Quotulatiousness

June 19, 2012

British “researchers” call for starvation diets to meet carbon targets

Filed under: Britain, Environment, Health — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 11:04

There’s only so much “mad” you can tolerate in the ranks of your “scientists”, and these guys are more than a bit over-the-top:

A famous mad professor who has previously called for Britons to starve their children into dwarfism so as to ease strains on the planetary ecosystem has reiterated his arguments, this time insisting that the amount of surplus flab carried by the human race will soon be equivalent to having another half-a-billion people on Earth.

Regular readers will be familiar with Professor Ian Roberts of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine already: he and his colleague Dr Phil Edwards wrote a paper in 2009 in which they suggested that it would be a good idea for Britons and Americans to model their diet and physique on that of the “lean” Vietnamese, as this would assist in such things as meeting British government carbon pledges. Lightweight Vietnamese people, according to the two scientists, not only need less food but use less energy to move themselves around.

Unfortunately, as we pointed out at the time, this would not merely have been a matter of Britons shedding some flab. In order to match the Vietnamese on weight, Brits would also have to lose four inches or so of height. Extrapolating from Roberts’ and Edwards’ figures, in fact, the people of the UK would need to shrink to a Hobbit-like stature barely over three feet to meet the more ambitious governmental carbon goals.

Oh, and in case you still think BMI has any scientific validity, here’s your disillusionment of the day:

Unfortunately the entire edifice of their argument is based on the long-discredited Body Mass Index (BMI), a frankly bizarre method of assessing how fat people are which was developed by an obscure Belgian social scientist without any medical qualifications in the early 19th century. The BMI assumes that healthy human mass goes up in proportion to the square of height, a patently absurd suggestion given that human bodies are three-dimensional rather than flat 2D shapes. All other things being equal a human’s weight should go up related to the cube of height — and indeed they aren’t equal. Any engineer will point out that cross-sectional area in support structures (feet, leg bones etc) needs to go up in direct proportion to weight carried, adding still more heft than a cube law would as height goes up. This is why elephants are not simply scaled-up dogs, and dogs are not simply scaled-up insects — they have proportionally thicker legs and other supporting structures and come out much heavier.

As one would expect, then, it has been confirmed by several recent studies among the taller populations of the modern-day developed nations that a BMI assessment of “overweight” should really be assessed as normal or healthy, while the previous “normal” range ought in fact to be dubbed “underweight”, as it has negative health consequences similar to being “obese”.

By suggesting that the human race — including the taller peoples — needs to shift into the outmoded BMI “normal” range, Roberts and his fellow public-health experts are advocating a course which would cause more health problems: scarcely what they are paid to do.

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