Err, yes Polly

It is inequality and disrespect that make people fat.

Back a century and it was rich people who were fat. So it was inequality then too, right?

My own supposition is, and not one that I’d want to have to prove, that it is to do with class, although not inequality so much. Our society has got rich over the past century. But of course we got rich in classes.

The aristocracy haven’t been short of food since 1066 – but it’s not really food I think which has been the major change. It’s been energy expenditure. And that has been dropping by class as the century has progressed. The biggest part of it (again, not something I would want to have to prove) is home heating.

We are mammals, we do use most of our energy to regulate temperature. Being in a temperature regulated environment will lower energy expenditure. And all that it needs for me to be right here is that energy consumption falls more slowly than energy expenditure.

The upper middle classes were well served with coal fires and the like, the middle classes warmed up later and the working classes teneded to get the central heating and the double glazing in the 1980s. Just when that obesity epidemic took off.

Wouldn’t it be fascinating if we did have records of historical obesity by class. And that it followed the patter I’ve laid out?

41 thoughts on “Err, yes Polly”

  1. “That dispiriting fact could be an invitation to nothing-can-be-done fatalism, when of course governments should do all they can to stop the food industry making us all needlessly fatter…”

    Yes, I live in terror that the food industry will pounce on me from a dark alleyway, and force feed me cream cakes…

  2. “Most people have social incentives not to give in to temptation – and even then we often fail – but those who have nothing are likely to give up more easily.”

    And maybe that’s why they ‘have nothing’..? Chicken, egg.

  3. Isn’t it maybe also analogous to the “poor people brown, rich people light” in India and the “poor people white, rich people brown” in the West?

  4. I suppose we had too much equality and respect back in the 19th century which is why the curse of the poor back then was malnutrition?

    The social incentives around at that time were so great that the poor were too excited to remember to eat?

    FFS.

  5. Can’t find the article when I want it of course, but yesterday I was reading about research being done on the effects of ice baths on obesity. Apparently about 5 minutes a day is enough to get your metabolism thinking “bloody cold in here, better start burning fat for heat” which both reduces weight *and* decreases insulin resistance, thus alleviating type 2 diabetes.

    In the future any well appointed home will have a walk in freezer.

  6. Off topic – slim pickings on TRUK this morning I am afraid, although his policy of rewarding informants in the case of Tax avoidance whistleblowing probably merits a piece: Additionally he has a piece on whither Labour after September 24th (and the urgent need for opposition) which is pompous enough to yield a few gems.

  7. Arthur the Cat, if that were true, wouldn’t we expect to see a lot less lard ambling round Iceland (the store, not the country)?

  8. In respect to the article – it is of course utter crap as any trip to a part of the UK populated by poorer immigrant groups that have recently arrived will tell – but then that complex a picture would spoil Toynbee’s narrative. To be honest, unlike Murphy who oozes evil Toynbee is just an imbecile whose shtick hasn’t changed in three decades – more worthy of pity than hatred…

  9. Bloke in North Dorset

    Not really VP, she gets far more airtime on the Beeb and space in the Guardian so her opportunity to cause evil >> than Ritchie’s.

  10. The respect and equality so famously experienced by the masses of the Indian subcontinent are evidenced by their trim figures.

  11. She has an amazing ability to get things consistently and bizarrely wrong. Truly they think differently from us.

  12. An ‘equal’ society would probably have almost no obesity though, as it will be a communist society with barely anything to eat, so Polly is accidentally partly correct.

  13. So people in warm climates are fatter than those in cold ones? I think it more likely that carbohydrates interfere with the naturally evolved mechanism to control our weight, by overriding the normal hunger/satiety sensations.

  14. What I genuinely don’t understand about these shitbags is why they think it’s any business of their’s if a woman down the road is a stone or three overweight. Seriously what the fuck.

    I get that it’s unsightly, but it even saves their great god the NHS money.

  15. The interesting thing about Polly is that, even when data is available, she resorts to making shit up. She just states her preconceptions and, if there is any data, she quotes it regardless of whether it supports or contradicts her argument. And even when she is asked to support a good cause, if it is not one of her obsessions, she will not use her contacts and influence to help it. She is a poison in society

  16. There is no magic food. Obesity is caused by eating too much. The obese reject normal feedback, and continue eating even as their weight increases beyond the norm. For many, their life sucks, so they reward themselves with food. That’s why the obese tend to be poorer people. Even though they have less, they can still win at the trough.

