Sounds rather disgusting really

Obesity has become ‘a national threat’ like terrorism

Vast hunks of blubber littering shopping centres nationwide as lardbuckets explode over the innocent.

We probably should do something. A national campaign say, of ridiculing those whose thighs overlap as they waddle? “Oi, Fattie!” might be enough as a cheery greeting.

For as the Nudge Unit knows very well, social pressure is extremely effective at changing personal behaviour. Thus those who are not just big boned might put down that third kebab pizza of the day if they are reminded that interesting ecosystems exist in their rolls of fat.

Think people will go for it?

28 thoughts on “Sounds rather disgusting really”

  1. If she thinks obesity is such a problem why doesn’t she trial her authoritarian nannying solutions on NHS employees who seem to waddle an awful lot, before she tackles the general population? The savings on laundry bills alone for smaller uniforms and scrubs would be substantial. Productivity would rise as staff carried out their duties at faster than a slow wallow and corridors become highways when they wander in bunches. If they didn’t carry so much weight, they wouldn’t need so much down time to take the weight off them. Or is she scared of the unions?

  2. Professor Dame Sally Davies is never knowingly understated, is she?

    Obesity is a problem, particularly for a socialist health service, free at the point of use and funded from general taxation, that provides no incentives to encourage people to look after their own health. But comparable to terrorism? FFS.

  3. On the one side we have the SJWs telling us big is beautiful and being a big fat whale is just fine, on another side you have the health facsists saying being obese is costing the NHS a fortune and so sugar should be banned, on another side we have the feminists telling us models are too skinny and it’s making girls anorexic. I’m at the point of thinking somebody’s weight matters only insofar as we calculate the counterweight for the long drop.

  4. A few years ago at the height of the recession I noticed that there were always queues outside Greggs.

    Realising that the type of customer they had were less effected by the crash plus the fact that obesity was a growing market ( excuse the pun ) I bought in. Currently I’m sitting on a 133% return.

    The moral of this story invest in what you see around and you.

    People are overweight because for the first time ever there are unlimited amounts of food available for all plus less need for physical activity. Also you can’t ban food like you can cigarettes or alcohol

    People are no longer stigmatised for being overweight and often don’t seem to notice they are, maybe there isn’t a solution apart from letting nature take its course?

    Are there any disability scooter manufacturers you can buy shares in.

  5. Bloke in North Dorset

    Its the end of the year so she’s obviously making a pitch for this year’s hyperbole award. Given the competition from the health fascists in public health, see Chris Snowden’s writings, she’s got not chance with that one.

    And as LJH says when I see the NHS setting an example I might listen. I recently went to my GP for one of those NHS well man checks and I was solemnly told that I was getting towards the top end of normal on the BMI chart by a nurse who must have been off the top end of obese.

  6. BiND,

    I have heard similar anecdotes about social workers. The women – for they are always women – who turn up in the proles’ house to lecture them on how they should live their lives (including health matters) are often waddling land-whales.

  7. I must admit that the obvious plumpness of nurses in the NHS is something that makes me wonder whether it might be something like a virus or bacterial fauna or something you can catch from others after all. Nurses being constantly exposed to the emissions of sick people would be an excellent way to transfer such an unrecognised contagion around, after all.

  8. Ian B: the contagion is the amount of time they spend boxticking and socialising in the nurse station. The old fashioned nightingale wards had them striding about with matron as a kind of turbo charged personal trainer to make sure the patients’ needs were met and the place was spotlessly clean.

  9. So the State can do what Overweight Haters Limited did.

    But the State is doing it for your best interests, while OHL are committing hate crimes and must be investigated by the State.

    Which really just boils down to the Ritchie-like; “On me, it looks good.”

  10. Ljh

    Yes, but my hunch is that shift work predisposes people, particularly women, to get an energy boost from high-carb foods, which leads to weight gain.

    Btw, I rather liked the Sun’s headline today: Aporkerlypse Now.

  11. A (female) secretary in my office, whose bulk makes Jabba the Hutt look svelte, recently asked to be sponsored for a 1k swim. Good on you I thought.

