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  #1  
Old 20 September 2007, 07:31 PM
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Read This! Obesity myths

What are the most common misconceptions about obesity, and who is spreading them?

http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/...,5487871.story
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  #2  
Old 21 September 2007, 01:31 AM
Malruhn Malruhn is offline
 
 
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From the article.
Quote:
Americans are getting fat because they're eating more. In fact, as Steven Blair points out, "we do not have data on average daily energy expenditure or on changes in this variable, and the data we have on average daily energy intake are questionable. Therefore the fundamental cause of the increases in obesity prevalence observed over the past several years cannot be determined."
But, since just 250 years ago, over 90% of the population was involved in food production... and today it is under 3%, and the percentage of sedentary jobs is significantly higher than it was then, doesn't this mean that his denigration of this theory is a bit... off?

Hmmmm, I don't have imperical data that says if Silas jumps off a big building he will go squish, therefore I can't say that he will.
Quote:
We've become a nation of couch potatoes. At the risk of repetition, we simply don't know if Americans are now less active than they have been historically -- the data just aren't available
How much time was spent in school and watching TV back in the 30's/40's/50's? How about now? Hmmmm. See my questions of point #1.
Quote:
Yet increasing rates of "overweight" and "obesity," so-called, correlate closely with increasing affluence -- as does steadily increasing life expectancy and steadily improving health for people of all ages.
So, the fatter I get, the more affluent I will become? And the fattest are the most affluent? What of the large numbers of people in low/no income families that eat like crap and are fat? And the increase in life expectancy can be explained by them receiving better medical care because they are wealthy - and they get the care either from their own money or as a benefit from their jobs.

While there is a bit of good info in this article, there is just so much wrong with it that I am amazed.
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  #3  
Old 21 September 2007, 01:41 AM
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I agree with Malruhn (did I just hear the gallop of four horsemen?)

To me, the article seems to be arguing that,
1) We have no idea what's causing the obesity epidemic, but it sure isn't any of the most obvious answers. Perhaps space mutants are beaming fat rays at us.

2) Fat people aren't really fat; they're just big-boned. Apparently, big bones cause diabetes. Or maybe those mischevous aliens are beaming obesity-related diseases at us, too.

3) Whatever is making people fat, it couldn't possibly be their fault, and we can't expect people armed with information to make informed choices. We'd better pass some laws. Against space mutants and their evil death rays.

I realize that the causes of obesity are more complicated than "people are lazy slobs who need to stop eating so many Doritos!" But this article takes it to such an extreme, it stretches credulity to the breaking point. Are we really supposed to believe that Americans (and others, all over the world, though to lesser extents) aren't eating higher-fat, more calorie-dense diets than before, that current lifestyles aren't more sedentary, and that even if they were, these things would have nothing to do with people getting fatter? Or, that no one is capable of making conscious choices to improve their weight and health? Please.
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Old 21 September 2007, 01:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Malruhn View Post
From the article.

But, since just 250 years ago, over 90% of the population was involved in food production... and today it is under 3%, and the percentage of sedentary jobs is significantly higher than it was then, doesn't this mean that his denigration of this theory is a bit... off?
The percetange of people in an industry says little about how productive that industry is. And I'm not sure what the percentage of sedentary jobs has to say about the eating habits of Americans.

Quote:
How much time was spent in school and watching TV back in the 30's/40's/50's? How about now? Hmmmm. See my questions of point #1.
As TV isn't the only thing keeping us from activity, I'm afraid this doesn't answer the question of whether we're more or less active than we were years ago.
Quote:
So, the fatter I get, the more affluent I will become? And the fattest are the most affluent? What of the large numbers of people in low/no income families that eat like crap and are fat? And the increase in life expectancy can be explained by them receiving better medical care because they are wealthy - and they get the care either from their own money or as a benefit from their jobs.
You're misunderstanding. He means as a society becomes more affluent, the fatter its citizens become. He isn't discussing the relative obesity of citizens within a society.

