Now hear this lardbuckets

People with a gene linked to weight gain are just as likely to benefit from weight loss programmes as those without, researchers have discovered.

Put down that donut and step gently away……

41 thoughts on “Now hear this lardbuckets”

  1. I was trying to work out the point of this story, and of the post which is based on it. But before i could, i realised i didn’t care.

  2. @Ed Lud – yes, I know what you mean. I had a similar kind of arrested epiphany on Monday when I came across a headline about a steep rise in the number of calls to the fire brigade by people too fat to squeeze themselves out of their homes.

  3. If genetics causes weight gain, where were all these fat bastards fifty or a hundred years ago? Humans haven’t ‘evolved’ in a century.

    And for those who say there wasn’t as much food then, average calorie consumption now is less than it was during WW2. The ration was 2700 calories per adult.

    There may be a genetic link to obesity, but it is more likely to be a gene for being a lazy slob.

  4. There’s no doubt, in my mind anyway, that some people hoard fat – probably people with a northern European or other cold climate ancestry. It’s fucking obvious. I’ve seen blokes who can run all day with big packs on their backs, and whose food intake is exactly the same as everyone else’s, and they have a very clear and stubborn layer of subcutaneous fat. (You wouldn’t call them fat, they’re just fatter than the racing snakes alongside.)
    However, proper fatness, as in deleterious-to-health-weight, is not something the body naturally supports, and that is clearly a case of too many calories in and not enough out.

  5. It seems clear now that it’s a bit more complicated than calories-in/calories-out, with sugar and simple carbs being locked in as fat rather than burnt as energy. Rather as our grand-parents knew, but which knowledge was lost through decades of state propaganda demonising fat.

    In fact, now that lard has been rehabilitated we’ll need a new insult to replace Tim’s ‘lardbuckets.’

  6. “sugar and simple carbs being locked in as fat”

    Locked in? Meaning what? I have lost 25 pounds of ‘locked in’ fat in the last 18 months by getting used to being hungry all the god damned time and being tortured by a wife ordered fitbit.

    And yes it does make me grumpy.

  7. Weightwatchers works.

    When “Donna” and her recently divorced helper with large thighs gets the clipboard out and you get on the scales in front of a line of nosey fatties you make sure you have lost some weight.

    It works…shame works.

    I have been there….the only bloke in a church hall full of fat women who have all just been to the toilet to get rid of the lasts drops of pee out of their body.

    Weightwatchers works…..Men if you want to meet women then go to a Weightwatchers meeting…its full of recently divorced women.

    Slimming world should be avoided because they are there to save 50p a go…….do you really want to meet those girls.!!

  8. Interested – “There’s no doubt, in my mind anyway, that some people hoard fat – probably people with a northern European or other cold climate ancestry. It’s fucking obvious.”

    As it is obvious to anyone who has spent time in the South Pacific. Young Fijians might be excellent rugby players, but come back and look at them in 20 years time. They have genes that probably support fat retention.

    However in the end it is all down to calories in and calories out. You eat too much and you become fat. The rest is the usual Western decadence which blames everyone but ourselves.

  9. ” Rather as our grand-parents knew, but which knowledge was lost through decades of state propaganda demonising fat.”

    Hasn’t it recently come out that Big Sugar bribed the scientists to come out with the fat demonising bullshit?

  10. I remember the cakes my mother used to make. Victoria sponges, welshcakes, all sorts. I’m not convinced we eat more sugar now. In fact, I think various stats indicate we eat less, though I can’t remember where exactly I saw them.

    When I look at the nutters behind the anti-sugar campaign, and the anti-capitalist rhetoric which drives them, I am immediately suspicious.

  11. Wickie W

    If I may say so, your strategy of going to WeightWatchers to meet women (presumably with a view to shagging them) has a couple of flaws.

    (1) You yourself have to be fat or you will be an object of deep suspicion. ‘Why are you here?’ ‘I am 12 grams overweight.’

    (2) You will find in these draughty church halls principally fat women, repulsive creatures who moreover lack the nous to consume fewer calories without some sort of sisterly encouragement, shaming and bullying from other stupid fat women – except, however, for the co-ordinator, who will presumably not be fat, and might not be stupid, and may, if she is young enough, turn out to be the only one worth a go.

    Seems a bit of a long shot to me.

