Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Paleo-Insurgency


Fear must have accompanied our earliest ancestors everywhere. The challenges of unregulated competition (survival of the fittest), battling for resources with other tribes, dangers at the waterhole from parasites and apex predators, defending oneself from fast predators on the plains or hunting some big beast for lunch - all would have got the adrenalin flowing.

Then there is the fear of the unknown. Captain Kid is four years old and currently scared of the dark. I have a theory that this is an evolutionary adaption as walking round at night must have been a risky business - we are poorly adapted to it, or rather there are animals out there with more acute senses of smell, better hearing and sharper eyesight who would welcome a snack should it clumsily stumble through the dark towards them. 'Darkness walkers' would have been the extreme sportsmen of their day and yep, evolution would have quickly harvested them from the gene pool - or rather favoured those who stayed in groups and adopted a more conservative approach to the onset of night.

Fear would also be generated from physical processes such as earthquakes and volcanoes, and a variety of atmospheric phenomena - thunder and lightening in particular. It is easy to see how the seed of theism would flourish and bear religious fruit in fertile minds too engaged in their 'immediate' existence to ponder the deeper validity of such conjecture - and without recourse to scientific methods, any answer would take hold - as long as it was delivered with authority.

(Children come up with reasoning akin to that of the religious. Only recently, Captain Kid was looking in my toolbox and found a collection of screw drivers. She observed that the largest screwdrivers were "Daddy's" and the the smaller screwdrivers were for "kid's".

From a child's point of view, this is obvious as kids' imitation toys are always smaller than those 'real' objects they seek to imitate and so this is an incorrect but logical extension of what they 'know'. Size in Captain Kid's mind is not related to utility, it is a function of the size of the owner - big people have big things, and smaller people have small things. I showed her some precision screwdrivers and asked her "What do you make of these tiny screwdrivers?" To which she replied that the precision screwdrivers were "Silly!" - inferring that they were so small they had no purpose.)

To the unenlightened, it is quite an appealing explanation - that the gods were 'displeased' and so wrought tectonic destruction or a storm by way of punishment. Those that claimed to divine the future or understand such phenomena would be revered - providing reassurance in the face of the unknown, and balm to the cancer of fear. When nobody has an answer, any answer, no matter how poor, can be persuasive if delivered with assurance from a position of authority.

We see evidence of this even now. Even in the 21st century we have super-naturalists proclaiming the end of days, who (particularly with the current economic turmoil), are thriving on anxiety about the 'unknown' and the oxygen of fear it creates. But this post is about a different kind of fear.

War Games

The diet wars will not be concluded any time soon. As paleo eaters, we think we have the issue pretty much licked. The problem is that the low-fat army draws support from the general public. Low fat dietary ideology is firmly entrenched in the minds of the public - reinforced by media bias and the assurance that 'low-fat is best for health and weight loss' from misguided doctors and nutritionists. There is a general belief that the war is over and that the low fat philosophy has won. How can you win a war when only one side is fighting?

Thus the paleo movement actually resembles a terrorist group (stay with me on this one). Paleo eaters are still considered an underground movement - our ideas have not made the transition to general acceptance. Sure everyone knows of Atkins, but this is simply viewed as an 'insurgency' in to public consciousness rather than a coherent assembly, armed with research and a six pack. Atkins himself has subsequently been mired in controversy and the Low-Fat rumour mill has attempted to ridicule his work, his methods and Atkins personally.

As with all resistance movements, paleo eaters are motivated by belief, but it is a belief based upon a growing body of science. They exist as non-centralised coalitions or collectives, without central organisation. There are a few standard bearers who act as excellent filters amongst general dietary noise (Eades, Briffa, Price, Cordain and Devany), and close behind we then have legions of generals (such as Groves, Conditioning Research, Hyperlipid, Weight of the Evidence, Whole Health Source, Livin la Vida Low Carb, IF Life, Modern Forager, Tamir Katz , Lyle McDonald and Marks Daily Apple), who provide a broad range of ideas and interpretations of the paleo mantra.

