used to do very little sports while eating half a hot bread right out of the bakery with half a jar of jam on it just for breakfast. Either that or half a kilogram of cheesecake. It was however _REAL_ jam (with sugar, not gfs) and _REAL_ bread or cheesecake made out of flour and yeast without a page list of bromates and other shite in it. I tried to keep that lifestyle in the UK with the result being 20kg gain in a year or so. Nowdays, I have completely blacklisted all gfs, bread and anything out of the crisps and sweets isle. As a result my weight is now back to normal. So the problem is not pies and calories, the problem is that the industry is deliberately putting sh*te in the food and is allowed to get away with it.

      2. Obesity presently strikes in most cases from early childhood onwards. The present generation of whales becomes that before the age of 10. In order for the age-expectancy reduction to bring the expected financial results their life expectancy needs to be shorter by several decades (due to the longer period during which they are whales). At least. That is not the case - according to stats the reduction is presently a decade or so. So attributing to whales the "smoker effect" is a bit pushing it.

      3. Biggest flaw in the article. It assumes that the tax contribution of a whale is the same as the tax contribution of a normal person. This means that a whale can do the same job as a normal person. Err... Plain and simple - that is not the case. The stats show a significant average income discrepancy (and tax contribution discrepancy) between the whales and the lean ones. Once this is added up into the equation I am no longer sure that the overall conclusions are the same.

      1. Tim Worstal

        Re: Good stuff.

        The problem with the glucose-fructose thesis is quite simple. HCFS (high fructose corn syrup), which is what you're talking about, is largely a US thing. It's a product of the restrictive sugar import policy over there.

        Europe just doesn't use as much. There's some, yes, but much, much, less. But we seem to be having much the same rates of obesity. So if we've very different rates of HFCS consumption (European soft drinks are largely sugar, as Mexican Coke is, as that Passover Coke is, American ones largely HFCS) but similar obesity problems then it can't really specifically be the HFCS that's the problem.

        As to shite being put in the food I do mention that. At least some of the sugar and salt being added is to make up for the fats which they were urged to take out of stuff over the decades. Those fats which more recent research shows ain't much of a problem.

        1. Ian Emery Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: Good stuff.

          Here is something else to ponder.....

          My sons GF comes from a sink estate and was fed nothing but cheap processed "junk" food her entire life; at age 20 she was invited to tea at our house and had to confess she had never SEEN a home made apple pie before, let alone eaten one.

          (Her diet seemed to consist of Findus and Iceland products).

          At 18 she was diagnosed with a brain tumour, Doctors said it was almost impossible to safely remove it or treat it, so all they could do was give her regular scans and monitor it.

          Every 6 months she went for a scan, and for years the tumour got bigger and bigger; then at age 23, she moved out of the sink estate and moved in with my mother - who fed her healthy, freshly made home cooking.

          At her next scan they discovered the tumour had stopped growing, and the scans since then have shown the tumour to be shrinking!!!!

          Of course, no doctor will ever link the two events; it is just a coincidence - like the coincidence that my rare auto-immune illness has gotten better* by avoiding yeast/yeast extracts, despite my having no anti-bodies for yeast.

          * My average Full Blood Count has DOUBLED since I established the link and started to avoid yeast, and is now 13-15% of normal; it has been as low as 2%.

          Thats a Boffin icon - a boffin is someone who manages to do something a SCIENTIST says is impossible.

          1. ChrisBedford

            Re: Good stuff (@ Ian Emery)

            You should seriously read a book called Bad Science by Ben Goldacre.

            What you are doing here is taking a sample of one and extrapolating the results to 60 million. It's so far beyond boffinry that the scientists (and anyone with more than two brain cells to rub together for warmth) wouldn't bother commenting on your experimental data.

          2. Carb_Queen
            WTF?

            Re: Good stuff.

            Re: 'a boffin is someone who manages to do something a SCIENTIST says is impossible.'

            Alas, if only we scientists relied on anecdotal evidence like this rather than empirical measurement then I'm sure we would have cured everything by now.

        2. Irony Deficient

          Re: Good stuff.

          Tim, the prevalence of high fructose corn syrup as a sugar substitute in the States is probably due more to subsidies for US maize producers than to restrictions on sugar imports. (Another effect of that policy is the widespread domestic use of ethanol from maize as an additive to gasoline/petrol.)

          1. Tim Worstal

            Re: Good stuff.

            US sugar price is usually around twice the world sugar price. Sure there's maize subsidies, but there's also that very restrictive sugar regime.

            1. Irony Deficient

              Re: Good stuff.

              Tim, yes, US raw sugar price is usually around twice the world raw sugar price — on the order of around $0.50/kg in the US vs. $0.25/kg elsewhere. The nominal price of raw sugar in the US in 1974 was higher than it is now, and manufacturers of soft drinks, candy, &c. still managed somehow to remain profitable without resorting to sugar substitutes. The Secretary of Agriculture can adjust the amount of raw sugar importable at the lower tariff rates (for July 2014 through June 2015, about $0.0366/kg for beet sugar, about $0.0146/kg for cane sugar) at will; it mainly doesn’t happen because of political interests and lobbying by the Sugar Association and the Corn Refiners Association.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Good stuff.

            the prevalence of high fructose corn syrup as a sugar substitute in the States

            You are not travelling enough - it is not just in the States any more. There has been a concerted effort to "infect" the food industry to use it nearly exclusively as a sugar substitute in the Middle East, third world and Eastern Europe. It is exported in fairly large quantities now.

            Just go into a supermarket in let's say Saudi or Romania next time and read the label on a Fanta, Bitter Lemon or Tonic. Compare to German or UK label.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Good stuff.

              Given that much of corn syrup's popularity in the US is due due its artificially cheap price (*)- a result of it being made from corn whose production is *massively* subsidised by the US government (**)- aren't their clauses in trade agreements that would prevent it being sold elsewhere at comparably low prices? Or are they selling it outwith the US at what *would* be its price without the corn subsidy?

              (*) In conjunction with the aforementioned tariff making imported sugar more expensive

              (**) Yay home of the free market and I'll-shoot-the-government-if-they-interfere-in-my-business-unless-that-interference-involves-giving-me-lots-of-money

            2. Irony Deficient

              Re: Good stuff.

              Anonymous Coward, you’re correct, I don’t travel enough. That’s why I’d limited my remarks to the situation in the States — because I have no idea what the market penetration of high fructose corn syrup is elsewhere.

          3. Tom 13

            Re: due more to subsidies for US maize producers

            No, it's the sugar import restrictions, which effectively double the price of sugar in the US relative to world markets. And it was the reason site by Coca-Cola Inc. when they did away with Coke original in favor of HFCS.

        3. Voland's right hand Silver badge

          Re: Good stuff.

          European soft drinks are largely sugar,

          Bollocks. There are two zones in Europe as far as Big Soda is concerned. Germany, UK, etc - all use sugar and some artificial sweeteners. Southern and Eastern Europe imports HFS in quantity and all drinks are done to 3rd world/Arab world specs. Best example is Bitter Lemon - my kids start spitting it out the moment we cross the Czech border on trips (both of them distinguish between sugar and HFS and cannot stand the latter).

