Category Archives: Health

Food Nannyism

Thoughts from Lileks on the new Puritans:

Let’s get one thing clear: when the TV talk-show people lavish praise on the idea, it has nothing to do with some abstract notion of the costs of obesity. They just don’t like fat people. Fat people, at best, are a rebuke their own finicky vanity – I look good, why can’t you? – and at the worst, aesthetically unpleasant. If they all went away, the trim pert types woudl miss them after a while, and realize that people no longer came pre-packaged in a style that made them easy to dismiss.

A thin woman with three children by three men who can’t get by is an object of concern. A fat women with two kids who can’t get by is a toad, and probably a smoker.

A culture that redefines food choices as moral issues will demonize the people who don’t share the tastes of the priest class. A culture that elevates eating to some holistic act of ethical self-definition – localvore, low-carbon-impact food, fair trade, artisanal cheese – will find the casual carefree choices of the less-enlightened as an affront to their belief system. Leave it to Americans to invent a Puritan strain of Epicurianism.

I do have to agree that sugar is bad for you. But people have a right to eat things that are bad for them. Until the rest of us are forced to pay for their health care, of course…

Saving Us From The Tyranny

…of choices:

America was built on the principle that a man could make choices about his own life. This has been a complete failure. You remember when pioneers set out by themselves into the untamed frontier? And you remember what happened to them? That’s right: They all died. Lacking a government to tell them how much soda to drink or salt to eat, they became too obese to run away from bears and mountain lions. It’s a sad chapter in our history, but luckily when people headed out west the next time, they brought lots and lots of government with them and founded California. And thanks to its huge amount of laws telling people what to do, that area has flourished (well, I haven’t read any news about California in a decade or so, but I assume it’s still doing pretty well).

Anyway, the principle we’ve learned is that man can’t survive if he has to make choices for himself. Think about it: From what to eat to what to wear to what to do, you basically do nothing but make choices about your life all day long. It’s annoying and tiresome, and none of us has read all the scientific studies to know what’s healthy to eat and how much exercise we need. We need smart people to limit this insane number of choices so we can know what to do. Thus we have politicians who hover above us (or, in Bloomberg’s case, below us) watching us lovingly and telling us what to do for our own benefit.

Or at least those are the forward-thinking ideas Bloomberg subscribes to. He’s a shrewd and cunning man — a regular Tyrion Lannister — and with his bans on trans-fats, salt, and large sodas, he’s taking away many confusing and wrong choices in order to make life easier and better for us all. Now, some people may say he should focus on job growth instead of individuals’ health, but Obama has been trying to add jobs for some time and hasn’t been able to, and if Obama can’t figure that out, obviously no one can. So Bloomberg is going to give up on complicated things that are out of his hands, like the economy, and instead focus on what he can control: you.

So does Bloomberg hate people eating sweets and other tasty foods? Obviously not. In fact, one of his first jobs was working inside a tree making cookies. And he’s been a longtime member of the Lollipop Guild. He just knows that without his direct control, you won’t be able to enjoy unhealthy foods in moderation, because, really, just look at how fat and stupid you all are. Actually, don’t look; it’s too depressing. Instead, keep your gaze on the health guru Bloomberg. Don’t you want a physique like his? He’s like a halfling warrior. See, Bloomberg embodies his own principles, as he’s not a wastefully large politician like New Jersey’s Chris Christie; instead, he’s fun-sized.

The mayor from Keebler. I always that that talk of Bloomberg on the ticket was insane, but to whatever degree anyone took it seriously, I hope that this ends it.

Related: “We have this ‘liberty’ business completely backward in this country.” The eternal words of the “liberal” fascist.

The Diet Debacle

“Two seemingly benign nutritional maxims are at the root of all dietary evil: A calorie is a calorie, and You are what you eat. Both ideas are now so entrenched in public consciousness that they have become virtually unassailable. As a result, the food industry, aided and abetted by ostensibly well-meaning scientists and politicians, has afflicted humankind with the plague of chronic metabolic disease, which threatens to bankrupt health care worldwide.”

We’ve had the green revolution. Now we need a new revolution in food tech that provides adequate healthy food for the world.

[Update a few minutes later]

Is this any way to lose weight?” Yes. I’ve been eating like this for a year and a half, and I’ve lost ten pounds (though that wasn’t the goal). Fat doesn’t make you fat. Carbs do.

[Early afternoon update]

A testimonial from Bruce Webster.


A primer.

Interesting, and slightly dismaying. If true, the HDL/LDL ratio isn’t really important; all that really matters is the absolute LDL level. Still, a high ratio and reduction of total would reduce LDL. But the most important takeaway from a dietary standpoint is that you are not what you eat — there is little correlation between cholesterol intake and serum cholesterol. A failure to understand this over the decades has resulted in a lot of terrible dietary advice, including the kind that probably killed my father in the seventies.

Life Extension

…though telomerase gene therapy:

Mice treated at the age of one lived longer by 24% on average, and those treated at the age of two, by 13%. The therapy, furthermore, produced an appreciable improvement in the animals’ health, delaying the onset of age-­‐related diseases — like osteoporosis and insulin resistance — and achieving improved readings on aging indicators like neuromuscular coordination.

The gene therapy consisted of treating the animals with a DNA-­modified virus, the viral genes having been replaced by those of the telomerase enzyme, with a key role in aging. Telomerase repairs the extreme ends or tips of chromosomes, known as telomeres, and in doing so slows the cell’s and therefore the body’s biological clock. When the animal is infected, the virus acts as a vehicle depositing the telomerase gene in the cells.

This study “shows that it is possible to develop a telomerase-­based anti-­aging gene therapy without increasing the incidence of cancer,” the authors affirm. “Aged organisms accumulate damage in their DNA due to telomere shortening, [this study] finds that a gene therapy based on telomerase production can repair or delay this kind of damage,” they add.

Faster, please.