Who is the Enemy?

It is the sides of a mountain that support life, rather than the summit. And it is lower down in the order of paleo culture that we see some of the more interesting branches of the paleo tree bear fruit. If we continue the war analogy, who is the enemy? Is it public ignorance? The Statinators and Big Pharma? The (low fat) diet industry? The various branches of the medical institutions?

In truth it is none of these. Or rather, there is little point taking the fight to these groups. Let them come to us and fight us on OUR terms. This is where the 'paleo revolution' will succeed. If they come to fight the paleo battle, who will they find as their adversary? They will find a lean opposition with an enviable physical composition, excellent markers of health and athletic qualities (speed , strength and agility). Such mighty opposition will whither the 'will to fight' of any low fat, calorie counting carboholic.

War Story

Recently I was engaged in such a battle. The result? A personal attack (the usual 'following a fad' criticism). There was no attempt to critically address the links to various articles, threads and scientific papers supporting paleo eating. It didn't really bother me as there was no personal weakness to exploit.

If you are going to follow the low fat dogma and attack the paleo philosophy, you need to find a paleo eater who is fat, with high indicators for heart disease. Can you find such a person? Nope. Am I such a person? Nope.

Now my attacker admitted to fluctuating weight, and stuck to the belief of eating less and doing more. I observed that in time, this just makes one hungry. He followed this up with a weak point about eating 'bulky and filling foods' - to which I replied that if the solution to dieting hunger was 'bulky foods', then a definitive model would have been established by now, which it hasn't. (A case in point is eating a 'Chinese'. Often such a meal fills you up, but an hour or so later, once the noodles have been digested, you are ravenous again). My point made, the battle quickly ended.

So in this exchange, I offered an opinion that was targeted for attack. As I was living proof of the success of paleo eating, any attacks were of a personal nature. The usual weapons of 'the relationship between sat fat and heart attacks' were useless, as was the approach that eating fat makes you fat. My return volley that 'eating less and/or doing more' (particularly eating less fat), makes you hungry clearly hit its target. The paleo philosophy remained intact. The low fat mantra was bruised and injured.

Theater of Conflict

My friend Methuselah is one of a growing band of bloggers who have joined the cause and, having seen 'the way' is engaged in a personal mission to tackle non-paleo nutrition from a unique angle. If you have not read is post on Why is there sugar in my Chicken?, then you really should.

What I like about this article is the simple approach. I mean, why IS there sugar in an off-the-shelf cooked chicken? Watching the squirming that followed was a joy. Methuselah didn't start this battle, he just asked a question. M&S continue to writhe as they seek to answer it in a coherent and logical way. This is a fantastic example of passive resistance.

Methuselah is a foot soldier in the paleo wars. Living proof of the benefits of a paleo lifestyle as indeed I am myself. Both of us have progressed from trying to diet and exercise to get to a 'fighting weight'. We have moved on from 'fighting' to be 'fighting fit', in to the calmer waters of the paleo philosophy where there is no fighting when it comes to nutrition or exercise.

The stress and anxiety of eating 'too much', missing a training session or of not getting that protein shake down your neck within an hour of coming out of the gym is replaced with a more harmonious relationship with oneself.

As armies go, the paleo movement is well placed to grow. Not a shot needs to be fired, nor a fist formed. It is politically autonomous, the concept is simple and the results remarkable. It's growth is organic - with converts growing by the week, fired by curiosity and disenchantment with existing dietary mantras. After years of fighting an unwinnable fight, exhaustion brings most of us round to a point where we realise that there must be 'another way'.

Fear and Low Fat

So what does fear and the low fat mantra have in common? Well, people dare not take the (supposedly) risky step of going paleo. Everyone knows that fat makes you fat and that saturated fat will kill you. Thus, even when the evidence points to the contrary, the noise generated by fear drowns out the science. As a paleo eater, you will be attacked - and the attack will be personal because your abs/muscle definition and excellent sub-clinical health will give them little to attack about the physical manifestation of your chosen philosophy.

