On That Whole “Exercise 3-4 Hours a Day” Thing? A Slight Correction

So, I read the article–I mean, the actual scientific journal article–upon which the news articles have been based.  (Some of you may be able to access it here.)

You may recall that the general understanding of the research is that genetically obese people would have to exercise three to four hours a day in order to be “normal.”  See, for instance, Kate Harding, who says

Seriously. Just exercise moderately for three to four hours a day, and you won’t be fat! LIKE MAGIC.

which is no knock on her.  That’s what the news article seems to imply.

But, let us look at the actual wording of the journal article:

Activity levels in the “high-activity” stratum were approximately 900 kcal higher than in the “low-activity” stratum, which, depending on body size, corresponds to about 3 to 4 hours of moderately intensive physical activity, such as brisk walking, house cleaning, or gardening. Although this seems to be a large amount of physical activity, the OOA demonstrate that this level of activity was typical of an agrarian lifestyle without modern machinery. Of course, our cross-sectional study is unsuited to determine the amount of activity required to negate the effect of an FTO-related genetic predisposition to weight gain; however, in a retrospective analysis in which weight regain was measured as a function of physical activity energy expenditure, Schoeller et al found that the addition of 80 min/d of moderate activity or 35 min/d of vigorous activity to a sedentary lifestyle was sufficient for weight maintenance. Prospective intervention studies will be necessary to define these parameters more accurately. [Emphasis mine.]

May I repeat?

Of course, our cross-sectional study is unsuited to determine the amount of activity required to negate the effect of an FTO-related genetic predisposition to weight gain;

Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.  Oh, fuck me, that’s rich.

The best part?  Remember how we were all supposed to believe that we should all be living like the Amish because the Amish have no Fatty McFattersons (though, I suppose being German, they’d be Fattick McFattersons)?

Well?  Not so much.

A total of 704 subjects with both physical activity and genotype data were included in our analyses. The mean (SD) age was 43.6 (3.4) years, and the sample included slightly more men than women (53% vs 47%). The mean BMI was higher in women (27.8) than in men (25.7). The prevalence of overweight and obesity in OOA men was 54.0% and 10.1%, respectively, and in OOA women was 63.7% and 30.5%, respectively.

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A Return to Traditional Values

Cintra Wilson is pissed, today, over at Salon.com.

I did not think that women being downgraded to second-class, three-holed chattel would be a pressing concern in my lifetime. I thought it was like polio, or witch burning — an inhumane error that had already been corrected. But after eight years of Republican hegemony, and now the potential ascendance of this sheep in ewe’s clothing, I am so mortally offended I feel like it is really time for women to be angry, hardcore and disgusted again. Not just with old white Christian patriarchs and their hopelessly calcified, religiously condoned misogyny, but also with the self-abnegating, submissive female Uncle Tommies whose ambitions and eagerness to please the powerful males of their tribe are so desperate that they would sell out their sovereignty over their own bodies. And yours too.

Republicans have — in a P.T. Barnum, sucker-born-every-minute kind of way — successfully framed themselves as the custodians of Christian ethics and conservative family values. This stance successfully masks their wholesale class war against the majority of their supporters, who continue to vote blatantly against their own economic interests in thrall to this deliberate emotional manipulation.

There’s a lot there and I don’t agree with much of it, but I have been thinking all morning about that part.

I’m bleeding again.  I’m pretty distraught about it, but I called the Doctor and her nurse said that it’s not unusual for that to happen when you first go on the Pill, but that, if it continues for more than a couple of days, to double up for a couple days and see if that stops it.  If that doesn’t work, they might try a different pill.

I live under a government that believes, at the moment, anyway, that medical professionals of any sort have the right to decline to prescribe me birth control if they believe it might cause me to have an abortion.

It’s weird to think about–that there’s this medicine I really, desperately need to work just so I can get through my days pain and mess free, without suffering from anemia, and if some people just feel that there’s a chance it might cause abortions, the government thinks it’s within their rights to prevent me from having it.

My chances of getting pregnant right now are slim and none, no matter how many handsome cowboys I straddle in my beautiful red dining room, just because of all the PCOS stuff making it very unlikely that I ovulate regularly and making me much, much more prone to miscarriages when I do conceive (according to the reading material the doctor gave me, women with untreated PCOS miscarry about 80% of their pregnancies).  In other words, for me to have unprotected sex in my condition, means that, if I do get pregnant, I will probably miscarry.

That really sucks.

