Sunday, September 10, 2006

Inconvenient centenarians challenge Left ideology

Early man was thought to have an average life span of about 20 years. Of course a large number died when they were quite young. Living into your teens probably meant you would live into your 50s before dying. Yet today one of the fastest growing age groups are people over 100 years of age. The world average is dragged down by the death rates in Africa. In the developed world people are easily living into their 70s and 80s. It certainly is not unusual anymore to reach this milestone. The Queen Mother lived to over 100 and so did entertainer Bob Hope.

Not only are people living longer but they are living healthier. The elderly are far more active than they were in the past. The UN says "the world is literally being turned upside-down." What they mean is that in the past the number of very young was high while those who were elderly were very low. But with low birth rates and long life spans the young form a smaller and smaller base while the elderly, at the top of the pyramid, increase in numbers at rates never before seen.

The UN says the number of elderly will increase from 580 million in 1998 to almost two billion in 2050. In 1998 there were some 66 million people over the age of 80 by 2050 they expect the number to grow to 370 million. Those over 90 years old will grow from 56.6 million to 311 million over the same time period. And those over 100 years of age will grow from around 135,000 to 2.2 million. China, which will have one of the fastest ageing populations in the world, is expected to have 472,000 centenarians by 2050. The US will have around 298,000, Japan 272,000 and India 111,000.

There are a few lessons we can draw from this. One is that the hysteria about how modern life is so unhealthy is so much cow manure. The only place in the world where life span is low, Africa, is also the one place in the world where the "unhealthy" modern lifestyle hasn't been developed. Modernisation leads to longer lives not shorter ones.

A second lesson comes from that inverted pyramid the UN was talking about. Modern welfare states are based on the idea of the normal pyramid. They can't survive the inverted pyramid. They survive because they assume that the generation of elderly will be easily outnumbered by the working young. So older recipients of pensions and large shares of health care will be supported by a growing number of young.

But birth rates are low and the old aren't dying the way they used to. So the numbers paying into the system are declining while the numbers relying upon it are growing. And the politicians in the welfare states are too cowardly to do anything about it now. They are hoping the collapse will come on someone else's shift. In other words the old are bad news for the ideological Left which who condemn modern living while worshipping the welfare state. I want to see the old, especially the very old, as something good. Someday I want to be one of them.


Death to cleanskins! "Shaving less than once a day could increase a man's risk of having a stroke by around 70%, researchers have found. The link between needing to shave infrequently and stroke risk emerged from a 20-year study of over 2,000 men aged 45-59 in Caerphilly, south Wales. At the time the study began, in the late 70s, the prevailing trend was to be clean-shaven, so infrequent grooming is unlikely to be due to a desire for designer stubble. Researchers from the University of Bristol say it is more likely to be because a man needed to shave infrequently, due to having less testosterone in their bodies."

Chinese vaccine looking good: "A Chinese vaccine against H5N1 bird flu has raised hopes of swift protection if the virus mutates into a pandemic form. Trials of the vaccine in 120 volunteers showed that it produced a good immune response at low doses. In an emergency, enough could be produced for 675 million people. The Chinese vaccine consists of the H5N1 avian flu virus inactivated so that it cannot cause disease, combined with an additive (adjuvant) that enhances the immune response. A group of 120 volunteers aged between 18 and 60 were given either a dummy formula or the vaccine at doses of 1.25, 2.5, 5 and 10 micrograms with aluminium hydroxide as the adjuvant. After 56 days, the researchers report in The Lancet online, all of the vaccine doses produced antibodies against the virus, with the best response in the 10-microgram group. This dosage stimulated 78 per cent protective antibodies, exceeding the European Union minimum requirement of 70 per cent"


Just some problems with the "Obesity" war:

1). It tries to impose behavior change on everybody -- when most of those targeted are not obese and hence have no reason to change their behaviour. It is a form of punishing the innocent and the guilty alike.

2). The longevity research all leads to the conclusion that it is people of MIDDLING weight who live longest -- not slim people. So the "epidemic" of obesity is in fact largely an "epidemic" of living longer.

3). It is total calorie intake that makes you fat -- not where you get your calories. Policies that attack only the source of the calories (e.g. "junk food") without addressing total calorie intake are hence pissing into the wind. People involuntarily deprived of their preferred calorie intake from one source are highly likely to seek and find their calories elsewhere.

4). So-called junk food is perfectly nutritious. A big Mac meal comprises meat, bread, salad and potatoes -- which is a mainstream Western diet. If that is bad then we are all in big trouble.

5). Food warriors demonize salt and fat. But we need a daily salt intake to counter salt-loss through perspiration and the research shows that people on salt-restricted diets die SOONER. And Eskimos eat huge amounts of fat with no apparent ill-effects. And the average home-cooked roast dinner has LOTS of fat. Will we ban roast dinners?

6). The foods restricted are often no more calorific than those permitted -- such as milk and fruit-juice drinks.

7). Tendency to weight is mostly genetic and is therefore not readily susceptible to voluntary behaviour change.


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