Thursday, January 24, 2008


The short answer: Some do but not many. This is nonetheless a matter of some concern as older mothers are now very common and older mothers are more likely to have difficulties resulting in premature birth. And premature birth is a major cause of smaller babies being delivered.

As usual, however, the social class connection appears to have been ignored. Do lower class mothers have more premature deliveries and shorter babies generally? I am pretty sure they do. The workers are in general less healthy and adult height is class-correlated. So are we seeing just a class effect here? Is it just working class people who are more suicidal? I suspect it is. Popular summary below followed by journal abstract:

Pregnant women may wish for a smaller baby to ease the pain of labour, but babies born small could have serious mental health problems in later life. New research in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health has found that male babies born less than 47cm [18"] in length are more than twice as likely to attempt violent suicide as adults compared to normal-length babies, regardless of the height they reach as adults. The findings are based on 318,953 Swedish men who were followed from birth (between 1973 and 1980) to the date of attempted suicide, date of death, emigration or to the end of 1999, whichever came first. Those born prematurely, both short and underweight, were more than four times more likely to attempt violent suicide, including hanging, drowning and use of a knife or gun, as those born after 38 weeks of pregnancy. The brain chemical serotonin, which can decrease aggression and suicidal behaviour, may be lower in men who were born small, say the authors, and these men may need to be monitored more closely for psychiatric disorders.

Source. Another summary here

Fetal and childhood growth and the risk of violent and non-violent suicide attempts: a cohort study of 318,953 men

By E Mittendorfer-Rutz et al.

Background: Inverse associations of birth length with suicide attempts have recently been reported. Whether growth during childhood alters this association is not known. The influences on patterns of growth in fetal life and childhood might be different for violent and non-violent suicide attempts.

Objective: To investigate the effect of fetal and childhood growth and possible effect modification on suicide attempts, both violent and non-violent, adjusting for potential maternal confounding factors.

Method: 318,953 Men were followed by record linkage from the date of birth in Sweden (1973-1980) to the date of attempted suicide, date of death, emigration or to the end of 1999.

Results: The risk of suicide attempt was increased for men with reduced linear growth in fetal life across all levels of adult stature. Men with appropriate birth length for gestational age but short adult height also experienced a raised risk of suicide attempts: 1.56 (95% CI 1.2 to 2.1). Tall adult stature was protective. Short birth length for gestational age was more strongly related to violent (2.39; 95% CI 1.1 to 4.9) than non-violent (1.53; 95% CI 1.1 to 2.1) suicide attempts. The risk of violent attempts was most strongly increased for men with low birth weight and adequate adult stature: 2.54 (95% CI 1.1 to 5.7).

Conclusions: The inverse association of linear growth in fetal life and suicide attempt does not seem to be modified by linear childhood growth. Short adult stature entails an additional risk. Short birth length seems particularly to increase the risk of violent suicide attempts

J Epidemiol Community Health 2008;62:168-173

NYC revives push for calorie disclosure by area fast-food restaurants

The city Board of Health is poised to reenact Tuesday a bitterly contested rule requiring restaurants to post the calorie contents of each dish on their menus. The proposed regulation - part of Mayor Bloomberg's campaign to reduce obesity and diabetes - would make eateries with 15 or more outposts around the country prominently display calorie counts before patrons order.

City health officials expect the regulation to result in 150,000 fewer New Yorkers becoming obese over the next five years and to prevent at least 30,000 cases of diabetes. "The more fast food people eat, the more likely they are to become obese," Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Frieden told the Daily News. "Some people may choose to ignore [the calorie information], and that's totally fine. But other people will use it to choose healthier food."

The original rule applied only to restaurants that were already voluntarily offering customers calorie information. A judge threw it out in September after the New York State Restaurant Association sued, but opened the door for the city to tweak it. This version would impact 10% of the city's 23,000 eateries. Since the board is led by Frieden and appointed by Mayor Bloomberg, the provision is expected to pass. It would go into effect on March 31.

Restaurant association officials could not be reached yesterday, and it was unclear whether they would sue again.Justin Wilson of the Center for Consumer Freedom attacked the city's "nanny-state public health policies." "It doesn't take a Ph.D. in nutrition, let alone a high school diploma, to tell the difference between a 12-piece bucket of chicken and a salad," he said.

While the rule's immediate intention is to affect New Yorkers' food choices, Frieden expects it to translate into the food industry offering lower-calorie, smaller portions. "When restaurants post the information prominently, they'll make healthier options available, so I don't think we'll be seeing 2,700 calorie appetizers or 1,400 calorie breakfasts," he said.



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].

9). And how odd it is that we never hear of the huge American study which showed that women who eat lots of veggies have an INCREASED risk of stomach cancer? So the official recommendation to eat five lots of veggies every day might just be creating lots of cancer for the future! It's as plausible (i.e. not very) as all the other dietary "wisdom" we read about fat etc.

10). And will "this generation of Western children be the first in history to lead shorter lives than their parents did"? This is another anti-fat scare that emanates from a much-cited editorial in a prominent medical journal that said so. Yet this editorial offered no statistical basis for its opinion -- an opinion that flies directly in the face of the available evidence.

Even statistical correlations far stronger than anything found in medical research may disappear if more data is used. A remarkable example from Sociology:
"The modern literature on hate crimes began with a remarkable 1933 book by Arthur Raper titled The Tragedy of Lynching. Raper assembled data on the number of lynchings each year in the South and on the price of an acre's yield of cotton. He calculated the correlation coefficient between the two series at -0.532. In other words, when the economy was doing well, the number of lynchings was lower.... In 2001, Donald Green, Laurence McFalls, and Jennifer Smith published a paper that demolished the alleged connection between economic conditions and lynchings in Raper's data. Raper had the misfortune of stopping his analysis in 1929. After the Great Depression hit, the price of cotton plummeted and economic conditions deteriorated, yet lynchings continued to fall. The correlation disappeared altogether when more years of data were added."
So we must be sure to base our conclusions on ALL the data. But in medical research, data selectivity and the "overlooking" of discordant research findings is epidemic.

"What we should be doing is monitoring children from birth so we can detect any deviations from the norm at an early stage and action can be taken". Who said that? Joe Stalin? Adolf Hitler? Orwell's "Big Brother"? The Spanish Inquisition? Generalissimo Francisco Franco Bahamonde? None of those. It was Dr Colin Waine, chairman of Britain's National Obesity Forum. What a fine fellow!


No comments: