The cards are stacked against us fatties. If ever the path of a pilgrim was made discouragingly hard, surely it is the straight and narrow road to slimness. Against us, it seems, society is arrayed—custom, convenience, habits and trends, even “business.”
Tens of millions of dollars are spent during each year to make us fatties eat what we shouldn’t, and, I vow, it is a shortsighted policy. Those officials of trade associations and “food institutes,” manufacturers and salesmen who stay awake nights devising campaigns, and set aside heavy budgets to entice fat people to eat their products, would be better off to let us alone.
Fat people die too young, and if our 16 million fat people have shortened their life spans by only five years each, that cuts off big and small business of every sort from a tremendous potential income. Let us figure for a minute. Sixteen million times five years equals 80 million human life years.
Three meals a day would be eaten by each person during the 365 days of each one of those 80 million human life years. Rent would be paid, clothes bought, money spent, and the sum involved would run into such staggering totals that an Einstein would be needed to calculate them. And mind you, we are very conservative in allocating only five extra years of life to the average fat person who reduces.
The figures are as follows: For each pound of overweight after the age of 35, life expectancy is decreased by 1 per cent. To illustrate, a woman of 35 whose normal weight is 134 pounds has a normal life expectancy of twenty-eight years. If she allows her weight to increase to 184 pounds, that is, fifty pounds more than her optimum weight, her life expectancy is reduced to approximately fourteen years. This is not theory; this comes from exact insurance statistics, which are almost in a class of sureties with death and taxes. Striving to tempt the fat person to stay fat is poor business.
Those groups which buy the services of well-known scientists, great universities, or respected medical journals to “prove” that bread, cookies, macaroni, cereals, and so on, are not fattening, are not only straining the truth to the breaking point but are also deluding themselves.
Lipophilics who live longer, even those who watch their calories, are going to eat more of the fattening foods during their extra years of life than they will in the Great Beyond. Even the fat person devotedly concerned with reducing will relax his vigilance once in a while, cheat a little bit and indulge in those foods it would be wiser for him not to eat.
Finally, the reducer will, sooner or later, reach a satisfactory weight. At that time, he can and should eat more of the fattening foods. These are logical and simple truths, but there is no hope, I am sure, of convincing august boards of directors who shudder in a heart-rending fashion every time the fact is mentioned that their product is fattening.
Besides, most fat people are not so credulous as they are presumed to be. They sniff a rodent when they are told that the proper reducing diet should include three pieces of bread per meal. Even though a most respected university is the sponsor of, let’s say, the baloney-and-eggs reducing diet, John Fat Public is apt to suspect that this is a not too subtle way of convincing the unwary that baloney isn’t fattening.
Here, approximately, is the way certain “diets” are born. Genial, go-getting I. Sellum, sales manager of the Consolidated Baloney Corporation, announces at the annual directors’ meeting:
Gentlemen, I am sorry to report that the impression is still strong in the public mind that baloney is fattening! There’s no question that a great many people in the United States are attempting in some way or another to avoid what they consider fattening foods. You know, as well as I do, that baloney, with its high energy fat, is one of the most nutritious foods in the world. Clearly Nature intended, among other things, that no eggs should be served without baloney.
Yet, good sirs, observers placed by us in strategic locations at various restaurants reported that only one person in ten ordered baloney with his eggs. Gentlemen, fried eggs ungraced by baloney are definitely a distinct menace to the bread and butter of 32,000 employees in this great industry of ours. Furthermore, the widows and orphans who hold the majority of our stock are literally robbed when naked fried eggs are served to the consuming public.
Fellow workers, our deadliest enemy is that entity-nebulous and difficult to describe, but a force withal-the reducing craze! We can pull the fangs of this viper in our bosom. We can destroy it. Sitting beside me is the eminent scientist, Professor Pushover Fordough. I have discussed at length with him the nutritional chemistry of baloney, and he has assured me that when eggs and baloney are eaten together, the fat in the baloney is literally exploded!
Gentlemen, for the fat person, baloney and eggs are an ideal reducing dish. I am going to ask your permission now to engage the services of Professor Fordough. I can guarantee that stupendous publicity will be given to his important research-and good sirs, I repeat, millions of fat people are at this moment neglecting to order baloney with their eggs (because of the hysterical propaganda of food faddists).
By our plan, within three months we will have shown these poor misguided mortals the error of their ways. And if only one out of three eats one extra piece of baloney henceforth, those pieces laid end to end would reach from New York to Los Angeles and half way back to Kansas City.
Gentlemen, your pleasure!
Well, good reader, that sort of baloney is the least of our troubles, popular as it is. Machinations not so deliberate, or just unpremeditated and natural difficulties, make it toughest for us. After all, for every one of us who has to watch his diet, there are four who don’t. Restaurants cannot gear their menus and reform their styles of cooking to cater to us fatties. It wouldn’t be good business!
So they give us short shrift, and we can’t blame them. If the great mass of restaurant patrons want fattening foods, rich desserts, heavy gravies, and cooking done with a liberal use of fats, oils, and butter, what chance do we, a small minority, stand? Not much!
Mrs. Ima Hostess has the same problem. Two of her dinner guests are fatties; two are not. Since her family is decidedly “not,” she’s going to run into trouble if she even considers planning a reducing menu. No, the majority rules-sometimes even without a copy of Roberts’ Rules of Order.
