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Math Science

The Mathematics of Obesity 655

Posted by Soulskill
from the pi-is-tasty dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "The NY Times reports that Carson C. Chow, an MIT-trained mathematician and physicist, has taken a new look at America's obesity epidemic and found that a food glut is behind America's weight problem, with the national obesity rate jumping from 20 percent to over 30 percent since 1970. 'Beginning in the 1970s, there was a change in national agricultural policy. Instead of the government paying farmers not to engage in full production, as was the practice, they were encouraged to grow as much food as they could,' says Chow. 'With such a huge food supply, food marketing got better and restaurants got cheaper. The low cost of food fueled the growth of the fast-food industry. If food were expensive, you couldn't have fast food.' Chow and mathematical physiologist Kevin Hall created a mathematical model of a human with hundreds of equations, boiled it down to one simple equation, and then plugged in all the variables — height, weight, food intake, exercise. The slimmed-down equation proved to be a useful platform for answering a host of questions. For example, huge variations in your daily food intake will not cause variations in weight, as long as your average food intake over a year is about the same. Unfortunately, another finding is that weight change, up or down, takes a very, very long time. Chow has posted an interactive version of the model on the web where people can plug in their information and learn how much they'll need to reduce their intake and increase their activity to lose."
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The Mathematics of Obesity

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  • by AHuxley (892839) on Wednesday May 16, 2012 @05:29AM (#40014307) Homepage Journal
    Or the java installer
  • by martijnd (148684) on Wednesday May 16, 2012 @05:30AM (#40014309)

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2012/05/06/why-the-campaign-to-stop-america-s-obesity-crisis-keeps-failing.html [thedailybeast.com]

    According to this its a change of diet (as in the promoted healthy diet is anything but) in the 1970's and way too many sugars.

  • by Kergan (780543) on Wednesday May 16, 2012 @05:35AM (#40014329)

    Fruit isn't so bad, because it has fiber -- this keeps part of the sugar in your bowls, until it gets refined by bacteria and farted. Plus you need the vitamin. Fruit juice is another story: might as well drink beer.

    Some videos on sugar from the UC:

    http://www.uctv.tv/skinny-on-obesity/ [www.uctv.tv]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 16, 2012 @05:47AM (#40014367)

    In that case, just eat legumes - all the fiber (more, actually) with none of the sugar.

  • SUGAR is POISON (Score:3, Insightful)

    by arcite (661011) on Wednesday May 16, 2012 @06:20AM (#40014497)
    Yes, go watch this youtube vid: Sugar: the Bitter Truth [youtube.com]

    Sugar IS indeed a poison, like alcohol...in fact, alcohol and sugar both get turned into FAT, which is killing us because we eat too damn much of it.

    Anyway, on a personal note, I have cut out sugary drinks (no sodas) I only allow a few coke zeros (yes I know they are also poison, but I still drink a couple a month). Similarly, cut out fast food, white bread, beef, anything processed, juice, salt. Cook everything yourself then you know what goes in it. Eat natural foods. Once you know how to cook, it will be better than any restaurant anyway. You can always use the freshest ingredients. Anyway, eating healthy and being a normal weight (got a bmi of 21.5, but still fat!) is easy to achieve with a little knowledge and exercise.

  • by bjourne (1034822) on Wednesday May 16, 2012 @06:22AM (#40014499) Homepage Journal
    Neither preservatives nor flavor enhancers cause obesity. They may be unhealthy to eat for other reasons but when it comes to overweight problems it is calories that count.
  • by Lumpy (12016) on Wednesday May 16, 2012 @06:23AM (#40014503) Homepage

    Want to find the fattest people in america? they all have two things in common.

    1 - they eat fast food constantly.
    2 - when they are not eating fast food, they are eating pre-processed food like TV dinners, or other ready to eat foods.

    I have yet to find any obese people that are eating fresh fruits and veggies. The crap in cans does not count as that all has added salt and sugar.

    It's simple. eat only fresh meat, veggies and fruits. But you have to prepare it yourself, or it must come from a restaurant that starts with ONLY fresh ingredients.

    Guarantee you will lose weight if that is the only change you make to your diet.

  • by mundanetechnomancer (1343739) on Wednesday May 16, 2012 @06:41AM (#40014577)

    sounds like a diet that only someone with an above average income could afford

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 16, 2012 @07:49AM (#40015057)

    The china study has been shown to be bullshit by many people. The conclusions aren't supported by the data whatsoever.

  • by Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) on Wednesday May 16, 2012 @07:55AM (#40015115) Journal

    First of all, we've known cheap calories were the problem for at least 20 years. For most of the world, and most of human history, one of the most vital statistics economists measure is calories-per-person. When you graph things like that against, say, economic freedom, there's a clear, strong relationship.

