May 18, 2008

"One pound of fat is about the size of a coffee mug."

Ugh. This click-on-a-body-part WaPo webpage is grossing me out. But it might be helpful if you want to be scared or grossed out into losing weight. It's designed to pressure parents to keep their kids from getting fat. There are many reasons to avoid getting fat, of course, but WaPo seems to ready to cite anything scary:
At least one study has suggested that obese children might also tend toward lower IQs and be more likely to have brain lesions similar to those seen in Alzheimer's patients.
Is that useful?

33 comments:

Paddy O. said...

Ann, the first link is taking us to a blog post on the death penalty.

rhhardin said...

Every cumulative 3400 extra calories gives you a pound of fat. On the bright side, every cumulative 3400 calorie deficit loses you a pound of fat. Dieting in a nutshell.

I'm surprised nobody is marketing salted tree bark.

Meade said...

"I'm surprised nobody is marketing salted tree bark"

They are. It's called granola.

"Losing weight" is for losers. Using weight is the key. That, and gaining the weight of muscle mass. Long slow physical activity (even sleeping) uses stored body fat. Resistance training (using even the body's own weight as resistance) builds muscle mass which burns stored body fat, even while sleeping, to maintain itself. Eat more (nutrient dense) food + do more physical work and play + spend fewer hours in front of the TV/computer screen = more lean muscle, better sleep, more energy, fewer brain lesions.

Ann Althouse said...

Paddy, thanks. Fixed.

Kirby Olson said...

Letting your children get fat should be considered a kind of child abuse.

Chris Wren said...

As a general rule of science reporting, saying that "one study" has "suggested" is never particularly useful. That's just padding that makes the editor think you've researched your point exhaustively.

Chip Ahoy said...

And ten pounds of fat is about like, um, a ten pound sack of sugar. I knew this woman who knew this woman who knew of a woman who (come to think of it this might be a myth) put a ten pound sack of sugar on the fireplace for every ten pounds she lost. Apparently her fireplace had brickwork that projected out sufficiently to hold a load of ten pound sacks of sugar. Then after losing something like a hundred pounds, OK FINE!, sixty pounds, and observing her pile of ten pound sacks of sugar, she goes, "Holy shit! I can't even imagine carrying around all that dead weight. No wonder I was always out of breath."

Then she became an ace baker, used all the sugar and packed on the pounds right back, in like no time. <--- Last portion added for dramatic effect.

vbspurs said...

I knew a lady who worked out at my gym who was 60 lbs overweight.

Her physician shocked her into consciousness by stating, "You realise every day of your life, you are carrying on your person the equivalent of an 8 year old child?".

She signed up at the spa the next day.

(Imagine being 100 pounds overweight. You're carrying Kate Moss)

Cheers,
Victoria

Ron said...

Kate Moss? What about those of us with Ethel Merman!

Letting your children get fat should be considered a kind of child abuse. Why? We let our kids get stupid, and hell, some people are proud of that!

Smilin' Jack said...

(Imagine being 100 pounds overweight. You're carrying Kate Moss)

That image isn't going to be a very effective deterrent for some of us.

vbspurs said...

Smilin' Jack, if male, think Robert Reich.

Ethel Merman, hehe!

Cheers,
Victoria

blake said...

Chip,

You think that's bad? I heard of a drug-dealer who did the same things with sacks of heroin. He got busted and now is routinely sodomized in jail.

So, you know, obesity leads to teh gay.

dbp said...

"One pound of fat is about the size of a coffee mug."

I don't think this is true: A pound of water takes up a pint of volume (which is already larger than most coffee mugs). Then add in the fact that water is more dense than fat, which is why fat and oil float on water and you've got something like 18 fluid ounces--a pretty big mug.

Ann Althouse said...

The image of carrying around bags of sugar or children is vivid and perhaps helpful, but it's not an accurate portrayal of how extra weight feels. Extra weight is distributed all over the body and is part of the body. Some of it is muscle and extra bone mass that develops to carry the weight around, so it's making you stronger. If someone is too thin, they are not unburdened by the lack of weight; they are weakened. Some of the extra weight on a fat person is a burden, but not all of it is.

