Friday, January 18, 2008

Four healthy habits to give 14 more years?

This is probably just a class effect -- particularly as it based on self-reports. Middle class people are healthier and use more "virtuous" self-descriptions. There also seems to be a foolish assumption that the various "effects" are cumulative rather than correlated

People who adopt four healthy habits seem to live on average 14 years longer than those who adopt none of them, a new study indicates. The habits are not smoking, exercising, drinking alcohol in moderation and eating five servings of fruit and vegetables daily.

KayTee Khaw and colleagues from the University of Cambridge and the Medical Research Council in the U.K. studied records of 20,000 older British adults who had filled out health questionnaires between 1993 and 1997.

After factoring in age, the researchers found that over an average of 11 years, people who undertook none of the four health habits were four times more likely to have died than those who adopted all four. People in this less healthy group had on average the same risk of dying as people 14 years older in the second group, the researchers said.

The participants were aged 45 to 79 when they filled out the questionnaires. Deaths among the participants were recorded until 2006. Moderate drinking was defined as between one-half and seven pints of beer, or glasses of wine, weekly.

The study formed part of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition, conducted across ten European countries, billed as the largest study of diet and health ever undertaken.

The findings need to be confirmed in other populations, but the results "strongly suggest that these four achievable lifestyle changes could have a marked improvement on the health of middle-aged and older people," the researchers said in an announcement of the findings. The research appeared online Jan. 8 in the research journal PLoS Biology.


Cloned 'Frankenfoods' are given the all clear

About time!

The US food health authority has authorised the sale of meat and milk from cloned livestock, declaring the controversial products as safe to eat as those from normal animals. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will issue a long-awaited risk assessment report ruling that products from cloned animals are safe, contrary to critics' claims. The body has been deliberating for six years whether to give the green light for marketing foods from clones.

In 2006 it declared that products from cloned animals were no different from those of beasts raised normally, but told producers not to market them until it had issued food safety rules. The prospect of so-called "Frankenfoods" has caused concern among food safety and animal rights groups and the US dairy industry, which fears its image and exports will be damaged.

The European Commission vowed yesterday to consult consumers about meat and milk from clones, before giving its own ruling in May. The European Food Safety Authority on Friday had said that meat and milk from healthy cattle and pig clones was probably safe for humans to eat.

The FDA's ruling has been held up by strong resistance. A Washington-based campaign group, the Centre for Food Safety, condemned the US plan to approve food from clones. "The impacts on US agriculture, trade, and the integrity of the food supply are still largely unknown," it said in a statement last month, responding to earlier reports that the FDA was set to make its ruling. "There are still all those unanswered questions," biologist Michael Hansen of the Consumers Union said. "The samples (used by the FDA in its research) are very small."

It will still be years before meat and milk from clones appears on US supermarket shelves, reports said. The animals involved, clones of the highest quality livestock, are too valuable to slaughter or milk and better used for breeding, the Washington Post said, in a report that cited a pre-release copy of the FDA report.



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: