The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'obesity'
A study has claimed that rising rates of obesity in the US have resulted in almost a billion gallons of extra fuel consumption per year:
One key finding was that almost 1 billion gallons of gasoline per year can be attributed to passenger weight gain in non-commercial vehicles between 1960 and 2002--this translates to .7 percent of the total fuel used by passenger vehicles annually. Researchers also estimated that over 39 million gallons of fuel is used annually for every pound gained in average passenger weight. It is noted that while this is relatively small considering other factors such as more people on the roads, it is still a large amount of fuel that will continue to grow as the obesity rate increases.
An unusual study has examined paintings of the Biblical scene of the Last Supper made over the past 1,000 years, and noticed that serving sizes in the paintings have increased over the millennium; with each painting, thanks to gradual improvements in agriculture, the artist (and their audience) were used to larger meals than previously, which coloured the artist's creative decisions:
There is scant evidence that the body mass index of people in developed societies soared into unhealthy ranges for most of the 1,000 years studied, Young said. But there is little doubt, she added, that that changed in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s -- coincidentally, when portion sizes began a dramatic run-up.
The Wansinks, however, suggest that portion growth may have a provenance far older than industrial farming and the economics of takeout food.Instead, they suggest, it's a natural consequence of "dramatic socio-historic increases in the production, availability, safety, abundance and affordability of food" over the millennium that started in the year 1000 A.D.
A photograph, taken by a flight attendant and submitted recently to an aviation industry forum illustrates the obesity crisis:
A good friend of mine had a similar experience sitting next to a guy who was big but I don't think as big as this, for a long-haul flight and was effectively injured by sitting for several hours in a contorted position with his fellow pax half on top of him. The airline that did that to him was utterly unsympathetic throughout a lengthy correspondence afterwards. OK, Emirates since you ask. Ironically my chum is now in a senior position with another carrier.
(via The Independent)
Doing its part to cope with the global obesity epidemic, the subway system in Sao Paolo, Brazil, has introduced double-width, reinforced seats for fat people:
The seats are bright blue and have stickers above them marking them out as special seats for the use of obese persons. Strangely enough, they seem almost always empty; presumably, a lot of those who can fit into a regular seat or can bear standing are not keen to self-identify themselves as severely overweight.
One wonders how facility planners could cater for a widening population without coming up against against stigma and denial. They could, of course, go back to flat benches without divisions, except that those allow homeless people to sleep on them, which is unacceptable for various reasons. (Not all people are sufficiently enlightened and compassionate to share their daily commute with the aromatically homeless, and if public transport facilities adopted a secondary role as a homeless shelter, this would drive out many of those who are sufficiently well-off to avoid public transport, putting more cars on the road, and resulting in the money spent on running the actual trains being wasted, but I digress.) Possibly some sort of design with all seats being double-width with a low-key, or movable, divider in the middle, would do the trick; though that could have the unintended consequence of encouraging amorous couples.
The Onion has another fine slice of human disappointment: This Space Camp Looks A Lot Like Fat Camp:
Wow. I can't believe I'm really here. When I told my parents that I wanted to go to space camp, I never thought they'd actually agree. Especially not after they took me to see that doctor and he said that if I didn't lose some weight this summer I might end up getting diabetes. Mom and Dad seemed pretty concerned after that. But, hey, here I am!
Uh-oh. Better stand up straight. Here come our NASA-trained camp counselors! Strange. They look a little young to have graduated from the flight academy already. And why are they wearing gym shorts and coaches whistles instead of their regulation flight suits? Come to think of it, why am I the only one who showed up wearing a flight suit?
No, wait. It can't be. This is not what it looks like. It's space camp. That's why this gymnasium they've taken us to has a giant model of the solar system. Yes! Check it out! A giant, sprawling replica of the solar….
Okay. Those are just a bunch of different colored exercise balls.
Icelandic artist and product designer Hafsteinn Júlíusson has come up with a technological solution to the global obesity crisis: zero-calorie crisps made of flavoured edible paper, allowing one to happily consume lots of tasty, crunchy stuff. Or, as Júlíusson puts it, it's like eating tasty air:
It is not clear whether the chips are being marketed or whether they're just a piece of conceptual art.
Júlíusson's web site also has information on his other projects, including laptop bags which double as pillows, which are hand-sewn in Reykjavík and sold in the local Apple Store there:
(via Boing Boing Gadgets)
Hewlett-Packard is doing its part to tackle the affluent world's obesity crisis—by developing a digital camera that can make photographic subjects look slimmer.