I don't think a person who is 10, 20, or even 30 or more pounds overweight feels weighted down in any way. In fact, there are probably many comfort benefits, such as padding when you sit or lie down (which you do more than you stand or walk) and insulation. Do we even really know what the optimum weight is? I think our baseline is distorted by the influence of some old life insurance charts and our perceptions of beauty. Much of the science reporting seems skewed to help people do what they already want to do, which is look more attractive.

Why can't we be more honest about our desire to look good and see other people looking good? Yes, some of the concern is health, but not all of it is.

blake said...

Well, yeah, have you seen my mug?

Kirby Olson said...

Apparently there is a health benefit to being morbidly obese. If you're struck by a speeding car you tend to bounce better when you have the fat layer. Maybe I read that first on this blog years ago, I can't remember.

vbspurs said...

Why can't we be more honest about our desire to look good and see other people looking good? Yes, some of the concern is health, but not all of it is.

It's because 'lookism' is mean, but putatively having concern for people's healths sounds better. Feels better. Is better.

Even if it's really only half true.

I have always wondered why I am not bothered by fat(ter) people than I. I think it's to do with my great-grandmother probably having been 200 lbs, living to be 94. She was a picture of health until the end.

-- Scare parenthesis because I could stand to lose a stone, at least --

Cheers,
Victoria

blake said...

Actually, thin people have their own set of health problems.

Plus, you get seriously sick? You die. No reserves.

It's hard to accept--very unGreek--but the optimal state of the human body may NOT be the most attractive state.

blake said...

(I'm referring, of course, to the sorts of sickness that kill appetite or otherwise effect digestion.)

vbspurs said...

It's hard to accept--very unGreek--but the optimal state of the human body may NOT be the most attractive state.

Good point.

Conversely reminds me of the Classical Greek concept of the penis.

They preferred a smaller size, the smaller the better, in fact, since the larger size was considered animalistic.

Somehow, I don't think men here will care for that much either. :)

Cheers,
Victoria

dbp said...

Ann said: "I don't think a person who is 10, 20, or even 30 or more pounds overweight feels weighted down in any way. In fact, there are probably many comfort benefits, such as padding when you sit or lie down (which you do more than you stand or walk) and insulation."

I think you are absolutely right about this. I am 25-30 pounds heavier now than when I was young and the cold hardly bothers me like it once did--even though I bundle-up less. Also, siting and laying down are much more comfortable than they used to be.

There is one issue, a pretty artificial one, but it matters a lot to me. A few years ago, I took back up running and I have never been able to achieve the speed I once had. I first chalked up my decline to age (mid 40's now), but I came across a calorie calculator. This calculator cold give you calories/hour based upon speed and body weight. The numbers it gave indicated that pretty much all of my decline in speed (10Km races etc.) is due to the extra weight. So in terms of sports competition, weight matters. A lot.

If looks really matter a lot to you, or you compete in sports, then the added weight matters. I think for most people, there may be a net benefit to 20-30 extra pounds.

blake said...

Somehow, I don't think men here will care for that much either. :)

I'm sure some here would prefer it if women's tastes (er, and men's, come to think of it) also ran that way.

It's not such a good deal to be hot 'n' sexy to a bunch of long dead guys.

Hmmm. Any word on what Greek women preferred? Probably not.

Finn Kristiansen said...

I'm all for glorifying small penises (see Victoria@6:00pm).

As for weight, I wish I was shown more scientific scariness as a child. Especially the pictures of what happens with some people who have lost weight after big gains (the sagging skin).

Having seen that would have scared me off overindulging in pizza and Jamaican beef patties and I would not be so robustly large now.

But nooooo! My dad spent our youth telling us the dangers of LSD and how he could see people's souls and it scared him. Less drug scaring, more food scaring please.

vbspurs said...

I'm all for glorifying small penises (see Victoria@6:00pm).