    Turned out that the 1k was to be split into 20 separate weekly 25 lengths.

    I didn’t contribute.

  12. Theophrastus: continual grazing has become socially acceptable. In the past shiftworkers had meals not night long mastication. They weren’t fatter than their diurnal peers.

  13. “Obesity has to be a national priority. Action is required across all of society to prevent obesity and its associated problems from shortening women’s lives and affecting their quality of life.”

    “Put that spoon down, or this puppy gets it!”

  14. I’m amazed it wasn’t described as “as big a threat as climate change”. That at least would be more accurate.

    its incredible they can actually say this sort of thing, in public. They must be mentally ill.

  15. If you look at emergency and intensive care you rarely see nurses standing around doing nothing, there is an issue with shift work and food, hard to find something that fits when work hours are changing all the time so it does encourage snacking especially night shifts, the move to 12 hour shifts has just made this a bigger problem (so to speak)

  16. “I must admit that the obvious plumpness of nurses in the NHS is something that makes me wonder whether it might be something like a virus or bacterial fauna or something you can catch from others after all.”

    You mean like Ad36?

    “Yes, but my hunch is that shift work predisposes people, particularly women, to get an energy boost from high-carb foods, which leads to weight gain.”

    And being overweight predisposes people to stop eating.

    Energy balance is very precisely controlled, like the rest of the body’s homeostatic balances. People don’t run out of oxygen because they forgot to breath enough, or hyperventilate from accidentally breathing a bit too much. Why is everyone so ready to believe that energy storage and expenditure would be any different?

    On average, people burn almost exactly as much energy as they absorb. Over a decade, an adult male consumes 2500 calories times 3650 days, which is equivalent to about 1.1 tons of fat. And yet by some miracle they’ll end up weighing in within a few pounds of where they started. If we suppose a typical person puts on 10 pounds as they get older and ascribe this to ‘eating too much’, that’s an accuracy of 10/2600 or roughly one quarter of one percent. (And the control mechanism is actually more accurate than that, since weight gain with age is built in – it’s not an accidental weight gain but a controlled one.)

    That’s not actually possible by calorie counting, since many foods vary in the calorific content by more than that, and we don’t actually have measurements that accurate.

    It simply cannot be true that what people eat is entirely under their conscious control, and that greed or stupidity or the day job causes them to eat the ‘wrong’ amount. It has to be under active control. And since we’re not consciously aware of controlling it, it must be under subconscious control. Like breathing, you can consciously override it temporarily, but like holding your breath to ‘reduce those unhealthy oxygen levels’, it’s hard to maintain and probably not particularly good for you.

    In fact, I rather suspect the whole “obesity crisis” health scare is the same sort of thing as the “saturated fats cause heart disease” scare that’s only just recently been reported to be utter crap. A bit of extra body weight as you get older is actually more healthy, and as nutrition has improved with economic development, people are naturally shifting towards the biological ideal. Life expectancy has risen.

    Evolution by natural selection has built in a natural liking for things that are good for you and a dislike of things that are bad. It could hardly be any other way. People who think otherwise evidently don’t believe in evolution!

    As for whether nurses are heavier than average, I can’t say I’ve particularly noticed it – the nurses I see seem to follow the normal spread from fat to thin of the general population. But if there was, I’d guess it was down to personality stereotypes. Bigger girls tend to develop a more ‘motherly’ personality, as it works better for them, and that leads them to pick jobs like nursing in preference to jobs like, say, fashion model. I don’t know, though.

    But whether it’s bad for you or not, it’s still a matter for the Harm Principle. What the hell business is it of anyone else what a person chooses to eat, or how much they choose to weigh? What is wrong with these people, that they feel compelled to tell other people how to live their lives?

    We probably should do something. A national campaign say, of ridiculing those who stick their noses into other people’s business…

  17. “Over a decade, an adult male consumes 2500 calories times 3650 days, which is equivalent to about 1.1 tons of fat. And yet by some miracle they’ll end up weighing in within a few pounds of where they started.”

    “And since we’re not consciously aware of controlling it, it must be under subconscious control.”