(via Boing Boing)
The latest trend in America: able-bodied people riding mobility scooters because they can't be arsed walking:
On a recent afternoon at Walt Disney World, Dennis Robles was cruising around on an electric "mobility scooter" that the park usually rents out to people with disabilities. Mr. Robles doesn't have a problem walking -- he says he was simply saving up energy for late-night dancing. "I'm pretty healthy," says the 37-year-old truck driver from Brooklyn, N.Y. "Just lazy, I guess."
"Now waiting on line at the buffet is no problem," she says. "You just sit there."
Scooters are now being designed for specific uses. The SmartKart by Dane Technologies, for example, maxes out at three miles per hour, instead of the standard five, because it is meant to be used in grocery stores and other crowded indoor spaces. In the last year, Pride has super-sized models like the Maxima and introduced the Celebrity-X, to keep up with the increase in obesity.I wonder whether there'll be a SUV-style arms race in making larger and more intimidating-looking mobility scooters, to boost the egoes of the riders whilst not so subtly encouraging the few remaining pedestrians to get with the program and buy one.
And, once technology has eliminated the exertion of having to walk, perhaps they can go to work on mechanising one of the other remaining unnecessary exertions; such as, say, sex.
What is the 90s? What does it represent? What was its zeitgeist? This is the tricky part. See, hipsters in the 90s thought that they'd figured out a way to position themselves as the first generation ever which wouldn't, in retrospect, look as ridiculous as previous generations. They thought they'd secure their place by ironically fixating on 70s retro (thus sparing themselves from having to create too much of their own destined-to-be-dated material) as well as adapting the language of a hyper-conscious, self-aware man-outside-of-his-time, narrated as glibly as possible, as a way of ironically distancing themselves from their own stances.The list itself starts off with "Authenticity" (and also takes in "Smog" and "Wobbly Camera As Authentic/Gritty Device") and ends with "Bare Midriffs", and includes the likes of "Generation X", "The Greatest Generation", "Grrls" (not to mention "Straight Edge", "Reclaiming The Night" and "Reclaiming Our Bodies/Empowerment"), several variants on "Aggrieved White Males", "Madonna-ology", "lower case spelling", "Wiggers", "Nerd Chic", "Misogyny Chic" and "Blue Collar Chic":
33. The End of Heroin Chic
The Shame: One of the few genuinely intelligent, smart trends in the mid-90s was the belated recognition that heroin is a good drug, overturning decades of hippie oppression and prejudice. We have Kurt Cobain and Trainspotting, a movie whose mediocrity is less important than the positive message it sent, to thank for that. Sadly, some people - we won't mention any RIVER PHOENIX names here, but a few LAYNE STANLEY guys couldn't handle CHRIS FARLEY their shit, making it tough for the rest of us, while other KATE MOSS people, again names THE EXILE we won't mention, functioned RUSH LIMBAUGH just fine while floating on the great poppy. Sadly, a combination of weak-willed celebrities, Ben Stiller's Permanent Midnight and 9/11 ended this brief dawn of reason. Now we are back in the Dark Ages of cocaine chic. Frankly, we'd rather drink beer than do coke.
The Sham:In the ultra-segmented scene of the 90s, being fat, ugly and socially retarded wasn't an impediment to being hip. You just had to wear lots of layers of black gauze to hide the blubber, get some prominent piercings and paint spider webs on your eyelids and, voila! You were a scary, alienated Goth! A whole bevy of bands competed for your attention, including Pretty Hate Machine, NIN, and Marilyn Manson, and the evening news might even do a segment featuring people who look just like you and the decline of American values or the dangers of Columbine - even though Klebold and Harris hated Goths.
63. Being Gay
The Sham:In college, most American girls of the 90's went through their obligatory BUG (bisexual until graduation) phase, which segued for more daring ones into their stripper phase. Gays became so big that even one of the Friends' star's mother had a lesbo tryst, and everyone had to have a gay neighbor to spice up their lives. Clinton made promoting gays in the military his first priority - and his liberal agenda was essentially destroyed by that. No matter, gays went bourgeois anyway, they didn't really need most of the liberal stuff anymore, not the help-the-poor/minorities crap anyway. Then 9/11 happened. A source who lives in Noe Valley told the eXile that within a year of 9/11, Noe Valley was transformed from the Dyke Quarter of San Francisco to the Baby Stroller Capital. Who'd-a-thunk.