My penis has grown a little since then, though!

Meade said...

"Somehow, I don't think men here will care for that much either."

You might be surprised. Not that I could stand to lose an entire stone in that department. BTW, call me a no good lookist myself but women are NOT more attractive when they are as skinny as an adolescent boy. Unless, of course, they are trying to attract a certain genre of men. An adult woman who is, by Vogue standards, 10 or 20 pounds "overweight" is not only stronger and more robust, but I suspect, has a more, let's say, agreeable hormonal matrix. Alright I'll just say it: lean and hungry women give me the willies. They are often mean, vindictive, and mean and vindictive. Plus, they can be vindictive. And very mean.

Insulation, okay, but subcutaneous adipose also enhances female visual beauty. Men of sophistication and experience know this to be a true and reliable measure of a woman's lusciousness quotient. IQ, LQ, and a sense of humor and, my son, you can be happy for the rest of your life. Women don't need to always be nice (like that's even possible) but it's quite a bit more sensual and pleasurable to cuddle with a woman who has some softness and not just more hard masculine muscle and brutally boring bone. For the sake of juxtapositional interest and diversity, a woman with softness can provide a man one of the highest points of pleasure in life. As I said up there, losing weight is for losers.

Meade said...

"My penis has grown a little since then, though!"

Do you see, Althouse? Do you see where your liberal libertine libertarian comment moderation has brought us?

Ann Althouse said...

I think the main reason women want to be really thin is so that they will look good in clothes. We look better naked with a decent layer of fat, especially if it is well distributed. I've seen a lot of women naked in life drawing classes, and the women who are a little fat look best, but I've seen some who are fat in a way that is just square and clunky... stocky. It's not the voluptuous look that makes fat look good naked. Really, I'm an expert on this! I've drawn hundreds of naked women over the years. I prefer the fat models, but not all of them! I think the key question, aesthetically, is whether the fat is making you look more feminine. By the same token, a man whose fat makes him look womanly has a big problem. The fact that fat will make a man's penis look smaller or even render it invisible should be a strong warning.

blake said...

The fact that fat will make a man's penis look smaller or even render it invisible should be a strong warning.

Are you reading this, Ron?

blake said...

(I should note that Ron is my new hero, with his Ethel Merman crack.)

Meade said...

So you see the problem? Women, for the most part, want to see other women with clothes on. Fabulous stylish clothes. For that, alas, you try to be thin.

But we men just want to see you naked. Gloriously femininely naked with those damn clothes OFF. In fact, some studies show, we imagine you with your clothes off somewhere between 148 and 17,000 times per day. And for that you need to have a little meat on dem bones so that when we, you know, dance, you can shake it like a pom pom.

William said...

Broccoli does not have a chocolatey aftertaste, and God did not design the human body to be lithe and slim after forty years. Even so one should make the effort. I have found that if you run five or six miles there is a pleasant afterglow--the same feeling you get when you've accomplished something worthwhile or good, only you don't have to go to all that trouble. The utter absurdity of life works in your favor here: running five miles equals happiness vs all the lofty ambitions that equal ground down molars. You'd think the secret to a happy life would be somehow deeper or more sublime, but as it turns out Jack LaLane was the true Siddartha.

vbspurs said...

Re: Meade's comments about battle of the sexes in fashion.

There is a problem in your theory.

Men have been in charge of female fashion for a good 150 years now.

Sure, there have been notable women couturiers (Chanel, Schiapparelli, etc), but since Charles Worth, it's been mostly male.

The trend towards absolute thinnness started with Poiret's hobble skirt.

Previously, there had been Regency fashions which favoured narrow lines, the first since Hellenistic times on which they were based, but almost always has female fashion been about voluminous layers of clothes, including veils and hats.

If women dress for other women, and have since forever, it is certainly only the ironic athleticism of the Victorians which changed the trend.

Blame Chanel and modernity for getting rid of corsets and making everything boyish, cool.

Cheers,
Victoria

vbspurs said...

/heh. Just saw your other comment.