If you believe that a human being is a human being from conception, the most pro-life position you could take on a woman in my position is that I should absolutely be on the Pill, because the almost non-existant chance that the Pill might prevent a fertilized egg from implanting has much better odds than the almost certain chance that I would miscarry if I did get pregnant.

I was thinking about mothers back before the advent of the Pill.

We take for granted now that it’s somehow unnatural or not right for parents to outlive their children.  But, in fact, there’s nothing more natural than parents outliving children.  You wander through old cemeteries and you’ll see many graves of young children.  It wasn’t uncommon for a woman to be pregnant ten or twelve times in her life and only have two or three children make it to adulthood.

I was looking at this information on birthrates and infant mortality.  I’d like to direct your attention to the information on white women in 1850.  The birthrate was 43.3 per 1,000, almost every woman who was in her childbearing years had a small child under the age of 4 (892 women per 1,000 had a young child).  Those women could expect to have between five and six children and those children could expect to live to be almost thirty nine.  Yes, a whopping thirty nine.

But look here at this number–the infant mortality rate, which was 217.4 per 1,000.  That means (I think we’re now all agreed) that one in five infants didn’t make it through the birth process.  And that’s just among white women (I didn’t have access to the infant mortality rates among black women).

I think that we tend to think that a “return” to traditional values means that we all end up with something like the Duggers (though maybe not that extreme), where you have big happy families.  But folks, there are reasons why women went to great lengths to control our fertility–and not just because women are evil baby killers out to deny our natural roles in the world, and not just because we want carefree sex (though, woo hoo to that), but because it is grueling to be pregnant over and over again and it’s a monstrous tragedy to lose small children.

The idea that there ever was some time when you could safely get pregant as often as you could and give birth to children who would all live to adulthood is not true.

Even now, in our own state, the infant mortality rate in Memphis is higher than the murder rate.  (See here for a photo that will make you cry.)

Forcing women to carry pregnancies likely to end in tragedy–miscarriages or stillbirths or deaths shortly after birth–is cruel.

Trying to put women completely at the mercy of our biology in order to determine how many pregnacies we have without providing us support for those pregnancies and then support for those children afterwards is just as cruel.

I’m going to be frank with you.  As long as “pro-life” folks throw most, if not all, of their weight behind outlawing abortion and birth control, you are going to be perceived by most women (and the men who care about them) as cruel control-freaks.  It doesn’t matter how many women you parade in front of the nation with their arms full of plump healthy babies as if to say “Just do what we want and all this can be yours.”  All it takes is one medical problem a woman can’t get solved because of, say, your fear of birth control and the jig is up.

“If I can do it, so must you,” is no kind of guiding philosophy, folks.

I’m going to close just on a note to Conservative Christian folks.  A day is coming, and it is coming soon, when you will have to face that continuing to align yourselves with the Republicans will mean the ruination of evangelical Christianity.  You cannot tie religion and politics so closely without religion being corrupted.

But more than that, from the outside, it appears that your political policies are increasingly about increasing suffering–standing in the way of gay marriage as a secular institution (when you damn well know you’d still be free to refuse to marry gay people in your churches), denying women access to birth control or abortions even in the cases of rape and incest, but then not wanting to fund pre-K or public schools in general, and so on and so on.

I appreciate that you don’t see it that way.  That you see it as enacting God’s will in the public arena.

But the impression you’re giving us of your God is of Someone completely lacking in love and compassion, more Godfather than God.  And just like the Mob, you might inspire fear, but you won’t inspire loyalty.

And, quite honestly, there’s a lot to fear.

Bridgett! Check your email!

Or, other folks, help me here.

We’re talking about white women in 1850 and using .gov numbers.  The birth rate is 43.3/1000, meaning that 43.3 white women out of 1,000 gave birth in 1850.  The infant mortality rate was 217.4/1000.  I’m not sure what that means.  Does that mean that, while 43.3 white women out of a thousand gave birth to a living baby who survived past a couple of days, there were 217.4 women whose pregnancies ended up with a dead or dying baby?

Or does it mean that a fifth of those 43.3 women gave birth to a dead or dying baby?

I’m Daunted, I’ll Admit

I keep sitting here trying to think of something to write other than “Oh holy shit how are we going to be moved out of here by the end of the month?”

It’s not that we can’t physically do it.  The truth is that a quarter of our stuff is still sitting in boxes from the last move, when we went from a place with closets to a place without.  And we have boxes and stuff and it will be fine.

But I’m utterly daunted.

And I just missed the trash collectors.