Author Topic: Horizon: Why Aren't Thin People Fat  (Read 4209 times)

Horizon: Why Aren't Thin People Fat
« on: January 29, 2009, 08:33:25 am »
I'm not sure this is the right section for this thread, maybe in health and fitness? There seem to be some lardies here, so this should be of interest :thumbsup:

Did anyone see this programme?

BBC NEWS | Magazine | Why do some people never seem to get fat?

Quote
Yet the science of weight gain is less straightforward than the headlines sometimes suggest. Why, for example, do some people seem to eat what they like and not put on weight, while others limit their diet yet struggle to shed their bulk?

In 1967, a medical researcher, Ethan Sims, carried out an experiment at Vermont state prison in the US. He recruited inmates to eat as much as they could to gain 25% of their body weight, in return for early release from prison.

Some of the volunteers could not reach the target however hard they tried, even though they were eating 10,000 calories a day. Sims's conclusion was that for some, obesity is nearly impossible.

It was with this in mind that 10 slim volunteers - who were not dieters - convened in more hospitable circumstances, for a recent experiment devised by the BBC's Horizon documentary. The 10 spent four weeks gorging on as much pizza, chips, ice cream and chocolate as they could, while doing no exercise, and severely limiting the amount they walked.

The programme itself is a load of cack though.

Charlotte

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Re: Horizon: Why Aren't Thin People Fat
« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2009, 09:23:17 am »
Liz and I watched that as we were having our dinner the other night  ::-)

My impressions of the programme were that the people that they observed were very young and likely to have very high metabolic rates, so could easily burn off more than their advised 2000/2500 calories a day.  They also probably lived active lifestyles or at the very least had non-sedentary jobs.  But so what?

The thing that interested me was that although many of them put on a few kilos during the course of the experiment, they all lost it in fairly short order.  Their bodies "knew" what weight they were happiest at and automatically defaulted to that.

Why?  Well, it would appear that all of them would rarely eat when they didn't actually need to eat.  Fair enough - when they were hungry and needed food, they could demolish vast quantities of scran, but unlike a lot of people who do have elevated BMIs, they all knew when to stop eating.

As a self-confessed sturdy girl, I envy this enormously because I can eat a huge meal and then if someone goes and waves a plate of delicious cakes under my nose, I'll eat them.  Just because.
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Re: Horizon: Why Aren't Thin People Fat
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2009, 09:37:10 am »
I didn't watch the programme because I avoid anything that involves "Eating as much as you possibly can" as it usually involves vomit in the end... I've been traumatised by Jackass you see...  ::-)

Anyhoo - I suppose the concept that some people put weight on more easily than others is slightly interesting, but only slightly so really.

The basics are these. If you ingest n calories a day, your body will absorb somewhat less than n for the purposes of energy. The efficiency of this is probably mostly genetic - ie, you can't bloody change it, so why worry about it?
Then - if you burn x calories in activity - some, all or more than n will be consumed. Because of the Laws of Thermodynamics:

If x > n -> The balance must be drawn from reserves. Has to. There's no chuffin way anything else can happen. So you will lose weight. If you do it properly (eg - This way) then most of the difference will come from stored Fat. If you do it improperly (eg This way) then the difference will come more from burning muscle, which will lower your metabolic rate and make it harder and harder to achieve x > n.

Sadly, the unwashed masses find this really hard to either comprehend, or achieve. Hence the desperate search for Diet Pills, Fad Diets and TV Programmes about why some people can eat three Christmas puddings an hour and not put on weight.

 :)

Re: Horizon: Why Aren't Thin People Fat
« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2009, 09:40:07 am »
I keep meaning to watch this on i-Player but don't have time. Was the amount of activity they took during the test controlled?

Charlotte

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Re: Horizon: Why Aren't Thin People Fat
« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2009, 09:43:48 am »
I think they wore pedometers and had to keep their number of steps below a certain amount each day.
Commercial, Editorial and PR Photographer - www.charlottebarnes.co.uk

Re: Horizon: Why Aren't Thin People Fat
« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2009, 10:21:30 am »
Quote
Sadly, the unwashed masses find this really hard to either comprehend, or achieve.


I think that most comprehend, but achievement goes a little beyond the physics of it.  We have to remember that being fat makes it much harder, socially, to exercise.  Likewise, just because you know tat eating less means you'll lose weight doesn't actually make it easy to eat less.  We can draw the obvious comparisons with smokers....most know that it's bad for them, many wish they could stop, many try to stop, but it's not just a question of deciding not to have any more fags, it's often a massive challenge to stop that many don't succeed at.  And, indeed, fat breeds fat as do some reactions to it.  That they are so fat leads some to become depressed by it, depression leads to comfort eating, etc.  Likewise, constantly having it pointed out that some one is fat might make them feel like a failure and thus they turn to food again.