    Not really a miracle at all, and nor to do with some idea of subconscious control – simply instead that we know a larger person expends more calories than a lighter person. Hence nothing more than a natural equilibrium, based on reverting to a weight consistent (all other things being equal) with our calorie input. A 2,000 calorie intaker (and expender) will simply be lighter through those 10 years than a 3,000 calorie intaker.

    Don’t disagree with the rest – health scares, nanny etc…

  18. “simply instead that we know a larger person expends more calories than a lighter person.”

    In general, no. All other things held equal, a heavier person has more mass to carry around, and more cells to keep alive and running, so yes. However, all other things are *not* generally held equal, and the other factors tend to vary metabolism over a much wider range than mass alone.

    So there are fat people with slow metabolisms who don’t eat very much, and thin people with very fast metabolisms who eat huge amounts. (To take extremes, consider a sedentary fat person laying in bed in a centrally heated house versus a super-fit skinny Arctic explorer burning 6000 Calories a day as they repeatedly run away from polar bears…) The end result, even for people of more ordinary lifestyles, is that weight is virtually uncorrelated to the amount of food eaten.

    This is because the fundamental energy conservation equation says that the change in weight is proportional to the difference between Calories consumed and Calories used. Note, weight itself doesn’t appear in the equation. Given that people don’t change weight significantly compared to the input/output (remember balanced to better than a quarter of 1%…), we can say that Calories consumed is effectively equal to Calories used.

    Calories used depends on many things. A big one is keeping body temperature constant by generating heat. So it will depend on whether it is summer or winter, whether the person is in a hot country or a cold one, whether indoors or outdoors, effectiveness of heating, number of layers of clothes, long or short hair, thickness of insulating blubber, the weather…

    There’s physical labour and movement. Does the person have a desk job, or do they do manual labour? How fit are they? Fit people use energy more efficiently. Are they calm, or nervous? Do they fidget? Are they always busy, and buzzing around doing things, or do they like to take things easy?

    There are both fat people and thin people with active lives and fast metabolisms. They eat a lot, but they burn it all off. There are both fat people and thin people with sedentary lives and slow metabolisms. They eat only a little, and burn all of that off too. To a first approximation, stable long-term body weight has nothing at all to do with the amount normally eaten.

    The factors affecting body weight are age and genetics. Some people are tall, or short. Some people have red hair, or brown. Some people are hairy, or glabrous. And some people are endomorphs, and others ectomorphs.

    The origins of the whole social meaning of body weight was the observation that young and therefore sexually attractive people tend to be slimmer, so in order to look young and sexually attractive, older people would sometimes try to fake it by deliberately slimming. That meant there was money to be made selling them products to make it easier, and once there were a bunch of people in business selling this stuff, that meant there was even *more* money to be made if you could fool the *rest* of the population into thinking they were the “wrong” weight and needed to buy their products for the good of their health. It’s the absolutely perfect commercial opportunity – a product everybody wants that is impossible to permanently deliver, because they’re fighting their own biochemistry all the way. They have to keep on buying more and more, in a desperate search for the unobtainable. And the more it hurts, the more convinced they are it’s doing them good.

    Whoever would have thought that salesmanship could reach that peak where they could sell *starvation* as a commercial product?! (Not to mention the exhaustion of utterly pointless and boringly repetitive hard labour…)

    However, daft as I might think it all is, it is everybody’s right to do with their own body as they see fit – even to the extent of half-starving it. Where I start objecting is when the near universal belief in this mad cult of thinnity is used to justify making it compulsory. When they start to force low-fat this and low-sugar that and banning TV advertising and kebab shops near schools and so on. No, we’re not buying it, or your Jamie Oliver ‘healthy options’ rabbit food. When you start doing that, I’m going to stand up and tell society your deranged beliefs are shite, scientifically speaking. No offence intended, and please don’t let me stop you doing it to yourselves, double, of course.


    Sorry, was I ranting there for a moment? I do apologise. But ranting does burn about 300 calories an hour, so that’s alright.

  19. “simply instead that we know a larger person expends more calories than a lighter person.”

    In general, no.

    This is weird! I don’t disagree with the most of what you say, except this very first bit..!!!

