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July 30, 2006

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Half sigma

That study you linked to says explicitly:

"A recent population-based study has found that overweight and obesity have a strong and deleterious impact on important components of health status.."

This would seem to be hard to reconcile with your quixotic claim that:

"The empirical data shows that "overweight" people have better health"

Thus, it is very irresonsible and downright reckless of you to suggest Big Macs are good for your health (put aside the thousands of other studies indicating the contrary).

So come down from your gamma (sorry, sigma) quadrant and get real.

Study showed that people with BMI between 25 and 30, the official "overweight" BMI, had less chance of dying.

That's empirical evidence that the ideal healthy weight is in that range.

It's irresponsible of everyone else to preach something else based on unproven theory.

Pure weight measurements are silly as many professional athletes would be considered overweight by the FDA by such crude measurements.
Different body types will have different healthy weights and more importantly, different healthy body fat ratios.
A few points are clear though, diets of mostly lean protein, whole grain carbs, and good fats, are better than diets of mostly fast food and junk food. Also, those who exercise about five days a week are way healthier than those who exercise less than three times a week.
Economics wise, people with unhealthy lifestyles impose a negative externality on those with health lifestyles because of government funded healthcare policy.
Government should only subsidize preventive healthcare such as vaccines, annual physicals, teeth cleanings, and health & exercise programs. The best "diet" books are actually bodybuilding books, used in moderation, with persistence and patience.

"many professional athletes would be considered overweight by the FDA by such crude measurements"

Nearly ALL would.

Emphasis on muscles may be adding extra pounds to Americans. Before the 1980s, lifting weights wasn't a common activity. "Health clubs" didn't exist.

Half sigma:

"Study showed that people with BMI between 25 and 30, the official "overweight" BMI, had less chance of dying."

Dude, this means nothing. What if they were unhealthy as a result of Big Macs, and hence received piles of medical treatment - and so, indirectly, got an extra year or so.

Also, what matters is not life expectancy, but quality of life. Being pretty fat, Id imagine, doesnt feel that good. Or doesnt elevant your chances on the marriage market, does it?

Also, as Lapfrog said, lots of training makes you "overweight", so here, youd "overweight" people being healthier and living longer.

I still think its outrageous of you to admonish your readers to eat Big Macs. Who knows, they could come back and sue you in a few years. (Im thinking you're prob overweight yourself and you find these "results" comforting.)

"Or doesnt elevant your chances on the marriage market, does it?"

I'll have to study that, however my studies of weight vs. income using the 1991 National Health Interview Survey showed that men weighing 205 lbs earned the most money, and earnings decreased as weight increased or decreased from that midpoint. 205 lbs is probably the ideal weight for a man from a social advantage viewpoint. Yet that weight is considered "overweight" by the government, and is in fact considered "obese" for men 5'9" or shorter.

The best "diet" books are actually bodybuilding books, used in moderation, with persistence and patience.

Following the nutritional program of a competitive bodybuilder may be healthy but is also highly impractical. Doing so usually requires eating as many as six or seven small meals each day, which can be difficult or impossible for many working people.

Emphasis on muscles may be adding extra pounds to Americans. Before the 1980s, lifting weights wasn't a common activity. "Health clubs" didn't exist.

Well, maybe, but only a relatively small minority of people engage in any regular weight training. That can't be more than a minor explanation for America's increasing weight.

"Obesity police?" My city must have cut them from the budget to subsidize more Hometown Buffets. Too bad, because they could write a year's worth of citations in a day at the local CostCo.

I agree there has been some oversimplification and exaggeration of the weight issue, probably because it's politically popular to say people's own lack of discipline makes them sick. Plus, fat is unpopular and an easy scapegoat. But, the NYT story seems to say people are living longer despite being overweight, not because of it. The 2005 CDC study indicates overweight is good, but not obesity. It contradicts earlier findings by Harvard Medical School that a restricted-calorie diet extends life. And, there are myriad studies linking extra weight to cancer, diabetes, joint problems, heart disease and reduced recovery from all of these.

Hey, assuming arguendo that being overweight extends life: Why do people (especially men) find it so sexually unattractive? Are we just brainwashed by society?

"205 lbs is probably the ideal weight for a man from a social advantage viewpoint. Yet that weight is considered "overweight" by the government, and is in fact considered "obese" for men 5'9" or shorter."

I wonder how much of that has to do with height, since shorter men make less money. Maybe those 205-lb guys doing well are 6 feet or so. Or bodybuilders, since athletes make more money.

"National Health Interview Survey showed that men weighing 205 lbs earned the most money"

Half sigma, I think you have to think more about causation issues. Rich investment bankers dont have time to eat, and go to McDonalds, say. Hence being rich can cause obesity.
I really doubt being obese causes more income. Economists have always noted a "beauty premium", that is, attractive people get paid more, controlling for everything else. Given obesity is not deemed attractive, this would undermine your line of causation.

MVPY, I bet rich investment bankers don't go to McDonald's.

I'll bet our blog host doesn't even really eat there; he's just provoking. He's far too elitist.

