Monday, November 27, 2006

Ten Roads to Fatsville

I am a complete sucker for any magazine cover that has anything to do with health, nutrition or fatness. I can’t help myself, though I have strict rules about anything with Kirstie Alley on the cover (look through quickly and then put it back).

When I spied the latest New Scientist magazine I knew that I just had to buy it to learn why the human race is evolving towards genus Homo-Rotundus. I had to know what the Ten Roads to Fatsville are, just in case it turned out that the whole problem is down to PC radiation or all that hairspray we used in the 80’s.

The article starts out by pointing out that screwed up sleeping patterns equals more fat. Apparently a lack of shut-eye causes Leptin levels to fall and ghrelin levels to rise – both of which cause you to be more attracted to food. I am someone that has always had trouble sleeping and I know that insomnia = ravenous appetite. It’s also a well studied fact that Sleep Disorders and Eating Disorders often occur in tandem.

The next point is one that I hadn’t thought much about. Our bodies are made to adapt to the external environment but we have instead engineered the environment for our own comfort. Less than 50 years ago we had to accept a certain amount of shivering in winter and sweating in summer, both of which get the metabolism whizzing along. These days we transition from air-conditioned house to air-conditioned car to air-conditioned office/gym/cafĂ© and back. We barely need to know what season of the year it is.

The article then touches on smoking and toxic overload and then gets into genetics – fat mum = fat child, fat people have more babies, older mothers have fatter children and the fact that fat people tend to have babies with other fat people. My opinion on the fatness being hereditary thing is that it is partly valid and mostly woo-woo. Left to my own devices my genes would dictate that I become very fat indeed and in my early 20’s I was a pretty fine example of ‘fat gene expression’! Several members of my family are inclined toward obesity and it is true that some people have drawn the short straw when it comes to how much wiggle room they can have with nutrition and exercise. However, the tendency to place the blame on genes and discount the effect of personal choices and actions doesn’t sit well with me at all.

My view is that, no matter what your heredity, there is a healthiest and best looking version of your body that can be coaxed out with a change of lifestyle. In my experience lifestyle always wins out over genes every time, even with 7 generations of chubby ancestors.


  1. I'm glad I'm not the only one who just cannot help but flick through the pictures of Kirsty Alley. She has done extremely well, I grant you, but it does irk me somewhat to see headlines proclaiming we can learn her "weight loss secrets". Surely the fact that she zapped prepared Jenny Craig meals isn't a secret? Good on her though, she does look fab.

    BTW, I meant to follow up one of your previous posts about which supp companies you think are worth supporting.. Any chance you can share some more (my email if you want it to be secret squirrel is Ta love!

  2. I'll send you a secret squirrel mail.

    I shame myself sometimes by buying those 'celebrity fat/thin shock' mags. Sometimes you can even see where the images have been photoshopped. What is most funny is when the same picture appears in two magazines and in one she is going through a fat crisis, but in the other 'friends are concerned' that celebrity X is losing weight too quickly. .... poor celebs, they just can't be normal, can they?

  3. I can't resist flicking through the trash mags at the supermarket checkout. Then of course, I put them back and hope nobody saw.

    Why do I feel so dirty?


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