    All I am saying is that mass (itself) IS a driver (just one) for calories used, and hence that “all other things being equal”, a heavier person will expend / use more calories than a lighter person (and we do absolutely know that that is true). It doesn’t matter one jot than all other things are not equal anecdotally…

    “weight is proportional to the difference between Calories consumed and Calories used.” Agreed.

    “Note, weight itself doesn’t appear in the equation.” It doesn’t need to appear in that equation… More relevant, and completely separately, weight IS itself a driver for calories used…

    Hence, there is an equilibrium process going on here, and which we all know about… Forget anecdote, I’m talking averages: the more calories one “consumes”, the more one will gravitate towards a bigger size and which (due to more calories then also being “used”) there will be a new equilibrium point (ie calories in = calories out) at some higher weight.

    I completely agree with most of the rest of what you wrote but it was that first bit above (disagreeing) that was relevant to the particular point I was making…

  20. ” Forget anecdote, I’m talking averages: the more calories one “consumes”, the more one will gravitate towards a bigger size and which (due to more calories then also being “used”) there will be a new equilibrium point (ie calories in = calories out) at some higher weight.”

    It’s the other way round. For each person there is a fixed ‘natural’ weight, that the system feedbacks push them towards. (Think of it as like a thermostat, if it helps.) You can vary that weight by about plus or minus 10% without any great difficulty, but as body weight goes outside those bounds, a variety of mechanisms kick in to push it back. If you go overweight, you lose your appetite and find it very difficult to keep eating. Your metabolism also goes into overdrive and burns a lot more.

    There was an experiment [“Experimental obesity in man.”, Trans Assoc Am Physicians. 1968;81:153-70, Sims EA, Goldman RF, Gluck CM, Horton ES, Kelleher PC, Rowe DW.] where prisoners tried to gain weight by deliberately overeating, so they could study the mechanisms and health effects of obesity. Subjects increased to about +25% and then stopped gaining weight even on 9000 Calories a day.

    Likewise, when you go below -10% your metabolism shuts down (leading to you feeling cold and lethargic), you start burning protein, and you become obsessed with thoughts of food. The medical effects of starvation are rather better known, but the end result is the same. As the calorie restriction continues, more and more famine-response mechanisms kick in and you use less and less energy. If you don’t keep dropping the calorie intake, eventually the energy used drops below that level and your weight stabilises. Virtually every test of dieting effectiveness shows that they all work for about 6 months, and then gradually over about 5 years the weight goes back on again. It’s like trying to hold your breath.

    The natural weight your ‘thermostat’ is set to is set by genetics and age. It gradually rises as you get older – probably because its healthier although harder to be hunting and gathering. Evolution compromises by setting weight unhealthily low when you’re young and fit and it doesn’t matter, but food is critical. Then eases off when you’re older. Different people have different natural weights, and it’s very difficult to reset them (not impossible, though). Willpower simply won’t do it.

  21. And barring your first sentence (again), yep, we know that and I do completely agree with you… but what you say doesn’t actually contradict what I am saying.

    Yes, I will happily accept that way outside your +/- 10% parameters (and more to my untrained eye), other factors, as you properly highlight, are very strongly kicking in that may in fact add to (ie, accentuate rather than reduce, as it happens) the specific relationship (mass itself as a driver of calories used) that I am referring to… So, yes, those factors you mention will act to prevent such shifts in equilibrium falling too far outside those normal parameters.

    Whatever you correctly say above, we simply do know that larger beings use / expend more energy (on average) than smaller beings…

    Except this:

    “Willpower simply won’t do it.”

    Not true. Anecdote I accept, but I simply know people who have demonstrated unambiguously that, although very overweight for many years, they were able to decide “enough was enough” – and yes they have continued easily to sustain that much lower weight (and by doing nothing more than significantly reducing calorific intake (step by step and habitually) and then stabilising at a lower weight, and in one specific case at between 20-30% under a weight that they had constantly been for two decades or more). But that’s willpower, and which a lot of people don’t have, and hence in those cases it’s not in fact willpower that is being tested. I think what you really mean above is that a lot of people simply don’t have sufficient willpower?

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