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How Long Will Kids Live?

One of my co-workers said the other day that she wouldn't be surprised if her kids (3 and 5) lived until they were 200, because of rapid medical advances.

I've never thought about it, but she's right(-ish). They'll almost assuredly have a much longer life span than the boomers who were born in the 1940s, and most who will live into their 80s.

Very youn kids today are 60 years ahead of that curve. Is it strange to think they might live to be 200? My brain's first reaction was "no way!", but it's probably true.

What do you think? Is there any realistic upper limit that medicine couldn't bust through?

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Friday, August 22, 2003

Everyone wants to live long, but no one wants to get old.

Bottom line is: Will you be able to jump around at age 150, or lie in your bed for 50 years on life support?

Johnny Bravo
Friday, August 22, 2003

It's better to burn out
than to fade away
My, my, hey, hey.

Neil
Friday, August 22, 2003

"Only the good die young"  - Billy Joel

apw
Friday, August 22, 2003

Have we really made great leaps in longevity? I mean sure the average lifespan has increased, but that has largely been the result of dratistically decreased infant mortality. Apart from that most of our "breakthroughs" have been dealing with the problems caused by other "breakthroughs" (i.e. one has to wonder if the fight against cancer is merely battling the results of many other man made issues). I mean I just read about how kids today are the most obese that they've ever been, so given that heart disease and diabetes are two of the biggest killers, it seems like life expectency will be following a negative trend.

Dennis Forbes
Friday, August 22, 2003

They - and you for that matter - will probably have more productive years on average than your parents, as replacement joints and preventative medicine advance.  But the human body does seem to wear out over time, even the brain does.

So I doubt her children will live to be 200, maybe 95.  But they'll be "active" until they're 80 and then decline.  I imagine it will be a lot like watching an old celebrity like Bob Hope.  He's young and spry for a billion years, then he gets all old in 3 years when you weren't watching as time catches up with him and all the face peels and pilates cease to be enough to fight back time.

Interesting question, thanks for bringing it up.

Lou
Friday, August 22, 2003

http://www.flyingfish.org.uk/articles/gmspin/01-05-09on.htm

Dennis Forbes
Friday, August 22, 2003

I agree with Dennis, and it's a good example of how misreading statistics can give the wrong idea.

Our average longevity *has* steadily increased, but it's not that medicine has pushed out the absolute maximum a body can live, but made it easier for people to make it there. I suspect a 100 year old man today would be in much the same condition as a 100 year old man was in 1900. It's just that in 1900 there was probably only one, while today there are dozens.

We've eradicated childhood diseases, reduced the threat of accidental death, advanced detecting and fighting cancer, liver disease, etc, discovered antiseptic and surgical methods.... All these things contribute towards people having a better chance of dying of natural causes.

Look at it this way - if you had a classroom of kids that used to score in the 50% range on a standardized test, and over time they got their average up to 85%, would you say "by the time they graduate they'll be scoring in the 125% range!" ;-)

Philo

Philo
Friday, August 22, 2003

According to the Christian Bible, 70 - 80 years is normall and 120 give or take is max.

Genesis 6:3 "And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be 120 years."

Psalms 90:10 "The days of our years are 70 years; and if by reason of strength they be 80 years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away."


Friday, August 22, 2003

No way will this optimistic prediction come to pass.  Some folks with healthy lifestyles will extend the extreme limit of longevity, but the vast majority really haven't got the message, as the tremendous increase in obesity among young people testifies.  Given the usual mathematical distribution of lifetime values, this cancels out a lot of medical and lifestyle advantages for the whole population.

More likely, longevity will increase only incrementally at best.  Despite the availability of information and best efforts of experts in matters of health, there are forces in our society (e.g., corporate juggernauts who produce the bulk of what we all eat) that confound the general health and welfare of Western nations.  Worse, we're exporting our culture of comestibles to nations who ought to know better.

troglodyte
Friday, August 22, 2003

While we will quite likely live longer and more healthy lives, I don't see how anyone could expect to live to be anywhere near 200. We are nowhere near that today.

Ignoring quality of life issues, there are other factors such as the fact that the regardless of disease, the human body still ages. Entropy is entropy and the human organs will still degenerate over time at a relatively constant rate.