  17. I wonder if your central heating theory explains why a lot of men put on the pounds after getting married/moving in with their girlfriend?

    Most men I know* are happy with the cold; most women I know* want the heating up full. If the woman wins the thermostat battle then does the man’s weight respond?

    *yes, yes anecdata, but Tim’s speculating so I will too

  18. You could be right on the thermostat thing though, I think its true that men’s metabolisms are faster than womens (more muscle or something) so they generate more heat internally and thus can live comfortably in cooler environments.

  19. Polly is no lightweight herself. How does that fit in with her theory?

    If you examine any supermarket, at least 75% of the food on sale has been through an industrial process of some sort. Much of it is convenience food, like oven-ready chips, which your average prole buys in bulk because he/she is too idle or ignorant to buy spuds and make chips properly. Just look at the entire aisles given over the crisps and other greasy snacks. Your proles then slump on their sofas stuffing this filth down their maws while watching equally processed telly such as Big Brother.

    They are fat because they are lazy, stupid, ignorant and lacking in self-respect. They are easily gulled by the ads on said telly, and of course feminism has destroyed any knowledge of cookery passed down from mother to daughter.

    PS Do you think I could get a gig at the Guardian?

  20. “Polly is no lightweight herself. How does that fit in with her theory?”

    That’s because her self-esteem was savaged when she was young, with examiners telling her she was thick. They were right, those examiners.

  21. Greg Clark would know. But probably the records simply don’t exist.

    Maybe records of the draft in WW1? People born small tend to die small. So if lots of spring borns were rejected as under height, and the bias was strongly to those born in November, you’d have a proxy for deprivation.

    Or did undertakers once charge by the lb?

  22. Funny how you never see pasta classed as ‘processed’ food. I suppose it grows on trees and is hand picked by nubile young Italian girls.

  23. Bloke in North Dorset

    Interested,

    “What I genuinely don’t understand about these shitbags is why they think it’s any business of their’s if a woman down the road is a stone or three overweight. Seriously what the fuck.

    I get that it’s unsightly, but it even saves their great god the NHS money.”

    They don’t like their prey dying early, a bit like a cat with a mouse.

  24. GlenDorran: but it’s obvious that women don’t feel the cold, just look at any dance floor. The women are wearing a small gauze hankerchef, and the men are wearing three layers of winter woolies.

  25. Not sure you’ve got the pattern right.

    In my experience, the posher the house, the colder – bedrooms especially.

    But maybe that’s just in the last 50 years, since aristos became impoverished and fuel became expensive…

  26. @ GlenDorran
    Anecdata.
    I have an alternative theory – that men put on weight after their marriage because they don’t want to hurt their wives’ feelings by not eating their cooking. I am old enough to remember times when central heating was the exception rather than the rule. I never suffered central heating until I was 29 and thence until I got married always left the window open while I was at hme, but my father put on weight (a lot) after marrying – not just due to heating: as long as I can remember my mother and big sister sat near the fire while my father and I sat as far away as possible and little sister sat nearer us than them. I also observed numerous friends putting on weight after marriage in the pre-central-heating era.
    I do not doubt that central heating has an impact but it can’t be the whole story.

  27. @ Thomas Fuller
    My local Tesco has less space for chips (crisps aren’t greasy so I presume you meant chips) than for peas and beans, and I rarely notice any greasy snacks apart from sausage rolls. More “healthy eating” junk. Maybe you should consider moving to a more healthy area?
    The old-fashioned prole who worked on the farm or in a shipyard or a building site needed lots of calories and had a wife who cooked him bangers-and-mash. The guy on the dole ‘cos the factory is closed burns up few calories and his partner buys a “ready-meal” from the supermarket.
    The “under-class” sought by Scargill and inadvertently created by Blair with his National Minimum Wage is, mostly, not the proletariat which has some self-respect.

  28. @GlenDorran, August 19, 2016 at 12:15 pm
    I wonder if your central heating theory explains why a lot of men put on the pounds after getting married/moving in with their girlfriend?

    Most men I know* are happy with the cold; most women I know* want the heating up full. If the woman wins the thermostat battle then does the man’s weight respond?