As well as the program discussed here I also saw the Gok Wan (is that how you spell it?) program about his younger, overweight life.  It reminded me very much of the program that John Barrowman did about being gay.  Both seemed desperate to find a specialist that would tell that that it was genetic rather than a choice/nurture.  That way it meant that others couldn't blame them for 'choosing' that 'lifestyle' and bringing all of the associated problems on themselves.

The Beeb program and its descriptions of the genetic/viral/over weight when young causes of obesity is, I think, a bit of a double-edged sword. On the one hand the more that is discovered about being over weight then the more that can be done to help us larger people lose the excess, but on the other hand, allowing us to categorise our extra weight as 'unshiftable' gives us less enthusiasm to try and get back to a more healthy weight.

And yes, I do realise that my first and final statements are probably erring toward the hypocritical  ;)

Hummers

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Re: Horizon: Why Aren't Thin People Fat
« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2009, 10:44:42 am »
It's me glands, honest.  :-[

Good point about age and lifestyle though.

I was  about 13-14 stone and reasonably slim up to the age of 34. This was down to a mixture of exercise, stress and not having much spare cash to spend on booze and anything but basic home cooked food.

From then on, I seemed to pile on the weight and apart from training for a moutaineering event in 1999 (where I managed to slim dwn to just over 14 stone), have struggled to keep my weight below 16 stone and was nearly 18 stone this time last year.

I think this weight gain is mostly lifestyle but wouldn't rule out how hard I have to work to shed weight  being age related.

H

H

Re: Horizon: Why Aren't Thin People Fat
« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2009, 10:57:08 am »
What struck me was that all the people didn't seem to enjoy their food. I suspect people who say they can eat as much as they like and don't put on weight actually eat very little.  Also most of the people in the study seem to be thin but flabby. It would have a lot more interesting if they had more people spread over a wider age group in the test.

There could have been a good programme on this subject, but instead they had to dress it up with a "reality TV" type of "study". When I saw the trailer for the programme, I thought "not another stuff yourself for a month and see what happens" TV programme.

There was an Horizon prog about mental illness which they did as a "spot the nutter" game show.

toekneep

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Re: Horizon: Why Aren't Thin People Fat
« Reply #8 on: January 29, 2009, 10:57:20 am »
I didn't watch it but as a thin person who until middle age found it almost impossible to put on weight I am intrigued by it. I saw something a year or two back suggesting that people who couldn't put on weight tended to be more active, animated it you like, during everyday activities. A great example is telephone calls. I'm sitting here in the office right now and if I get a phone call I will suddenly find myself in the kitchen or the lounge talking on the phone. Why? No reason at all, without any concious thought I have stood up and started walking around whilst talking. I also wave my arms about a lot when on the phone. There is a chap who lives opposite me who is always fixing cars outside his house. I happened to looking out of the window yesterday when I saw him take a call on his mobile. He never stopped pacing back and forth and even did something I do, he picked something up and put it down again somewhere else for no purpose whatsoever. Odd I know, but it must use more calories than simply sitting still and talking on the phone.

annie

Re: Horizon: Why Aren't Thin People Fat
« Reply #9 on: January 29, 2009, 11:01:11 am »
I didn't watch it but as a thin person who until middle age found it almost impossible to put on weight I am intrigued by it. I saw something a year or two back suggesting that people who couldn't put on weight tended to be more active, animated it you like, during everyday activities. A great example is telephone calls. I'm sitting here in the office right now and if I get a phone call I will suddenly find myself in the kitchen or the lounge talking on the phone. Why? No reason at all, without any concious thought I have stood up and started walking around whilst talking. I also wave my arms about a lot when on the phone. There is a chap who lives opposite me who is always fixing cars outside his house. I happened to looking out of the window yesterday when I saw him take a call on his mobile. He never stopped pacing back and forth and even did something I do, he picked something up and put it down again somewhere else for no purpose whatsoever. Odd I know, but it must use more calories than simply sitting still and talking on the phone.

Sounds like me.  I am a fidget bottom.  Always on the go.  When I am well I only sit down when in the 'little room' or at the end of the day.  I also do everything at speed.  It is how I have always been.  Having said that, I was once 2 stone heavier, after major surgery.  I didn't carry the weight well and it made me feel very sluggish.  I found it very easy to lose a large amount of weight but not the last couple of pounds.

I might be tiny but I eat more than most people I know.  I am a 3-4 oatibix for breakfast person and even then don't always feel full.

Re: Horizon: Why Aren't Thin People Fat
« Reply #10 on: January 29, 2009, 11:16:11 am »
My previous post might have implied that this is easy. It's not; whilst the physics is easy, as Bodger rightly states, the execution is not, and the Calories In/Calories Out balance can be varied in a multitude of ways.

We've been brainwashed into thinking life should be easy. We fill our houses with machines to make our lives easier, and many people are now so unfit, they couldn't get themselves from A to B (where A is less than five miles from B) without the use of a car - which to my mind makes them effectively disabled.

