Feminism caused obesity!

The obesity crisis was fuelled by feminism, a senior food policy adviser and founder of a feminist magazine has said.

Rosie Boycott said that the encouragement of women to enter the workplace rather than become housewives resulted in everyone giving up cooking.

It’s not actually true of course but it is fun. Obesity is, as any fule kno, caused by central heating.

57 comments on “Feminism caused obesity!

  1. So how do you explain obesity in hot countries? Greece tops the childhood obesity league; Norway is near the bottom.

  2. Some part of obesity is caused by decades of propaganda urging people to eat carbohydrates and shun fats and red meat, all because of a megalomaniac liar, the medical scientist Ancel Keys.

  3. Every woman who is remotely concerned about her significant others happiness is thin. That is why women start piling on the pounds once they are married – they have him by the short and curlies now so they don’t have to pretend to like him any more.

    As divorce laws have become more unfair to men, women have got fatter. I don’t think that is a coincidence. In places where the laws are not so penal, or the men have more balls, women remain thin.

    So it is feminism’s fault really.

  4. dearime has it right, added to which people do not walk anywhere these days if they can help it. Just look at the aisles in your nearest supermarket dedicated to crisps and confectionery, biscuits and doughnuts, etc., etc. Sitting down to work and central heating will obviously save calories, but the main cause of obesity is eating too many carbs.

    What is remarkable is the constancy of most people’s weight. A pound of human fat when metabolised yields about 3,500 Calories (i.e. kcal, not cal). All it takes to put on one excess pound over a year is to consume about 10 Cal a day more than you burn; that is to say, one-quarter of a plain biscuit.

    Blaming fatties for their obesity is a bit simplistic. Yes, lots of them are greedy bastards, but we are surrounded by toxic and easily obtainable food; machines do most of the things that once required muscle-power; and, most of all, carbohydrates and fats in combination are addictive. They generate opioid hormones in much the same way as gambling or watching TV (yes, that’s addictive too). So the land-whale you see leaning on her trolley as she shuffles round Morrison’s is a subject for sympathy as much as disgust.

    Feminism has almost nothing to do with it, except that it has deemed cooking a tool of male oppression and hence increased even further women’s reliance on processed food.

  5. ‘…but we are surrounded by toxic and easily obtainable food; machines do most of the things that once required muscle-power; and, most of all, carbohydrates and fats in combination are addictive. They generate opioid hormones in much the same way as gambling or watching TV (yes, that’s addictive too). So the land-whale you see leaning on her trolley as she shuffles round Morrison’s is a subject for sympathy as much as disgust.’

    Errrr, no. Self-control. Heard of it?

  6. There is enough food in the grocery store down the street to make me obese. So why am I not obese?

    ‘The obesity crisis was fuelled by feminism, a senior food policy adviser and founder of a feminist magazine has said.’

    You can be a SENIOR food policy adviser? Hard to believe there are ANY food policy advisers.

    ‘Rosie Boycott said that the encouragement of women to enter the workplace rather than become housewives resulted in everyone giving up cooking.’

    Everyone eats raw food now. Proof a Boycott is stupid.

  7. Plausible; but what about male obesity?

    When the wife goes to live with her lesbian lover, the estranged husband can go down the pub with his mates without the fear of being nagged to death on his return home.

    …also, women are hard work, thus the wife trotting off to munch her “friend” Angela’s rug means that his expended calories are reduced.

    Simples.

  8. > the estranged husband can go down the pub

    Ok, what about childhood obesity? There are plenty of tubby boys and girls at our local schools.

  9. Slate Star Codex reviews The Hungry Brain and describes some of the current theories of obesity.It’s not as simple as “in vs out”

    Link to SSC

  10. Re childhood porkiness, abolish free bus travel.

    Some of the lazy adolescents near chez Lud take a bus two stops to school. Or about 400 yards.

  11. gunker, at some point it must be as simple as in vs. out, unless tubbies have somehow found a method to repeal the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

  12. “Ok, what about childhood obesity? There are plenty of tubby boys and girls at our local schools.”

    Having recently returned from the US it was scary to see boys of junior school age who must have weighed 15 stone or more.

    Bad Sight of the Week was two of our black sisters perching at a bar counter with the aid of four bar stools, one for each cheek.

  13. There is a simple cure for obesity – stop eating.

    Many fat children learn this when they grow up. Many thin children don’t learn this and become fat in middle age.

  14. > abolish free bus travel

    You must be in London. Outside the capital, the child bus fare is usually 1/2 the adult fare. Ken Livingstone introduced free bus travel for under-16s back in 2005. Boris never thought to cancel it.

  15. @Andrew M:

    Nope. The free school bus pass is still a thing in places like West Yorkshire. Not sure who is funding it though.