          By the time you get to somewhere near Turkey border (or Spain going south) _EVERYTHING_ is laced with HFS to a point where you will _NOT_ find a drink with sugar any more. You can also see obesity in countries which never had it before and it is the generation which has grown up with the "new" stuff.

          Why... Well... It will be interesting if one of the Soda companies spokesdroids provides the answer. I am just stating the bloody obvious which you can see from the labels in the supermarket.

        4. Tom 13

          Re: seem to be having much the same rates of obesity.

          What we do have in common is a rising standard of living and much less need to engage in physical activity.

          Not data, but anecdote that I expect with a bit of research could become data:

          When I was young in my last year of high school I topped out the scales at 133 pounds. When I was in college I added few, but still stayed under 140. For a 5' 6" guy, those are about right. These days I fight to get under 200. What's changed? Well in college I was still walking all day to classes and had a job that sometimes required me to get from one corner of campus to the opposite in less than 20 minutes. When I took the elevator is was usually because I was hauling equipment, the rest of the time the stairs tended to be quicker. Campus was about 1 mile on the long side, half on the short one. Now I drive to the train station which drops me off yards from my office building. I take the elevator to the 9th floor. Then I reverse the process to go home. Where after starting dinner I plop down in my recliner until it is ready, then eat in my recliner. Then I go to bed. Commute plus work runs in the neighborhood of 12 hours, so I don't feel much like doing anything else when I do get home. Weekend are chores on Saturday, which again mostly involve the car for grocery shopping, then laundry including a couple runs up and down two flight of stairs.

          In short, I live an essentially sedentary life and I know it. I've tried a couple times to break out of it, but found myself getting sick when I did.

          My roommate has a similar type of schedule, except she drives to work. Still mostly sedentary. From time to time she signs up for a weight watcher class or aerobics or some such which lasts maybe 6 months. No more than twice a week for the classes.

      2. P. Lee Silver badge

        Re: Good stuff.

        Actually sugar is bad for you too. Apparently it messes with your body's ability to determine that you've eaten enough.

        Those hip replacements talked about in the article - weakened bones break more easily to the point where the bone breaks causing the fall, not the fall breaking the bones. Bones of course are hard because of their calcium which can be leached by the body to counteract excessive acid in the digestive system caused (usually) by rich/acidic food, coffee, cream, cheese etc.

        Health is a package, a lifestyle. Its best to not eat processed/concentrated food. The first things added in excess to packaged food tend to be salt, fat and sugar, all of which tend to be present in rather high quantities. If one is low, the others tend to go higher to compensate. The problem is the palette - we don't like eating simple but healthy food. Reduce the processing, reduce the human interference between pasture and plate, eat mostly plants, do some exercise and as a generalisation, you'll be much healthier. You'll still die of course, but you'll tend to be less sick along the way.

        I think its a fairly sick mentality that suggests that getting people to die young before they become a financial burden on society is a good thing. We should be working for the good of the individual, not leaving them to die quickly by malnutrition, regardless of their income level.

        Perhaps obesity on its own is too narrow a definition of what incurs health-costs, would it better please the ranters to widen it to "malnutrition"? It's still mostly the same thing but it might let the air out of their concern regarding sound-bite reports and politics.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Good stuff.

          "We should be working for the good of the individual" - aaaaagh, no, please.

          "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victim may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated, but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." C S Lewis.

          I'd rather wallow in my own fat than have your version of do-gooding imposed upon me. And if I cark early (and save you a bob or two in the process) that, Sir, is my business, not yours.

          1. JEDIDIAH
            Mushroom

            Re: Good stuff.

            > Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victim

            ...except once you claim goods and services provided by professionals as an "individual right", this is no longer just about "the good of the victim". You're making poor choices and then everyone else is expected to clean up after you both literally and figuratively.

            You should be equally eager to sort out your own readily forseeable problems as you are to create them.

        2. JEDIDIAH
          Mushroom

          Re: Good stuff.

          I dunno. We read the local message boards for people in our part of suburbia an the level of maintenance and expense all of these lardbutts are consuming seems quite significant. Between back and knee surgeries and monthly lifestyle medications, it seems like no trivial amount when compared to the near ZERO amount consumed by my own fit household.

          These people certainly sound damaged.

      3. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Good stuff.

        This REAL sugar rather than HFCS did it matter if it was REAL sugar from honest British sugar beet or damn foreign sugar cane? Biochemists wish to know.

        1. Omgwtfbbqtime Silver badge
          Flame

          Re: Good stuff.

          Sugar from Beet leaves an aftertaste in my turbo-cider, cane sugar doesn't leave that aftertaste.

          For those interested ---> 5L of apple juice (from concentrate) +2Kg of sugar (cane prefered) + yeast +2 weeks =9%+ (11% and fizzy if fermented again in reused pop bottles) cider.

          Guaranteed gluten free!

      4. ChrisBedford

        Re: Good stuff (@ Voland...)

        Yeaaaahhh... your weight gain attributed to UK bread & jam is not exactly a scientific proof now is it though. Lots of other factors could be (and most likely ARE) at play - lifestyle and advancing age the most obvious that come to mind. I also developed a spare tyre when I turned forty, and despite working out five times a week which I didn't do in my twenties and thirties, I eat probably half what I did as a young man. And still struggle to keep those pounds off. Your body just gets better at converting carbs into blood sugar as you get older.

        I forget - how did we get onto this subject? It's a bit off-topic, isn't it, since we were talking about the long-term cost (to society) of being a lard-ass. To address Tim W then, I think the point of the Kinsey (or whoever) report was that the money is "lost", irrespective of who loses it - but of course it makes much better headlines when you imply that the cost is to "the taxpayer". And of course Sky News picks up this kind of thing and Eamonn discusses it to death without actually questioning the source of the information. Makes for spectacular (if inaccurate) headlines.

  2. Richard Boyce
    Thumb Up

    A breath of fresh rationality

    amidst the professionally-produced bullshit we see so much of in the media.

    Thank you.

  3. WibbleMe

    The fact the people have no money to go out and socialise if people earn anything less than twice the minimum wage. Any one wondered why we pay moth VAT and Income Tax? Thank you EU

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Refreshing and amusing on a Sunday morning.

    But 2 wrongs never make a right... and unprofessional bullshit + biased arguments, no matter how witty, don't really address the real issues.

    Take for example the statement that "smokers and topers" more than pay for their treatment by paying taxes on their favourite poisons.... ahem....

    At current taxation rates (let's say 6.50 per 20 pack) a smoker would need to go through 10 packs a day for 50 years to even come near the complete cost of a lung cancer treatment & support.

    And - like it or not - the increasing number of drinkers, smokers, druggies and overeaters are starting to weigh quite enormously on the budget of health services... to the point that in some countries the question must be asked of what patients to prioritize: The old geezer who has drunk and smoked all his life despite being told he was courting death OR the 50 kids coming in A&E after a school bus crash.

