Everyone Jump on the Link love

Tenured Radical with useful advice she learned at her first job.

I swear I do not have this.

This article makes my head asplode: Obesity — it’s Mom’s Fault! Practically every single sentence makes me want to point out three different things wrong with it.  I thought about doing a longer critique but then I realized it wasn’t worth writing 50 pages about why someone is wrong on the internet.  Historiann discusses it here.  This discussion is more detailed.  #2 does note that there is some suggestive evidence that a specific way of bottle feeding and timed feeding may encourage obesity later on (because they teach babies to ignore their “full” cues and tell them they’re in a scarcity environment so overfill their bellies), but again, this would be the doctor’s fault rather than the mother’s.

We were in this week’s carnival of personal finance.

Sorry for the light posting this week; one of us is out of town and the other is savoring the last few days off the internet before I have to do work.

I am also pondering accountability and goals for 2012, but have not yet come to any conclusions.  For now, I am participating in the winter-break writing group over at Dame Eleanor, who makes some thoughtful points during her posts, and has interesting discussion in the comments.  First about time, then strengths and weaknesses, then the ever-fraught decision of big changes or small changes, then a side note about flexibility, then another thing that makes me tear my hair out: transitions.  Go read and feel inspired, if that sort of thing helps you.

If you are bored, go read Gunnerkrigg Court, which I am currently way into.

And now, dear readers, what awesome things on teh intarwebz did we miss this week?  Tell us in the comments.

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14 Responses to “Everyone Jump on the Link love”

  1. Comradde PhysioProffe Says:

    Excellent linkioloio to Dame Eleanor. I never saw that blogge before.

  2. Historiann Says:

    Thanks for the link, nicoleandmaggie. Glad you were interested in that post, and I’m also glad that you found the super-smart takedown by Darin over at PACHS.

  3. Dame Eleanor Hull Says:

    Thanks. I’m not sure if I’m pleased or very, very afraid to know that Comrade PhysioProf has discovered me. :-)

  4. Rumpus Says:

    I like that Gunnerkrigg comic. Reminds me of a book I heard about not long ago where the minotaur ends up being a line cook or somesuch in modern day.

  5. becca Says:

    I totally agree the tone of the “Obesity- it’s mom’s fault!” thing is obnoxious. That said, the scientific field itself is awesome. I generally buy the epigenetic programming argument as part of the explanation for the rise in obesity.

    If you starve pregnant mommy mouse, you get baby mice that can thrive better on low-calorie diets. The offspring suck at handling high-calorie diets though.
    Conversely, if you feed pregnant mommy mouse McDonalds, you get baby mice that can handle high-fat diets better, and cannot deal with as much calorie restriction.

    In humans, they’ve shown some evidence of changed methylation on the IGF2 gene region in people who had ‘periconceptual’ exposure to famine. I think the eventual story will be more complex, but the mechanism is sound in theory.

    Actually, I am a bit skeptical about whether we’ve got a good grasp on why obesity is associated with so many health problems, and whether the relationship between obesity and health could be changing over time.

    It’s possible that two generations ago, crazy-excess calorie intake was rare enough that the previous generation (where most of our old-age degenerative disease statistics come from) was set up to thrive on fewer calories, but instead they got tons of calories and had corresponding health problems. However, that high calorie intake would then program the current generation to be a bit better equipped for handling a boatload of calories, but the current generation isn’t old enough to show up in e.g. the heart disease statistics yet.
    Of course, one of the main reasons I wonder about that it is already known that a lower BMI should count as ‘obese’ for health-risk purposes in South Asian populations, where famine is a more recent population-wide problem than in say U.S. populations (where you have to be fatter to be more at risk). Of course, there’s also body-shape things that may be playing into that too, and maybe what’s really going on is epigentic programming in cortisol signaling responses which impacts where you store your body fat and that impacts how that fat signals to the rest of the body. /armchair molecular medicine theorizing

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Wow, those are some deeply interesting thoughts! I think the whole weight issue is so incredibly complex. Practically every day there is some news item of a recent breakthrough (some mutually contradictory). I think part of the problem, as you allude to, is in occluding individual differences in, e.g., physiology, nutrition responsiveness, metabolism, etc., by using heterogeneous groups in studies. With culture and medical opinion both in constant flux, what’s a person to do?

      • Cloud Says:

        Try to eat healthy food, get some exercise, and not stress about it all.

        And actually, the not stressing may be a very important part of the health equation. If you want a decent lay person’s introduction to what stress does to you, check out the book Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers (or something like that). I seriously wonder if all of the studies that show a positive health effect of moderate drinking are just showing that relaxation is good for you!

        Back on topic… becca is right, the science around this topic is really cool, if incredibly poorly explained in the popular press.

        In fact, the science around how our bodies maintain weight is itself pretty fascinating. A few jobs back, I was on a project working on an anti-obesity/type II diabetes target. I now have a great deal of respect for just how hard it is to lose weight once you’ve gained it. Which makes the extra 15 lbs I’m now carrying around all the more annoying- I swore I wasn’t going to let this happen to me when I weaned, and then I did.

        But I think that fitness is more important than weight, and that is fairly easy to improve- so that’s the bright side.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Mild stress is good for growing fetuses! (In some aspects anyway, I’m sure there’s a trade-off. But they develop faster! Live longer! Yes, I have been to several conferences on epigenetics.)

      • Cloud Says:

        Oh, yes! I didn’t mean that you have to be super Zen all the time. Moderate stress = OK, maybe even good. Serious, prolonged stress = best to avoid.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Yeah, I’m pretty well convinced on epigenetics and the Barker hypothesis.

      Even if we’re not looking at things like 2nd generation effects of obesity or (more commonly, famine!), it’s pretty obvious just from DES that external changes can continue to future generations.

      To answer my counterpart’s question, there are some great (well, not so great for the unwitting participants) natural experiments out there. And, you know, small animal studies.

  6. MutantSupermodel Says:

    I’m tired of the blame game. Therefore I will not indulge anything that declares some problem is someone else’s fault. Especially moms. Someone stop the damn ride, I want to get OFF.


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