Human weight control - A new attempt

A new project : Tushino Ltd's data gathering on weight controlling eating methods

BACKGROUND

In 1975 a cigarette smoker weighing 79 kg, stopped smoking. His weight ballooned to 101 kg, or 127% of his start weight. Thereafter a long struggle ensued in which the subject tried to get his weight back to somewhere near the start point.

In 1975 there was only one type of advice : "Eat less and, if you feel up to it, exercise more."

Thousands of people will testify that this type of advice simply doesn't work in the real world.

You cannot just cut down the amount of food you eat and still carry on flying about in aeroplanes, selling product to customers, running round factories and generally being a productive member of society.

This, unfortunately, has not percolated into the minds of "dieticians", even after forty years.

CONTEXT

For this project we distinguish between "Dieticians" who are concerned with weight loss and "Nutritionists" who give advice on what to eat and drink if you have a medical condition. A nutritionist might advise a person with diabetes, for example.

Advice given even by professional dieticians is very often weak.

The situation is made much worse by the plethora of get-rich-quick charlatans, by newspaper columnists and by ill considered advice doled out by ministries of health.

In the last forty years, there has not been much innovation in this area of study. What advances there have been, have brought about by people who were professionally qualified in some field other than nutrition or diet design.

GENETIC COMPONENT

Common observation reveals that on the wings of the normal "averaged sized" population there are two groups of extremists : Those who can gobble away to their heart's content and remain thin. And those who, desperately trying to keep their weight in check by eating rabbit food, still fill out with fat and retained water.

There must be something hidden in the genetic inheritance.

Still, the advice remains :"Eat less and, if you feel up to it, exercise more."

ANALYSIS

The cigarette smoker was a physicist and systematically tried out a wide variety of the "diets" then being touted as effective means of lessening, or at least controlling, one's weight. .

Although a few of them seemed as though they could work if you stuck to them, they were wildly impractible considered in the context of a working man's day.

Eventually the cigarette man fixed on a diet that was not very different from the Atkins system of controlled carbohydrate intake. The cigarette man's weight has been constant for over twenty years and he has detailed data for much of that period

This, you might think, could be a bit of a break through. Everyone can follow the same eating regime and stay slim.

Well, it doesn't work like this. The cigarette man soon identified friends and colleagues who would not have been able to follow this variety of diet and, even if they could follow it, it might not have worked.

The cigarette man considers himself to be one of a type - Type A shall we say - for which a protein rich diet using carbohydrates as a moderator is effective in controlling weight.

OUR PROJECT

The Tushino Project is looking to find other types of individual, Type B, C, D... and so on. We are hoping to find that each of the types has a particular sort of diet response. So we are looking for people with a systematic approach to dieting and who are in possession of their own personal data. "I ate this for three months and didn't gain any weight" or "I had an over-weight crisis and this was how I eventually overcame it"

What we want most of all, above everything else, is data generated over a period of a few years by numerate individuals. And we want some background. The cigarette man, for example, would happily eat a whole cow but the idea wouldn't work well for a vegetarian.

Interested parties are invited to communicate with one of the contacts below.

LIMITATIONS AND REALITY

It happens often enough we think. Mr Smith, a solid enough man in his twenties, starts rising up the salary scale and up the weight scale. He gets to age 55 and he weighs 125% of what he weighed in his twenties. In other words he has got a serious gut. Then his doctor advises him to lose weight.

Even if Smith had access to specialist advice he is going to have problems. He will probably have to change the way he eats and this might very well cause social and business difficulties. He might have to start doing some sort of physical exercise. This has to be fitted in to his already busy work schedule. In any case if you're fat and fifty and suddenly have to take up jogging you are not going to fnd it too easy loping along with a big gut sticking out.

If there was such a thing as a body weight technician, the first thing he ought to do would be to figure out what is the range of possible weights. Look at the skeleton first, measure key points such as the wrist diameter and the shoulder width and apply some sort of algorithm.

People get more solid with age. The cigarette man asked a number of middle aged people who had not let themselves fall into decrepitude how much they weighed in their footballing days and how much now in middle age. It seemed as though the trim middle aged punters weigh about 15% more than in their youth.

So straight away we have a target : "Don't let yourself get over 115% of your youth weight" Also Mr Smith has got some sort of realistic target if he can summon up enough will power and he doesn't try to follow some daft eating regime.

REFERENCES

The Cigarette Man's Story can now be seen here

The Diet Delusion by Gary Taubes Pub: Vermillion (2007) is compulsory reading for anyone thinking to contribute to this field.