73. Missing Children
The Sham:According to the National Center for Exploited and Missing Children, guess how many are "long-term" kidnapped by strangers every year? 20,000? 10,000? It's gotta be a lot, considering all the alarmist attention it gets. Welp, we got news for you: only 115 children are kidnapped in America each year, out of a population of 300,000,000. And about 100 children are kidnapped and murdered each year. In other words, NO ONE WANTS TO SOCKET-FUCK YOUR HAIRLESS CHILD'S STRANGLED CORPSE. Does that disappoint you? Statistically, your child has an infinitely higher chance of growing up to be a convicted sex offender than he does of getting kidnapped and killed by one. But you don't want to believe that your child, or you, are doomed to a life of never being stalked. So instead you'll pamper and protect your child and instill him with so many worries and complexes that when he grows up, he'll have this weird, tingly feeling every time he sees a vulnerable, hairless child left alone beside a car wash...
The Sham:Back before Live Journal gave every bored office worker in America a soap box, zines were the only outlet for folks who wanted to write something that nobody but friends would ever read. Made by Kinko workers working the graveyard shift and distributed to the local revolutionary bookshop, they were hailed as authentic samizdat. Except that there was a market for samizdat, and risk involved. Zines were just another way to convince grrls that you were authentic, so you could bang 'em.
89. Blue collar chic
The Sham:Middle class guys picking up garage mechanic uniforms with cursive names sewn into the breast pocket at the local thrift store and slumming it. Then, while downing cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon for a buck a pop at the local hipster dive, peopled with other indy hipsters wearing Confederate hats or T-shirts and scraggly beards, they'd talk about this art instillation they've got planned for their studio in Williamsburg.
90. Bare Midriffs
The Sham:Will someone please tell American girls to cover their lower hips? In the last 10 years, girls' hips have grown wider and wider, expanding like in some bad 80s horror film...and yet, for some reason they have no shame in showing these wide loads to the whole fucking world. All we can assume is that no one has the courage to tell them how bad they look. We're the types who, if we had a booger hanging out of our nose while talking to you, we'd want you to tell us. So we're doing the right thing and telling you: hide your hips, and while you're at it, tie a sweater around your ass. Note: This does not apply to Russian girls AT ALL.
The aftermath of the Christmas party season is the busiest time of the year for photocopier technicians, thanks to drunk office workers' propensity for photocopying their bottoms, with the increasing weight of McWorlders possibly adding to the problem:
Geoff Bush from the north of England said one case he'd attended, where a young lady had cracked the glass mid-scan, also jammed the scanner so that it wasn't until the machine was fixed and her colleagues all sober that copies of her backside starting pouring from the machine.
Partly in response to this trend--or perhaps because of the "supersizing" of the western physique--Canon has now increased the thickness of its glass by an extra millimeter.
An Australian study has found that drivers of four-wheel-drives (SUVs) are often obese, reactionary, intolerant and aggressive
, and have crew-cuts and rottweilers named Winner:
A new study has found that city owners of large four-wheel-drive vehicles are less community minded than other drivers, less charitable, more likely to be homophobic and have a low opinion of indigenous culture.
The Australia Institute study has also found they are more likely to use force to get their way.
Two thirds of their drivers in the city are overweight or obese. They also had a lower regard for the welfare system than the general population.In other words, 4WD drivers are model members of John Howard's Relaxed and Comfortable Australia. One could almost say that not owning a 4WD is un-Australian.
The great American obesity epidemic claims another toll; as airlines find their passenger weights climbing, they are jettisoning luxuries such as phones, magazines and lifevests to bring the planes back under the limit:
This week, the federal aviation administration revised guidelines used by airlines to calculate how much weight they have on board to take account of the fact that Americans are getting fatter. The FAA has added 8% to a male and 18% to a female traveller in an attempt to ensure that the centre of gravity, takeoff speed and fuel needs for planes can be more accurately estimated.
"Maybe instead of just using those [boxes] at the gates to limit carry-on bags to certain sizes, the airlines need to have a people-sizer with a sign asking, 'Do you fit into this?'" Dave Grotto, of the American Dietetic Association, told the Chicago Tribune.
Given people's propensity to lie about their weight, airlines were told to add 4.5kg (10lb) to the figure they were told. "They usually lie in the single digits," said Peggy Gilligan, the FAA's director of flight standards.
Dispatches from the obesity epidemic: American punk/goth/alternateen mallrat clothing chain Hot Topic has launched a special chain for super-sized teens. Named Torrid, the chain sells alternative clothing in extra-large sizes, allowing the growing proportion of obese teens to look and feel cool. (via bOING bOING)
The increasing weight of passengers is costing airlines in the US US$275m a year:
Through the 1990s, the average weight of Americans increased by 10 pounds, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The extra weight caused airlines to spend $275 million to burn 350 million more gallons of fuel in 2000 to carry the additional weight, the federal centers estimated in a recent issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
The extra fuel burned had an environmental impact, as an estimated 3.8 million extra tons of carbon dioxide were released into the air, the study says.