    Eligibility

    You may be entitled to free travel to and from school if you:

    are under 8 years old and live more than 2 miles from your nearest qualifying school
    are aged 8-16 years old and live more than 3 miles from nearest qualifying school.

    You might be entitled to free travel if you get free school meals or if your family get the maximum level of Working Tax Credit.

    This is only a guideline though. You need to check with your Local Authority who can give you advice on your individual situation

    http://www.generationm.co.uk/passes-permits/freeschooltravel/

  16. I assume the three-mile rule only applies to travel to/from school, not any random journey on local buses?

  17. I assume the three-mile rule only applies to travel to/from school, not any random journey on local buses?

    The school is listed on the pass and the kids wear school uniforms in the form of sweatshirts or teeshirts with the school emblem on it, so if they got on a bus that didn’t go in the direction of the school at school time they could be stopped.

    Would any bus driver do that? Probably not. As long as it registered as valid on the machine (a variant of oyster card technology), I don’t think they would care.

    It would take a conscientious bus driver to do that and they were lost when the bus services outside London were privatized in the mid-1980’s.

  18. It would take a conscientious bus driver to do that and they were lost when the bus services outside London were privatized in the mid-1980’s.

    Do bus drivers become less conscientious about stopping fare-dodgers when the victim changes from the local council (i.e. all taxpayers) to a private capitalist company (widely considered to be deserving of punishment)?

  19. “gunker, at some point it must be as simple as in vs. out, unless tubbies have somehow found a method to repeal the Second Law of Thermodynamics.”

    It’s like asking “why is this pan of boiling water at exactly 100 C?” and getting the reply that the energy going in from the cooker exactly balances the energy going out via radiation, evaporation, etc. If the temperature of the water rises to 110 C and stops there, then that must be because more energy went in than came out, (and then stopped doing so), right? Like, maybe someone has the gas set too high? Would you be satisfied by that explanation?

  20. “a method to repeal the Second Law of Thermodynamics.”

    You probably mean the First Law.

  21. I can think of about 30 reasons for the rise in obesity.
    From casual observation, however, it seems to have stabilised lately.

  22. How about the decline in smoking? Smoking is an appetite suppressant. How many gave up smoking and put on weight?

    We are also an older society – you would expect the percentage of overweight people to be higher.

    But I’m sure lack of even low level exercise (standing up as part of a job or walking around) and central heating have also played their part. In terms of average calorie consumption, we are eating a lot less.

    That’s an average though – perhaps the fatties eat far more.

  23. “That’s an average though – perhaps the fatties eat far more.”

    Perhaps the gas is set higher under the water pans at 110 C than the pans at 100 C?

    Over a ten year period, at an average 2 kg of food per day, you consume 7.3 tons of food. If input exceeded output by as little as 1%, you would gain 73 kg or 11 stone. And people don’t.

    Therefore, input equals output to within a 1% accuracy for *everyone* – thinnies and fatties.

    That sort of precision simply doesn’t happen by accident. Body weight is *controlled* – the technical term is “homeostasis” – by the body’s biochemistry. Input is controlled by appetite, output is controlled by changes to metabolism and the body’s many finely evolved famine countermeasures. The control systems are complex and not fully understood as yet.

    But current theories revolve around the idea of a “lipostat” that sets input equal to output when people are close to their ‘target’ weight set by the feedback mechanism, pushes input higher than output when too far below that weight, and vice versa when above. Fatties at a stable weight will therefore have input equal to output, just as thinnies will. And you can get fatties with a low input and low output, and you can have thinnies with a high input and high output. Weight is not necessarily related to calories consumed.

    Hasn’t anyone else here noticed that people in their early 20s can eat huge amounts without getting fat, but put on weight eating far less in their 40s and fifties?

    And why are Ad36 antibodies 3 times more common in fatties than thinnies, if it’s just junk food and laziness?

    But here’s some data to answer your specific question: http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/3/5/403.abstract

    1. The correlation between body weight and calorie intake, although statistically significant, was low.

    2. When calorie intake was related to per cent body fat independent of body weight, an inverse relationship was revealed, i.e., calorie intake decreased as per cent body fat increased.

    Or to translate from academic-speak, no, fatties don’t eat much more than other people.

  24. Put the Kool-Aid down, NiV.

    “Or to translate from academic-speak, no, fatties don’t eat much more than other people.”

    It’s fvcking obvious they eat more than they should. That they might get fat eating less than someone else is tough shit. The cure is the same: don’t eat so damn much.

    Quit making excuses for fat people. YOU AREN’T HELPING THEM.

  25. “It’s fvcking obvious they eat more than they should.”

    No it isn’t.