  12. “iI have lost 25 pounds of ‘locked in’ fat in the last 18 months by getting used to being hungry all the god damned time”

    I can’t help but wonder if, in that sentence is both the cause of the problem & the solution. We have a lot of visitors & we are pretty generous at laying on some fairly impressive meals. But I don’t snack & the g/f’s from third world poverty & never acquired the habit. So there’s nothing in the cupboards or fridge you can snack off, apart from fruit & nuts. Everything else requires preparation.
    Gets me how many people expect to be plied with biscuits, bits of cake, plastic pots of dessert & the rest of it, constantly. Because they’re “hungry”. And they’re all the overweight ones.
    To me & La C hungry is not eating for a couple of days. You can’t get hungry in two hours.
    But it’s like temperatures & hard seats & walking to the shops, They seem to be unable to tolerate the least bit of discomfort. They want to live in a soft fluffy cocoon.
    You want to lose weight, don’t eat as much. It might involve some trivial discomfort, for a short while, whilst your expectations adjust. It’s not hard. Half the planet feels like that all the time.

  13. An unbalanced diet makes you unhealthy.
    An unbalanced calorie intake makes you too fat/skinny.

    The calorie intake of the average westerner is to high because not enough calories are burnt off doing work.

    If you want to lose weight then turn off the central heating.

  14. @Thomas Fuller.

    1. yes you have to be overweight.

    2.. The leader wasn’t thin nor fat or young.

    3. There are many women who are just a few pounds overweight that should never be at weightwatchers in my opinion.

    4. Going to weightwatchers seems to have a theme of women leaving their partners and wanting to look good again.

    5. the group session after the weigh -in is where you can’t avoid talking to a lot of women.

    Serious Weightwatchers is an eye opener, funny and interesting…..if you are a man looking for a woman and a bit overweight then why not?…..let the leader know you are a single man without looking creepy….she probably has contacts with dozens and dozens of available women that are not even in your meeting.

    Honest lads…walk into that church hall and see the beauties lined up wearing next to nothing…..then tell me I.m wrong!!

  15. “If genetics causes weight gain, where were all these fat bastards fifty or a hundred years ago? Humans haven’t ‘evolved’ in a century.”

    A century ago they were recruiting men for the first world war, where it was noted that the officers were several inches taller, on average, than the enlisted men. They’re all the same species, so how come one group were noticeably bigger than the other?

    “And for those who say there wasn’t as much food then, average calorie consumption now is less than it was during WW2. The ration was 2700 calories per adult.”

    During the Vermont prison experiment, one subject was eating 10,000 Calories a day and not gaining weight. Do you therefore think anyone eating less than that ought to lose weight? It’s more complicated than people are assuming.

    The body controls energy intake, use, and storage with an extremely complicated interlocking set of biochemical feedback mechanisms. The body has a target weight range it aims for. Within that range it can vary freely. Go above, and you lose your appetite, finding it difficult to force yourself to eat, and your metabolism speeds up, burning off excess Calories. As the Vermont prisoner example shows, this can amount to a 5x speed-up. If your weight drops below the lower limit, your appetite increases until food becomes a constant obsession, your willpower fades, your metabolism slows so you burn a lot less, and in the process a lot of the less essential body systems shut down, like your immune system, which is why the starving are more vulnerable to disease. Prisoners in world war 2 concentration camps survived for years in conditions of cold and hard labour on a Calorie intake a fraction of what we would regard the minimum.

    The gene sets the ‘thermostat’ defining the target weight. It doesn’t magically allow the body to violate the law of conservation of energy. If you eat less than you burn, you’ll lose weight until the body can make the adjustments to burn less, which it only does unwillingly and after it becomes clear that making you hungry isn’t working, because of the damage it does. All diets work for the first year or so, but the weight generally goes back on over the subsequent five years unless you keep ramping it up to keep ahead of the body’s adaptations (which is why the note in the article saying that none of the diets were followed past 3 years is so significant).

    It’s also known that the ‘thermostat’ is partly set when you’re a child, in response to the amount and quality of nutrition you get. A skimpy food supply, and the body makes famine-tolerant modifications to reduce how much you need – i.e. short and thin. A plentiful food supply, and the body grows instead for strength and fitness, to win fights and compete – i.e. tall and broad. As nutrition improves, bodies shift more towards the larger design pattern. It’s clearly the result of evolution, but being more clever about it.

