There’s your obesity epidemic right there

Although insulation standards have been increasing, so has the standard of home heating. In 1970, only 31% of homes had central heating. By 2003 it had been installed in 92% of British homes,[11] leading in turn to a rise in the average temperature within them (from 12.1 °C to 18.20 °C).[12] Even in homes with central heating, average temperatures rose 4.55 °C during this period.

We’re mammals, much of our energy expenditure is on regulating body temperature.

It would actually be fascinating to work out what the change in the average – per human and internally – energy budget is as a result of the above. My intuition (that is, some wild half assed guess I can’t possibly support with evidence) is that our energy intake in the form of food hasn’t fallen as fast as the energy required, as a result of central heating, to regulate body temperature.

Thus a nation of tubbies because of the widespread existence of radiators.

So, anyone actually know enough about kcals to be able to work this out?

31 thoughts on “There’s your obesity epidemic right there”

  1. In the Terriblegraph this morning, Boris is pledging that every house will be powered by wind in a decade. The uselessness of wind power and the competing demand from electric vehicles should ensure that we are all cold and slim.

  2. …ensure that we are all cold and slim.

    From riding our bicycles to work.

    But think how fit you’ll be, comrade!

  3. “There’s your obesity epidemic right there”

    I doubt it. Along with the proliferation of central heating has been the wearing of much lighter clothing in the home. A lot of people sit around all winter dressed as if for the beach. The nett calorie loss is the same. I’d say it’s more the ubiquitousness of the sofa. That’s all you see when you go in people’s houses. Sprawled on the sofa in front of the TV. They eat there, they sleep there… The only time they’re not on the sofa they’re in bed.
    People used to sit on chairs & sitting upright uses a considerable amount of energy from the muscle tension required. And the stomach muscles get exercised so you don’t end up with a belly hangs down past your knees.

  4. I’m a child of the 1950’s. I can clearly remember getting up in the morning with ice on the INSIDE of my bedroom windows. And my garret in the 1970’s ditto. So…??? Er…? Just saying is all.

  5. The obesity epidemic is mostly caused by PHE defining anyone who isn’t totally emaciated as obese.

  6. If it had an impact, the effect is so small it’s insignificant in a scientific sense. Too many places where central heating became the norm where you didn’t get an increase in obesity.

    The effect of shovelling high-caloric food in, while doing far less is of much more significance any day of the week..
    (of coure, that places the blame/responsibility fairly on the behaviour of the Fatties, so it’s Verboten to say that nowadays…)

  7. Surreptitious Evil

    Although we never had ice on the inside of any windows when I was a child, living mostly in an early 1970s-built house designed with central heating, we’ve certainly had ice on the then-remaining single glazed windows in the current 1850s-built house. Usually, this was because the shutters had been closed (although at least once because the boiler had packed in in mid-winter.)

  8. I’m a child of the ’70s, and we didn’t have central heating until we moved in 1982 – and even then I was in one of the two bedrooms without a radiator!

  9. For the reasons @bis points out – you’d have to control for changes in indoor clothing, and I will add bedding to that too, which is now very different to my grandparents’ traditional setup of stacks of tightly packed sheets – it isn’t as simple as crunching kcal rates at different temperatures, unfortunately.

  10. ‘Thus a nation of tubbies because of the widespread existence of radiators.’

    Bu||s#!+. You eat too much.

    And the extent of ‘obesity’ is total fabrication. There is no data.

  11. Over the years I’ve known a lot of drug users. Contrary to popular belief, that rarely ends up as an addiction problem with consequent grief. Most users can take it or leave it alone. They exercise choice. Comfort eating’s a high. There’s probably several people comment here would be junkies save for lack of opportunity or societal taboos. Obesity’s an addiction problem. If you’re fat, stop eating so much. Simple as that. You don’t have the self control of a coke head?

  12. “installed in 92% of British homes,[11] leading in turn to a rise in the average temperature within them (from 12.1 °C to 18.20 °C)”
    There’s a testable theory in there. If someone has worked out the rise in temp across the whole of Britain, presumably they have regional data buried away in their workings. If regional tubbiness rates do not correlate with indoor temperature gain then the theory fails. Feynman and all that.

  13. BMI threshold for ‘obesity’ has fallen from 40 to 30.
    Population is slightly taller and better nourished anyway than 50 years ago – height affects BMI.
    Warmer houses.
    More sitting down at work, even standing up all day burns a few calories.

  14. The assumption being that prior to central heating people did not take other measures indoors to stay warm so they did not have to expend energy staying warm.

    Apart from roaring coal fires kept lit throughout the night in Winter, and or paraffin or electric heaters: two blankets, bedspread eiderdown on the bed + hot water bottles or electric blankets; multiple layers of under garments and top clothes including jumpers, cardigans, caps, bonnets, when sitting around watching the telly.

    Government dietary advice shifted people from a high protein meat + two veg diet with dairy fat, to one with low protein, high carbohydrate foods to replace the meat, and cakes and biscuits to fill void left by fat.

    Meat does not make fatty tissue, it makes muscle, carbs do not make muscle but do make fatty tissue. Cakes and biscuits make fatty tissue. Dairy fat is a source of vitamins (good source of Vit D) slows down digestion, leaves you feeling fuller longer, reduces desire to snack, and is essential in absorption of vitamins… and provides energy.

    So Government created problem. What’s new?