    The same logic applies to tall people. Over the last 150 years the average height of people in industrialized nations has increased approximately 10 centimeters (about four inches). It’s equally *obvious* that they’re all ‘dangerously tall’, and that this is because diets over the past 150 years have increased in those nasty “nutrients”. It’s easily fixed. Stop people eating so well, and we’ll all return to a normal height.

    Frankly, the idea that a bunch of neo-puritan loonies with their crazy pseudo-scientific diet theories – justifying their totalitarian control of what everyone else is allowed to eat – knows better than a million years of evolution is nuts!

    Evolution is well-used to a variable food supply, and adjusts body size and shape to optimise survival. In times of frequent famines, shorter, smaller, thinner body plans use less energy and are less vulnerable to starvation. In times of plenty, population expands and competition for territory and mates becomes more important to evolutionary success, so bodies become taller and heavier. It’s entirely possible that the “obesity crisis” is a perfectly normal and healthy adaptation to better nutrition. (Lets see. Has human life expectancy gone up? Or down? Hmm.)

    It’s such a widespread effect that it’s clearly built in to the design. Human biochemistry obviously does that for a reason. Like Chesterton’s fence, you ought to first find out *why* it does so before you start tinkering with it.

    Some people are naturally taller than others. Some are naturally fatter than others. Some are naturally stronger than others. There’s nothing at all “wrong” with the people who don’t fit into the neopuritan-approved boxes. It’s just normal human variation.

    The diet nutters are talking utter shite. It’s like a fore-runner to the global warming scare (“scientific consensus of experts, blah, blah, blah”), and is for basically the same reason. It justifies the elites taking over control of our lives “for our own good”, because we obviously can’t be trusted to do it for ourselves.

    You had might as well tell people that they’ve got too much oxygen in their blood (anti-oxidants prevent cancer, so oxidants must obviously cause it…), and they ought to all hold their breath to keep it down to expert-endorsed government-approved levels. (It’s just a matter of willpower!) And when they can’t, the government can take control of that for us, too.

  26. The above is the “anti-fat shaming” portion of NiV’s psuedoscientistic nobody-is-ever-responsible-for-anything bollocks.

    It’s all in your genes/metabolism–YOU FAT SJW BASTARD.

  27. “The above is the “anti-fat shaming” portion of NiV’s psuedoscientistic nobody-is-ever-responsible-for-anything bollocks.”

    And your evidence is…?

  28. I can read–that’s my evidence.

    Whenever the 3 million word missives of scienti-speak appear then you are on your SJW soapbox.

    Perhaps excessive compassion is governed by some gene eh NiV? Scientifico heal thyself.

    If there is a gene for excessive compassion I didn’t get it. Or even ordinary compassion for that matter.

  29. Great Britain and NI are outliers compared to Europeans. We don’t charge VAT on food ( takeaways and restaurants excepted ) and we charge the lowest VAT on domestic energy consumption. And when the free market tries to move In ( e.g. Slimming World and Weight Watchers ) we charge their usually low income customers 20% VAT and then decide to bung public money at the NHS to run Health Improvement Programmes in direct competition.
    You could not make it up.

  30. “Whenever the 3 million word missives of scienti-speak appear then you are on your SJW soapbox.”

    You deduced that my argument was wrong because the explanation was too long?

    Interesting! That’s a new one on me!

    “If there is a gene for excessive compassion I didn’t get it. Or even ordinary compassion for that matter.”

    Who’s talking about compassion? I’m talking about biochemistry.

    It’s simple. It’s been raining and there are puddles on the ground. Everyone knows that the depth of the puddle is determined by the water in versus the water out – that’s just the law of conservation of mass. So if this puddle is much deeper than that one, it must have rained more over this puddle than that one.

    Stupid argument, isn’t it? But it’s the logic people are using when they say fat people must be fat because they eat more. Compassion has nothing to do with it.

  31. Slimming is easy- try Britain 1947, Belsen , Ireland in potato famine , early coal miners in wales
    All examples of more out than in.

  32. “Slimming is easy- try Britain 1947, Belsen , Ireland in potato famine , early coal miners in wales All examples of more out than in.”

    Yes. Starvation works.

    If you reduce the calorie intake of a person a little, their weight starts dropping until it hits the lipostat lower limit, then the biochemistry kicks in to try to correct the situation. It’s first tactic is to trigger the appetite. Then cause that special type of pain called ‘hunger’ – generally a message from Mother Nature that you’re doing something stupid and dangerous. If the starvation goes on long enough the body starts shutting down non-essential functions. You feel cold and lethargic. The body starts to burn the protein in your muscles. As it goes on, more important systems, like your immune system start shutting down to conserve energy.

    If the calorie deficit is small enough, you lose weight for about the first six months, then the lower metabolism falls to meet it and you slowly put the weight back on over about five year.

