American Elephants


Findings About Fatness and the Future are Frivilous! by The Elephant's Child

This may be closely related to the previous post about managing information. You should probably file this is the circular file. From CBS:

“A recent study conducted by scientists in London found that the obese persons of the world are paying an increasingly large role in the rate at which the planet’s finite resources are used.”  Um, climate scientists? Geologists? Agronomists? Diet doctors? Who knows. What kind of study? “Research was conducted.” Not promising.

Increasing population fatness could have the same implications for world food energy demands as an extra half a billion people living on the earth,” the study concluded.

Research was conducted based on the theory that the body mass of a population should be factored into the amount of energy it burns, in addition to the number of people residing in a certain region.

Though obesity touches all corners of the Earth, it was found that Americans were especially weighing down the planet. …

“Although the concept of biomass is rarely applied to the human species, the ecological implications of increasing body mass are significant and ought to be taken into account when evaluating future trends and planning for future resource challenges,” the study found. ”Tackling population fatness may be critical to world food security and ecological sustainability.”

I think this probably goes in the same file as the report of Congressman Hank Johnson (D-GA) who was concerned about increasing population on one side of an island presenting the danger that it might tip over and capsize.

Malthus lives! Too many fat people may deplete the food resources of the planet. Mass starvation. Must control population. Eliminate fat people. Force all McDonalds’ out of business. Mayor Bloomberg can be in charge.

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I think this probably goes in the same file as the report of the congressman who was concerned about increasing population on one side of an island presenting the danger that it might tip over.

Malthus lives! Too many fat people may deplete the food resources of the planet. Mass starvation. Must control population. Eliminate fat people. Force all McDonalds’ out of business.

“Paranoia runs deep, into your life it will creep…” — Stephen Stills

Wow. Communist conspiracy, here we come!

Can’t people just take studies like this for what they are, observations on some pretty important facts? Clearly, the heavier a person is, the more calories they will have consumed to get there and to maintain their weight. That is a scientific fact. People who model developments in agricultural markets are already building scenarios that look at what demand for food (and land) will be as populations grow and the calorie intake per capita also increases. That is what is meant by “evaluating future trends and planning for future resource challenges.”

If it were not already a challenge to meet the growing needs of a growing population, environmentalists might be more relaxed about biofuels. But they know that feeding more mouths with more calories will already — is already in places like India — putting a strain on water resources. So be glad that this knowledge is out, because it is helping to ensure that environmentalists continue to oppose government support for biofuels.

And, by the way, obesity is a serious and growing medical problem in a number of countries in the world now. Cases of Type 2 diabetes, which is correlated strongly with weight, is skyrocketing in the Americas, adding to medical costs. Airlines are having to spend more on fuel to transport heavies, and may soon have to strengthen their seatbelts. To quote from this article in Forbes:

A recent proposal by a European airline to install wider aisle seats for overweight passengers and to charge extra for them was severely criticized as reverse discrimination. It would mean that while these new coach seats would increase from the current average 18-inch width to 20, others in the middle would be reduced to 17 inches. So while fat people would get more space, skinny people would get less.

As a, I presume, person who believes in rational economics, I would hope that you would be in favor of charging airline passengers somewhat proportional to their weight, and not penalizing people of normal weight. Or are you in favor of the socialist view that airlines should charge every passenger the same fare, no matter what their contribution to the marginal costs of the flight? Why is it OK to charge extra for extra baggage weight but not for extra body weight?

Comment by Subsidy Eye

Cases of Type 2 Diabetes have increased dramatically because they changed the guidelines for Type 2 diabetes to include many more people, so whether or not it correlates is a question. Some studies, depending on how they are structured, and what guidelines they use are of use. Many are not. The media breathlessly reports anything that has the word “study” as if it were the gospel.

Comment by The Elephant's Child

The media breathlessly reports anything that has the word “study” as if it were the gospel.

On that point we agree.

I think you would be hard pressed to find doctors who don’t see a correlation between body mass index (BMI) and risk of Type 2 diabetes, especially at BMIs above 25. Here’s one graph I was able to find with a quick search. I’m sure there are better ones out there:

A change in the criteria for diagnosis would produce a step change in the trend, but not generate a change in the direction in the trend. And the trend has been continuously upward — not just in the USA but anywhere where populations are more sedentary and eating diets lower in complex carbohydrates and higher in simple sugars.

Comment by Subsidy Eye




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