    For almost all people, the amount of food eaten is almost exactly identical to the amount of energy expended, to within about half a percent. That’s remarkable, considering that for many foods the scientific measurement of their Calorific content is only accurate to about 10%. The amount varies over a wide range, from person to person, and has relatively little to do with a person’s weight. There are fat people who eat/burn only as little, and thin people who eat/burn a lot. It’s the *difference* between two values (that track one another) that is related to the *rate of change*. Eat 10,000 Calories and burn 10,000 Calories a day, and you’ll stay the same weight. Eat 10,000 and burn 11,000, and you’ll lose weight rapidly. You can’t look at only the one variable to figure out what’s going on.

    And that’s before we even consider the weight effects of water and protein changes! Since 60% of your body weight is water, in fact the fastest and most effective way to lose weight is to stop drinking. For every litre of water you excrete more than you replace, you lose a kilogram of weight. It’s the same principle. And it is just as ‘logical’ to argue that the reason people are slightly heavier than they used to be 50 years ago is that they drink too much water.

    It’s a law of physics. Stop drinking fluids, and you’ll lose weight. Simple as. You’ll get thirsty, of course, as your biology objects. But it’s just a matter of willpower, right?

  16. So Much For Subtlety

    NiV – “A century ago they were recruiting men for the first world war, where it was noted that the officers were several inches taller, on average, than the enlisted men. They’re all the same species, so how come one group were noticeably bigger than the other?”

    They ate more. The tall ones. Sort of like fat people do. Your point?

    “During the Vermont prison experiment, one subject was eating 10,000 Calories a day and not gaining weight.”

    Sorry but would that be this study:

    http://dm5migu4zj3pb.cloudfront.net/manuscripts/106000/106570/JCI71106570.pdf

    Could you please tell me which of the five, yes five, subjects did not gain weight?

    “Prisoners in world war 2 concentration camps survived for years in conditions of cold and hard labour on a Calorie intake a fraction of what we would regard the minimum.”

    If they were Allied prisoners of war they got better than average calories and did not die in large numbers. If they were Soviet prisoners they did not get much and they did die in huge numbers. Where are these prisoners who were not fed and did not die?

    “All diets work for the first year or so, but the weight generally goes back on over the subsequent five years”

    Because fat people lack the will power to stop eating for long.

    “For almost all people, the amount of food eaten is almost exactly identical to the amount of energy expended, to within about half a percent.”

    We know this is not true but by all means what is your source?

    “Eat 10,000 Calories and burn 10,000 Calories a day, and you’ll stay the same weight. Eat 10,000 and burn 11,000, and you’ll lose weight rapidly. You can’t look at only the one variable to figure out what’s going on.”

    So you look at only one variable to figure out what is going on – and we are probably all agreed it is right – but then you say you cannot look at only one variable? What are you thinking? How can your genes and your body’s thermostat enable you to eat 10,000 and burn 9,000 but not get fat?

    “It’s a law of physics. Stop drinking fluids, and you’ll lose weight. Simple as. You’ll get thirsty, of course, as your biology objects. But it’s just a matter of willpower, right?”

    As any number of jockeys and boxers will tell you, yes it is.

  17. They’re all the same species, so how come one group were noticeably bigger than the other?

    Nutrition. The same reason why the Japanese now are noticeably taller than the Japanese of several generations ago. As, in fact, are Westerners.

    Stop drinking fluids, and you’ll lose weight. Simple as.

    Er, so what? Take a massive shit, you’ll lose body weight. You won’t lose body fat. If someone is 20kg overweight, they could lose 3l of water (3kg in weight) and be really quite dehydrated and still fat.

    And I’ll ask the same question: If it is genetic, why is it only happening now and not 50, 100, 150 years ago?

  18. “Sorry but would that be this study”

    No. The ones everyone cites are the 1973 and 1976 papers.

    ” If they were Soviet prisoners they did not get much and they did die in huge numbers.”

    I was thinking of the Jewish ones, actually. But yes, while they died in huge numbers, not all of them did.

    “Because fat people lack the will power to stop eating for long.”

    No, because the metabolism adjusts to starvation conditions. Even while continuing to eat less, the weight goes back on.

    “We know this is not true but by all means what is your source?”