    For all the 1950 political slogans about "free and unlimited health for all" we all know that the truth is very far from that. Health services even in "nanny states" have limited and shrinking budgets....

    So considering all that - yeah - long term efforts at prevention and changing lifestyles so that people avoid the most health risk prone attitudes is not such a bad thing is it?

    1. Tim Worstal

      That's not quite the statement

      "Take for example the statement that "smokers and topers" more than pay for their treatment by paying taxes on their favourite poisons.... ahem...."

      That's not quite what is being said, that fags taxes pay for the treatment of fag related diseases (although every claim about the cost of treating smokers on the NHS is in fact lower than the amount of fag taxes collected).

      Rather, the claim is that the NHS treats people their whole lives. The costs of treating a smoker, fattie or boozer are lower, on that lifetime basis, than someone "healthy". The reduction in the number of years of treatment costs is greater than any specific costs associated with treating those diseases.

      I've linked to a "real" (ie, peer reviewed etc) paper making the point and there's many more like it out there. It's not a controversial point in fact. Someone who pops their clogs at 65 from lung cancer costs the NHS less on a lifetime basis than someone who is still getting hip replacements at 80. And we all end up getting terminal care for something because we all do die.

      1. Diogenes Silver badge

        Re: That's not quite the statement

        Then there is also the misclassification... I break my foot playing soccer ... I go to to ER ... I am asked if I am a smoker ... If yes then the broken foot becomes statistically correlated with smoking

        IN Australia smokers contribute @8Billion in excise & GST & use about 380Million in healthcare (no typos with the billion & million) attributable to smoking related (see oara 1 on how this inflated)

      2. ChrisBedford

        Re: That's not quite the statement

        "That's not quite what is being said, that fags taxes pay for the treatment of fag related diseases (although every claim about the cost of treating smokers on the NHS is in fact lower than the amount of fag taxes collected)."

        After all, it's not every smoker who has multi-million pound lung cancer treatments. So, while most if not all have some health-related issues, many get away with some relatively low-level stuff, like breathing from an oxygen bottle for the last couple of years of their lives or repeatedly having to deal with URTIs or even chronic meds for congestive heart failure, but in the long run I'd venture that the average cost of treating a smoker for smoking-related illnesses is lower than the total taxxes collected off tobacco products.

    2. Terje

      Not being British myself I can't really judge the state of healthcare but if it's anything like Sweden I would hazard a guess that the underlying issues are a lack of budget keeping up with increased wages and increasing population combined with increased cost and complexity of many treatments.

      The cost of in this case a smoker is not the cost of an individual, a single individual contracting lung cancer will of course be a net expense, though looking at the whole population of smokers, the percentage that get cancer or any other expensive illness from smoking is low enough to be offset by the decrease in life expectancy and treatment of age related diseases. When looking at total costs, one can't look at individuals but must examine the entire population.

  5. DocJames
    Stop

    Oh come off it

    The McKinsey report is produced to order, presumably to help privatise the NHS. That's what their reports are generally designed to do.

    However, to suggest that you need to combat their economic voodoo with some modelling voodoo from 2008 (see the PLOS medicine paper referenced in the "pans out" link) is unfortunate, and does suggest you don't understand the situation. I'm reminded of economists whenever I think of this: http://www.xkcd.com/793/

    Richard Doll did make the assumption that smoking was good for the economy; he carefully enunciated it as such and didn't lay it down as fact. I first came across this when reading some other modelling paper (think ~2009 in BMJ but can't now find) which contradicted this. It's a shame this is used as an argument from authority now; he'd be furious.

    So here's a paper to read to gain some understanding about cost of illness studies: Cost-of-Illness Studies, by Larg and Moss, Pharmacoeconomics 2011. "While they attract much interest... inconsistencies in the way in which they are conducted and a lack of transparency in reporting have made interpretation difficult, and have ostensibly limited their usefulness." They proceed to demonstrate why you shouldn't believe this type of study, without some serious fact checking.

    Here's some of the fact checking required (appendix A of PLOS medicine paper, available to everyone free of charge): "For our calculations, we did not take into account transitions between risk factor classes over time." They have (to make the modelling easier) assumed that your state (healthy/smoker/obese) at age 20 is constant for the next 100 years. I'd suggest that this is not a valid assumption. Most obesity occurs after the age of 20; there are far more smokers at 20 than at 30; changes in this classification makes the modelling almost impossible. An additional problem in their modelling is there is no feedback (at least hat I can see): they assume incidence of diseases is uncorrelated to risk factors. They assume that average health care costs for their diseases apply: usually those who are obese or smokers have significantly higher costs. 20 year olds have lower costs. If you die from the incidence of your illness, your costs are markedly different to if you continue to live.

    TL;DR: don't base arguments on modelling papers, demand empirical data. Which would have been a good article, seeing as the McKinsey paper has (I think - haven't bothered to actually read it) much the same faults.

  6. Scroticus Canis

    Political Bias? - "rich and porky Tory MPs"

    Surely you jest. None of the Tories were as fat and noxious as Cyril Smith the noted Liberal/Lib-Dem paedo. Also Jabba the Hutt (Prescott) lately known as Lord of the Pies is Labour (as well as being the world fattest bulimic).

    The rest of the article is pretty spot on though.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Political Bias? - "rich and porky Tory MPs"

      "None of the Tories were as fat and noxious"

      Pickles ?

      1. Richard Gadsden

        Re: Political Bias? - "rich and porky Tory MPs"

        Nicholas Soames

        1. MJI Silver badge

          Re: Political Bias? - "rich and porky Tory MPs"

          Yes but put together they are still smaller than Cyril Smith.

          In fact Cyril Smith looked like he had eaten Eric Pickles whole.

          Like my fat list

          Those ill thin ones, Stick insect, Thin, Normal, Overweight, Fat, Obese, Darts Player, Darts Player eater.

          1. Steven Raith

            Re: Political Bias? - "rich and porky Tory MPs"

            "In fact Cyril Smith looked like he had eaten Eric Pickles whole."

            I've just snorted my horlicks on my PJs (hey, it's 11pm).

            Have an upvote.

    2. Martin-73 Silver badge

      Re: Political Bias? - "rich and porky Tory MPs"

      I always thought prescott was called 'twojags'

  7. Mage Silver badge
    Devil

    Selfishness

    So ... if we want more health care and much longer than average life span, we should encourage OTHER people to binge drink, smoke 40 a day, take no exercise and live on an excess amount of convenience food, sweets, soft drinks and takeouts?

    Then there will be more money for our pension, no waiting list for hip replacements etc.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Selfishness

      No we encourage all middle aged men to take up motorbikes.

      Hello sir, so you had a 125cc Bantam in the 60s? Well then this 900cc FireBlade is basically the same, and your license covers it so no need to take any lessons....

      That way they die before we have to pay for any expensive dementia treatment - and we get a couple of half decent kidneys (forget the heart and liver) and corneas in the deal.

      Now if only we can find something dangerous for middle aged women to take to the NHS is saved.

