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Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Average man in the year 2000 over a stone heavier than he was in 1986

Scientists from Oxford University’s British Heart Foundation Health Promotion Research Group have analysed data on body weight along with changes in the amount of food people consumed over the 15-year time period. See physorg.com news item. They found that the average man in the year 2000 is over a stone heavier than he was in 1986. But "Dr Peter Scarborough of the Department of Public Health at Oxford University, who led the research, said: ‘We looked at how much food was available over time, accounting for food that’s wasted or thrown away. It’s clear people are eating more, and today we’re seeing a continued increase in the amount of food available.’"

I don't myself find that Dr Scarborough's conclusion follows from the data. For one thing "the actual observed increase in average male weight of 7.7kg was much more than expected from the extra food available to men in 2000." The researchers then use the usual get-out of ascribing this discrepancy to a reduction in physical activity. - But remember, folks, exercise - even a lot of exercise over a long period - produces little or no weight loss, even though researchers constantly claim that it does. - Exercise is not the answer - not even part of the answer - to the increasing problem of obesity and its attendant ill-health.

For another thing, there is no mention of salt in the article, and yet the fastest, safest and most reliable way to lose excess weight is to reduce salt/sodium intake.

Thirdly, there is no mention of the constantly increasing number of pharmaceutical drugs being prescribed by GPs and other healthcare workers, when weight gain is a very common side-effect of many, or even most, prescribed drugs. These drugs include steroids, HRT, tricyclic antidepressants, antipsychotics, anti-epileptics and many more that are frequently over-prescribed and frequently unmonitored. (The weight gain is because of fluid retention resulting from weakened blood vessel walls/ salt sensitivity.)

Fourthly, the research is funded by the BHF, who have as their constant refrain the need for calorie reduction and taking more exercise to lose weight, and yet that is not at all a good, or even a likely, way to lose excess weight. The BHF would be unlikely to publish or give prominence to research findings at variance with their reiterated advice. As likely as politicians on the make being heard telling the truth, I reckon. I am not an admirer of the BHF and its iffy advice and constant plugging of statins, a drug that does more harm than good to most of the people who take it.

So I would favour other factors as more likely reasons for the heavier weight of men. These would include as major causes:
1) taking more prescription drugs and not being told of the need to avoid salt and salty food when taking the ones that cause sodium retention/ fluid retention
2) the irresponsibly high concentrations of salt that food companies add to their processed foods and to their bread
3) dieting - by which I mean eating fewer calories than the individual's body requires and/or expending more energy by way of taking more exercise.
A lesser cause would be the increasing amounts of oestrogen in the drinking water supply because it and other sodium retention-causing compounds are excreted in the urine of women on 'the pill' or on HRT and so enter the water table.

And of course the heavier you are the more calories you need, both to carry your heavier body around and service its organs, and to keep the heavier body warm, since heat lost from a body is proportional to the surface area of the body, and the heavier person tends to have a bigger surface area than the lighter person.