This thread has gone no where near where I wanted it to. I was going to talk about fear of change....but instead it has evolved into a celebration of the paleo mentality. 'Paleo' is not a jacket that we can take off at weekends, it is our skin and we will die in it. We don't need a call to arms because in 'going paleo' we wear the fight.

As Ghandi observed, "First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then they agree with you."

Monday, 15 September 2008

Holiday Workout


I knew a body builder who it seemed, would only go on holiday if there was a gym at his intended destination. Routine, particularly his training routine, was as much a comfort blanket as a path to muscle mass. The first thing he told me about his honeymoon was how well equipped the gym was! Hmmmmmm!

It is a missed opportunity to view a holiday/vacation as some kind of encumbrance. This change in routine should at worst be viewed as active rest and at best as a period to try out new and novel ways of training. I took this latter approach on a recent sojourn to Portugal. On reflection it is clear that a vacation can be the perfect instrument to 'get some paleo' in to your life.

In-Built Change
The positive changes come thick and fast on holiday:-

1) First things first; a holiday gives you the opportunity to relax - this is your time/free time and the chance to do nothing is as important as a chance to do something different. You should not be thinking about work problems or even home problems (and certainly not your 'usual' training routine). They can wait until you return. On holiday you can literally 'get away from it all', leaving problems (quite rightly) behind. This is your chance to fully live in the moment and draw upon change of pace of your life. Paleo man would have encountered occasional stress rather than the chronic strains of modern life. The opportunity to relax is one thing, but it is another to take that opportunity.

2) If you live somewhere that is frequently wet and cold (but not snowy), like the UK, a trip to a sunnier (or snowier) part of the world really is a treat - be it a beach holiday or a winter holiday. For a start you get a large dose of the vitamin D. Wiki informs us that "Low vitamin D levels are associated with cancer, diabetes, and hypertension, and in increased mortality among patients undergoing dialysis." In addition, you will invariably adopt more of an 'outdoor life' - involving fresh air and increase in low level activity (walking, swimming etc..). This is a step closer to a paleo life.

3) Activity levels are generally increased on holiday as we engage with pursuits such as swimming and walking (depending on your destination) moving up your agenda. Such movement is fundamental to the paleo lifestyle.

One thing I particularly enjoyed on vacation was barefoot walking - and the occasional Sand-Sprint along the beach (sans trainers of course). There is something really nice about moving barefoot - almost like a massage. Running on the beach - in pursuit of a ball, frisbee or as part of some other beach game, is a perfect form of power law movement - as recommended by paleo guru Art DeVaney.

Swimming can similarly incorporate a movement of varied intensity with a playful nature. Those with kids will be aware of the fatiguing nature of playing with them - particularly around a pool. I managed 'episodes' of swimming with Captain Kidd (20kg) hanging on my neck.

In addition to the above, my other main pool activity involved Flash (15kg), who was fond of being thrown vertically up in the air. Now for a 15 month-old, Flash is a tough training partner. If she wasn't thrown up high enough, or explosively enough, she would be rather unimpressed. However, each quality 'throw', would illicit giggles - meaning the 'rep' was of sufficiently quality. It was a killer on the shoulders! "Throwing" is totally paleo!

The journey from the hotel to the beach was about 25 minutes. In the evening I would often have to carry Captain Kidd back. Lugging 20kg over several kilometers is a stern test of endurance - the activity profile of which is something I am unaccustomed to. I embrace such novelty in my training. Hunter-Gatherers would have carried camp equipment from place to place as part of their nomadic life, or indeed carried a 'kill' back to camp. Journeying with a weight provides an excellent means of conditioning.