    People eat about 2000+ Calories per day which is equivalent to about 0.6 pounds of fat. That’s 2200 pounds per decade. 1% of that is 22 pounds, or about 1.5 stone. Gaining fat requires gaining a proportionate amount of water and protein (muscle mass) as well, and if the body is 60% water and 25-30% fat, we can roughly triple this number to get the actual weight gain. Between ages 20 and 30, you would gain or lose 5 stone, and from 20 to 50 you would gain/lose 15 stone. Most people don’t.

    In fact, people generally gain about half that, with a spread of values that’s even smaller.

    “So you look at only one variable to figure out what is going on – and we are probably all agreed it is right – but then you say you cannot look at only one variable? What are you thinking?”

    I’m thinking Calories consumed, Calories burned, and initial weight is three variables. And the ‘thermostat’ point is controlled by dozens of variables.

    “As any number of jockeys and boxers will tell you, yes it is.”

    Excellent. So stop with the totalitarian campaign to control what people eat, and start one to encourage them to stop drinking. At least then people will recognise how truly nuts this whole health fad really is.

  19. “Er, so what? Take a massive shit, you’ll lose body weight.”

    True! Good example.

    “You won’t lose body fat. If someone is 20kg overweight, they could lose 3l of water (3kg in weight) and be really quite dehydrated and still fat.”

    If you’re 20 kg overweight, then lose 20 litres of water, you’ll be exactly the right weight. Problem solved, right?

  20. @ NiV
    “Stop drinking and you will lose weight” – the safe amount was reckoned to a couple of pounds when I was young: after that you are in danger of suffering some effects of dehydration.
    My appetite has very little to do with my weight but it *is* related to the amount of exercise that I take, with a time lag – it takes two or three weeks to adjust to a significant change in the level of exercise, during which I can easily gain or, with some effort, lose a stone in weight. There is no evidence that my metabolism adjusts either to exercise or diet.
    Have you never observed someone who has given up smoking? Their weight goes up, which kind of refutes your theory of a “target weight”.

  21. @ NiV
    If you are 20kg overeweight and lose 10l of water you are dead, so problem doesn’t get solved because you are still 10kg overweight, but dead.
    I have never been 20kg overweight in my whole life so I can’t tell you how to lose 20kg safely, but for 5-10kg the answer is to take a lot of moderate exercise after getting up and before eating – repeatedly.

  22. “the safe amount was reckoned to a couple of pounds when I was young: after that you are in danger of suffering some effects of dehydration.”

    Yes. It’s obviously incredibly stupid and bad for your health to ignore what your body’s biochemical feedback systems are saying is the right level of water storage.

    What I’m asking is why people think this doesn’t apply to what your body’s biochemical feedback systems are saying about energy storage? You think you know better than millions of years of evolution? Or could it possibly be yet another bogus health fad? They used to think radium was healthy…

    “Have you never observed someone who has given up smoking? Their weight goes up, which kind of refutes your theory of a “target weight”.”

    Oooh! Major change in level of biochemical signalling molecule results in shifts in biochemical systems! Surprise!

    Obviously, nicotine withdrawal shifts the target level.

  23. The western population has been indoctrinated to believe all sorts of amazing things.
    Why not just start affirmative action etc for the obese.
    ” Fat lives matter”
    All furniture, ambulances and clothing to be limited to the well built.
    Sack anti obesists.
    Why in a few years there will be no problem. You lot will accept and obey almost anything.

  24. “Fat lives matter”

    Fat is the new black, as they say in the fashion world.

    All lives matter. Including fat ones, and thin ones, and everyone in between. Saying only black lives matter is as bad as saying black lives don’t matter. Same goes for Jewish, homosexual, Catholic, Protestant, non-Muslim, men, women, or any other persecuted group. You’re welcome to *say* what you like, but when you start making people’s lives difficult because of some characteristic they have that you don’t like – whether habit, hobby, body type, or opinion – you can just fuck off.

    It’s that great libertarian principle expressed by JS Mill – “Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.”

    It means you’re welcome to starve yourself thin if you like. It’s your body.

  25. Fat Deaths Matter too which is why there are specialist crematoria now to deal with the deceased with the fuller figure – rather like a rendering plant except you still just come away with just an urn and none of the tallow.

    Places are limited so book early to avoid disappointment.

  26. “Fat Deaths Matter too which is why there are specialist crematoria now to deal with the deceased with the fuller figure”

    True. And I’ve heard there are specialist shoe shops to cater to people with big feet. And there are cars that women can drive, and shops that black people can go into and buy things.

  27. Bloke in North Dorset

    “All diets work for the first year or so, but the weight generally goes back on over the subsequent five years”

    The problem is that people go on diets to reach a target weight, and mostly fail, then go back to what they were doing and so gain weight, usually plus some because they get depressed about failing and do more comfort eating.

    The only way to get to, and maintain, a new weight is by lifestyle change. Any other approach is doomed to failure.

  28. “The only way to get to, and maintain, a new weight is by lifestyle change. Any other approach is doomed to failure.”

    +1

    And the same too re the “diet”. Ie, not a diet, just a permanent change in what you do (including exercise) and eat – which will result in a slow change to a new equilibrium. If it’s not enough, try and permanently adjust lifestyle a little further. Determination, commitment and willpower obviously.

  29. “The only way to get to, and maintain, a new weight is by lifestyle change.”

    Sure. So long as you understand that you have to keep on changing.

    The body adapts to the environment it experiences. If you’re really unfit and take some exercise you will quickly get tired. But if you keep on doing it every day, the body adapts, and soon the exercise won’t have the same effect. Your muscles grow bigger, your lung capacity increases, your blood corpuscles multiply to carry more oxygen, and so on. So you have to keep on increasing the dose to get the same effect.

    If you go traveling at high altitudes you’ll at first get altitude sickness from lack of oxygen. But again the body adapts, increasing the number of blood corpuscles and the efficiency of the lungs. Eventually, the altitude will not have the same effect – you’ll have to go even higher to get that same breathlessness.

    If you go and live in outer space, in zero gravity, your bones will leach calcium and become brittle, and your muscles will waste away. When you return to Earth after an extended stay, you have to be careful not to break limbs. This is just an extreme example of how the body responds to adapt to its environment.

    Th body controls and adapts to many more environmental variables. Temperature, water availability, light, sound, smell, oxygen level, CO2 level, salt intake, blood pH, the amount and type work you typically do, the loads you typically carry, the distances you typically travel, and the speeds you move at. A runner’s body adapts differently to a weight-lifter’s. It even adapts chemically. If you drink caffeine, initially it will give you a wake-up jolt, but then the body adapts and stops making its own equivalents, so the caffeine no longer has the same effect, except that you get horrible withdrawal symptoms if you stop taking it.

    And so it is surely not a big surprise to find that it adapts to energy intake and expenditure. If you start off burning 2000 Calories and eating 2000 Calories, and drop to eating 1900 Calories permanently, you’ll lose weight. Under the naive understanding of these things, a permanent change of diet would eventually result in starvation, as you lost 100 Calories per day forever. But that doesn’t happen, because the body adapts.

    The body will instead economise its energy use to only burn 1900 Calories, and the weight will plateau. You’ve made a permanent lifestyle change, but the diet is no longer ‘working’. Then the body reduces its daily burn rate to 1850 Calories, and all of a sudden you’re putting weight back on! It’s trying to get back to what it considers your “healthy” weight. Or alternatively, adapting to the appearance that the famine is more permanent than it supposed.

    When that happens, you have to make a further cut from 1900 to 1850. Then 1800. Then 1750, and so on. You have to switch to ever higher-Caffeine espressos to get the same coffee kick.

    People who manage to lose weight in the longer term might not even realise they’re doing it. They see the weight creeping back up, assume they must have lapsed somewhere along the line, so they push the diet a little bit harder. Or, more often, give up. And it’s true that if they go back to 2000 Calories again they’ll pile the pound on, because they’re still only burning 1900 or less.

    In the long run, fixed-Calorie diets don’t work, because the body adapts its energy output to match its input, in the same sort of way it adapts its bone density to match the loads you put on your bones.

    There’s no other way organisms could possibly survive. Food supply varies widely in natural conditions, running from famine to glut and back again, and when you have to keep the two within about 1% of one another long term (or starve/explode within a few decades), then if the input cannot be increased, because there simply is no more food available, there is no option but for the output to decrease. There are few things more powerful at applying natural selection than frequent famines.

    It seems obvious to me. What I can’t understand is why it isn’t obvious to everyone.

  30. NiV

    In the long run, fixed-Calorie diets don’t work

    It seems obvious to me. What I can’t understand is why it isn’t obvious to everyone.

    It’s not obvious, it’s completely counterintuitive. You really can be like a dog with a bone at times!