      1. Martin-73 Silver badge

        Re: Selfishness

        Horse riding. Seriously, ever watched one of those A&E shows? More horsey people than bikers end up in casualty!

        1. MJI Silver badge

          Re: Selfishness

          Horses scare me, horse at gallop 100x more scarey than 150 on a bike.

          1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

            Re: Selfishness

            Try riding the bike over rough terrain at that speed and tell me if it's more or less scarey ? :P

            1. MJI Silver badge

              Re: Selfishness

              Haven't got one any more so I think I will drive instead.

              No idea how fast it will go but I reckon about 100, brick aerodynamics do not help. But not as fast as that on the rough!

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. Annihilator
    Headmaster

    "That's the most unmitigated nonsense spouted since someone inferred that Ed Miliband was electable"

    You mean implied.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Implicating Ed

      From the fact that Miliband has indeed been elected (by his parliamentary constituency and the arcane processes of the Labour leadership ballot) one can infer he is electable.

      In the context of the original article, I suspect that "suggested" would have been more appropriate than "inferred", but there is no reference to anything from which an implication might have been drawn.

      Sincerely,

      The pendant's pedant

      PS: He's still a bacon sandwich short of a Gregg's breakfast.

  9. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge

    Brook your ire Sir!

    Sorry, I've been wanting to use that since I saw "Mr Turner", and your invocation of ire early on gave me the excuse I needed.

    A nicely argued article. I'm particularly drawn to the "calories expended in keeping warm" as heat production is a major consumer of the body's fuel.

    Anyone care to do a few back of the envelope calculations on heat balance for living in a centrally heated home vis-à-vis the "frozen window pane bedrooms" of the 40s and 50s?

    1. Bloakey1

      Re: Brook your ire Sir!

      <Snip>

      "Anyone care to do a few back of the envelope calculations on heat balance for living in a centrally heated home vis-à-vis the "frozen window pane bedrooms" of the 40s and 50s?"

      For me that would be 60s. 70's and into the 80s. Even to this day I keep my window open, love the cold and the joy of getting between cold cotton sheets borders on the monastic mentality.

    2. yoganmahew

      Re: Brook your ire Sir!

      Dunno the answer, but I can offer a corollary to heating - air conditioning in hot countries. I lived in Saudi Arabia in the 'eighties and the locals were almost universally thin. Since then, air conditioning everywhere has boomed and 'comfortable' inside temperatures have dropped to the point that I had to wear a jacket indoors on a recent visit. Waistlines, meanwhile, have boomed... so I would posit that keeping cool in the heat is as much a calorie burning excercise as keeping warm in the cold.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Brook your ire Sir!

        And the installation of double glazing is the only change in Saudi lifestyle and culture in the last generation?

        How many McDs were there in Saudi in the 70s and 80s?

  10. David Roberts Silver badge

    Intersting argument, but it does seem to give too much weight (sorry) to the whole life medical costs rather than the rolling costs year on year.

    It may be some minor consolation that a 30 year old obese alchoholic smoker may only be a burden on the health service for the next 30 years instead of 60, but the health service does need the funding for the shorter term higher cost support.

    Agreed that the report is unlikely to be supremely unbiased.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      There isn't much higher short term cost for a smoker. Lung cancer is generally fast and untreatable.

      The real cost center for the NHS is obstetrics. Not only do these "mothers" demand expensive care at the time, the resulting output will demand almost continual medical care for a decade and then be a drain on society for another decade before they start earning. They also start being paid at the very bottom of the scale and contribute very little in tax.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        There isn't much higher short term cost for a smoker. Lung cancer is generally fast and untreatable.

        Were that the only smoking related medical snafu, you'd have a point; As it isn't the case, you don't.

        Emphysema, poor circulation (requiring operations to improve blood flow, medication, and potentially amputation), gum shrinkage, COPD, heart disease (again, meds, ops, replacement organs), cataracts, and fibrosis, to name some of the others.

        Speaking as the son of an 80 a day smoker, there is plenty of expense to the state accruing to the smokers tab (see what I did there!) not just the eventual cost of lung cancer treatment. Dad paid in more cig duty than most smokers before he quit, but he's sure not cheap to keep running - worth every bit as far as I'm concerned, obviously.

        1. Beachrider

          Smoking related illness...

          I agree with the @AC, stats from the USA indicate that you need to add CHF (Heart Failure) and blood-plaque problems (Kidney Disease, stroke, more) with long-term smoking.

          The major stat in the USA is that a person uses 60% of their LIFETIME medical costs in the last six months of life, when a multi-week hospital stay is involved.

      2. Thorne

        "The real cost center for the NHS is obstetrics."

        Old people are the real drain. Just like an old car, they need repairing constantly because more and more keeps wearing out. A young person goes to the doctor only when something is wrong such as an injury. Old people keep going back and back because their body is worn out.

        If you want to bring the cost down, bring in euthanasia. A lot of people would choose a peaceful death over 10 years in a dementia ward busy regressing back into their childhood. That's also not covering a painful death due to terminal cancer.

        Put the emphases back on the quality of life instead of the quantity.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Great article!

    Thank you for the well written article Reg.

  12. Dr Trevor Marshall

    New study shows dietary fat doesn't cause problems

    http://news.osu.edu/news/2014/11/21/study-doubling-saturated-fat-in-the-diet-does-not-increase-saturated-fat-in-blood/

    Interesting that this Reg article crossed my desk the same day a very interesting study result was promulgated by Ohio State University: "New research links diabetes, heart disease risk to diet high in carbs, not fat"

    All this rubbish about fatty foods causing diabetes is just plain incorrect -- 20th Century rubbish. Although Medicine still tends to think in terms of simplistic cause-effect, the huge size of the human proteome, interactome and infectome make such simplistic concepts as "obesity causes diabetes" not worth the (admittedly degraded) brain cells used to keep repeating this simplistic nonsense.

    1. David Roberts Silver badge

      Re: New study shows dietary fat doesn't cause problems

      I was with you up until your last paragraph.

      Yes, fats don't make you fat per se - fats can limit appetite and a high fat diet can be effective in weight control. So taxing fats as high calorie food may be counter productive. Butter and cream are good for you.

      Yes, carbohydrates can encourage you to over eat and store the excess calories as fat. So potentially taxing sugars may be too simplistic. Taxing at two rates "carbohydrates of which sugars" might be more effective.

      Granted that roughly 80% of over weight+ people don't get diabetes, around 80% of newly diagnosed Type 2 diabetics are over weight+.

      Further, rapid weight loss after first diagnosis has shown good rates of at least temporary reversal.

      So a statement that obesity causes diabetes may not be 100% correct but it is hard to deny the very strong linkage.

      Even by the those with admittedly degraded brain cells (whoever these people are).

      I hope you meant to say that eating fat doesn't cause diabetes.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: New study shows dietary fat doesn't cause problems

        "Yes, fats don't make you fat per se"

        If you eat enough they will. 8000 cals/kg. Eating enough calories will make you fat unless you can exercise sufficiently. A coal-miner working at the coal face in an old mine used ~~4000cals/day. There probably aren't that many jobs where you could get anywhere near that today.

