Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Fat is a big topic right now (and a horrible pun). Between reports of global obesity and the new film Supersize ME, it dominates the health news.

Here are some different takes on it.

Starting April 1, 2004 Whaley will eat only food available over the counter at McDonald’s for 30 days to prove that she can not only can maintain a healthy lifestyle, but even lose weight while doing it.

A super-size portion of half truths

The truth is that if you were to eat a diet of exclusively foie gras, caviar, and champagne for 30 days you would trash your health just as surely as Spurlock trashed his. But truth -- along with his sex life -- is the first casualty in Spurlock's movie. The biggest lie of all is Spurlock's repeated claim that McDonald's has changed its menu as a result of his crusading expose.

And one from the Weekly Standard

But between Spurlock's insane diet and Glassman's calorie-conscious menu, would it be possible to eat McDonald's under both caloric and dietetic restrictions--namely within the framework of the USDA's Food Guide Pyramid or the U.N.'s nutrition guidelines? According to James Myers, a graduate student of the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina,
the answer is a qualified yes

PETA says Moore’s size a weighty issue
Michael Moore is a publicity machine. How fitting that PETA should use him. And I thought he was just a fat-head.

Here's the big headline.
'Globesity' gains ground as leading killer

Obesity is fast becoming one of the world’s leading reasons why people die

How true is this? Here are some contrasting opinions (mainly gleaned from Junkscience.com).

CU professor says cultural hysteria fuels war on obesity

The galloping anxiety is being fomented by faulty research, he says, often funded by those with a vested interest in the outcome — the ever-expanding weight-loss industry.

Foster acknowledges that scientists don't know if weight loss increases longevity, or decrease the risk of heart attack and stroke.

How dangerous is it really to be fat? Here is a recent article from Tech Central Station on the Center For Disease Control's announcement that fat was about to kill more people than tobacco.

The HHS had additional help exaggerating their dangerous increase in overweight and obesity from 1990 to 2000 because, as you'll remember, in 1998 the NIH changed the definition of overweight from BMIs over 27 to over 25, instantly making some 29 million more Americans overweight. The change wasn't made because being overweight increases mortality, though. In fact, recent data from Allison and colleagues themselves showed the lowest mortality among men at BMIs of 27.3 (fat by the government's definition).

To summarize this quickly, there was a study done in the early 1990s linking poor diet and lack of exercise to health risks. Over time, some decided that anyone who has a poor diet and doesn't get enough exercise must be a fat slob and the specific term were replaced with "obesity". There are fat people who have active lifestyles and thin people who are couch potatoes so this is not a valid substitution.

Personal observation, when I was in college I took fencing from a short, white-haired woman whose waist measurement was probably equal to her height. In addition to teaching fencing twice a day, she also taught women's field hocky and some other classes. I remember seeing her run across the field, outrunning women less than half her age and weight. Statistically, as a person with a very active lifestyle, she would have a high life expectancy but, by looking at her weight instead of her fitness level, she would be on the CDC's list of people at risk.

So, if you're a 6-foot man weighing 185 pounds or more, or an average 5-4 woman weighing 145 pounds -- the government says you're fat. Should you be hit by lightning while jogging, your death will become part of its "fat-kills" stats. And if you're fat you can never die of old age -- the government won't allow it.

And for all of the talk about obesity, there are still people starving.

Malnutrition, disease and starvation are stalking more than 16 million people in southern Africa. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, already have died, and if the world doesn't respond quickly enough, the World Health Organization says, 300,000 people could perish from hunger-related illnesses before March's harvest of corn, the region's staple food.

According to Wired

Hybred cars do not get anywhere near the milage you expect. It turns out that the EPA does not fill the tank, drive around, and see how much gas was burned. Instead the keep the car in a lab, measure exhaust, and figure gas consumption from that. As with any process that uses indirect measurments, this one has problems. That's why your car usually gets something like 80% of the EPA numbers. This process is particularly unsuited to hybrid cars so real milage in the city is less than 60% of the EPA figures. Instead of getting 47 mpg in the city, the Civic only gets 26.

The original Million Mom March didn't get anywhere near its attendance goal. Their most recent march was kind of pitiful.

Kerry can't convince anyone to vote for him.

After spending 3/4 of the column bashing Bush, the Weekly Standard has this to say:

FORTUNATELY FOR THE PRESIDENT, he remains our best bet to lead us to victory in the war, and to prosperity in the future. John Kerry is as eager to call it quits in Iraq as is Bush, the main difference being that the Democratic candidate would have our troops hand over their responsibilities to blue-helmet U.N. peacekeepers with an unblemished record of failure, while Bush would hand off power to some version of a sovereign Iraqi government cobbled together by the U.N.'s Israel-hating Lakhdar Brahimi, and at least hang around long enough to restore some semblance of order to the country.

Air America Radio chairman resigns. Also the vice chairman and the CEO.

Someday there will be a successful liberal radio show but it will happen because the host can generate an audience, not because some rich benefactors want to subsidize it.

Quote of the day

Back in 1965, when someone suggested to LBJ that he get the United Nations involved in Vietnam, the president said, "The U.N. couldn't pour piss from a boot if the instructions were written on the heel." Some things never change, particularly from the viewpoint of the boys from Texas

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