Feeds

Profs: Human race must become Hobbits to save planet

British men 3'3" tall would meet UK carbon pledges

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Public-health researchers in London have come up with a new plan to save the planet: wealthy westerners should all reduce by several inches in height by starving their children. This would not only save food, but make people much lighter, meaning that cars and buses would use less fuel.

The new insight comes from Professor Ian Roberts and Dr Phil Edwards of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. According to the two men:

A lean population, such as that seen in Vietnam, will consume almost 20% less food and produce fewer greenhouse gases than a population in which 40% of people are obese (close to that seen in the USA today) ... a lean population of 1 billion people would emit between 0.4 and 1.0 gigatonnes less carbon dioxide equivalents per year compared with a fat one.

Between 1994 and 2004 the average male BMI in England increased from 26 to 27.3, with the average female BMI rising from 25.8 to 26.9 (about 3 kg - or half a stone - heavier). Humankind - be it Australian, Argentinian, Belgian or Canadian - is getting steadily fatter.

Or more accurately, humanity's averaged body mass index (BMI) is increasing. But BMI - a frankly bizarre way of measuring fatness - is calculated using weight divided by the square of height.

It's not hard to show how stupid this is. Take a normal healthy adult male standing 5'10" and weighing 12 stone - BMI 24, "healthy" - and scale him up in all dimensions by 7 per cent. He is a slightly larger, exact copy of his smaller self; an almost identical physical specimen.

But he stands 6'3", and because human beings are three-dimensional rather than two-dimensional as the BMI requires them to be, he weighs nearly 15 stone - for a BMI of 26. Suddenly he is "overweight", though he is an exact scale model of a "healthy" person.

Gains in BMI don't particularly signify that people are getting fatter. Often, they mean that people are getting taller or more muscular. American major-league baseball players over the last century, for instance, have shown BMI increases comparable to those of ordinary Englishmen in recent times: but major-league ballplayers are actually a lot healthier, stronger and fitter than they used to be.

Not that anyone's particularly saying that ordinary Englishmen are fitter and healthier than they used to be: but BMI's a pretty stupid way of measuring what is going on. You would see the same BMI increases if everyone started building more muscle mass, or to a lesser degree if lots of people gave up smoking, as they have. And indeed, while Englishmen may be growing, podging or bulking out, there's reason to think that Englishwomen might not be over the longer run. Consider this comparison of UK women in 1951 versus those of today, carried out for the fashion industry rather than for the medical bureaucracy - which needs the obesity numbers to be scary, and which surveys people at home rather than in shops.

The fashionistas say that Ms 1951 came in at 5'3" and 9 stone 10, for a BMI of 24.13. Ms Today, however, is an inch and a half taller. If her body depth and breadth had simply increased in proportion, she should weigh 10 stone 6 (and would be magically "overweight").

But, in fact, according to the London College of Fashion, Ms Today actually weighs 10 stone 3. Her body is either less dense or more elongated than that of her grandma.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Boffins attempt to prove the UNIVERSE IS JUST A HOLOGRAM
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
China building SUPERSONIC SUBMARINE that travels in a BUBBLE
Shanghai to San Fran in two hours would be a trick, though
LOHAN tunes into ultra long range radio
And verily, Vultures shall speak status unto distant receivers
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
EOS, Lockheed to track space junk from Oz
WA facility gets laser-eyes out of the fog
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.