        1. RumRunner

          Re: New study shows dietary fat doesn't cause problems

          "If you eat enough they will. 8000 cals/kg."

          I'm on a high-fat diet right now, and I can tell you: you are wrong. The two relationships between i) calories and how much you weigh, and ii) eating fat making you fat are both wrong.

          If you wanted to run a 4-min mile, the best way to do so is to run. A lot. If you want to make your body process fat more efficiently, the best way to do so is eat more fat. If you also give your body "easy" calories in sugar and carbs, it'll burn those and store fat. If you don't it'll burn the fat.

          That's the confusion. People see that fatties are eating a lot of fat (but also lots of carbs) and *assume* it's the fat that makes them fat. It's not. It's the carbs. Eating fat does not make you fat anymore than eating carrots makes you into a carrot. It'll change your body to a ketone based energy burner rather than glucose based.

          My intake in calories is (most likely) double what it was, but I have my first six-pack in 20 years. It's all down to changing the balance of bacteria that are needed to process food (ketone based Vs glucose based). Calories are nothing to do with it.

          1. Chemist

            Re: New study shows dietary fat doesn't cause problems

            "People see that fatties are eating a lot of fat (but also lots of carbs) and *assume* it's the fat that makes them fat. It's not. It's the carbs. Eating fat does not make you fat anymore than eating carrots makes you into a carrot."

            Fat is a good fuel, that's why we store it - for the bad times esp. It's a great fuel IF you actually use the calories it contains. I can't imaging what you think happens to this "more efficiently" processed fat IF you don't actually use the calories it contains - do you think that this "efficient processing" makes it disappear into thin air ? Or do you really believe the bacteria in your gut can metabolise excess fat in the diet without consequence. At the very least you'll get VERY hot. Food is measured in calories for a very good reason. 100g of fat is 800,000 calories or 3MJ. If that's metabolised, by you or bacteria, unless you lose a lot of it as high energy waste (like methane) the metabolism will result in a good proportion of 3MJ appearing as heat. If a large proportion IS converted to methane that's in the order of ~~50L (which is flatulence with a vengeance)

            BTW do you really imagine that all the food you eat is processed by bacteria first ?

            1. RumRunner

              Re: New study shows dietary fat doesn't cause problems

              "I can't imaging what you think happens to this "more efficiently" processed fat IF you don't actually use the calories it contains "

              Well, at the risk of upsetting the readers, It's gets flushed down the loo! Look, I can sense you are disbeleiving. But I can definitely tell you that I now eat multiples of the amount of fat I used to (mostly butter), I never restrict my calories in any way. I eat as much meat as I like, as many vegetables as I like, eggs, cheese, bacon, foie gras.. My calories are through the roof. Yet I now have, for the first time in 20 years - a six-pack. I do no excercise.

              I just don't eat wheat, or sugar.

              " Food is measured in calories for a very good reason."

              The reason is wrong. The relationship is broken. It's all about how the body processes the fuel, not how much fuel you give it.

              "Or do you really believe the bacteria in your gut can metabolise excess fat in the diet without consequence".

              No. I *know* that. I don't just think it. As you say fat is fuel. You may want to store it - I want to burn it. And I do. On this diet I feel that I "kick ass" as I have energy to burn. I'm not posturing It's how I feel.

              "which is flatulence with a vengeance"

              The interesting thing is now I don't have flatulence when I always used to. In fact everything is better in that department. I have energy through the day, I don't peak and crash. I don't crave (the opiods in) wheat.

              Try it. You'll like it! We have bacon...!

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: New study shows dietary fat doesn't cause problems

                I never restrict my calories in any way. I eat as much meat as I like, as many vegetables as I like, eggs, cheese, bacon, foie gras.. My calories are through the roof. Yet I now have, for the first time in 20 years - a six-pack. I do no excercise.

                I'm reasonably sure in the longer term a high protein high fat Atkins style diet may give you a six pack, possibly even without exercise, due to the relative or total absence of carbs. Where I struggle to believe you is in regard to the number of calories consumed. Eat more energy than you're using and it'll show up as fat somewhere down the line, even if a decent percentage gets flushed away or vented to atmosphere.

                Having been fat this summer, I made some simple lifestyle changes that I hoped would be sustainable, and I'm now back down to fairly close to my 'normal' body weight. Calories consumed absolutely plays a part in that, though I don't go so far as to count them. I'm a man. Dropping some of the carb consumption has definately helped, but I really struggle with the idea I can just scoff lard and bacon all day long and it'll be peachy.

                1. RumRunner

                  Re: New study shows dietary fat doesn't cause problems

                  "Where I struggle to believe you is in regard to the number of calories consumed"

                  We've all heard the tales of women who "just look at a cream cake" and pile on the pounds, compared to people who can "eat what they like" and not get fat. Is there something in it? Or just an urban legend? El Reg readers are obviously interested in techy stuff. A simple equation between energy in and energy out is very attractive, but the processes of how the body deals with the food you give it cannot be reliably modelled by that equation. Have a read of:

                  This http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/10/12/obesity_fats_and_figures/

                  This: http://www.futuremedicine.com/doi/full/10.2217/fmb.11.142

                  and this http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=7816697&fileId=S0007114510000176

                  and all the links in this search:

                  http://journals.cambridge.org/action/quickSearch?quickSearchType=search_nutsoc&inputField1=Gut+microbiota&journalParam=British+Journal+of+Nutrition&journals=All&fieldStartMonth=01&fieldStartYear=1800&fieldEndMonth=12&fieldEndYear=2014&searchType=ADVANCESEARCH&searchTypeFrom=quickSearch&fieldScjrnl=All&fieldSccats=All&selectField1=%23&jnlId=BJN&journalSearchType=all

                  and wrt Fat, this:

                  http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/early/2010/01/13/ajcn.2009.27725.abstract

                  (as well as the paper linked to by the OP).

                  It''s better for your brain:

                  http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/mind-guest-blog/2013/10/01/the-fat-fueled-brain-unnatural-or-advantageous/

                  Restrictling calories will "work". You will lose weight, but it stresses the body (in the sense that stress hormones increase).

          2. JEDIDIAH
            Linux

            Re: New study shows dietary fat doesn't cause problems

            The thing about fat is that it's deeply satisfying to pretty much everyone regardless of what other differences they have in the way they process food. This is an effect that's not subject to the roller coaster of "rush" and "crash" that you have with carbs and sugar. So it ends up being paradoxically safer and self limiting.

    2. Tom 13

      Re: New study shows dietary fat doesn't cause problems

      I thought diabetes was always associated with carbs, not fat. Fat however has been associated with heart disease. So in order to reduce heart disease the health nazis went on a jihad against fat, which tended to increase diabetes. Diabetes does tend to lead to people being fat although I've never explored the exact relationship.

      1. RumRunner

        Re: New study shows dietary fat doesn't cause problems

        "Fat however has been associated with heart disease"

        http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/early/2010/01/13/ajcn.2009.27725.abstract

        "Conclusions: A meta-analysis of prospective epidemiologic studies showed that there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease or cardiovascular disease"

      2. Chemist

        Re: New study shows dietary fat doesn't cause problems

        "I thought diabetes was always associated with carbs, not fat."

