Sunday, February 17, 2008

Exercise needed to lose weight

In GOS (Goddamned Obesity Study) #443, Professor Wing of Brown University (USA) valiantly struggles against the chains of "common knowledge" to tell us that taking the stairs once in a while won't lose you twenty pounds. Apparently, if you want to lose weight you have to actually change your lifestyle and do exercise and stuff. One can imagine the bloodstained scientists fleeing exploding research labs, shielding the hard drives they carry with their own flesh so that this vital truth escapes those who Don't Want You To Know.

Secret human fat-harvesting cabal aside, is there anyone who didn't already know this? Were the researchers genuinely expecting this study would be the final Shining Light that penetrates the cholesterol armor surrounding the fattass's self-control, burning away their laziness and shame with the searing luminance of revelation? This is like erecting the fourth "Fires are bad!" sign in front of a burning orphanage - yes, it's an urgent problem, but just saying so doesn't actually do anything and the previous stupid goddamn signs didn't do a thing.

Worse, this isn't a TV-break at some Nutri-mate(TM) sponsored Hot Dog eating contest, this is a genuine presentation at the annual American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting. Now that they've got the "exercise gets you in better shape" landmark established, watch out, they'll have fire within the decade.

This is pure market-targeted research, nodding their heads sagely and muttering "Yes, that's terrible" about the public's problems (in exchange for funding - it's basically society-level therapy). The work is peppered (and salted, then bacon-bitted) with fat-friendly its-not-your-fault-isms: did you know that this is an obesogenic environment? That the globesity epidemic is serious? That it can be hard to overcome genetic or physiological propensities towards obesity (and bags of Doritos)?

Likely errors: None. This is an accurate report - that's the kind of result you can get when you start with something everyone already knows, then spend years finding a way to say that in a big report.

What the money could have been spent on: "Excuse me sir. Yes, sorry to bother you in the street like this, but this will just take one second: does exercise help you lose weight? It does? Thank you sir! Please take this huge sum of money that we were going to waste on a multiple-year report and the National Weight Control Registry!"

or: Use the data from their National Weight Control Registry as a reverse Do Not Call list, forwarding it to pizza delivery chains country-wide.

Original news piece here.

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