Thursday, November 30, 2006


So far only in dogs but child obesity cannot be far behind

Obesity has become such an issue of political incorrectness that two brothers appeared in court yesterday charged with allowing a dog to get too fat. Rusty, a nine-year-old labrador, may only have been doing what labradors do, which is to eat everything in sight. But he ballooned to more than 11« stone (161lb, 73kg), the ideal weight for a large-boned 6ft (1.82m) woman, but not a retriever, which should be chasing sticks and newly shot game. Rusty had trouble standing up, and after no more than five paces he had to sit down again, breathless. He looked, magistrates at Ely, Cambridgeshire, were told yesterday, more like a seal than a dog.

In what is thought to be the first case of its kind, Rusty's owners, David Benton and his brother Derek, have been charged with animal cruelty for allowing him to become grossly overweight. According to the Kennel Club, the ideal weight for a dog of Rusty's age and breed is between 65lb and 80lb. When found by an RSPCA inspector, Rusty was more than twice the upper limit. Unlike most labradors, he was quite incapable of leaping into a van. The Benton brothers, of Fordham, Cambridgeshire, deny causing the dog unncessary suffering. They claim that they fed Rusty a normal diet of dried pet food with only the odd bone as a treat.

When Jason Finch of the RSPCA first saw Rusty in February, he found the dog virtually unable to move, the court was told. He issued a notice advising the owners to take the dog to a vet as soon as possible. When he returned in March, they had not done so. The owners declined to sign the dog over to the RSPCA, but agreed to let Mr Finch take Rusty to the charity's own vet. But the dog could not even walk to Mr Finch's van.

Stephen Climie, for the prosecution, said that Rusty had been found to be morbidly obese at 74.2kg, double the weight of a normal labrador; the brothers had been told repeatedly by vets over five years to put the dog on a diet, but had not done so. Rusty suffers from arthritis, a common complaint in labradors, but his condition had been made worse by his being grossly overweight, Mr Climie said. Alex Wylie, a vet from Bury St Edmunds who treated Rusty, said that the dog suffered from painful joints and breathing problems. "He did literally look like a walrus. There were times when he couldn't get up from his back legs at all. It was horrible to see."

When interviewed by the RSPCA, David Benton insisted that Rusty ate only one meal of dried food each evening and a snack in the morning. "He has been plump ever since he was a puppy. He is a poor old thing but he is not in pain. We have tried to give him many foods, but it does not make any difference," he said. Derek Benton told the charity that Rusty's weight gain was old age catching up with him.

The court was told that Rusty had not seen a vet for 17 months before the RSPCA took him away. The brothers claimed that they used to get him treated under a pet insurance plan, but could no longer get cover because of his age. Since living with an RSPCA dog carer, the court was told, Rusty had lost 3.5 stone [49lb].



There are a few leaps in the reasoning below but it has given room for debate in an area not usually discussed scientifically

Your mother probably told you, as her mother told her: sit up straight. Whether at table, in class or at work we have always been told that sitting stiff-backed and upright is good for our bones, our posture, our digestion, our alertness and our general air of looking as if we are plugged into the world. Now research suggests that we would be far better off slouching and slumping. Today's advice is to let go and recline. Using a new form of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), a team of radiologists have found that sitting up straight puts unneccesary strain on the spine and could cause chronic back pain because of trapped nerves or slipped discs.

The ideal angle for office workers who sit for long periods is about 135 degrees. It might make working at a computer impractical but it will put less pressure on the spine than a hunched or upright position, the researchers say. The study at Woodend Hospital in Aberdeen involved 22 healthy volunteers who had no history of back pain or surgery. They adjusted their posture while being scanned by a movable MRI machine, assuming three sitting positions: a slouch, with the body hunched forward over a desk or video game console; an upright 90-degree sitting position; and a relaxed position where the patient reclined at 135 degrees but kept their feet on the floor. By measuring the spinal angles and the arrangement and height of spinal discs and movement across the positions, the radiologists found that the relaxed posture best preserved the spine's natural shape.