I, on the other hand, enjoy an occasional Happy Meal, and think McDonald's is unfairly scapegoated for the nation's weight problem by urban snobs.

I believe people know why we are bigger these days.

People eat more because we are all generally wealthy. People in 1850 were thing because most of them did not have much to eat and what they had to eat was achieved through muscle power.

In 1850 most people died of infectious diseases and many people suffered from chronic dysentery.

Image trying to be fat when there are no grocery stores, the only fresh vegatables are what you grew yourself and food storage was very crude.

"MVPY, I bet rich investment bankers don't go to McDonald's."

I dont think so. Many investment bankers are simply too busy to go for some three course meal. Ive heard that some of these banks have junk food available on site, so they wont be disturbed by 1hour at some elite restaurant. Just think about it; I know when Im busy, I tend to eat rough. Its only when Im not, Id care to be choosy. (By the way, Im not saying this necessarily happens; its just a possible justification for the observation sited. In fact, I believe that lower income people are more obese, generally).

Re MCdonalds, I dont mean that literally; its just a catch all term for "plastic food".

Also, its interesting to note that, back in 1600s or thereabouts, being obese was fashionable; a sign of wealth. How things change.

"I'll bet our blog host doesn't even really eat there; he's just provoking. He's far too elitist."

Do you know who half sigma is? A student? A hippie? A professional? A freak? Insane? Smart? (He seems to be a combo of all, Im having problems figuring him out).


"Do you know who half sigma is? A student? A hippie? A professional? A freak? Insane? Smart?"

I have heard that Half Sigma is a cute blond libertarian girl posing as a thirtysomething male computer programmer. Her mission, apparently, is to use her research skills to ensure that men with high IQs stop getting laid.

Other than that, she seems pretty well-adjusted for anyone having anything to do with a blog. Remember, MVPY, glass houses and all that.

"A recent population-based study has found that overweight and obesity have a strong and deleterious impact on important components of health status"

mvpy...

You seem not to know how to read between the lines. This is a classic case of a summary or abstract written to support the conventional wisdom even though the data contradicts it. Do you really think they would have said 'important components' if the data had supported a broader statement?

BTW, eating a low fat diet will increase your risk of dementia. Your brain needs fat. And BMI is a crappy measure that was originally devised due to dataset limitations; it's incredible to me that anyone uses it in evaluating their own health.

bbartlog:
Yes, we might need fat, but Im not ready read to say that unlimited fat would adversely affect me. Surely, aside from other ailments, being very obese itself directly affects your health (adversely), since it prohibits you from engaging in many activities.

spungen:
"Her mission, apparently, is to use her research skills to ensure that men with high IQs stop getting laid."

Halfsigma has said that robots will be doing everything for us in the future, so I guess this mission is doomed to fail. Also, perhaps you fantasize over half sigma as a cute blond, but Im not convinced myself. Worse still, re libertarian, the title of the blog includes "nor Libertarian". So, I guess Im back to stage one, arent I.


Sure, there's definite downsides (health and otherwise) to being *obese*. The main point is that being merely 'overweight' by official measures (i.e. BMI 25-30) does not appear to be a problem and doesn't even deserve the label. Though to reiterate, anyone interested in their own weight and its relation to health would be better off measuring their body fat percentage as a starting point.

assuming arguendo that being overweight extends life: Why do people (especially men) find it so sexually unattractive?

If that's really the case. Men extol the virtues of thinness in women but usually seem accepting of women who carry a few extra pounds. It's women who are most critical of overweight in one another.
For instance, when a woman asks her husband that dreaded question "Does this make me look fat?" what she's really asking is whether other women will thing she looks fat.

"Also, perhaps you fantasize over half sigma as a cute blond..."

Well, not me, but a lot of his poor guy readers did. Seriously, you should read
this. I swear you'll pee. The disembodied intelligence known as Half Sigma has assumed many forms.

Strange that half the blogroll at Libertarian Girl are links to Half Sigma and Calico Cat.

Strange that half the blogroll at Libertarian Girl are links to Half Sigma and Calico Cat.

Actually at least 3/4. The "Online Dating" link to www.edatereview.com is also HalfSigma's site.

I'm a little confused about the chronology, but here Libertarian Girl had a blogroll; "Other Blogs" means something else.


bbartlog:
"A recent population-based study has found that overweight and obesity have a strong and deleterious impact on important components of health status"

mvpy...

You seem not to know how to read between the lines.

It would be odd if a paper used such weaseling when talking about a paper that made the opposing claims! The paper HS linked to cites the other as a disclaimer that they only denies mortality, not morbidity. The cited paper begins with this sentence "Obesity is more strongly related to morbidity and disability than to mortality," which they seem to make as common knowlege, quantified by their study.

BTW, eating a low fat diet will increase your risk of dementia.

Is low-fat the problem or lack of essential fatty acids?


Finally, I'm not going to let this one study dissuade me of the conventional wisdom that being overweight is bad for health. In fact, I tend to accept the caloric restriction literature, that being "underweight" is good for both morbidity and mortality, though bad for some measures of comfort.

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