Friday, March 8, 2013

The Cause of Obesity: It is Food Stupid!

There is an article in today's NY Times which states:

OBESITY is a problem everywhere, with significant consequences for personal health and public spending. People weigh more than ever — but why? If we can find the causes of obesity, we can try to eliminate or counter them.  Unfortunately, finding causes is easier said than done, and causes we think we see can turn out to be illusions.

The cause, well simple, it is food. Remember 3500 kcal per pound. You basal met rate is say 2000 kcal per day, you eat 2500 kcal per day you gain a pound a week. Simple, End of story. Do not look any further! Input less output is Net Accumulation.

Now here is a real dumb statement:

The gold standard for inferring causation in social science, as in medicine, is the randomized controlled trial, in which people or places are randomly assigned to receive different treatments. In this case, the “treatment” would be the amount of outdoor food ads in an area. But advertisers are unlikely to agree to randomly distribute their signs, nor would people consent to live in a randomly chosen place.  

The gold standard is simple physics, in this case energy input and output. The author is a psychologist so I guess I should not be surprised. It is food, too much food. Let me give a few examples:

1. A decade ago when I brought my Czech partners and their family to the US I took them to a lunch restaurant. The plates came out and they were shocked, they at first thought one plate was for all, like a family meal, then they realized that one was for each. In Prague at lunch we had a small plate of food, and even 6 oz of beer, not my choice, but all in moderation.

2. At a day recently of lunches and dinners I kept to my bowl of soup while I saw others with fries and piles of food, well in excess of the 2000 kcal per day. It was not pure choice, but it was choosing Item 9 on the menu. I went off menu. No problem, just ask.

3. The typical business lunch in a conference room contains sandwiches that contain not only bread and meat but a collection of calorie adding stuff. The solution, remove the bread and stuff. Stick with the protein. Also there is always the soda and deserts. Hands off!

The "cause" of obesity is obvious, more input than output. The more I speak with people the more I am concerned the only way to stop it is through taxation, pure and simple. Especially if those who opine like those in the Times are totally clueless.