Friday, March 28, 2008

Pot bellies linked to dementia

This is utter crap. It is another outing for the fallacy, much-loved in medical medical research, that correlation is causation. It shows that there is a slight tendency for the small minority of people who get Alzheimer's to have bigger bellies in mid-life. But to say that the big bellies CAUSE Alzheimer's is pure speculation. Given the lack of any obvious connection between the two phenomena, it is much more likely that whatever it is that brings on Alzheimers also has the side effect of increasing abdominal fat. And note that the study was done in Northern California, where half the population seems to be stoned out of their brains for much of the time. Perhaps the bad stuff that they pump into themselves both makes them fat and blasts their brains

Having a large belly in middle age nearly triples the risk of developing dementia, a study released today found. Being overweight in midlife and beyond has long been linked to increased risk for disease such as stroke, diabetes and heart disease. But this is the first study to link excess fat to dementia and, the research found excess abdominal fat increased the risk even among those who were of normal weight overall.

"Considering that 50 per cent of adults in this country (US) have abdominal obesity, this is a disturbing finding," said study author Rachel Whitmer of the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research in Oakland, California.

Researchers measured the abdominal fat of 6583 people age 40 to 45 in northern California and some 36 years later 16 per cent had developed dementia, the study published in the journal Neurology found. Those who were overweight or obese but did not have a pot belly had an 80 per cent increase in the risk of dementia compared to people with a normal body weight and abdominal fat level. The risk increase jumped to 230 per cent among overweight people with a large belly and 360 per cent among the obese with large abdomens. "Where one carries the weight - especially in midlife - appears to be an important predictor for dementia risk," Ms Whitmer said.

While more research is needed to understand why this link exists, it is possible that the abdominal obesity is part of a complex set of health-related behaviours that increase the risk of dementia. "Autopsies have shown that changes in the brain associated with Alzheimer's disease may start in young to middle adulthood, and another study showed that high abdominal fat in elderly adults was tied to greater brain atrophy," she said. "These findings imply that the dangerous effects of abdominal obesity on the brain may start long before the signs of dementia appear."


"Bootcamp" for fat kids?

This is REALLY getting Fascist

Bootcamp in schools is not necessary and teachers should not cop the blame for unfit children, the State Government said yesterday. Education Minister David Bartlett said schools were already doing enough to ensure kids were fit and healthy and parents needed to play a larger role. He said bootcamp was "too extreme", school curriculums were already crowded, and schools needed to focus on literacy and numeracy over sport.

His comments come after high-profile TV fitness trainer Michelle Bridges, from the TV show The Biggest Loser, said Tasmanian students should undertake high-intensity bootcamp for at least 30 minutes at the start of each school day to reduce skyrocketing obesity rates. Bridges said she was shocked Tasmania had one of the nation's highest obesity rates and that doctors had been treating children as young as two for obesity-related health conditions. And she said Tasmanian schools could lead the nation with daily bootcamps which would have "massive results" on students' exercise, nutrition and learning.

But Mr Bartlett said he did not support bootcamps and was confident students already did enough exercise at school. "I don't like the term bootcamp because it's too extreme," Mr Bartlett said. "But in fact there are physical education programs happening in all our schools, and some of the best ones are those style of things where kids get out in the morning, do their exercise, get ready and come back in and start learning. "We have mandated two hours of physical education a week in every school in Tasmania, and in almost every school I've been into physical activity and education happens every day."

He said parents needed to stop blaming schools for unfit children, and do more at home to encourage exercise and good eating habits. "It's a crowded curriculum and people in Tasmania, I believe, as my number one priority, want me to lift literacy and numeracy rates and that's what we're working hard on," Mr Bartlett said. He said more emphasis needed to be put on what happened at home.



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!



John A said...

"Being overweight in midlife and beyond has long been linked to increased risk for disease such as stroke, diabetes and heart disease."

Well, the thought of linkage has existed - but the science does not show any particular evidence. Unless perhaps one considers the studies that show overweight-to-obese patients have significantly better chances of living...

John A said...

More in re "Pot bellies linked to dementia"

Seems this is a reprise of a 2005 study, by the same people, using the same severely-flawed database, coming to the same conclusion, and again putting out a press release before allowing other medical people look at it - perhaps because after their last media blitz, when the journal publication was available it was denounced as junk...
" The headlines should have said: `After eliminating 3/4 of the records, a single waist measurement taken nearly 40 years earlier was linked in a computer model to mental impairment checked off on electronic billing records.` That would have been recognized as another meaningless correlation and not generated the sensational media stories."