    Simply in that we’ve had this discussion before, probably several times, and you continue to put forward the same theory, and ignore (when people mention “lifestyle”) another issue that is crucial to “lifestyle” and “corrects” your theory above.

    A smaller body, every thing else being equal, burns fewer calories than a larger body. All other things being equal, a 20 stone NiV will burn more calories than a 10 stone NiV.

    Therefore, when you deny the effect of new equilibriums above, you are simply wrong.

    A large person will NOT end up back at the same weight in the long term if they reduce their calories by 20% over a decade or two decades. Whatever effect you mention above about recalibrating, there will also be in place a mechanism whereby the smaller body consumes fewer calories.

    Hence, that 20% calorie reduced person WILL end up at an equilibrium that is LESS in weight than they were to start with, they will NOT end up back at the same weight! That should be intuitively obvious to anyone. If it’s not swap 20% for 30%, etc, until it does become obvious..;)

    I saw it with my father. A consistent weight for about two decades. He then decided to change and lose a lot of weight (30% or more of his body weight). He changed diet and lifestyle. Over a period of 2 or 4 years (I can’t remember how long exactly), he slowly adapted, simply by putting less food on his plate. He reached his target weight, and then maintained that over two decades. He maintained it, by accepting that permanent change.

    He didn’t keep having to eat less and less over those two decades to avoid putting it all back on (as you suggest should have been the case!), he just changed from an initial state over indulging to one of not over indulging; and stuck to it for the rest of his life. It wasn’t complicated.

    I know myself exactly why I put on weight, and how I lose it. It has little to do with your theory above, and everything to with very obvious lifestyle habits! I can easily be 20% heavier or lighter, and over a period of years, simply with lifestyle changes (including changes to diet).

    Maria Callas, when she was young, decided she didn’t like herself and went from over 100Kg to ~70Kg over a much shorter period of time of time, and then simply maintained it for the rest of her life. Your theory suggested that that shouldn’t have been possible.

    I’m not saying your theory is wrong. but it should be obvious that it is “incomplete”, and hence the conclusion flawed.

  31. “A smaller body, every thing else being equal, burns fewer calories than a larger body.”

    True. But everything else is not equal.

    When I was 20 I was pretty light, but I ate a lot. 20 years later I was a lot heavier, and ate much less. How is that possible, if a smaller body necessarily burns less Calories than a larger one?

    What I’m saying is that it is more complicated than people are assuming. Bigger bodies take more force to move around, and have a bigger surface area so they radiate more heat, but they’re not the only factors at work. If energy expended was a simple, unchangeable function of weight, then most organisms would not survive famines. If you have to keep long-term energy use and energy consumption within 1% of one another, and energy consumption due to the variability of the available food can vary by a huge percentage, it simply is not possible that energy usage is fixed. Energy use has to track food consumption.

    Energy, like all biochemical balances, is subject to homeostasis – feedback control. I don’t see how that can be controversial.

    “He didn’t keep having to eat less and less over those two decades to avoid putting it all back on (as you suggest should have been the case!)”

    Did you measure it?

    You’re basically saying that dieting is easy. Given the number of people who try and fail, I’d suggest it’s not. There’s something missing here. It’s like saying you did more exercise but didn’t get any fitter.

    I would suggest that what happened is that the target weight was somehow reset. If you change the body’s target weight, attaining and maintaining a new weight is easy. In fact, it’s unavoidable. I would suggest that for some reason the target weight reset, your father rationalised his lack of desire to eat any more as a deliberate choice, and found it effortless.

    To achieve a sub-1% control accuracy, it’s not accidental, and given the impossibility of measuring the Calorific content of food that accurately, it’s not consciously determined. Precisely what does determine it is unknown, but it can change – sometimes sharply – throughout life. We already discussed above how giving up smoking affects weight. We’ve discussed on previous occasions how Ad36 infection apparently does.

    I’m saying there’s a target range, and weights outside that range trigger efforts by the body to get back inside it. I’m not saying that the target range never changes. It obviously does. But not just because you wanted to do it, or felt you ought to.

    If it’s changed for you (or your father), then congratulations. But I’m not going to blame someone for their ‘lack of willpower’ if theirs hasn’t. While I know at least 3 people it’s happened to, in every case the person involved didn’t know why it happened, and didn’t know why it was suddenly so easy when previously it had been incredibly hard. (Two had also suddenly recovered from depression at the same time. I don’t know if that was coincidental.) I know a whole lot more people it hasn’t happened to
    (like all bar 3), and they continue to struggle to control their weight to their satisfaction.