It does make one wonder....regardless of whether or not you believe in the validity of the Old Testament, it says people before the Flood  lived to be several hundred years old. Can you imagine living to be up to 900 years old? That would mean an "old" person today would have been a couple of hundred years old when Columbus discovered the New World. Interesting to think about...Not sure how it relates to software, but hey...it's interesting.

Mark Hoffman
Friday, August 22, 2003

According to the Bible... HOLY jumpin' crap!

_*_
Friday, August 22, 2003

Lately, they've been finding one really fun thing out.

You will die of either cancer or aging.  Take your pick.

Once we get rid of illnesses, help people manage their congenital defects, avoid accidents, etc. we're left with those two inevatibilities.

If you aren't suceptable to cancer, you will age faster.  Make your experimental subject not as suceptable to aging, and then wham they get massive cancer at an early age.

The only thing that can be said about aging over cancer is that with aging, you have some hope of biomechanical augmentation.  Until an organ that doesn't take well to augmentation craps out on you (say, your brain).

Unless there's a decided breakthrough, the best we'll probably be able to swing is to improve people's lives over 80-100 years without a quite a few orders of magnitude increase in our medical knowlege.

Flamebait Sr.
Friday, August 22, 2003

Many people take the stats wording “life expectancy” to mean average lifespan.
Actually life expectancy is based on more complex statistics and it is not quite an average. Seeing that life expectancy in US increases does not mean people will live longer, it just means that people have a chance to live longer if they don’t smoke, don’t drink, don’t eat red meat or if they don’t get cancer in their 50s due to the modern life style.

A definition
http://dict.die.net/life%20expectancy/

Some math here:
http://comp9.psych.cornell.edu/Darlington/lifespan.htm

19th floor
Friday, August 22, 2003

If all these extra years are added at the end - i.e., if we all just spend an extra few decades being really old - who's going to pay for it? The average retirement fund / old-age pension / whatever won't have a hope in [censored] of covering a retirement that lasts 75 years.

On the other hand, suppose that late youth (age 20-40, say) lasted three times as long. Would marriages last that long? Would people have more children? "This is my big brother Nathan. He has great-grandchildren older than I am."

I read a quote once: "Many long for immortality who can't fill a rainy afternoon."

Pat Rice
Friday, August 22, 2003

Famebait: I heard that report on NPR and was similarly impressed.

Other thought:
But we are going to have some really big porking people out there with the obesity statistics coming out.  Average weight: 350 lbs.  Hmmm.

Christian Bible reference:
Its an interesting reference because the same time span then is still ni effect.  Even if you consider that perhaps the writer was a man sniffing glue, he wrote it 3000 years ago.  Long term aging, in its best case hasn't changed much.  It seems that technological progress only seems to hurt the trend?

wango tango
Friday, August 22, 2003

"On the other hand, suppose that late youth (age 20-40, say) lasted three times as long. Would marriages last that long?"

That's funny you brought that up. I once heard someone make an off-handed remark that "monogamy was understandable when we lived to be 40, but ludicrous when we live to be 90". Seriously, how many people in their 20s today can expect to be married just once? The number has to be pretty low.

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Friday, August 22, 2003

Hmmm..

I'm a romantic, so I figure that there's still home for monogamy.

But yeah, if we start living too much longer, I suspect that boredom will be a real killer.  Larry Niven addresses that in some of his stories.  Would you want the same job for 400 years?  I've met some people who are capable of completely switching how they keep themselves occupied, but that doesn't always happen for everybody.

A sudden breakthrough increase in life expectancy would be really twisted.  Maybe there's a magic pill that will double your life expectancy, but the folks who are the first to take it won't know how long that really ends up being.  So, do you at the age of 65 when the pill is developed, start a new career and work some more, or do you want to just enjoy your extra-long retirement.  A lot of financial planning revolves around accumulating your money for a long time and then expending it as you get old.

Flamebait Sr.
Friday, August 22, 2003

The BBC Radio 4 Reith Lectures of 2001 were on this exact subject.

Transcripts, recordings, etc can be found here.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/reith2001/

Ged Byrne
Friday, August 22, 2003

ONLY 200 years?  How pessimistic!  Think big, people!

Getting people up to 100 was hard, but basically was a result of curing enough diseases that people could die of old age.  Getting to 200 is going to require eliminating old age entirely.  If you can do that, forget 200, shoot for forever.

