Re: Obesity (was: a to-do list for the next century)

From: Technotranscendence (
Date: Mon Mar 27 2000 - 20:00:02 MST

On Monday, March 27, 2000 1:12 PM Robin Hanson wrote:
> >I am not sure that this research would be all that useful, since I would
> >estimate that 90+% of obesity in the U.S. is essentially environmental.
> That is the thesis of:
> The Long-Run Growth in Obesity as a Function of Technological Change
> Tomas J. Philipson, Richard A. Posner
> NBER Working Paper No. W7423
> Issued in November 1999
> ---- Abstract -----
> This paper analyzes the factors contributing to the worldwide long-run
> in obesity and the effects of public interventions on its continued
> The growth of obesity in a population results from an increase in calorie
> consumption relative to physical activity. Yet in developed countries,
> obesity has grown with modest rises in calorie consumption and with a
> substantial increase in both dieting and recreational exercise. We
> the economic incentives that give rise to a growth in obesity by
> intake of calories while discouraging the expending of calories on
> activity. We argue that technological change provides a natural
> interpretation of the long-run growth in obesity despite a rise in dieting
> and exercise, that it predicts that the effect of income on obesity falls
> with economic development, and that it implies that the growth in obesity
> may be self-limiting.

I don't know why anyone on this list would suffer from obesity, yet I do
recall several years ago attending a cryonics meeting in NYC where some of
the members gorged themselves on junk food. And these very same people did
not appear to be exemplars of nonobesity or even, more charitably, taking a
break from their usual caloric restricted regimen. Instead, they
personified, to me, the typical human approach to food: eat eat eat.

Daniel Ust

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