    *yes, yes anecdata, but Tim’s speculating so I will too

    Seconded

    Here in Scotland Windows open all year round by varying amounts and house around 14C in winter.

    Swedish Mrs Pcar sits in front of fire when cold, wears thick jumpers, long-johns and sometimes a wooly hat when required.

    Central heating rarely used.

  29. @Arthur the Cat, August 19, 2016 at 8:42 am
    Can’t find the article when I want it of course, but yesterday

    Check browser History

    Similar? Cold Water Therapy

    I was reading about research being done on the effects of ice baths on obesity. Apparently about 5 minutes a day is enough to get your metabolism thinking “bloody cold in here, better start burning fat for heat” which both reduces weight *and* decreases insulin resistance, thus alleviating type 2 diabetes.

    In the future any well appointed home will have a walk in freezer.

    I can believe that, I live without much heating and body does adapt and produces its own heat. Problem is when I visit others I overheat and need to go outside to cool down. This can mean standing outside in shirt and trousers for 10-15 mins in sub zero temps.

    When weather is hot (ie >22C) I cool down by sitting in bath and turn on cold tap and read a book as bath fills up. Wetting hair/clothes is also effective.

    My mother says her retirement flat noticeably warms up when I visit.

  30. From today’s Guardian leader on obesity:

    “This is a case where the collective interest of the nation’s health (and the financial interest of the taxpayer, who pays when obese children become chronically ill adults) overrides the rights of individual companies to sell whatever they want to whomever they want. ”

    Which underscores my often-made point that we will never be rid of such nanny statism until the NHS is replaced by an insurance-based system that provides people with some financial incentive to look after their own health.

  31. Bloke in Wiltshire

    Thomas Fuller

    Eggs are cheaper than pies, tinned tuna is cheaper than fried haddock and a bag of oranges is cheaper than ice cream.

    And this stuff is all over TV – what’s better to eat. But you aren’t going to get chavs to put down the pies and beer any more than cancelling the fags and skipping on getting tattoos. You can ban all the advertising of sugar on TV, they’ll still buy cake. By the way, wasn’t banning bad ads during kids TV going to solve this?

  32. From

    “Who’s your fat friend?”
    Beau Brummel’s joke in Hyde Part pretending not to know who King George was.
    to
    You can’t be too thin or too rich
    Wallis Simpson

    is an interesting story in itself.
    But we’re talking about working class obesity.
    OK
    Polynesians have the highest rates of diabetes.
    Probably because the ones who couldn’t store fat got killed off in long voyages.

    Medieval peasants would have experienced dearth and even famine.
    Some would be culled, the survivors would be better able to get through the winter.
    So if there is such a thing as a hereditary working / peasant class, you would expect them to be better at storing fat and more likely to get diabetes.

    There are probably some longitudinal studies about this. A recent (post WW2?) phenomenon.

  33. Bloke in Costa Rica

    That fucking woman. How can anyone write a sentence like “It is inequality and disrespect that make people fat” without great clanging warning bells going off telling them they’re being a fuckwit? The ultimate cause of anyone being fat, of course, is that they consume more calories than they expend. But the proximate cause is deciding to consume more calories than those expended. Maybe poor people are fatter because they have worse executive function, which is why they’re poor.

  34. Eggs are cheaper than pies, tinned tuna is cheaper than fried haddock and a bag of oranges is cheaper than ice cream.

    And this stuff is all over TV – what’s better to eat. But you aren’t going to get chavs to put down the pies and beer any more than cancelling the fags and skipping on getting tattoos. You can ban all the advertising of sugar on TV, they’ll still buy cake. By the way, wasn’t banning bad ads during kids TV going to solve this?

    Would it not be better if [the poor] spent more money on wholesome things like oranges and wholemeal bread or if they even, like the writer of the letter to the New Statesman, saved on fuel and ate their carrots raw? Yes, it would, but the point is that no ordinary human being is ever going to do such a thing. The ordinary human being would sooner starve than live on brown bread and raw carrots. And the peculiar evil is this, that the less money you have, the less inclined you feel to spend it on wholesome food.

  35. ‘Would it not be better if [the poor] spent more money on wholesome things like oranges and wholemeal bread’

    Nope. Oranges and wholemeal bread are no better for you than fish and chips, or pizza, or whatever. Food is food. The poor buy what they want within the limits of their means; declaring they should buy something different is sophistry.

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