    There may well be ways of triggering the effect, and I’m all in favour of research to figure it out. But we’ll never do that research if everyone assumes the answer is already known and that the wrong model is the right one. One has to admit one’s ignorance first before one can learn.

  32. “When I was 20 I was pretty light, but I ate a lot. 20 years later I was a lot heavier, and ate much less. How is that possible”

    I can’t comment on your anecdote…:) We shift metabolism anyway come 30-ish, never mind if you also say gave up exercise (or whatever) – no idea?

    “You’re basically saying that dieting is easy.”

    Perhaps read what I actually said..!? “lifestyle” (permanent) vs diet, etc.

    “I would suggest that for some reason the target weight reset”

    Is this what is known as a self proving theory?

    Let me expand. Most of us have a “fighting weight” from our early twenties. A lot of people then gain weight in their thirties or forties. Due to: natural metabolism changes from twenties to thirties (well known), not reducing food intake as a result, less exercise potentially, other lifestyle changes, etc.

    That’s not target resetting, that’s eating in excess of the earlier need at a different age / fitness level and finding new equilibriums. My father simply then later regained his fighting weight from decades earlier. Or perhaps all these permanent changes in weight are always just target resets (and hence your theory is self proving)..:)

    btw, I’m entirely sympathetic to what you say with regard to those who (say) are fat when young (pre twenties). That does suggest an optimum (as you say) that may then be more difficult to shift in the ordinary course of events (if that’s what they were then trying to do?). I know a few like that, and they are quite different from the rest.

    “To achieve a sub-1% control accuracy”

    Your 1% argument ignores the basic maths of revised equilibriums (higher and lower) as I explained it.

    I understand the anecdotes you refer to. Personally, based on lots of people I know (lovely, wonderful people don’t get me wrong), I’m highly sceptical as to whether most people have the genuine desire, determination or long term commitment (to real lifestyle change) when it comes to things like shifting weight! And that’s fine, btw, but let’s admit it for what it is.

    “But I’m not going to blame someone for their ‘lack of willpower’ if theirs hasn’t.”

    Finally, I’m with you on something. Their bodies, their responsibility, nothing to do with me at all, I’m not going to blame them for anything. Unless they “over-invade” my personal space on a flight…

  33. “I can’t comment on your anecdote…:) We shift metabolism anyway come 30-ish, never mind if you also say gave up exercise (or whatever) – no idea?”

    I never did any exercise before, so there was nothing to give up. It didn’t seem to make any difference.

    “natural metabolism changes from twenties to thirties (well known), not reducing food intake as a result”

    This is the bit I have a problem with. My food intake roughly halved between 20 and 40. At 20 I used to like going to all-you-can-eat curry houses, and having several plates fully loaded. And still have breakfast and lunch. Nowadays I have about half a plate, often skip lunch, and am about 2 stone heavier than I was back then.

    You tell me people’s metabolisms slow down in the 20s and 30s, meaning they’re burning less calories, but that a lot of people gain weight during this period too. But earlier you said that bigger people burn more Calories. If people are getting bigger with age, why then are they burning fewer calories? Surely being bigger and heavier they should be burning more?

    “Is this what is known as a self proving theory?”

    No. The strongest evidence for the theory is the precision with which input and output match. If a 1% error would lead to blubber city within a couple of decades, then a 10% error would do so in a couple of years. You’ve heard about those people so fat they can’t get out of bed? That’s what would happen to *all* of us if there was no subconscious control mechanism regulating it.

    When I was 20 I ate what I wanted. Some days I’d eat a lot, like double the normal amount, other days not so much. I ate toffee fudge cake, and huge meat-and-potato pies, and treacle puddings, and curries, and wedge-thick cheese and bacon sandwiches dripping in molten butter and bacon grease… mmmmm. I didn’t count Calories, I didn’t set rigid portion amounts, I was reasonably active but I didn’t go to the gym or do cross-country running or anything daft like that. Regarding the number of Calories I was consuming, I was flying blind. I don’t find it credible that I hit that 1% target by accident. It would be like throwing darts in random directions in a pitch black darkened room with a blindfold on, and hitting the bullseye every time.