Yes, it seems as if menus, dinners, parties, picnics, and all arrangements for group eating were planned with an eye to the person who is not lipophilic. Yet we can’t eat alone. Half the charm of any meal is sharing the enjoyment of eating with friends.
When Lord Bolingbroke once wanted to tempt Dean Swift to dinner, he showed him, as an inducement, an elaborate bill of fare. Dean Swift replied, “A fig for your bill of fare; show me your bill of company.” Right!
Not only social forces oppose us, but so does Father Time. The young are able to eat much more food without gaining weight than those of us who are older. Obviously, they are growing and some of their food is used in development. They are also more active by virtue of the inclinations and the opportunities of youth.
But most important of all, their metabolism rate is higher. That is vitally important to remember. You’re going to have to understand this term, metabolism rate, if you are really going to comprehend the phenomenon of fat. So why not do it now?
First, let us define metabolism. Metabolism is the term used to include in one word all the multitudinous chemical processes within the body which determine the growth and replacement of body tissues, the production of body heat and energy necessary for muscular activity and all other vital functions.
In a sense, then, what lay people call the life processes of the body, scientists call the metabolism. Obviously, one person’s metabolism may be more active or less active than another’s. The metabolism, then, has a rate. The rate may be average, slow or fast, as the case may be. Just as you might judge how much steam is up in a steam boat by the amount of smoke coming from the smoke funnel, so scientists have a way of determining the human metabolism rate.
The amount of carbon dioxide thrown off in the breath keeps pace with the heat production in the body. An apparatus has been devised to measure faithfully this output. Consequently, by considering a person’s height and approximate skin area in relation to his carbon dioxide output, his internal heat production can be determined. This accurately determines his personal metabolism rate.
The rate of metabolism in the body when a person is at absolute physical and mental rest is called the basal metabolism rate. The basal metabolism rate should be determined in reality when a person is in deep, sound, restful sleep. However, it cannot easily be measured then, so when you go to your doctor to have a basal metabolism test, it is made while you are resting, although awake.
A metabolism test is usually made twelve hours after you have eaten a light meal and in a room at about 70 degrees F. It will then be about 10 per cent higher than when you are in restful sleep.
However, whatever it is at the time of a proper test is called your basal metabolism rate. Doctors use a symbol to express it, the letters B.M.R. A person’s B.M.R. gives some important diagnostic clues to the doctor.
All in all, roughly, the heat production of the average adult is one calorie per hour for every two and two-tenths pounds of body weight. In a metabolism test, a man weighing 110 pounds, who produces about fifty calories of body heat per hour, is considered average. His metabolism rate is called normal.
Another man of the same height and weight who produces fifty-five calories of body heat per hour is considered to have a high metabolism (10 per cent plus). Still another man who produces only about forty-five calories of body heat per hour has what is called a slow or minus metabolism (10 per cent minus).
Think of a fire for a moment. Chemically, burning is a violent form of combustion. A very gentle form of combustion is oxidation. It is by oxidation that body heat is produced-that warmth of life, the 98.6 degrees temperature your body has in health.
You know how a fire burns brightly and quickly in a draft. In a sense, the basal metabolism rate is the draft in which body fires burn (oxidation takes place). Just as fireplaces have drafts which vary in effectiveness, so we human beings have distinctive basal metabolisms, some quite efficient, some not so good.
The rate of your basal metabolism has much to do with the question of food and body fat accumulation. Basically, body fat is food which has not been turned into heat or energy.
One of the greatest chemists of all time, Antoine Laurent Lavoisier, was the genius who gave us our first understanding of the fact that food produces heat in the body. If Parisian revolutionists had not cut off his head one November day in 1792, science might have been saved a hundred years of slow plodding. But even though Lavoisier was guillotined, we will remember at least one of his many scientific discoveries-that body heat is produced from the foods we eat.
Now if food is the fuel source of human body heat, and metabolism the medium that converts food into heat, there must be a definite relation between the basal metabolism rate and fat production-and there is, a decided one.
A normal metabolism rate helps you greatly to stay just about normal in weight. A slow metabolism rate makes you tend to put on pounds, and a high metabolism rate is apt to keep you thin.
Students of obesity are puzzled by the fact that fat people often have normal or plus basal metabolism rates. To my mind, this is not strange because the basal metabolism rate is a comparatively crude measurement of the total metabolism. A component of the total, such as the fat metabolism, may be functioning abnormally without affecting the complete picture, just as the perverted sugar metabolism in diabetes is not reflected in the basal metabolism rate.
On the average, females have a lower metabolic rate than males of the same age. Orientals and Negroes have a lower metabolism rate, which helps to explain why they may grow fatter, when they do grow fat, than white people. Athletes and hard-working people usually have a higher basal metabolism rate than people who lead a more sedentary life.
But however high our B.M.R. may be when we begin life, it grows less and less as life goes on. In infancy it is higher than in adolescence, and in adulthood lower than in youth. At every decade in life the B.M.R. is less, and as far as we are concerned this means that the tendency to accumulate fat will be increased.
So the older we get, the more difficulty we have in holding down poundage. The forties make lipophilics out of many people. That is why we admit Father Time, too, is against us.
These are just a few of the hazards we are up against. No wonder odds are heavy that we will stay fat!
It all sounds pretty gloomy, but take heart. We have had some good breaks, too. Let’s look further.