4) Portugal is known for its fish. The fish and meat dishes were invariable served with salad (and fries). Again, this presents a perfect opportunity to move one's diet towards REAL food. As a general rule, if it is not meat and it is not brown, avoid it. With a paleo diet comes paleo health. I personally reckon diet provides about 80% of the advantage of 'going paleo'. The other 20% comes from exercise. Without the habitual purchasing patterns of a weekly supermarket shop, it is simpler to engage with a change in your food buying habits.

5) Temperature variation is something most of us miss without realising it. We live in a house with central heating, drive around in cars with climate control and work in offices with air-con. Our bodies were designed to work with, and respond to, variation in temperature.

A couple of years ago I started taking cold showers. At the end of a shower I would turn off the hot water and stay under the cold for a few minutes. This was to prepare myself for a Christmas Day dip in the Irish Sea. That event came and went, but I have persisted with the cold showers such that I find NOT finishing a hot shower with a cold spell rather uncomfortable and stifling. In Portugal I found that the pool and the sea were pleasantly cool - whereas other found the sea in particular, 'freezing'. My body is accustomed and prepared for such temperature variation and the experience invigorating.

No ChangeI guess I should come clean and tell you what didn't change - there were the usual sprint sessions (a fundamental paleo activity), and there was little chance of me NOT doing a bit of planche work - excepting body-levers, I find it hard to think of another body weight exercise that so comprehensively works almost the whole body. The great thing about planches is that you need only floor space. There was also a lot of handstanding/walking. Doing this on the beach was a novel change. The latter is more of a playful event and the former a personal challenge. However, if I feel I need a break from either, I will take it.

Negative Change
As you can imagine, there was the odd tincture (a pint of lager or up to half a bottle of red wine a night), occasional desert (ice cream), side orders of fries/chips and copious amounts of coffee (six or so cups a day). The latter is a habit I am keen to break, but whenever I am near a kettle my resolve falters. These I consider to be particularly 'un-paleo' adaptions to my vacational lifestyle - although coffee consumption is a habit that travelled with me.

Finally
So there you go. A quick round-up of my holiday activities which provide something of a stepping stone to a paleo lifestyle. The real challenge for anyone adopting these changes on holiday is to integrate them into daily life on the return home!

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Dietary Phlogiston

Today I spent a lunch hour watching various clips of Richard Dawkins on You Tube and busied the evening watching a program on BBC4 about the Big Bang and the search for dark matter.

I read quite a lot about the history of mathematics and science in general. I am as much an armchair scientist as much as I am an armchair athlete. Any book or TV program featuring the likes of Dawkins, Richard Feynman, Isaac Newton, Descartes or Einstein and I pull up a chair. I am not particularly smart, but am curious. For all the criticism it receives, popular science allows me a small insight in to a deeper and mysterious world.

What I like about science is the way it has set out to solve a rather basic question or set of questions and progress has been made through iteration. Measurements have been taken and data gathered and from that, new questions have arisen. Thus, measurement techniques have been refined, more data has been gathered - into which the introduction of computer power has spawned ever more complex analysis, raising ever more detailed and nuanced questions and allowed ever more sophisticated data collection and so forth. Science has branched as it has evolved and become more sophisticated. The models and theories can be used to make predictions - and these predictions tested. Critically, no matter where scientists come from, they can repeat experiments and get the same result - particularly in the fields of mathematics and physics.

What struck me was how absurdly different this was from the world of nutritional science. I guess just as Einstein struggled to accept Quantum Theory ("God does not play dice"), and Hoyle rejected the Big Bang for his 'Steady State' model, some theories persist - despite the overwhelming evidence - even when they should be allowed to go the same way as phlogiston.

There are some fantastic thinkers out there - Paleo guys who have lead from the front for years - and the movement is growing - but what I find odd is that nutrition affects us much more 'immediately' than particle accelerators or the Riemann Hypothesis and so you'd think that we would get the science right sooner rather than later. Maybe the grip of Adam Smith's invisible hand is firmer than we thought - but there must also be personal drivers at work.