    If the calorie deficit is more serious and/or escalating, you die.

    And you think this is good?

  33. “All generalisations are wrong, including this one.”

    🙂

    “All models are wrong, but some are useful.”

  34. NiV

    If the calorie deficit is small enough, you lose weight for about the first six months, then the lower metabolism falls to meet it and you slowly put the weight back on over about five year.

    If the calorie deficit is more serious and/or escalating, you die.

    I don’t want to get involved in this, following earlier exchanges. But I will note that: 1) interestingly, you’ve developed the thinking since last time 🙂 , but 2) you’re still not genuinely accepting the “non binary” nature of all of this.

    Ie, one quite simply does not either “die” or “stay as they are” (whatever you want to call “as they are” – fat normal or other). It really is all a shade of grey, however steep some of the curves.

    And all anecdote (that I have experienced) points that way, All common sense points that way. That’s it. All the “binary” arguments, as you must surely know, are “at one particular end of the spectrum” (at best).

    Anecdotally, as I’ve told you before, my father had become very overweight from a poor expatriate lifestyle, at which point he decided to and then lost 30% of his body weight (ie back to “age 21 or so”), which he then maintained, later into retirement and until he died. If you want to google someone, try Maria Callas. She did exactly the same, but from an earlier age.

    It’s all grey, it’s not binary. Huge numbers of “real” people control their diet and achieve something that they “want”. And that’s ultimately simply down to will power. And which defeats any biology that you may want to ascribe.

    Sorry to pursue this, but “binary”, as you seem continually to imply (?), is simply completely irrational?

  35. Actually, in the case of Callas, it was not back to age 21, as she was somewhat overweight when growing up, but no matter; she decided what she wanted – and successfully delivered on it.

  36. “I don’t want to get involved in this, following earlier exchanges. But I will note that: 1) interestingly, you’ve developed the thinking since last time , but 2) you’re still not genuinely accepting the “non binary” nature of all of this.”

    I tend to reflect the attitude people have to me. If someone else chooses an aggressive approach, I will sometimes join in. I find the discussion is usually more interesting if people don’t.

    The theory is complicated and extensive, and I can’t cover everything in a few blog comments. Maybe last time I explained it somewhat differently.

    Yes, there are cases where the lipostat shifts to a different setting. When that happens, maintaining the new weight is effortless and unconscious. Just as it can go up (as with Ad36 infection) it can also go down. There are theories about gut flora changing as well.

    What usually happens (in the few cases I know about) is that the biochemical system moves to a different setting, the person no longer feels the urge/pressure to eat, and if they had a latent desire to lose weight that previously they haven’t been able to act on (which many people do), they rationalise the change as a “decision” to lose weight. In every case I know of, they all reported that once they had ‘made the decision’ they no longer found it as hard as they once had to lose weight. It just seemed natural.

    Good luck to those lucky enough to have it happen to them (assuming they wanted to lose weight), but it doesn’t happen to everyone, and for those for who it doesn’t, dieting is a difficult and painful process.

    I don’t have a problem with people *choosing* to lose weight, and doing so. It’s their body. And whether it’s good for them or not (and I suspect in most cases, not), it’s their choice. And if they find it hard, and want help doing it, I don’t mind people offering their advice, recommendations, and services.

    What I object to is the people who drum up extra trade scaring people with stories about the “obesity epidemic” and “health crisis” and all the other scare stories, and use it to justify legislating that decision on other people – forcing them to diet, banning high calorie foods, banning advertising, banning shops near schools, policing kids packed lunches, forcing food manufacturers to change recipes to follow the latest fads, persecuting, bullying, blaming, and putting pressure on people who happen to be naturally fatter than average, and generally making up pseudo-scientific bollocks to try to scare people into joining in with their fad diets, and justify legislating it on people who don’t want to comply with their ideas.

    I’m sympathetic to a more nuanced, non-binary viewpoint – it is, as I said, a very complex biochemical system, and it may indeed go wrong, with metabolic illness and so on. (not as often as people think, though.) And I’ll join in on that as soon as everyone else accepts the non-binary aspects admitting that it isn’t as simple as “fat = eats too much”.

  37. Choosing your sex=good

    Choosing your weight=not such a good idea.

    Still more scientistic bullshit follows at 10. If it can struggle through the mob of words surrounding the keyboard.

  38. On AD36, or any other infectious theory of obesity, how do you square that with the fact that obesity has increased as our lives have become cleaner? (Or does cleanliness not correlate with diminishing infections?)

  39. “Choosing your sex=good”

    Choosing your sex = good.

    Having your sex imposed upon you by society’s authoritarian busybodies = bad.

    “Choosing your weight=not such a good idea.”

