Just a little more on the obesity front

The pensees keep on coming. More on simple phenomenon of weight this time, less on poverty or class issues. Previously here.

My God, you're skinny!

"I agree with your reader who theorized that "My god, you're fat!" is a nice compliment from a culture where an overabundance of food is a luxury.  I would also like to note that the exact opposite is true in America as well.

"I am underweight. I'm a 118 lbs, 6 foot tall male. It's not that I do not eat, I certainly do, my genetics just do not help me gain any weight at all.  But the amount of people who 
willfully come up to me and say "My god, you're skinny!" never ceases to amaze me.  I can be particularly embarrassing, especially when you have a hangup about being so thin.  I always found it interesting that people here can so freely point out my frailness and yet if I were to point out their obesity it would be considered quite rude. 

"It wasn't until somewhat recently that I realized most people saying this to me mean it as a compliment.  Many people would like to be as skinny as I am and have my genetics (even though I don't particularly care for it), and this is just their way of expressing that fact.  I have no doubt that in a different culture it could be skewed the other way."

My God, they're fat!

"Last week on a flight to Kansas City to visit family I had a layover at O'Hare and I spent some time counting fat men. I wanted to see what the percentage of fat to normal was. I used a simple visual standard- if the belly exceeded the belt by a certain degree I considered the men fat. This is a very generous criteria since good tailoring can hide a lot. After an hour of counting I came up with a ratio of three fat men to every normal man. I know that this was a survey rife with error but still, James, our empire is truly dying.
"Full disclosure- I am now 5,10 and 150 lbs but I was once (15 years ago) 190 lbs."

The real problem: sitting disease.

"The Mayo Clinic is doing some interesting research on what actually causes the human body to burn calories and a huge amount of it is activity outside of intentional exercise. In short the biggest cause of obesity per Dr. James Levine of the Mayo Clinic is "sitting disease".

He's a big advocate of standing desks (which worked for Donald Rumsfeld, he had plenty of energy at 70something to act on his bad ideas) and some more futuristic solutions (adding treadmills to said desks) but all of the work is based on results which are backed up by research at Mayo's labs... 

"I have no affiliation with Dr. Levine or Mayo, I just found info on N.E.A.T. doing an internet search and the concepts behind it seemed so clear and common sense based on my own experiences (never had weight issues as a laborer or young athlete and ate like a horse, got weight issues when I was promoted to a desk job) that I tried to adopt them in my own life and find more activity within the context of my job and amazingly enough, that works."

I haven't looked into this seriously, but at face value the argument makes sense: that the 30- 60 minutes per day people might spend officially "exercising" makes less difference in their overall calorie outlay than what happens in the remaining 23+ hours. This was also the concept behind a new tech device from Philips, the "Direct Life" monitor, which you keep in your pocket all day to see how much energy you expend by walking, standing, sitting, and in other ways existing.

Full disclosure: At this summer's Atlantic/Aspen "Ideas Festival," Philips gave out samples of these monitors to some attendees. I don't use one myself, for various practical reasons involving my working/exercise life. But for people whose job requires sitting a lot of the day, I could see how monitors like this could be useful in determining whether they were or were not moving around enough.

Variant of sitting disease: car disease

"I was waiting for someone to mention the relationship between car dependence and obesity.   No one has except the person who lost weight from walking and taking public transportation when they lived in London and NYC.  
"Based on Census and CDC data, here is an interesting correlation.
"The Top 10 Car Dependent States (Census)
1.    Alabama
2.    Mississippi
3.    Tennessee
4.    Arkansas
5.    South Carolina
6.    North Carolina
7.    Oklahoma
8.    West Virginia
9.    Michigan
10.    Kentucky

"The Top 10 Obese States (CDC)
1.    Mississippi
2.    Alabama
3.    West Virginia
4.    Tennessee
5.    Oklahoma
6.    South Carolina
7.    Kentucky
8.    North Carolina
9.    Michigan
10.    Arkansas"