As far as I know, we have only one really big problem, with two aspects: "why do cells stop reproducing?" and "why do cells NOT stop reproducing?"  The former leads to old age, the latter to cancer, but both are basically the same problem: we don't sufficiently understand cell reproduction.

Now, I'm not denying that these are tough problems!  But they are, at the heart of it, just really, really hard reverse engineering problems.  We have enough technology to make a start -- we have a sequenced human genome, we understand a bit about teleomerase, etc. 

I have every confidence that cancer will be cured and that nanorobots will be removing the LDL cholestorol from my arteries in less than 60 years.  The wave of innovation that we've been riding since the renaissance isn't going to slow down any time soon.

Eric

Eric Lippert
Friday, August 22, 2003

Along with the increase in life expectancy to 200 years, I really hope we invent robots to clean up the environment, which will probably be ruined by the resulting population explosion.

Also some laser blasters would be nice.

Andy
Friday, August 22, 2003

I'm with the "Christian Bible" guy. It's not when you die that matters to me, but what happens after you die.

Matthew Lock
Friday, August 22, 2003

Kids live long enough. How long will adults live?

fool for python
Friday, August 22, 2003

The idea that longevity is steadiy increasing is medical industry PR. Our society is sick and getting sicker.
As others pointed out, the statistics are misleading. Infant mortality has the biggest effect on raising average lifespan. Other factors are antibiotics and better medical technology, which have decreased death from infections and accidents. Medical technology has made great progress; medical science has not.
The best, and almost the only, way to improve your health and incidentally lengthen your life is to avoid the modern hazards of inactivity and junk food.

Considering the obesity epidemic among children, I'm amazed anyone expects kids to live long healthy lives.

We are programmed to live 70 or 80 years (and yes it was the same in biblical times). Maybe someone will figure out how to artificially re-program this, but there are probably good reasons for the limit that we don't understand.

The Real PC
Friday, August 22, 2003

I hope the diaper technology is good.

Realist
Saturday, August 23, 2003

I think there's a good chance that the obesity epidemic will dissappear virtually overnight, as soon as the medical establishment can admit that its dietary advice has been wrong for 50% of people for the past thirty years.

Knowledge maker
Saturday, August 23, 2003

You mean the low-fat diet nonsense? Yes, that is part of it but not the whole cause.
My generation ate whatever we wanted as kids but we ran around outside and never got fat. Staying indoors all the time and constantly WATCHING other people live on TV, instead of living and having fun and being a normal kid is TRAGIC.
Of course, most of my generation is now fat.
The obesity epidemic will get worse until Americans understand you can't go day after day and year after year without moving any muscles without serious health consequences.

Dr. Atkins was right about diet and the fact that carbohydrates are a major cause of obesity. The medical industry kept on recommending low-fat (high carbohydrate) diets anyway.

The Real PC
Saturday, August 23, 2003

I think exercise is a factor, but massively overstated - exercise is the major factor in fitness and diet is the major factor in obesity.

Knowledge maker
Saturday, August 23, 2003

No, exercise can combat obesity as well. If you're in shape, your basal metabolic rate (BMR) is higher, so you burn more calories just sitting on your buns of steel.
When I was at the Academy, we were very active - always on our feet, marching 4-6 hours/week, team sports every day, always exercising. And we all ate like pigs - pizza, soda, twinkies. A pint of Ben & Jerry's was "single serving size". And of course we all ran 7 minute miles and 16% body fat was "obese"

Diet *and* exercise.

For anyone who is really interested in learning about how "average" people should lose weight and build muscle, I strongly recommend browsing misc.fitness.weights - they're militant, but the advice is generally consistent and very helpful.

Philo

PS - as for longevity and marriage, I got married at 21 and just celebrated my 14 anniversary. It *can* be done. ;-)

Philo
Saturday, August 23, 2003

"I'm with the "Christian Bible" guy. "

Please, no more Bible spam!!! Let's keep this board real, not imaginary.

.
Saturday, August 23, 2003

> I'm with the "Christian Bible" guy. It's not when you die
> that matters to me, but what happens after you die.

There's a good reason to bring the Bible into this discussion.  The quotes - of 70-80 years normal lifespan, 120 years absolute maximum - are from the Hebrew Bible as well as the Christian, and are of great antiquity. 