    Choosing your weight (if you can) = good

    Having your weight imposed upon you by society’s authoritarian busybodies = bad.

    What is it about the concept of personal freedom that you find so difficult to understand?

    “On AD36, or any other infectious theory of obesity, how do you square that with the fact that obesity has increased as our lives have become cleaner? (Or does cleanliness not correlate with diminishing infections?)”

    Excellent question!

    The adenovirues are basically the same family as the ones that cause the common cold. Have people stopped having colds because we live cleaner lives? Or does global transport, longer-distance commuting, and living in bigger towns and cities mean infections can travel faster and further? What do you think?

    It’s not been shown whether or not Ad36 is the cause of the *rise* in obesity – I kind of doubt it, actually. My point is that something like this *could* be a cause, without us necessarily noticing it. Don’t get so hung up on the ‘obvious’ hypotheses, like indulging the snobbish left’s hatred for cheap, tasty convenience food (condemned under such scientifically meaningless labels as “junk” food, “processed” food, etc.).

    Ad36 might not be the only infectious agent capable of having this effect, either. Some people have pointed to gut bacteria as another possible influence. Different people have different species in their gut flora, and it can change over time, or in response to diet changes, infection or recolonisation after the use of antibiotics.

    It’s still a subject of active research (hobbled somewhat by the political incorrectness of questioning the orthodoxy) and I don’t think anyone really knows.

    But when they do finally get it figured out, it promises the ability to control it. You would, if you want, be able to take a pill and set your lipostat to a new level. You would be able to move to and maintain your new weight effortlessly by eating whatever you wanted – no willpower needed. And wouldn’t that just ruin the totalitarian neopuritans’ self-flagellating day?

  40. “What is it about the concept of personal freedom that you find so difficult to understand?”

    What is it about the concept of reality you find so difficult to understand?. Can choose your weight:Can’t choose your sex regardless of how ardantly you play “Lets Pretend”.

    As for your AD36 malarkey–it sounds good. Just as “septic focus” sounded good to scientifico-medical hacks of the 1930s who pulled out countless sets of perfectly good teeth to avoid said non-existent malady in their unfortunate patients. “Scientific” truth eh?

    You will NiVer suffer from chronic (or any other form of ) self-doubt however. So that is good for at least. For you.

  41. “What is it about the concept of reality you find so difficult to understand?. Can choose your weight:Can’t choose your sex regardless of how ardantly you play “Lets Pretend”.”

    People keep on telling me that the appropriate test of sex is “do you have a dong?” But you can choose whether you have a dong, therefore you can choose your sex.

    It’s a question of differing definitions, not a disagreement about reality.

    “As for your AD36 malarkey–it sounds good. Just as “septic focus” sounded good to scientifico-medical hacks of the 1930s who pulled out countless sets of perfectly good teeth to avoid said non-existent malady in their unfortunate patients. “Scientific” truth eh?”

    Yep. Good example. And that’s what I’m saying has happened with this “obesity is caused by junk food” “obesity is caused by lack of willpower” “saturated fats are bad for you” “salt is bad for you” “butter is bad for you” “cheese is bad for you” “sweets are bad for you” “artificial additives are bad for you, but natural ones are good for you, even when they’re the same chemical” scientific truths.

    “You will NiVer suffer from chronic (or any other form of ) self-doubt however.”

    I don’t have a problem with self-doubt – what I do have a problem with is that when I give an argument explaining why I believe what I do, that I’m supposed to abandon it just because people like you disagree with it, without you offering a single shred of evidence or argument for why I should.

    If you think I’m wrong, prove it. Present your argument, your evidence, explain the mechanisms, and how what I thought was evidence can be explained in a different way. Because the only argument you’ve offered so far is that my explanation had lots and lots of sciency words in it. That’s not enough to make me change my mind.

  42. “It’s a question of differing definitions, not a disagreement about reality”

    A one line summation of Marxian subjectivist evil.

    As for disproving–you start be showing that a lot of scientistic “maybes” constitutes proof sufficient to need disproving. No need to overturn what is not even established by a country mile.

    When you –say–own your own weight clinic and can boast 90% success in turning whales into normal-sizers I will be more inclined to accept that you could be talking about something real as opposed to expounding slightly informed speculation.

  43. “A one line summation of Marxian subjectivist evil.”

    The Marxists argue that only their definitions are valid. Which is basically what you’re doing, too.

    “As for disproving–you start be showing that a lot of scientistic “maybes” constitutes proof sufficient to need disproving. No need to overturn what is not even established by a country mile.”

    Mmm. Let’s see.

    Over a ten year period, at an average 2 kg of food per day, you consume 7.3 tons of food. If input exceeded output by as little as 1%, you would gain 73 kg or 11 stone. And people don’t.