Predictions
The notion of predictions in science is pretty powerful. To have come up with a theory, devise measurement and so gather data from which you can make conclusions about your theory, seems to be a rather straight forward series of steps. With nutrition many of us actually skip step one - so your eating habits may well be informed by advertising and cultural trends rather than a personal motivation. But as most dieters can tell you - measurement is a BIG feature of their life - particularly if intertwined with exercise to lose weight. Oddly, despite the data - many of these same people fail on the final step as well. I regularly meet fat people who are on a diet and exercise program - and have been for years. Guess what they look like.........

I am sure that for many Paleo dudes out there your steps are similar to mine - step one is the theory to simply 'Go Paleo' - step two is to measure by 'how you feel' - and if you got your theory right in step one, the implicit 'great nutrition' and short but intense physical events (encompassing running, jumping, climbing, wrestling, fighting, throwing etc...) will provide your body with the novel stimulus it needs to give you results that after a while mean you rarely have to bother with a final step of analysis.

Non Predictions (a minor rant that you can skip if you want)
My current favourite 'science' is that of Theology. I have to slot this one in given the state of current world politics - and let's get one thing straight - it is NOT a science as it does not have one iota of scientific method. Religions do not make predictions (apart from some kind of 'second coming') - and certainly give no measurements. It is my current favourite science as it is a shockingly funny and scary example of power from fear that affects almost every body in every part of the world. Dawkins adds much needed intellectual rigour in to this subject by soundly damning it on a scientific basis for the sham it is.

Think about it, several (way more than two) religious people of the same faith may give entirely unique interpretations of the same text - some claiming an allegorical interpretation and others literal. Several (way more than two) religious people can look at the same event and interpret things differently. Only last year some religious dimwit was declaring wide spread flooding in Britian was due to homosexuality. Note in this case that he did not forecast the floods as a consequence of homosexuality - he merely claimed them retrospectively as such.

Religion is parasitic. It used to live on peoples' fear and ignorance - and amongst the uneducated and the dim, it still has that power. Strangely it also seems to have a hold on otherwise intelligent people - but for it to 'live' in such a rarified atmosphere, it has to try to eek out a parasitic existence in the gaps of science. Again it makes no measurement, but subjective theory is 'evidenced' by subjective conclusion.

It has actually dawned upon me that religious thinking and the 'conventional wisdom on nutrition have something in common;

1. If good things happen to faithful people, the religious point out that this is God's reward.
2. If bad things happen to faithless people, the religious point out that this is God's justice.
3. If bad things happen to faithful people, the religious point out that this is God's way of testing their faith.
4. If good things happen to faithless people, the religious point out that God moves in mysterious ways.

God's immunity from blame here is scarily redolent of the defence of the 'low-fat/complex carb' and exercise mantra for losing weight;

1. If a fat person eats LFCC diet and exercises to lose weight, and s/he does so, then it must work.
2. If a fat person eats LFCC diet and exercises to lose weight, and s/he does NOT do so, then she either cheated on the diet or didn't exercise hard enough.

Once you start down this path the similarities are everywhere. I have seen discussions with as many LFCC carbophiles telling me that 'those on a diet high in animal fat will get fat/die of heart disease' as I have religious groups demanding 'death to the unbelievers'. Fuck me, I think I am on to something here!

The benefits of Low-Fat Nutrition and the existence of a Christian/Muslim/Jewish God - two issues so bound up in the (atheroscleortic) human heart and from which we, so much talk of 'death' seems to emanate.

Jesus, Guns and Babies
Having seen McCain's running mate for VP I guess I should draw in any Creationist Paleo eaters out there. I mean do they exist and how do the square premise of a Paleo approach to nutrition with a world - and indeed a universe that is 6000 years old? In time, maybe evolution will take care of that one for us and they'll go the same route as phlogiston, if they don't send us down that route first!