So we've made advances with our medical care greatly, but perhaps not so much as is generally assumed.  Most of what we're doing is eliminating accidental deaths or deaths from infectious disease, but the general lifespan is the same as it was millenia ago.

The Biblical quotes also point out the foolishness of using the 40-year lifespan of medieval and post-medieval Europeans as a baseline!  Sure, Shakespeare considered an age of 30 to be the beginnings of senescence, "aging and declining", but he was living in a atypically unhealthy society.  The fact is, these Europeans were a sickly people living in filthy conditions, poorly nourished and ravaged by disease, and didn't live as long as anybody!

Trollumination
Saturday, August 23, 2003

The obesity levels are such that a large number of kids in the US or UK are going to be lucky to reach retirement age.

And of course Real PC has to pick up the latest fad of the Atkins diet, which has no scientific basis whatsoever, and if followed permanently will cause an epidemic of problems due to kidney failure among other things.

The Japanese have had a low fat diet for centuries, and have the longest life expectancy anywhere, despite being the heaviest smokers in the world.

Stephen Jones
Saturday, August 23, 2003

Low fat, but also low carbs.
Atkins isn't necessarily "high fat" but rather "don't avoid fat, avoid carbs". I think the current obesity in the US is due to:
- lack of exercise
- high-carb diets (esp. fast food)
- huge portion sizes

I'm not an Atkins advocate - I'm not sure the "live in ketosis" thing is safe; it also requires a diet that takes work to maintain, which is generally a failing proposition.

Philo

Philo
Saturday, August 23, 2003

the obesity in the US I think is mostly due to serious overeating. I'm not sure if the "caloric quality" accounts for much.  T

he nutrition facts on all the food labels are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

However, if you have ever been a fat ass like I have, and analyzed how much you ate during a "normal" day, I'll bet you are up over 3000 calories. And I didn't feel like I was pigging out. I know a LOT of people who eat about 1200 calories PER MEAL, with snacks in between, and then some ice cream before bed.

Anyway, I went back to my college diet, which was either:

beans and rice + veggies
or: stir fried veggies with rice or noodles

and now i'm back to 167 from 200, which is where i should be.

I don't really know what "low carbs" actually means. I lived in japan for a year and the japanese eat a lot of carbs. Obviously everyone eats a lot of rice. Wonderbread style bread is very popular, as are soba and udon noodles, and I've never been ANYWHERE where people drink as much alcohol as they do in japan. Yet everyone is still super thin.
When I lived there, I wasted away. I think it is because portion sizes are much much smaller than they are in the USA, and nobody drinks soda or drinks that have alot of calories (except beer.) thus I think even though the japanese eat a lot of carbs, the total number of calories most people are eating per day are 2000 or less, not 3000-4000.

rz
Saturday, August 23, 2003

Ok, there are various combinations of factors that can't be summarized in a brief statement.
But Atkins is usually misunderstood and he was right.
Once a person has succumbed to the terribly unhealthy American (or UK) lifestyle, his whole system is out of balance, resulting in what Atkins (and others) called "syndrome X." His low-carbohydrate diet is for correcting the imbalance and the carbohydrate addiction. You are not supposed to stay on an extreme low-carbohydrate diet for life.

But diet is less important, I think, than exercise. The reason for exercising is NOT to burn calories and therefore lose weight. We are designed to exercise every day and if we don't the result is a system out of balance. If you exercise every day you won't gain weight in the first place, and you won't have to lose it. I'm 50 yrs old and weigh the same as when in high school, and that should be true of everyone.

Regarding Trollumination's comments above about longevity:
I think you are right. I have been interested in the misconceptions about longevity for a long time, and have found it is very difficult to find any basis for comparison. As you said, Europeans in Shakespeare's time were sickly and lucky to live until 40. And in the 19th century everyone smoked, and women died in childbirth because of unsanitary hospitals.
We would have to compare our current lifespan to that of people living in a healthy clean environment getting a lot of exercise and eating natural food, as our prehistoric ancestors did. Of course, prehistoric people died from accidents and infections. And infant mortality was naturally high because it's nature's way of maintaining genetic health (nature is cruel but wise).