  15. So Much For Subtlety

    MC October 6, 2020 at 7:10 am – “Boris is pledging that every house will be powered by wind in a decade.”

    Boris is a useless c**t, and is hardly distinguishable from the Lib Dems. But we need to grit our teeth and bear it. Until Brexit is through.

  16. There would be an effect from it but it would be impossible to control for all variables. All you need to know is that an excess of 50cals a day equates to 18250 cals over the course of a year, which in turn equates to approximately 5.2lbs of fat added in that year.

    A Jaffa cake is about 50 cals.

    So we have well insulated and heated homes, cheap fuel, we drive everywhere, food is abundant, ridiculously cheap and freely available at anytime of the day, either from a supermarket or a takeaway, and they all deliver now, no need to walk or drive now.

    Any one of those could easily add 50 cals a day excess to the mix. Multiply 5.2lbs by 10 or more years, and there’s obesity.

    There is a chap, ex NASA, who did some research into this, Ray Cronise is his name I think. Only did it with a study group n=1 though, himself. He looked into it after discovering that Olympian Ian Thorpe consumed 12000 calories a day while training.

    He has a method of testing energy loss to the environment, but it’s not straightforward.
    Given that we’re quite efficient, walking/running a mile is about 100 calories (2 Jaffa cakes), it’s fairly obvious that being in the water was the cause for some of the required calories.

  17. bis,

    “There’s probably several people comment here would be junkies save for lack of opportunity or societal taboos. Obesity’s an addiction problem. If you’re fat, stop eating so much. Simple as that. You don’t have the self control of a coke head”

    But it’s not like we were all chasing the dragon 30 years ago. What were we doing, though? We were puffing away on Dunhill and Marlboro.

    I think our host’s opinion on central heating might have some validity, but I think reductions in smoking (and people getting a fix with food) might have had an effect, too.

  18. Newsflash for certain readers of this blog. Brexit has already happened! We left the EU earlier this year. We are currently in the transition phase negotiating our future relationship. Boris seems determined to make his COvid incompetence look like a work of inspiration by failing to get any sort of agreement. This will not be good for the UK, but we might be so buggered by Covid that it will be hard to spot the difference.

  19. Newsflash for Ian Reid
    Brexit will have happened when we are no longer subject to EU rules. Brexit has been signed – hopefully it will happen on New Year’s Day 2021, but that may just be the entrance to the tunnel leading us out.

  20. Boris seems determined to make his COvid incompetence look like a work of inspiration by failing to get any sort of agreement. This will not be good for the UK, but we might be so buggered by Covid that it will be hard to spot the difference.

    Being desperate to sign an agreement, any agreement, was what gave us Theresa May’s Withdrawal Surrender Agreement. With all the “Please fuck us up the arse some more, EU! And don’t bother with the lube” terms it contains, some of which get neutered by the Internal Markets bill that the remoaners are remoaning so hard about.

    The closer we get to WTO terms with the eu, the better off we’ll be. And walking away with no agreement gets us WTO terms.

  21. So Much For Subtlety

    Ian Reid October 6, 2020 at 12:52 pm – “Boris seems determined to make his COvid incompetence look like a work of inspiration by failing to get any sort of agreement. This will not be good for the UK”

    I disagree. No agreement is likely to be the best solution. The EU seems unwilling to accept anything less than full membership minus the vote.

  22. As the inside of my childhood bedroom windows were covered in frost rather than ice, must assume I was a tad privileged. When we were kids we ate everything that wasn’t nailed down and then more, but remained lean as whippets. Running around trying to keep warm helped, especially as we were kicked out of the house every morning and told not to come home until supper time. Didn’t put a pound on until I landed a desk job and developed a taste for Directors Bitter and liver sausage sandwiches (+50lbs, even with a 40/day smoking habit). Now, sans beer, sarnies and cigarettes, am back in the whippet class … courtesy in part to a chilly climate and lack of central heating.

  23. The last chart I saw on the subject showed that overweight people outlive people with “normal” BMI. In fact, the mildly obese outlive them too. The “normals” do outlive the very obese. The worst performers are the underweight. Now this is all just a lot of observational data bundled together without (I assume) much attempt to study confounders. Still, it suggests to me that the current BMI classes are misdefined and the consequent health advice is probably baloney. To which I might add; publishing advice on BMI without distinguishing people by sex, age, and (for all I know) race is probably a mug’s game.

    P.S. If you want to see a medic’s jaw drop just ask him whether by “normal” he means desirable or commonplace. The first time I did it it made me realise that these buggers chatter on about “normal” without even knowing what they might mean by it.

  24. If you think BMI levels for adults is bad, wait until you see how they work out if a child is ‘obese’. It’s a joke. See Chris Snowdon’s Blog.

    Tens of thousands of kids magically go from ‘obese’ to normal weight every year on their 18th birthday.

  25. publishing advice on BMI without distinguishing people by sex, age, and (for all I know) race

    Definitely race.

    Even skinny healthy Polynesians struggle to get a “normal” BMI. I worked with a young Cook Islander who was a touch under 170 cm tall and his doctor told him that he was good if he could keep his weight under 100 kgs. That is a BMI of 35. That’s well into “obese”, which he most certainly wasn’t — he was just very solid.

    Some of the Polynesian professional rugby players have amazing BMIs. Ben Tameifuna is actually fat, but his BMI of 45 would lead us to believe he was at death’s door, not suggest a man who can play professional rugby for 80 minutes. There’s quite a few wingers who would be “obese”.

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