    Do you want to disagree with my arithmetic? Or the claim that most people don’t gain 11 stone between 20 and 30? Those are “scientific maybes”?

    Therefore, input equals output to within a 1% accuracy for *everyone* – thinnies and fatties.

    Arithmetic again. But I guess arithmetic is “subjectivist Marxist evil” or something…

    That sort of precision simply doesn’t happen by accident. Body weight is *controlled* – the technical term is “homeostasis” – by the body’s biochemistry. Input is controlled by appetite, output is controlled by changes to metabolism and the body’s many finely evolved famine countermeasures.

    So which bit of that is “scientific maybes”? You want to propose another way that the body can hit a 1% target, especially when the calorie content of many foods varies by +/-10%, without it being controlled?

    Homeostasis is basic textbook biology, and has been for decades. Is this what you are calling a “scientific maybe”?

    The control mechanism affects both input and output levels. As people have been saying, it comes down to the in/out balance by the first law of thermodynamics – there’s no other way it can happen except by controlling those. We all know that appetite varies depending on how recently we have eaten. We all know that sometimes we feel hungry and sometimes are not interested in eating. And it’s obvious that in the world we evolved to survive where we can’t always control the input sufficiently, so the output has to be under control, too. Many aspects of the metabolism we already know are under precise control for other reasons, like thermogenesis. None of this is surprising or new.

    That there is such a control mechanism is not in doubt – it falls into the category of “stating the fucking obvious”. The precise details of how the control mechanism works, what rules it implements, when and how it can go wrong, and so on are unknown and therefore in the realm of “scientific maybes”. But I’m not relying on any of that to be able to say “It’s more complicated than in-versus-out” and that it’s simply not credible that people are gaining weight through carelessness, laziness, greed or lack of willpower. It’s not because foods have more calories per kilo in them than they used to.

    Weight and energy balance are precisely controlled by autonomic biochemical feedback systems evolved for surviving highly variable food supply and energy demands, and if normal, medically unexceptional people are gaining weight, it is because the evolved control mechanisms are deliberately doing so.

    As for why they are doing so, I’ve admitted already that I don’t know. It might be a valid evolved response to optimise our body plan to an era of plentiful nutrition. It might be because the system is getting confused or misled by circumstances it’s not evolved to cope with. It might be some external factor messing up the control system, like particular food ingredients, or diseases, or gut flora, or chemicals in the environment, or lifestyle, or central heating systems, or even – in some bizarre way – the advent of feminism. The unknown contains a lot of possibilities. But until we *do* know, we ought to stop legislating compulsory ‘solutions’ to a problem that might not even be a problem.

    But whatever. I’ve made my case. You’ve denied that there’s any need for you to make yours (or for you to own your own chain of weight loss clinics before we can take you seriously). Fine. That still doesn’t seem to me like a good reason for me to change my mind. Or for me to respect your opinion enough to care about what you think about that.

    If you want to try a rational argument instead, I’m listening. Otherwise I’m dropping out of this conversation.

  44. ” it’s simply not credible that people are gaining weight through carelessness, laziness, greed or lack of willpower.”

    Excluding “carelessness”???? –it is entirely credible that people gain weight by such means.

    “Weight and energy balance are precisely controlled by autonomic biochemical feedback systems evolved for surviving highly variable food supply and energy demands, and if normal, medically unexceptional people are gaining weight, it is because the evolved control mechanisms are deliberately doing so.”

    The “evolved control mechanisms” are making the decisions now?

    “As for why they are doing so, I’ve admitted already that I don’t know.”

    Have you asked them?

    The list of possible “reasons” you supply covers everything except greed and weakness of will. Surprise.

    At NO time have I ever advocated any sort of food or eating legislation and I have frequently called for retaliation against those who have.

    I have no interest in changing your mind –nor is any such event likely to be in the realm of human possibilities.

    Nuff said.

  45. “Excluding “carelessness”???? –it is entirely credible that people gain weight by such means.”

    Well, yes, I suppose it’s technically ‘credible’ in the same sense that some people believe in poo fairies. From a scientific point of view, though, it’s not credible, any more than it’s credible that you could suffocate by “carelessly” forgetting to breath.

    “The “evolved control mechanisms” are making the decisions now?”

    Yes. Obviously.

    “Have you asked them?”

    Don’t be silly.

    “The list of possible “reasons” you supply covers everything except greed and weakness of will. Surprise.”

    I also missed out ‘pique’, ‘melancholy’, and ‘schadenfreude’!