Waseem Amir Bashir, from Edinburgh, lead author of the study, said: "When pressure is put on the spine it becomes squashed and misaligned. A 135-degree body-thigh sitting posture was demonstrated to be the best biomechanical sitting position, as opposed to a 90-degree posture, which most people consider normal. "Sitting in a sound anatomic position is essential, since the strain put on the spine and its associated muscles and ligaments over time can lead to pain, deformity and chronic illness." Dr Bashir, who now works at the University of Alberta Hospital in Canada, presented the research yesterday at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) in Chicago. The study was the first of its kind because MRI scanning has previously required patients to lie flat.

Back pain is the cause of one in six days off work and about 80 per cent of Britons are expected to suffer from it at some point. Office workers and school children may stave off future back problems by correcting their sitting posture and finding a chair that allows them to recline, Dr Bashir said. He added: "We were not created to sit down for long hours, but somehow modern life requires the vast majority of the global population to work in a seated position, The best position for our backs is arguably lying down, but this is hardly practical."

However, Gordon Waddell, an orthopaedic surgeon at the Glasgow Nuffield Hospital, said that the link between biomechanics as shown in MRI scans and preventing back pain was still very theoretical. It was "human nature" to develop back pain, he said. "Like a headache or a cold, it seems we all get back pain and most of the evidence suggests that sitting position does not make a difference



The "chemicals" America eats at Thanksgiving

It's time to start the preparation for your multicourse serving of Thanksgiving chemicals. These days, people think the word "chemical" means "bad" - and supermarkets are filled with foods that claim to be "chemical-free," "all-natural" and "purely organic." Almost daily, media stories tell us, for example, how a "carcinogen" known as acrylamide is showing up in French fries and other cooked high-starch foods. We're told that nitrite in bacon, saccharin in Sweet 'N Low and PCB traces in farmed salmon are "carcinogens." The basis? They cause cancer in lab rats that have been fed enormous doses.

So it may be a suprise to learn that even 100 percent natural foods - including the holiday feast that will be coming your way shortly - come replete with chemicals, including toxins (poisons) and carcinogens (cancer-causing chemicals), which average consumers would reject simply because they can't pronounce the names.

Assume you start with a soup course, then munch down some crispy, natural vegetables, move on to a traditional stuffed bird with all the trimmings (washing it down with a few glasses of wine) and then top it all off with dessert and coffee. You will thus have consumed holiday helpings of various "carcinogens" (again, in lab animals fed high doses). Yes, Mother Nature makes "carcinogens," too:

* hydrazines (mushroom soup)
* aniline, caffeic acid, benzaldehyde, hydrogen peroxide, quercetin glycosides, and psoralens (your fresh vegetable salad)
* heterocyclic amines, acrylamide, benzo(a)pyrene, ethyl carbamate, dihydrazines, d-limonene, safrole, and quercetin glycosides (roast turkey with stuffing)
* benzene and heterocyclic amines (prime rib of beef with parsley sauce)
* furfural, ethyl alcohol, allyl isothiocyanate (broccoli, potatoes, sweet potatoes)
* coumarin, methyl eugenol, acetaldehyde, estragole and safrole (apple and pumpkin pies)
* ethyl alcohol with ethyl carbamate (red and white wines)

Then sit back and relax with some benzofuran, caffeic acid, catechol, l,2,5,6,-dibenz(a)anthra-cene with 4-methylcatechol (coffee).



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. (It is also typical of Leftist thinking: Scorning the individual and capable of dealing with large groups only).

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.

8). And when are we going to ban cheese? Cheese is a concentrated calorie bomb and has lots of that wicked animal fat in it too. Wouldn't we all be better off without it? And what about butter? It is just about pure fat. Surely it should be treated as contraband in kids' lunchboxes! [/sarcasm].

9). For a summary of the weak science behind the "trans-fat" hysteria, see here. Trans fats have only a temporary effect on blood chemistry and no lasting harm from them has ever been shown.


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