    So one would expect our society to have the most calories per person.

    However...we are also very sedentary, which we weren't in the past. So one could also argue we just don't move enough, which is to say, we don't move much at all.

    3000 calories a day makes you weigh 270 pounds. In the past, you were a wirey 170. So "cheap calories" isn't the whole story, not by a long shot.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 16, 2012 @07:57AM (#40015133)

    I'm tired of this lie. My wife went on a health food kick 2 years ago. We've pretty much stopped eating out. Our food costs have dropped 20%. We're not eating fancy snobby "healthy" food, just real food. Do you really believe that $7x3 for meals at McD's is affordable, but $4 for a pound of hamburger, $.50 for 3 fresh potatoes, and 2 cups of flour for buns costs more than $21? Really? Add a head of lettuce, a whole bottle of dressing, and the oil to fry the potatoes, and I'm still well under your $21 "can't afford to eat healthy" meal.

    If you don't have the time to cook this simple meal, the you're lying to yourself. You're just lying to yourself. The money you saved buys you an hour a day of labor if you're anywhere near the minimum wage. And that's a fat western meal. If you think a little about eating decently, instead of just replicating mcdonalds, you can do so amazingly cheaply. Rice? Cheap. Flour? Cheap. frozen veggies? Pretty damn cheap, considering. You don't need organic arugula in January to be healthy.

  • by Ihmhi (1206036) <i_have_mental_health_issues@yahoo.com> on Wednesday May 16, 2012 @08:27AM (#40015329)

    No, being poor is the problem.

    When you need to feed a family of four on a tight budget, well, you just can't do it healthy unless you grow stuff yourself - which requires a time investment and green space that you can use (and in the city, that doesn't exist for a lot of people).

    Let me give you an example - I bought a few bananas yesterday. 3 1/4 pounds, cost me about $2.20. That same $2.20 can buy two boxes of Macaroni and Cheese (or three if you get the cheapo store brand), and each of those can basically be dinner for a family of four for a night. So if you have $50 for food for the week, which decision do you think most parents are going to make?

  • by netsavior (627338) on Wednesday May 16, 2012 @09:37AM (#40016019)

    Cooking a meal for a family would cost a lot less than taking them all to McDonald's.

    I don't know where this idea that fresh fruit and vegetables are expensive comes from. They're the cheapest way of getting food, as long as you have time to cook (and 10-20 minutes a day is enough for that if you don't do anything too complicated).

    This is one of the most annoying and common fallacies in this whole discussion.

    Did you grow up in a house in the suburbs, with a functioning kitchen, at least one parent working only 9-5 and a real grocery store within walking/car/bus distance? Congratulations, you had a better food situation growing up than 60% of people in the united states.

    I have a nice house in the suburbs, a kitchen with a functioning stove, a car that works every time I turn the key in the ignition, a fridge and freezer that work, a decent set of pots and pans, all the right knives, a cutting board, all the right spoons, a whole rack full of spices, an understanding of cooking given to me by my homemaker motherm and I can afford all this stuff on only one job.

    It costs me $5-$10 to prepare a decent dinner for my family... But i interact with $400,000 worth of stuff most people don't have to do it. The most significant of which is priceless: My upbringing in a household where people were educated, mildly successful, and proficient at cooking.

  • by netsavior (627338) on Wednesday May 16, 2012 @09:52AM (#40016169)
    yeah cause somebody who works exhausting menial labor for 8-12 hours a day is comming home to extrude noodles in their combo bathroom/kitchen sink, using fresh eggs from a grocery store they had to hop 3 busses to get to.
  • by drsmithy (35869) <drsmithyNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday May 16, 2012 @10:29AM (#40016619)

    It is easy. Very easy. You simply aren't doing it. You start by eating less, then go from there.

    Eating less is quite difficult when you end up spending 3/4 of your day trying to ignore gnawing hunger.

  • by Sebastopol (189276) on Wednesday May 16, 2012 @12:50PM (#40018459) Homepage

    You're looking at it from a perspective of great privilege.

    For example: do you have a grocery story in your neighborhood that cells vegetables? That is assumption #1 most people don't realize. Impoverished areas have quick-e-marts, because why would a grocery chain with fresh produce open in a ghetto?

    Second: if you didn't have a car, how long would it take for you to get to the nearest grocery store? What about if the nearest store was outside your ghetto, and took 1-hour both ways on public transportation (because funding is being cut for busses). That's 2 hours of travel and 30 minutes of shopping out of your day.

    Are you even strong enough to carry all of the groceries yourself (a family of 4's weekly groceries are pretty damn heavy if you don't have a car and have to change busses to get home).

    What if you worked two jobs, when do you have 2.5 hours free?

    And then time to cook?

    Being privileged makes it really easy to throw stones from your high horse. Try taking a closer look

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