        Type 2 diabetes is still rather a mystery. But certainly being overweight or obese, and lack of serious regular exercise are correlated with increased rates. It's got a generic component. (Of course you will always find someone who is obese, does no exercise, smokes 80 a day and lives to 90 but that is the tail of a distribution.)

        What I've gathered (it's not really my area of expertise) : High blood glucose drives the production of insulin as a signaling hormone in an attempt to reduce the damaging effect of high levels. If, the mechanisms driven by insulin for some reasons fail to bring it down then a vicious circle of greater and great demands for insulin ensues. This can eventually destroy the insulin producing cells.

        The mechanisms that reduce insulin include muscle/liver absorbing glucose and converting it to it's storage form glycogen. This is where the exercise comes in Exercise at first uses stored glucose leaving the exercised muscles/liver able to absorb more. If you don't exercise and esp. if your muscle mass is low the very mechanism that normally reduces blood glucose is blocked. If you have a lot of stored fat it can fueling metabolism again allowing blood glucose to increase over normal. This all is really a rate effect. Slow glucose release from the gut allows other (slower) mechanisms to absorb the glucose, for example, converting glucose to fat.

        There are many mechanisms/enzymes/signaling pathways involved in this so it's no suprise that individuals and their genetics vary greatly. There are a number of refinements to all this, for example, exercise greatly increases the ability and extent of muscle to absorb glucose rapidly and also mobilise fat . Complex subject.

        1. DocJames
          Megaphone

          @ Chemist

          T2DM is straightforward (ish). See:

          http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/dme.12039/full

          Basically excess calories are stored as fatty acid in the liver. When it reaches a critical point, the fatty acids end up being stored elsewhere, including the pancreas. Liver storage creates problems with insulin sensitivity. Pancreatic storage creates problems with insulin production. Marked calorie loss = moblising from intra abdo organ stores = no more T2DM.

          The liver usually prevents any postprandial peak in blood sugar, and when poisoned by excess fatty acid (how the body keeps stores of excess energy once glucose ok and liver glycogen stores replete, nothing to do with the form of energy it's taken in - fat, carbs, protein all stored in energy dense form) the glucose gets into the systemic circulation. Pancreas is prodded to make insulin and cannot adequately do so.

          The genetics are probably a combination of appetite and where you store your fat (intra abdo/subcutaneous).

          Since coming across this idea, it has massively simplified my understanding of T2DM and related areas. Patients' questions are easy to answer with this conceptual map.

          DOI: family link to the work :-)

  13. Salamander

    Reminds me of a story, probably apocryphal, where a minister asked a civil servant to find some data for a report that he or she was writing.

    The civil servant responded, 'No minister. You tell me what you want to prove and I will find the figures that prove it!'

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Smoking...

    Smoking as a public service. I like! Makes me want to start smoking again...

  15. increasingly_irrelevant
    FAIL

    Please don't call this sort of thing a "Research paper". A proper research paper is peer-reviewed, and has to show that it is based on some sort of actual research or systematic review. ,Proper research doesn't come from made-up "global institutes" either.

    1. DocJames

      Peer reviewed? Like this paper?

      http://www.scs.stanford.edu/~dm/home/papers/remove.pdf

      Explanation: http://scholarlyoa.com/2014/11/20/bogus-journal-accepts-profanity-laced-anti-spam-paper/

      I think peer review is correlated with good work, but is not 100% sensitive or specific for it. Empirical research is good. Somebody needs to collate it all; they've just done so for whoever is paying for it.

  16. Buzzword

    It's cheap to try

    Personally I'd like fewer fatties in my neighbourhood despite the cost: they take up two seats on the bus, they walk too slowly, and they offend my eyes. I'm sure you could put a figure on the pain I suffer, in QALYs, of having to see fat people.

    At the same time, quite a few of McKinsey's 77 solutions are no-cost or negligible-cost. Perhaps it's worth trying the half-dozen cheapest solutions? And what can we learn from elsewhere? The Danes banned trans-fat: how is that working out for them?

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm a fatty, I'm in my mid 50s and my net cost to the NHS is less than zero. I've never been hospitalized, I don't take any prescription medicine and have no health issues apart form being overweight. My doctor when I see him for my checkup, immediately reaches for the blood pressure cuff and gets pissed off when it reports my BP as being low to normal, no other problems found. I have no delusions about my longevity but I get annoyed by the implication that I'm a burden on society, I've worked since leaving University some 33 years ago and not in a low paid profession so my tax and NI contributions are well in the black. My folks paid their taxes throughout their working lives and only availed themselves of the NHS in the last year of the their lives. My mum was obese and my father was whippet shaped, they died within 3 months of each other, neither from weight related issues. We don't need to prolong peoples lives we need people to enjoy their lives and if that means popping your clogs earlier then so be it!

    1. Queasy Rider

      Some numbers to muse about...

      Back in the mid-sixties my best friend and I would each put up a quarter to split a 25 pack. It lasted us a week. My sister and her husband presently spend $400/mo. combined on smokes. I am led to believe virtually all of that is taxes since they are smoking the no-name stuff. I wish they would quit for their own sake, but I sincerely doubt that over their lifetimes they will be a net drain on my taxes. I wonder how much alcohol tax they pay a month.

      P.S. Taxes on tobacco products are set to go up again in January. Probably booze too, I never asked.

  18. Graphsboy

    Worth mentioning

    As someone who's worked for HMRC for a number of years, I can give you another factor to throw into the mix:

    The black market in smuggled fags is massive and getting bigger. It means that many are smoking these things, not paying tax on them and undoubtedly using the health service to sort out their subsequent smoking related illnesses. According to our research, based on what we think does get through after we look at our stats on successful busts, this is now significantly contributing to smoking related drains on the NHS.

    It's also what bugs me in arguments over the effect of smoking in society when the pro-cig people say their fag taxes easily cover the cost of NHS treatments.

    1. RumRunner

      Re: Worth mentioning

      I used to work for the Wine and Spirit Association. There's also a huge "problem" of smuggled alcohol. The reason *why* there is a huge market in smuggled tobacco and booze is that ... it's worth it!

      The Swiss had a problem with people bringing in Tobacco and Booze from France/Italy/Germany but they, unlike the UK government, took the sensible option: they reduced duty. They actually raised *more* revenue as a result as it was no longer worth the bother of smuggling.

      And... "this is now significantly contributing to smoking related drains on the NHS."... you did not read the article did you?

    2. Tom 13

      Re: Worth mentioning

      I'm not sure what the situation is in the UK, but here in the US the solution I have to the smoking issues is:

      1. Eliminate all tobacco specific taxes. (For those areas where it is applicable, I'd leave it in the regular sales tax regime.)

      2. Eliminate all tobacco specific farming subsidies.

      3. Eliminate all government regulation related to the buying and selling of tobacco, especially the bit where the tobacco companies get to hide behind government "safety" studies.