I am on vacation for a week or so, and so this will be my last post for about 10 days....by which time I hope to explain why these last two posts were the first for so long!

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Make My Body Younger

We are going through a TV revolution here in the UK. Hot on the heels of a decade of gardening, DIY and property-centric programming we are now in the age of Diet/Exercise Docu-drama (DEaD) programming. These televisual feasts are fueling the airways in the UK and like a carb-oholic faced with a plate of hot chips, fresh toast, pasta and a side order of pastries, the viewing public seem to be lapping it up.

With an increasing number of fat and fattening members of the general public in the UK, it makes sense to target this demographic. It is both a growing population, and a GROWING population (you read it right first time).

First things first; as with just about every other DEaD program, do not expect anything that will work long term. In fact, we could reduce all these programs down to four words;

Eat more, do less.

Tonight's offering on BBC3 was called "Make My Body Younger". Now before I go on to criticise much of the advice given on this program, I want to give you the brief of how the suits at the Beeb must have decided to pull this show together.

The Pitch

Gustav: "Charles, we need a new show to fill the airtime on BBC3! We cant tamper with BBC1, BBC2 is stuck together by anything involving Jeremy Clarkson - so we can't dilute it with re-runs, and besides we have sold all the repeat rights for "Top Gear" to 'Dave', and BBC4 is turning in to a general crock of shite. Your budget is zero. Hit me."

Charles: (Clearly crapping himself because decent public service broadcasting involves making BRAVE programs that challenge conventional wisdom); "Erm we could do a diet program....erm, but not any old diet program, this one is erm.......erm ..it has young doctors - men and women that you'd want to shag, and erm, patients that are young - and who you'd want to shag.....erm and the doctors are dressed like the cast of The OC or Lost (during their flashbacks)..one of the doctors has an Audi A3."

Gustav: "My God Charles, you're a genius. We appeal to youth, with youth, attack Mad-dog McKeith's audience and draw in the fat-bastard demographic, whilst simultaneously appearing to be tackling a serious issue, following real people - all for the cost of a £20k car, some good haircuts and a wardrobe from Top Shop. Let's do it!"

So there you have it. Another DEaD program which, in case I didn't say it before, boils down to;

Eat more, do less.

Tonight's Episode

So let us not beat around the bush. I am a heterosexual married man with two kids. However, within minutes of seeing this program I wanted to shag all the doctors - male or female - it doesn't matter - and in any order, nick their clothes (those of the men only - I mean what are you thinking, that I am some kind of pervert or something?) and run off with the keys to the Audi A3. Erm, well actually I would only run as far as the Audi A3, then I would get in it and drive. In fact, if they didn't mind that I had just shagged them and nicked their clothes, the doctors could actually come with me in the car and we could all be friends - I mean THAT IS HOW COOL THEY ALL WERE!

As for the subject of this program, the delightful Amy, we find that her life was turned around '360 degrees' (Dr James said so). And just in case we didn't catch it, at the end of the program Amy reiterated the fact that her life had been turned around '360 degrees'. Now thank God Dr James is a doctor and not a mathematician - although if he was ever faced with an operation to resolve inverted sternum the result might be interesting (that would make a bloody good program in itself - the final scene of which could involve a close up of the parents face as they realise little Timmy's sternum had been inverted back to its original position).

We get to see Amy meeting up with Dr James and she is wearing a low-cut pink top - a scene from which, if you only saw a still, you'd swear was from some kind of romantic fly-on-the-wall dating show. The suave Dr James smiled seductively (and damn is hair/clothes/teeth looked good), whilst Amy leaned forwards forcing her boobs in to his face. Jeez, I am no psychologist but I could tell that he was fighting the urge to look down - I'd say they had to re-shoot and edit that section several times - the out-takes from that bit alone should be worth their own show!

I digress.

So what did Amy get out of it?