Last edited by Steve; 21 September 2007 at 02:07 AM.
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Old 21 September 2007, 01:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve View Post
The percetange of people in an industry says little about how productive that industry is. And I'm not sure what the percentage of sedentary jobs has to say about the eating habits of Americans.
It doesn't say anything about the eating habits, but it does say quite a bit about the relative caloric burn. Even with today's more industrialized methods of farming, a person who works for 10 or 12 hours outside in the sun on a farm can be expected to burn many more calories than a person who works an indoor job for 8 or 9 hours at a desk. I would be extremely surprised to find that farming was not much more labor intensive in the days before tractors and harvesters and such.
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Old 21 September 2007, 01:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by geminilee View Post
It doesn't say anything about the eating habits, but it does say quite a bit about the relative caloric burn. {snip} I would be extremely surprised to find that farming was not much more labor intensive in the days before tractors and harvesters and such.
In fact, while we do not have "precise data" on the energy expenditure of farmers of yore, we do have data on people who today rely on less industrialized farming tehniques- for example Old Order Amish- that supports what you are saying. I will try to dig up some cites or examples.

ETA cite
Physical Activity in Amish

Last edited by Dr. Dave; 21 September 2007 at 01:58 PM.
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  #7  
Old 21 September 2007, 01:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by geminilee View Post
It doesn't say anything about the eating habits, but it does say quite a bit about the relative caloric burn. Even with today's more industrialized methods of farming, a person who works for 10 or 12 hours outside in the sun on a farm can be expected to burn many more calories than a person who works an indoor job for 8 or 9 hours at a desk. I would be extremely surprised to find that farming was not much more labor intensive in the days before tractors and harvesters and such.
I don't think a person driving a piece of farming machinery for 10 or 12 hours per day is burning significantly more calories that someone who is sitting at a desk for an equivalent amount of hours per day.

But I think the article's detractors above are missing the point of the article: scientific assumptions about obesity's causes and ill effects are being made absent scientific data, and that is bad science.
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Old 21 September 2007, 02:10 PM
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Having worked both on a farm and at a more sedentary job, I would have to disagree. Merely being in the sun requires more calories in an effort to keep the body cool. Also, even if you do drive a tractor a lot of the time, that is not all that you do.
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Old 21 September 2007, 02:18 PM
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But that isn't what I said.
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  #10  
Old 21 September 2007, 02:59 PM
Ryda Wong, EBfCo. Ryda Wong, EBfCo. is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AnglRdr View Post
But I think the article's detractors above are missing the point of the article: scientific assumptions about obesity's causes and ill effects are being made absent scientific data, and that is bad science.
This is the salient point of the piece.
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  #11  
Old 21 September 2007, 03:05 PM
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Don't mind me.....I am going to sit in front of the computer for the next couple of hours and then move to the couch to watch The View. I really have a hankering for a pint of ice cream too but that would require getting off my butt and going to the grocery store. The lawn really needs to be mowed, but I am just not in the mood.
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Old 21 September 2007, 07:48 PM
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These seem not so much like "myths" as like "generally believed ideas that have not been tested."
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  #13  
Old 21 September 2007, 08:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ThistleS View Post
These seem not so much like "myths" as like "generally believed ideas that have not been tested."
Doesn't "generally believed ideas" fall under what a myth would be?
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  #14  
Old 21 September 2007, 10:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by diddy View Post
Doesn't "generally believed ideas" fall under what a myth would be?
I would think "myth" would require some component of not being true. These ideas haven't even been tested, much less proven false.
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  #15  
Old 21 September 2007, 11:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ThistleS View Post
I would think "myth" would require some component of not being true. These ideas haven't even been tested, much less proven false.
Thats my point though, we cannot call them "true" since there is no evidence to back up that so called "truth" It would rank as "undetermined". Basically the fact that somebody accepts it as true, makes it somewhat mythical even if a kernel of it is true.
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  #16  
Old 21 September 2007, 11:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by diddy View Post
Thats my point though, we cannot call them "true" since there is no evidence to back up that so called "truth" It would rank as "undetermined". Basically the fact that somebody accepts it as true, makes it somewhat mythical even if a kernel of it is true.
Hm. I don't really agree, I think a myth would be something that is definitely not true but believed anyway. I don't really know folklore well enough to know for sure though.

My point, though, was actually that the article makes it sound like these are things people believe even though they aren't true, when actually no one knows if they are true or not.
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