Sunday, June 17, 2007

Mind-numbing stupidity

Read the media report below and see if you can see what is truly weird about it

OBESITY could soon be treated with a new drug that reduces the urge to binge eat, according to research in the American Journal of Physiology – Endocrinology and Metabolism. The drug is a synthetic form of the hormone amylin, which is produced by the pancreas and causes a feeling of fullness during eating. The study involved 88 obese men and women aged 25 to 60. For six weeks, participants received either the drug or an inactive placebo by self-injection under the skin, 15 minutes before each meal (breakfast, lunch and dinner). By the end of the study, those receiving the drug had reduced their daily calorie intake by 680 and lost an average of two kilograms, while those in the placebo group reduced their calorie intake by only 191 and stayed the same weight. While the group taking the drug also reduced their portion sizes, they reported feeling just as full and satisfied as the placebo group.


Does anybody seriously believe that fatties would self-inject themselves before each meal day in and day out just so they could feel a little fuller?? My guess is that the average time anybody would persist with such an invasive and unpleasant routine would be less than one week. I doubt that most would make it through a day


A new understanding of how DNA shapes our health and makes us human has emerged from the most exhaustive analysis yet of the workings of the human genome. The first "parts list" of genetic elements that are biologically active in the body has revealed that DNA functions in a much more complex fashion than was once assumed, offering insights into the inherited roots of diseases such as diabetes and cancer.

The work of the Encode Consortium - the acronym stands for Encyclopedia of DNA Elements - also sheds important light on the genetic differences that separate humans from chimpanzees and other species. While the human genome is made up of approximately three billion DNA "letters", only about 3 per cent of these are known to contribute to 22,000 or so genes - DNA "sentences" containing instructions for making proteins that control the body's chemical reactions. Most of the remaining 97 per cent has traditionally been thought of as "junk DNA", which appeared to be an evolutionary relic that performed no tasks of significance. The new research shows that much of this junk DNA is not redundant but is chemically active in ways that influence how genes are switched on and off. Mutations in these regulatory genetic regions are thus likely to explain some of our varying susceptibility to disease - some have already been linked to type 2 diabetes and prostate and colon tumours.

While the bulk of our genes are shared with other organisms, much more of our [so-called] junk DNA is peculiar to our species: 99 per cent of human and chimpanzee genes are identical compared with only 96 per cent of all DNA. As there is more variation in the junk, this could influence traits such as intelligence and language.

Ewan Birney, of the European Bioinformatics Institute, near Cambridge, who led the analysis, said: "Our data certainly agree with the idea that many of the differences between mammals lie in this junk DNA. We now have a much better idea of what most of our DNA might actually be doing. That is also going to help us to characterise what is going on in disease."

Francis Collins, director of the US National Human Genome Research Institute, which funded the project, said: "This impressive effort has uncovered many exciting surprises and blazed the way for future efforts to explore the functional landscape of the entire human genome."

The consortium, which pub-lishes its results today in Nature and Genome Research, set out to examine what every bit of DNA does by looking in detail at 30 million letters or base pairs - 1 per cent of the genome. About 3 per cent of the DNA - the genes - was found to be transcribed into the signalling molecule RNA and then to make proteins. Another 6 per cent hitherto regarded as junk, however, was unexpectedly found to be written into RNA without producing proteins. It is this part of the genome that appears to play a critical regulatory role, controlling when genes are active or silent.

Some of this active DNA outside genes, however, appears to make RNA without affecting the functions of cells - it is chemically alive but neutral. While scientists do not yet know what proportion is neutral, or why, one theory is that it provides a stock of genetic material from which potentially useful mutations can arise to drive evolution. "It may be a kind of warehouse for natural selection," Dr Birney said. "Evolution seems to have kept this around for a reason, to somehow set itself up for the future. It is a bit like Pop Idol- if you throw the net widely, you can pick up talent when it appears." The Encode team is working to scale up the project to cover the entire human genome.



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 and margarine? They are just about pure fat. Surely they should be treated as contraband in kids' lunchboxes! [/sarcasm].

Trans fats:

For one summary of the weak science behind the "trans-fat" hysteria, see here. Trans fats have only a temporary effect on blood chemistry and the evidence of lasting harm from them is dubious. By taking extreme groups in trans fats intake, some weak association with coronary heart disease has at times been shown in some sub-populations but extreme group studies are inherently at risk of confounding with other factors and are intrinsically of little interest to the average person.


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