    It’s an autonomic homeostasis system, like the bit that controls breathing, thirst, or temperature control. The control system has hooks into the rain’s emotional centres to create/direct our desires. If you hold your breath until you run out of oxygen, the automatic system prods your brain to make you stop doing it. (And no, I’ve not asked it why it does so.) You think you make the decision how much to breathe consciously? We breathe more during exercise because we’re ‘greedy’ for air?

    “At NO time have I ever advocated any sort of food or eating legislation and I have frequently called for retaliation against those who have.”

    So why are you arguing on the side of those who do?

    “I have no interest in changing your mind –nor is any such event likely to be in the realm of human possibilities.”

    It just takes rational argument and evidence, which is well within the realm of human possibility. You ought to try it sometime.

    “Nuff said.”

    Yep.

  46. “Rosie Boycott said that the encouragement of women to enter the workplace rather than become housewives resulted in everyone giving up cooking.”

    Why should that make *me* give up cooking?

    Oh, of course! I am not a person because I’m a man

  47. Over a ten year period, at an average 2 kg of food per day, you consume 7.3 tons of food. If input exceeded output by as little as 1%, you would gain 73 kg or 11 stone. And people don’t.

    Do you want to disagree with my arithmetic? Or the claim that most people don’t gain 11 stone between 20 and 30? Those are “scientific maybes”?

    Simply on this one point, yes, your arithmetic is flawed.

    Because, all other things beings equal, a larger body uses more energy than a smaller body.

    If you have hit an equilibrium at 14 stone, all other things being equal, you will use more calories than a body that has hit an equilibrium at 10 stone.

    We know that to be true.

    Hence, you consume fewer calories, and you’ll hit a lower equilibrium. Happy to accept that there may be a recalibration (metabolism) on route to that lower equilibrium, but “a lower equibrium” of some description will be the result.

    Ditto an increase in calories. As you get larger, the rate of increase in weight will slow down because the bigger body uses more calories.

    Hence, yes – on that one issue – I believe that particular piece of arithmeric above (and hence the implication drawn from it) is not complete.

    For me, that’s important, because it’s all part and parcel of the “grey versus binary” analysis above, for which I think we’re on the same bit of tarmac following your response above.

  48. PF, Thanks. You have a point. But I don’t think it changes the conclusion.

    “Because, all other things beings equal, a larger body uses more energy than a smaller body.”

    Does it?

    When I was 20, I used to eat what I liked. I’d think nothing of having breakfast, a big lunch, and then going out, drinking a non-trivial number of pints of beer, and then visiting an all-you-can-eat curry house and stacking up several plates. There was this trick I did with tins of condensed milk, where if you boiled the tin in a pan, it turned into toffee, which I’d have as a treat. (Students, eh?) I never paid attention to what I ate, or my weight, but I’m pretty sure, thinking back, I was often eating 4000-5000 kcal/day, without getting fat.

    Today, with a waist size at least 4 inches larger than I had back then, I’m eating less than half that.

    All other things are not equal, and those other things are the dominant effect. As the paper I linked to earlier pointed out, there *is* a statistically significant correlation between weight and calories consumed, but it’s very small. The relationship is outweighed by all the other factors affecting energy consumption, and a lot of those other factors are controlled specifically to even things up.

    “If you have hit an equilibrium at 14 stone, all other things being equal, you will use more calories than a body that has hit an equilibrium at 10 stone.”

    Or at 14 stone you’ll take a lot less exercise, go outside in the cold less, and dress up warmer, and so use a lot fewer calories, because of being heavier. It depends on your model of how the world works.

    Every summer, we need a lot less energy to keep warm than in the winter, so “all other things being equal” the summer equilibrium would be heavier than the winter one. Is it? Office workers use a lot less energy than manual labourers, and so ought to be heavier at equilibrium. Are they? As Tim says, houses with central heating ought – all other things held equal – result in a heavier equilibrium than cold and drafty houses. Could this really be the explanation?

    “Hence, yes – on that one issue – I believe that particular piece of arithmeric above (and hence the implication drawn from it) is not complete.”

    Agreed, although to some degree that was precisely my point. I did an “all other things being equal” where the energy use was fixed (or at least independent of food supply) and only the food supply is variable, to show that there must be some controlling feedback involved.

    You have added one layer of controlling feedback, by means of which more eating results in greater weight which results in greater energy use. So you’re confirming my point for me. But your example demonstrates that while there has to be a feedback control, some potential feedback controls could be devised in which randomly variable levels of eating could control weight. That’s a valid point.

    However, my argument didn’t stop there, and I don’t think it’s plausible that this is the only or even the dominant mechanism. As I said in my first comment: “Hasn’t anyone else here noticed that people in their early 20s can eat huge amounts without getting fat, but put on weight eating far less in their 40s and fifties? And why are Ad36 antibodies 3 times more common in fatties than thinnies, if it’s just junk food and laziness?”