Perhaps the solution would be to weigh passengers with their luggage and use the combined sum as an allowance? In the most obesogenic regions (i.e., the ones with no footpaths and no facilities within walking distance of homes), they could install cattle-weighing scales at the airports. (via bOING bOING)
The latest apparatus to adapt to meet the needs of the Supersize Age is the ambulance. To cope with exploding numbers of morbidly obese patients in the US, new ambulances are being rolled out, fitted with beefed-up suspension and dual rear wheels and a winch for loading patients. Expect to see these appearing in your corner of McWorld soon. (via jwz)
New studies from the U.S. show that suburbia makes you fat. The studies show that the residents of sprawling counties in the U.S. tend to weigh six pounds more than their counterparts in more compact areas, which is caused by the lack of safe pedestrian areas which encourages a sedentary lifestyle. Of course, this wouldn't wash with Libertarians, who would argue that obesity is strictly a personal failing on behalf of the deficient individuals who lacked the willpower to drive to the gym, hand over their credit card and work off the pounds piled on through the Miracle of Progress (i.e., the lack of archaic facilities such as footpaths in their neighbourhoods).
Much has been written about the epidemic of obesity in the US: now it turns out that obesity may be America's secret weapon against terrorism, by making it harder for terrorists to blend in.
"The average American today is between fifty and seventy pounds overweight," said Dr. Charles Reardon, author of the study. "That means that a terrorist who hopes to fit in here would have to eat like a pig to do so."
I'm not sure whether this will work against terrorism though; the words "Semtex fatsuit" come to mind. (via Richard)
Our obesogenic society: In parts of the US, walking is something that's not done outside of the home. If you're an adult, you drive. If you're a school student, you drive a golf cart to school. How long until there is a whole line of electric carts in "extreme teen" styles/colours, sold at Wal-Marts across the US and aimed at the commuting needs of suburban kids?
A group of overweight New Yorkers are suing fast food chains for making fattening food and not telling the public that it wasn't healthy. Whatever happened to the notion of personal responsibility?
A Grauniad piece looking at the explosion of obesity in America, and the factors that caused it (mostly bad design and unintended consequences).
For a start, in some parts of the country, Americans have eliminated not merely the need to walk, but even the possibility of it. "I'd love to be able to walk to the store, pick up some milk and come home again, but our towns don't really allow that," laments Mary Gilmore, a dietician in Meridian. The distances are too great, the pavements non-existent. In the sprawling suburbs and small towns, public transport is often as rare as in an English village. In any case, it is almost impossible to carry the milk: it usually comes in gallon containers (a US gallon is four-fifths of a UK gallon). In a country where the cost of packaging exceeds the cost of the food, buying any other way is far more expensive.
To find out what it's like to be fat in public, London-based reporter Angela Bottolph spent a week in a fat suit, and noted down how people reacted to her differently when she was twice her normal size:
Sunday: I go to Waitrose and buy the healthy-ish food I usually buy. I'm becoming incredibly self-conscious around food in public. I'm too embarrassed to buy Pringles, and I'm dithering by the ice-cream when I realise the entire aisle is looking at me as if I'm an alcoholic on the rampage in an off-licence. I half expect someone to take my basket away and say, 'I think you've had enough already...'
(from Unknown News)
Researchers at the U.S. Center for Disease Control have determined the primary cause of the U.S.'s skyrocketing rates of obesity. It's not calorie consumption (which has not increased as rapidly) or fat content in the diet (which has declined over the past 20 years); it's urban sprawl and automobile dependence. Modern American suburbs (and their Australian equivalents; have a look at Glen Waverley or Rowville sometime) are modelled around the automobile, with no high-street shops and often no footpaths; hence, those who live there have to drive to go anywhere, with exercise being a special activity strictly for the fitness enthusiasts with gym memberships.
Few suburbs now have footpaths, so pedestrians are forced on to the road. Police and private security patrols view with suspicion anyone on a suburban estate without a car: either they have run out of petrol and are in distress, or they are poor and up to no good.
An investigation into walking habits in Seattle found a direct correlation between physical activity and the year a house was built. Residents in streets built before 1947 walked or cycled at least three times every two days. Those in more modern houses used cars almost exclusively.
Which makes me feel a bit better for being one of the povo scum who rely on walking and public transport. Though one thing I have noticed is that, when I had a car, I read fewer books than when I did not (as my commute was not usable as reading time). I wonder whether a correlation can be drawn between car dependence and ignorance or mental atrophy...