The Real PC
Saturday, August 23, 2003

Low fat diets do work.  However, the key is that you must stick to it.  A low-fat diet requires much more discipline than the Atkins diet because almost everything in the world has fat in it.  A diet like Atkins that allows you to eat beef and bacon will have people staying on it much longer than a diet that allows almost nothing that tastes good.

NoName
Saturday, August 23, 2003

Low-fat diets are ok, but people are deceived by the low-fat products in stores. For example, low-fat yogurt that's full of refined sugar, candy that's labelled as fat-free, etc. A low-fat diet might work if it's natural and high in fiber and protein.

The Real PC
Saturday, August 23, 2003

Reminds me of a quote from a comedian I read a while back...

<paraphrase>
"These health nuts are gonna be real pissed off when they all start dying for no reason."
</paraphrase>

Chris

Chris
Sunday, August 24, 2003

As you guys are such experts on diets, may I ask what moisturisers you use?

Realist
Sunday, August 24, 2003

>"As you guys are such experts on diets, may I ask what moisturisers you use?"

You love to parade your ignorance, don't you.  The toughest guys in the world have to know about diets if they are going to succeed.  You won't make your weight division for a boxing or martial arts contest if you don't know about diets.  And having too high of a bodyfat percentage could mean you sit on the bench in basketball or football or don't get selected to the team.

T. Norman
Sunday, August 24, 2003

There's a good, if rather long, article reproduced from the NY Times Magazine here about the Atkins diet.

http://atkins.com/Archive/2003/1/20-542932.html

The arguments in favor of Atkins ring truer than most of the mass hypnosis 'common sense' stuff one is accustomed to listening to.

I've no opinion on moisturiser, but sounds like it might be a good topic for opinion. Unreal.

Knowledge maker
Sunday, August 24, 2003

The article is arrant nonsense.

People haven't got fatter by following the recommended low-fat diet. They've got obese by completely ignoring it.

There has been no change in the scientific consensus whatsoever. All that has happened is that the fast food industry has got scared and is paying to trumpet those findings that might affect its income.

The statistical evidence is overwhelming. The highest rates of heart attacks are in countries like Scotland with the highest fat consumption, and the lowest are in countries like Japan with the lowest fat consumption.

The Atkins diet causes weight loss because by cutting out on the carbs people consume less calories. It's as simple as putting money in the bank. You put a load in and take none out you have a fat bank balance. You put less in and take the same out your bank balance gets nice and lean.

If you continue with the Atkins diet you will have serious health problems. And if you go off it, the odds are you will regain the weight quickly.

Stephen Jones
Sunday, August 24, 2003

[The statistical evidence is overwhelming.]

Stephen,

Before you lecture us about statistical evidence, you should get a PhD so you know what you're talking about.
There are many differences between the lifestyle in Scotland vs Japan other than amount of fat in the diet.

You are also very wrong about diets. Refined carbohydrates can be lethal for those who are genetically vulnerable to syndrome X. Carbohydrate addiction is a major cause of obesity and heart disease.
I'm lucky in not being genetically vulnerable and I don't worry about diets; however I have a close friend who almost died and I wound up learning all about it in trying to help her.

Dr. Atkins was very intelligent and scientific (unlike so many in the medical industry), and he is gradually being proven right.

The Real PC
Sunday, August 24, 2003

I have to agree.

As we all know, only PHD's have any idea what they are talking about and have no agenda what-so-ever.

Joel, we are going to have to abandon this site unless you get your doctorate!

We might be persuaded otherwise by anecdotal evidence to the contrary, however.

_*_
Sunday, August 24, 2003

>"People haven't got fatter by following the recommended low-fat diet. They've got obese by completely ignoring it."

Either they ignored it, or they thought that low fat meant unlimited sugar.  You know the thinking -- this ice cream is fat-free so I can eat as much of it as I want. They forgot that they were supposed to eat fibrous complex carbs in several small meals, instead of three large meals that included masses of refined sugar.

T. Norman
Sunday, August 24, 2003

Our bodies are composed of many many systems, each of which is designed to fail at around the same time.  Think about it, if your lungs were able to last 800 years but the rest of your body failed at 80, then the extra energy and complexity that went into the lungs would be wasted.