      4. Let the markets and the courts sort it out.

      I'm pretty sure after the courts ruled everyone involved in the tobacco selling chain was liable for lung, throat, and mouth cancers that were linked to tobacco use, it would cease to be an issue.

  19. skeptical i
    Pint

    Food, glorious fo--, wait, what ARE all these ingredients?

    re: "Food is vastly cheaper than it used to be and food only makes up 13% or so of the family budget these days as opposed to 40% in 1900." Respectfully suggest that more of the food in 1900 was "real". Sure, we have made great strides in sanitation and ensuring some sort of purity of the ingredients used, and we have economies of production scale not available then, but a loaf of bread in 1900 had four or five ingredients (water, flour, yeast, salt, sugar) whereas now the average grocery store loaf has a long list of polysyllabic words. Many of these ingredients are of value (added vitamins and minerals) but many are, I suspect, cheap replacements/ filler to compensate low quality main ingredients. Would this be more or less healthy (per gram of product, per dollar spent) than a 1900s loaf? Back to the cost comparison, are the above figures comparing a relatively "real" diet today versus a typically preservative/ filler/ additive- free diet in 1900s? If not, do we have any ideas what it would cost today to have a diet comparable to that of the 1900s?

    Beer = liquid bread.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Food, glorious fo--, wait, what ARE all these ingredients?

      In 1900, all they TOLD you about was that list of ingredients, if you think that was all they put in, well I'd keep wearing those rose tinted spectacles because you obviously like the view.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. RumRunner

      Re: Food, glorious fo--, wait, what ARE all these ingredients?

      "whereas now the average grocery store loaf has a long list of polysyllabic words."

      Spot on. The worst thing to happen to bread was the Camden & Chorleywood method*. I wonder if fast bread like this gives the yeast time to break down the gluten. Could it be why we have more gluten-sensitive people?

      --------------------

      * https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chorleywood_bread_process

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Food, glorious fo--, wait, what ARE all these ingredients?

        No because even those slow processes such as sourdough breads bother gluten sensitives we tried a bread that the dough sits in the fridge with the yeast slowly working and it still bothered her.

      2. Chemist

        Re: Food, glorious fo--, wait, what ARE all these ingredients?

        "I wonder if fast bread like this gives the yeast time to break down the gluten."

        Yeast doesn't 'break down' gluten. If you have a good ref. which says otherwise then post it

    4. khjohansen

      Re: Food, glorious fo--, wait, what ARE all these ingredients?

      re: "Food is vastly cheaper than it used to be and food only makes up 13% or so of the family budget these days as opposed to 40% in 1900." I snagged on this one, but for a different reason!

      May I suggest that "a few" other expenditures has contributed to the apparent shrinkage of the food part of the budget; electricity, hot water, phone service, car payments, TV package - together adds up to a substantial part of the budget - all niceties they'd do without in the "grand ol' days"!

      Regards, four Yorkshiremen

  20. Salts

    Something Must be Done About This...

    Call the daily mail, get it sorted, call it from the roof tops, this is disgraceful.

    While you are all doing that, I am off for a smoke :-)

  21. Quentin Finknottle Again

    Tim, I agree with the overall point. However, your statement that "weight is a simple function of calories ingested as against calories expended" is simply not true. You should be able to see why if you read this:

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/11/23/poo_insertion_therapy/

    "It is known there are marked differences in gut ecology between lean and not-lean individuals. Crucially, some classes of bacteria are more efficient at processing lipids (fats) than others, which means the same fat intake can result in radically different calories being absorbed by different individuals based on their gut ecology."

    In any case, the calorific value of food is very inaccurate as a measure of how a human body will use that input - would you really expect 1000 calories of raw broccoli (say) to have the same effect as 1000 calories of HFCS or refined sugar?

    1. DocJames
      Paris Hilton

      In any case, the calorific value of food is very inaccurate as a measure of how a human body will use that input - would you really expect 1000 calories of raw broccoli (say) to have the same effect as 1000 calories of HFCS or refined sugar?

      Yes.* Much like a tonne** of feathers is just as heavy as a tonne of lead. Next?

      * Alright, not exactly; but the idea that you'd be able to eat 1000 calories of broccoli is entertaining. It will also contain a great deal of fibre and your gut bacteria will love you...

      ** I have no idea what the appropriate el reg unit is. Perhaps a Paris - 60kg of air(head)?

  22. DougS Silver badge

    End of life treatment costs

    I've read that somewhere between a third and a half of one's lifetime health care costs occur in the last two years of life, on average.

    If that's true, and it is true whether you die at 60 or 90, the savings from smokers, fatties, drunks, and so forth dying earlier will be rather limited.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Put down the pie

    'people are eating less food now than they used to' -- citation required.

    The idea that we're fat because we're not getting enough exercise is a lie put out by the food industry, and by fat people in denial who don't want to give up their addiction. People are fat primarily because of what they're eating. The amount of exercise needed to burn off calories simply makes exercise an unrealistic method of weight loss. Close to 100% of the fat people you see eat too much. The reason so many people are obese is because they aren't cooking meals from fresh ingredients, they are eating processed foods packed with sugar, fat and salt, constantly snacking and drinking their calories, and they can't stop. To deny this is an extreme delusion.

    I'm actually quite surprised at the Register's insistence on putting out unsubstantiated and dangerous conjecture about climate change and obesity. How many of your staff are fat 4x4 drivers?

    1. Chemist

      Re: Put down the pie

      "The amount of exercise needed to burn off calories simply makes exercise an unrealistic method of weight loss."

      Well you can do it - I lost 35kg over ~3 years by just that. But you are quite correct it is a massive commitment and unrealistic unless your work/life allows for it or you're actually an athlete in training.

      That loss BTW averages to just 250 Cals/day

      (OTOH it's estimated that hunter/gatherers from 10000 years ago spent ~~1300 Cals/day in exercise - which very roughly equates to 0.15kg of fat)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Put down the pie

        "I lost 35kg over ~3 years by just that"

        Are you saying you didn't change your diet at all? You ate the same but increased the amount of exercise you did? Of course, this is possible, but it's a stupid way to lose weight.

        Tim: these data are based on what people are buying, not what people are eating. If you take an average of what some fat people eat and what some thin people eat then they might appear to be eating normally. But if you look at what the individual eats it's a different story. Every fat person is eating too much. When an obese person eats over 3000-4000 kcal per day, it wouldn't matter if they had a 1950s lifestyle, they'd still be obese.

        1. RumRunner

          Re: Put down the pie

          "Every fat person is eating too much. "

          How can it be then that thin people can eat too much, and still be thin? Energy in Vs Energy Out only applies to certain people?

          The relationship between calories consumed and how fat you are, is at best fuzzy, at worst completely broken. Gut microbia are a huge part of the picture (see my links below).

        2. Chemist

          Re: Put down the pie

          "Are you saying you didn't change your diet at all? You ate the same but increased the amount of exercise you did? Of course, this is possible, but it's a stupid way to lose weight."