Life shouldn't be like that. Life is supposed to be hard work. We have evolved for hunting & gathering; which involved long periods of walking about, brief periods of athletic activity, and a lot of sitting about when it got dark. But nobody wants a hard life do they?

simonp

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Re: Horizon: Why Aren't Thin People Fat
« Reply #11 on: January 29, 2009, 11:19:19 am »
Never mind all that.  Where can I get one of those body pods they used for measuring body fat?  ::-)

Re: Horizon: Why Aren't Thin People Fat
« Reply #12 on: January 29, 2009, 11:44:09 am »
Never mind all that.  Where can I get one of those body pods they used for measuring body fat?  ::-)


So I wasn't the only one looking at them and thinking "erm, I could bodge that into a 'bent fairing"?

LEE

Re: Horizon: Why Aren't Thin People Fat
« Reply #13 on: January 29, 2009, 04:11:54 pm »
Please Sir, can I have a metabolism that converts calories into Muscle tone like that Chinese fella?

Eccentrica Gallumbits

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Re: Horizon: Why Aren't Thin People Fat
« Reply #14 on: January 29, 2009, 06:36:21 pm »
What struck me was that all the people didn't seem to enjoy their food. I suspect people who say they can eat as much as they like and don't put on weight actually eat very little. 

This makes sense to me. I have a friend Ruth who also struggles with her weight, and her friend Fiona has always been very slim. Fiona hardly ever eats. She doesn't get hungry, she doesn't particularly enjoy food, she can go all day without it ever occurring to her to eat. I, on the other hand, love food, love eating and feel hungry well in time for every meal.
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toekneep

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Re: Horizon: Why Aren't Thin People Fat
« Reply #15 on: January 29, 2009, 06:58:23 pm »
What struck me was that all the people didn't seem to enjoy their food. I suspect people who say they can eat as much as they like and don't put on weight actually eat very little. 

This makes sense to me. I have a friend Ruth who also struggles with her weight, and her friend Fiona has always been very slim. Fiona hardly ever eats. She doesn't get hungry, she doesn't particularly enjoy food, she can go all day without it ever occurring to her to eat. I, on the other hand, love food, love eating and feel hungry well in time for every meal.

I'm a thin person who thoroughly enjoys his food. What is more, I normally have my main meal of the day in the evening but if on the odd occasion I have a main dinner at lunch time, I always want another one at night. Fast metabolism I suppose.

Eccentrica Gallumbits

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Re: Horizon: Why Aren't Thin People Fat
« Reply #16 on: January 29, 2009, 07:05:01 pm »
My brother's like that - eats like a herd of horses and never gets any fatter. I think he has a tapeworm.
My feminist marxist dialectic brings all the boys to the yard.


Re: Horizon: Why Aren't Thin People Fat
« Reply #17 on: January 29, 2009, 07:07:35 pm »
I live with a guy who eats more than I do.  He considers it his duty to cram himself with food - I suspect a childhood of being praised for eating like a 'growing boy' is to blame.  When we were in university halls a couple of years ago, he ate a full fried breakfast every day and never put on a pound. 

He never takes any exercise, other than walking to and from the bus stop, and yet he's seriously skinny - he doesn't have much muscle, but his abdominal muscles are still clearly visible when he takes his shirt off.  There has to be more to it than just a high metabolism.  He deserves to be about twenty stone by now.   >:(

Re: Horizon: Why Aren't Thin People Fat
« Reply #18 on: January 29, 2009, 07:14:00 pm »


He never takes any exercise, other than walking to and from the bus stop, and yet he's seriously skinny - he doesn't have much muscle, but his abdominal muscles are still clearly visible when he takes his shirt off.  There has to be more to it than just a high metabolism.  He deserves to be about twenty stone by now.   >:(

My father and I are like that. In his youth he had the young Sinatra look - all cheekbones and shoulderblades. I'm still a loose fit in a 34" waistband, though the metabolism is slowing down a bit. In my youth I was embarrassed about being skinny, but there was nothing I could do about it.

simonp

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Re: Horizon: Why Aren't Thin People Fat
« Reply #19 on: January 29, 2009, 09:00:41 pm »
I used to be known as "the gannet" in my family.  I weighed 8.5st at 18.  Almost 20 years later, I'm 11.5 stone.  I was actually horrified when I first hit that weight in 1998, though I've not gained on average since then, and I think I've lost fat and gained muscle in that time.  There is a picture of me at that weight in Cheddar Gorge from then (not on a bike) and I swear I had moobs.

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Re: Horizon: Why Aren't Thin People Fat
« Reply #20 on: January 31, 2009, 02:02:05 pm »
My friend Lee has 4 big meals a day with lots of snacks in between to tide him over. You can still see his ribs. Bastid. He's like a jack in the box on acid though, and he's always broke cos of the ammount of money that goes into food.
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Re: Horizon: Why Aren't Thin People Fat
« Reply #21 on: January 31, 2009, 06:09:07 pm »
I think it's all about your metabolic rate. If it's high (as is mine), you gain weight slowly, and lose it quickly once you reduce your intake, and if it's slow, the reverse applies. Some people will find weight loss very difficult whatever they (don't) eat.