    There *are* other feedback mechanisms, for which the equilibrium they approach is not a simple deterministic function of weight. Other factors are in play. And based on the statistics of weight versus calories consumed, the other factors dominate. Would you agree?

    But either way, thanks – that was a much better argument! 🙂

  49. NiV

    Re the twenties part of this, yes I agree, it must be a major factor (along with exercise too and probably other things), which also affects that weight / calories used relationship (hence, the “all other things being equal” proviso).

    I would bet most people intuitively know themselves that around early thirties (give or take depending on each of us), for whatever reason, our metabolisms undergo some sort of shift. Ie the relationship curves between size / calories consumed change.

    Prior to early thirties and / or if regular exercise is involved, our bodies appear to be less elastic to calorie input. Ie, metabolism more easily adjusts to changes in calorie input to compensate. Within reasonable ranges obviously, and of course we are all different. 4,000 to 5,000 for yourself looks to me a bit of an outlier, unless you were exercising lots!? I know an Alpine mountain guide who used to consume about 5K calories a day, but regularly took clients up rather large hills… He said that once he did less of that, he obviously ate a whole lot less.

    Post thirties (and post exercise etc), our metabolism appears less likely to adjust “as responsively” to changes. Hence, many people, if they blindly maintain the calorie input of their twenties and / or ease off the exercise, then start to put on weight. Those that observe their expanding waist line and then take more care over calorie input put on less weight than others.

    Apologies, unlike yourself I’ve no formal research to offer specifically to back any aspects of this up (“early thirties” / exercise etc), just intuition / observation based on most people I see in real life?

    “the summer equilibrium would be heavier than the winter one”

    I would guess that losing weight in the summer is more difficult than in the winter, as we expect to be storing weight at this stage (a time of plenty?), which we then lose in the winter (food more scarce)? Anecdotally, whether it is for that reason or a different one, I know it’s true for myself!

    I don’t understand warm versus cold houses. If warmer, purely by itself, we need less body fat to keep ourselves warm. Maybe that takes more time, re DNA change? Although brown fat is interesting on that one (cold versus warm).

  50. “Re the twenties part of this, yes I agree, it must be a major factor (along with exercise too and probably other things),”

    Thanks.

    “I would bet most people intuitively know themselves that around early thirties (give or take depending on each of us), for whatever reason, our metabolisms undergo some sort of shift.”

    Yes, that’s the sort of thing I’m talking about.

    “Prior to early thirties and / or if regular exercise is involved, our bodies appear to be less elastic to calorie input. Ie, metabolism more easily adjusts to changes in calorie input to compensate.”

    It sounds like a reasonable hypothesis. Like I said, serious research seems to be centering around the ‘lipostat’ theory, but I’m sure there’s room for alternatives.

    ” 4,000 to 5,000 for yourself looks to me a bit of an outlier, unless you were exercising lots!?”

    Not really. I’d walk about six miles a day, into uni and out again, but I definitely didn’t consider myself ‘sporty’.

    However, I think the record is 10,000 Calories, in the Vermont prison experiment. And you don’t get a lot of exercise in prison. So 4-5k isn’t that big a deal.

    “Apologies, unlike yourself I’ve no formal research to offer specifically to back any aspects of this up (“early thirties” / exercise etc), just intuition / observation based on most people I see in real life?”

    That’s alright. I don’t have a problem with not following “scientific consensus”; blindly believing just because “scientists say so”. Intuition/observation is perfectly respectable.

    It’s just that I regard this particular area of the common wisdom as being full of junk science – it’s like passive smoking, or pesticides and additives in food, or the dangers of genetic engineering, or global warming, and polar bears being endangered. All these campaign groups and fake charities spring up pushing junk science reports, trying to drum up a scare, because scares raise funding, and political influence. “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.” Diet science has a particularly bad reputation for it. There are swarms of amateurs with books about their fad diets, but the scary thing is that a lot of the professionals seem to fall for bits of it too. I’m not an expert on the subject, but a surprising number fall apart on even a fairly casual investigation. It’s got to the point when I see some new report on diet causing or preventing some disease I just switch off – the false alarm rate is so incredibly high it’s not even worth checking them any more. And I can get unreasonably testy when I see the same old myths about calories being repeated that I saw debunked ten years ago. But that’s society for you.

    If you’re interested in the subject, I found out a lot of what I know about weight loss and obesity from junkfoodscience, which gives plenty of fairly heavyweight links to the research. I think it’s fair to say it’s not the only viewpoint in medical science, and is still controversial, but it’s certainly not “crank” nonsense. I found it quite believable, after following some of the links, and checking to see if any of the more surprising claims had been debunked elsewhere. (Some had, but not very many.) Have a look, and make your own mind up.

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