Well, she ate more fruit and veg, she cut back on the sugar and fat and took up wholemeal this that and the other. She also found exercise - long, arduous, boring and repetitive exercise like treadmill work and spinning. That certainly sounds like a life turned 360 degrees - changing one piss-poor lifestyle based on poor nutrition and no exercise for another piss-poor lifestyle based on poor nutrition and piss poor exercise. YOUR FACING THE SAME WAY AMY!

Note to all: If you want to turn your life around, turn it around 180 degress, and no more!

So what didn't Amy get out of it?

She didn't get out of this program and way of eating that would tame her HUNGER. She didn't get our of this program a way of exercising that embraces novelty and sustains interest.

So what won't Amy get out of it?

Amy has rules. The rules are based upon limitation and denial. The model is premised on hunger. She is encouraged to eat food with a poor satiating quality. She is encouraged to eat food which will compel her to eat MORE (refined carbohydrate). She is encouraged to eat less. On top of all that, Amy is encouraged to perform activities that will make her hungry.

If we follow the Paleo model, we get a concept from which we can generalise. The generalisations give us reasonable rules by which to live and conduct ourselves. So unlike a rule that says "drink five glasses of water a day" - something that sets up a condition of failure, a Paleo approach reaches deeper, and advises us to simply "respond to your thirst". Thus you understand that thirst is simply feedback - there is no failure.

Similarly, if you feel you are suffering from bloating or eating too much fruit (yes it CAN be done), follow the paleo model. In this case, you just need to eat seasonal fruits. You see how easy that is? You answer a technical question such as 'am I eating too much fruit' not from having dietary knowledge or gardening wisdom, nor from rules based on hte consupmtion of 'x number of fruits a day', but from a simple philosophy based upon a model from which you can generalise and get a ball park answer to your problem.

Feeling your bicep curls aren't working as an exercise? Bored with your gym routine? Well climb a tree - hoist your body up in to the branches, climb up 20ft and then climb down. Repeat a few times - and imagine a tiger is after you. Think like a paleo guy and act like a paleo guy.

Hell, I am not sure what paleo-guy REALLY did think, eat or do, but I know he didn't eat 14 bananas and work on two sessions of 5x5 dead curls a week.

Follow Up

For all these DEaD programs, I'd like to see a follow-up program one, two, three and five years down the line. That would be a real TV-treat. It is a win/win for the production companies as well.

Invariably, even after 5 years, at best most of the subjects of these shows will have maintained their weight. They'll still be fucking fat. Most will be fatter. The doctors (undoubtedly fatter themselves), could then mock their subjects and criticise them for their lack of self control. We could then go through the whole cycle again.

As an approach to nutritional health, the premise of 'eat more, do less', as most of us know, is dead. Don't believe me? Then ask the next fat person you see a) have they ever been on a diet? and b) have they tried to exercise to lose weight? The answers to both will be "yes"!

Let us just step back and think about that for a minute. The fat person you have asked will have tried to 'diet' (and I use 'diet' in its conventional sense), and exercise to lose weight.

Stoopid DEaD TV

What annoys me about this program is that I am sooooo willing to bet that these TV doctors were selected due to their media-friendly appearance rather than for their knowledge or belief in the advice they give. I would go so far as to say that the 'doctor' status is a 'badge' - I mean I am sure they ARE doctors but that they do not drive the program's agenda.

The credits showed some additional medical advisers/consultants involved with the program and I suspect that these are the real architects of the show and who the Beeb would claim 'have little desire to appear in front of the camera', but who I reckon are simply too frickin' ugly to appeal to the wider demographic (hey, their target audience are fat, NOT blind). In fact, I'll bet that these advisers are actually overweight themselves!

TV should be accessible and there are important messages to get across. It is great that we no longer have doctors in white coats stirring test tubes of foaming liquid, or wearing a stethoscope, castigating us for our unhealthy way of life in some plummy English accent, but sexing up TV based upon such dire advice as 'eat more, do less' is no way to tackle a real health time-bomb.