          I've documented what i did here before but briefly :

          I calorie counted as well as I could. I started on ~2000 Cals/day doing my normal level of exercise. Careful checking of my weight revealed that I was slowly gaining weight so I reduced to 1800 Cals/day and after a few weeks I was stable. The exercise was then ramped up - of course diet changes day-to-day, I estimated as well as I could and over the years refined the estimates of exercise. In winter it was hard as I live in a hilly rural area and it's pitch black, so mostly it was case of keeping reasonably stable. In summer I'd often do 1800 Cals/day running, hill walking & cycling.

          It's not a stupid way to lose weight as dieting reduces metabolic rate, leaves you feeling hungry all the time AND, far more importantly makes you lose muscle as well as fat. It's controlled starvation. Keeping to a modest exercise rate ensures that muscle is retained and fat is burned ( along with carbohydrates of course) I even managed a few beers and a curry each week.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Put down the pie

            None of that disagrees with what I originally said about exercise. You basically dieted and exercised as well. Fine. I don't know why you're telling me. The original point about exercise (and not changing your diet) as a bad method of weight loss still stands. Exercising actually makes you hungrier. It's great for your health, but if you want to lose weight (or stop putting it on), you need to change your diet.

            1. Chemist

              Re: Put down the pie

              It's quite different. I reduced my calorie intake until I was maintaining a steady (although very high) weight. Then I reduced my weight by exercise. It was very hard but at the end I was very fit and had increased muscle mass.

              Your contention that exercise 'makes you hungrier' isn't borne out by research. Most people find that maintaining and adequate calorie intake prevents serious feeling of hunger and maintains a 'normal' metabolic rate. Serious dieting provokes a 'starvation' response which drops metabolic rate in an attempt to not starve

              In my case I found exercise did suppress hunger. I've already said that losing weight this way is hard esp. if your environment/job limits the time you have available. But be aware just dieting means hunger and muscle loss.

              I'm not sure what you are trying to say. I said this works for me and perhaps it will work for other people. In my case it enabled me to lose ~1/3 of my body weight AND keep it off (13 years now). I also know exactly what I have to do if I find I've gained a bit. 2kg increase - that means 16000 Cals of exercise - that's 20 trips to the top of the local hill or equivalents.

    2. Tim Worstal

      Re: Put down the pie

      Your data on falling calorie consumption:

      http://velvetgloveironfist.blogspot.pt/2014/09/calorie-consumption-revisited-part-1-of.html

      http://velvetgloveironfist.blogspot.pt/2014/09/calorie-consumption-part-2-of-many.html

      http://velvetgloveironfist.blogspot.pt/2014/11/calorie-consumption-revisited-no-3-sugar.html

      Yes, it's a blog, but he's a researcher in the area and links to good data sources.

    3. Tom 13

      Re: Put down the pie

      About 1/3 of my current body weight is excess. I haven't greatly changed my eating habits from the time when I was a teen and my weight was considered normal or a little under. What has decreased is the amount of exercise I get as part of my daily routine.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Quatermas and the pit?

    The part where the aliens would turn on the outsider / non-conformists, the people supporting this agenda are like reformed smokers in their hatred for anything they deny themselves. So the media use the groups of hating sanctimonious prudes justifing their flagulation and removing everyone elses right to live as they please by pushing bogus economic studies as evidence. This isnt news people have always been stupid and narrow minded otherwise they might have noticed that everyone is loosing their rights as the west returns to finanical fudalism.

    Personally I am going to continue being a smoking FB and die young rather than conform, where I live in the UK the accessible health and support systems we won, after fighting WW2 to maintain the status quo, have been spirited away such that my chances of receiving any care after I am 60 are minimal.

    I still pay the same taxes and benefit my society as much as any anti-corpreal zealot but my right to a fair share has already been removed, the fools pushing this might live longer but at least they will have more pain in return. A balance of sorts which would allow me the last laugh if only I lived to see it, lool

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I think what's interesting here, is how the Beeb et al simply repeat whatever lies they're given without even attempting to analyse the report as has been done by The Reg.

    Can't they get the staff or just too feckin lazy?

    1. Mark Eaton-Park

      "I think what's interesting here, is how the Beeb et al simply repeat whatever lies they're given without even attempting to analyse the report as has been done by The Reg.

      Can't they get the staff or just too feckin lazy?"

      No the BBC does what the goverment tell them hence they are in on the plan, divide and conquor and the UK can provide a victorian workforce within a generation.

    2. Tim Worstal

      I think it's the other way around

      Our Sainted Editor would shoot any of us who simply copied down the exec summary of a report like this.

      Incentives do matter, after all.

      1. Tom 13
        Devil

        Re: I think it's the other way around

        I doubt he'd shoot you. That would be a waste of a perfectly good bullet.

        I think he'd opt for an old fashioned public hanging. First, the rope reusable if additional corrective actions are required to keep the workforce in line. Second he could also sell tickets to the event and make a video recording to sell DVDs and streaming rights to make a bit of extra dosh.

    3. DocJames
      Holmes

      Can't get the staff.

      T'internet (and it's many wonders) means news budgets are cut - for newspapers, TV, radio. Editors look at what they produce, and strangely enough dedicated scientific journalists are expensive. They get sacked and general news journos report science-y stuff.

      Understandably, if it's not your interest and you're not trained, you don't bother to dig too deep beyond the press report when there's a paedophile/sports/Royal family/political story (not that all those elements are in any story that I know...).

  26. DragonLord

    Right and Wrong, and why I think you are

    I think that you are both right and wrong at the same time, but that's because there are two different things that need to be taken into account. One is that someone that partakes of risky behaviour is more likely to die off sooner, and thus in the long haul, cost the NHS less - This is where you're right. Where you're wrong however is in making the implied assumption that front loaded costs that are smaller overall is better than a more even spread of costs overall but cost more over a longer period of time.

    If I offered you a loan and the pay back on the loan was either £200/month over 10 years or £100/month over 25 years which one would be cheaper? If you were looking at your monthly bills you might say the £100/month even though it will cost you £6000 more however you're saving £100/month. If you could afford the £200/month you'd probably say that that was the cheaper option as you'd be saving £6000 over all.

  27. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    Simple Answer...

    ...I often wonder why it is that people bother publishing “research” papers that are obviously incorrect. Is it that they're getting paid to spout bollocks?..

    No, it's simpler than that.

    It's that people WANT to read that kind of thing, and they will pay money to do so. The newspapers do not exist to be a public service - they exist to make a profit. Bad news sells. Research papers which come to some fiddly technical balanced conclusion don't sell.

    That's why we're effectively fed a load of lies. Because we like it...

  28. Brennan Young

    Tim's glass house

    "weight is a simple function of calories ingested as against calories expended"

    This is such a massive oversimplification, Tim, that I must call "bullshit".

    Not all calories ingested are absorbed, and there are a large number of factors which influence exactly how many of the ingested calories turn to fat. Calories expended are but one of these factors.

    You might know something about economics, but you seem to know very little about nutrition and the digestive system.

    For someone that seems to make a sport out of bashing those that don't do their research properly, you might either move out of your glass house, or stop throwing stones.

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