    Something was controlling it very precisely. And later, when I was 40, it was still being very precisely controlled. Yes, I gained weight, but I’d have gained it a hell of a lot faster if I’d carried on eating like I did when I was 20!

    So if you know the temperature in your refrigerator is being controlled by a thermostat, and the temperature is observed to change, it’s easy to deduce that the thermostat setting must have changed. Yes, the outside temperature might have changed as well, but the entire point of a thermostat is that the outside temperature doesn’t matter!

    Yes, it’s well known that the natural metabolism changes from twenties to thirties. It’s well known that most people put on weight as they get older. If one can happen naturally, then why not the other? So yes, the permanent weight gain people experience with age is due to the target weight being reset steadily higher with age, as it must have been designed to do since it happens so consistently and uniformly to so many different people.

    The difference can be seen in how hard it is to resist. A target weight reset makes the weight changes effortless. I didn’t have to do anything special to stay slim at 20. I didn’t have to do anything special to gain weight as I aged. It’s only when you deliberately try to push your weight beyond set bounds that it starts to hurt, and these bounds change. The weight I was at when I was 20 is now outside those bounds.

    Here’s another example. The subject was initially slim, and had no particular difficulty maintaining that weight. After the procedure she suddenly put on two and a half stone in about a year and a half!

    That’s not caused by aging lazy slobs carelessly neglecting to cut down on the cakes as the metabolism slows. There’s something else going on.

    And if it go up suddenly like that, then why can it not suddenly jump down again? Is it really so unreasonable a hypothesis?

  34. “Hypothesis”?

    Go for it – get some funding..;)

    This might be the basis:

    1) Your initial idea. Obviously, as you rightly say, it’s a good start “intuitively”.

    2) My logarithmic idea of large / smaller body, different calories, feeding into new equilibriums. Ie, eat less, you’ll find a new smaller (to whatever extent) equilibrium, all else being equal (btw, so many of your points have been answerable with “but I said all else being equal”, and which is going to be important when you come to determine “control groups”).

    3) What happens between roughly the age of 30 and 35 (slowing metabolism?). Based on your comments above, maybe do some preliminary research on that?

    4) Have an age base point for what you call average (or an “original” target weight) – I would suggest 20 or 21? Ie, I agree with you, youngsters away from the average are probably always going to be outliers. But perhaps do some prelim on that too.

    5) Exercise. I would suggest that those who exercise more will automatically keep closer to whatever 1) suggests is the target weight (as determined by 4), whatever that is? Build it in to the hypothesis. Just trust my intuition on that one (#). For example, you are going to need fat / average / thin people getting fat / average / thin, with and without exercise, at different ages? Or is it simpler than that?

    I’ve probably missed a few crucial physical issues, and that’s before we even start to address control issues relating to psychology / temperament, etc?

    You can see from this that it’s going to be a very, very large sample size. Loads of dosh. Given the size, maybe get the EU involved? I understand they are very good at investing tax payers’ money? Though, given current events, maybe file the application in a different jurisdiction from the UK?

    I’ve probably missed loads, but I think you’re on to a real winner. If you need a sympathetic / understanding research assistant, I’m more than happy to help.

    # – Finally, there was a lot to respond to individually above, which as you can see I’ve avoidded doing. Just one thing:

    “It’s well known that most people put on weight as they get older”

    See 5) above, and that includes athletes of all sorts including recreational.

    Intuition tells me those who continue to perform / exercise (and post their twenties) are rarely fat. I would definitely build part of the hypothesis around that.

    As a species we have evolved over hundreds of thousands of years continually being active and exercising. It’s in our DNA and absolutely crucial.

    Yet, post industrial revolution / specialisation, many of us do far less exercise than our ancestors. Indeed, you freely admit yourself above that your anecdote, from 20 to 40, avoided being that active?

    Hence, 5) is crucial to the research exercise.

    btw, if you thik I’m being flippant, remember that originally (my first post in respoinse) I didn’t “deny” your ideas, I simply said they were obviously (to me) quite incomplete..;)

  35. @ NiV
    I don’t think that I know better than 100,000 years of evolution. *But* I do know that my body weight stabilises at different levels after periods of exerrcise or idleness. After my first marathon my (out-of-active-training) bodyweight got back to the level it had been at half that age. A year ago it was 35% higher, now only 17%.
    FYI I have never smoked
    Target weight – filed under P for Phlostigon

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