On an evolutionary time scale, the extra energy that goes into the extra 720 useless years of lung power would gradually shift into other areas until the lungs had gotten to a point where they last 80 years like every other system in the body.  I'd rather have 80 years of lungs and 80 years of arm muscle than 800 years of lungs and 70 years of arm muscle, FWIW.

Thus, I think for our lifespans to increase significantly, say to 200 years, we'd need major upgrades in many many systems at the same time....

Michael Kale
Sunday, August 24, 2003

the NYTIMES article posted above was ripped apart by a number of other magazines. A good one is the reason article, which includes interviews with people quoted in the NYTimes article:

http://reason.com/0303/fe.mf.big.shtml

In any case, didn't this discussion occur ad nauseum about a month ago?   

I still think it would be cool to have a study where one person eats nothing but bacon and fatty meats for a year, and another person eats nothing but rice and beans. and then after a year, figure out who lost more weight. It might be hard because I doubt the bacon eating participant would still be alive.

rz
Sunday, August 24, 2003

[As we all know, only PHD's have any idea what they are talking about]

When Stephen Jones said the statistical evidence is overwhelming he didn't know what he was talking about. Most people don't understand statistics or the scientific method. Having a PhD in science and having done research doesn't guarantee understanding statistics, but not being familiar with research methods usually guarantees not undersatnding statistics.
MDs are often very bad at research because they don't learn it in medical school. The idea that people in Japan having less heart disease than people in Scotland must be only because of a lower fat diet is an example of defective scientific reasoning. I realize Stephen Jones is not an MD, but he does seem to believe everything stated by the medical industry (or any other well-established authority).

The Real PC
Sunday, August 24, 2003

i develop software for medical research projects, and I can assure you that neither the biology PhDs, MD, nor the statisticians understand statistics. :)

However I don't think stephen jones is too far off. The japanese smoke, drink, and have more stress than anyone on earth, yet the prevalence of heart problems in Japan is relatively low.  I'm guessing the low fat diet does have something to do with this.

rz
Sunday, August 24, 2003

In my father's family, in his generation and the previous generation. (and they were very big families) no man lived to be more than 71. On the other hand most of the ones who didn't die as infants got close to 71. I don't hope for much more than that. According to half my genes, I've got about 18 more years.

I've heard and I believe that the most significant advances in human life span are the result of sanitation and immunization.

tk
Sunday, August 24, 2003

http://www.theonion.com/onion3102/deathrate.html

Jim Rankin
Monday, August 25, 2003

At the risk of reintroducing the original topic, I'm with Eric Lippert:  if we can crack 150 (for instance), there's no reason we -- and especially our kids -- shouldn't live as close to forever as we want.  The body of human knowledge has been growing at a pretty ridiculous rate recently, and while I'm not quite sure what sort of technical challenges we'll face in making nanobots that work properly, I believe that if I can hang on for another 50 years (I'm 28 now, so this is not unreasonable), there's a halfway decent chance that I'll have as much time as I want to explore this solar system and others -- even if we can't figure a way around the lightspeed barrier.

At no other time in our history would this have even been on the horizon.

Now, for that to happen, solving the problems of aging and cancer won't be enough -- because our brains aren't set up to cope with the amount of memories an immortal could accumulate.  In order to truly live forever, we'll have to design new brains, and either transfer our own consciousnesses into them, or transfer the best parts of our cultures and values into the entities that will then take them to the stars.  (I don't remember the details now, but some years ago I read an interesting story about humans raising androids as their children; fascinating stuff.)

Either way, I hope I'm there to appreciate it -- as long as I don't have to listen to the rest of you arguing over Atkins.  (=

Sam Livingston-Gray
Monday, August 25, 2003

"Now, for that to happen, solving the problems of aging and cancer won't be enough -- because our brains aren't set up to cope with the amount of memories an immortal could accumulate."

So what?  Unless it's particularly important, you'd just forget stuff that happened 200 years ago, just like you've probably already forgotten what you did on your 5th birthday.  Your brain will just continue to discard the less relevant material. You'd remember September 11 three centuries from now, but when they show sitcom reruns on TV you'd probably forget that you already saw a particular episode of the Cosby show in 1986 when the episode first ran. No big deal.

For survival and a good quality of life, there is no requirement for an infinite memory.

T. Norman
Monday, August 25, 2003

rz,

I found the rebutal of the rebutal more convincing.

There are powerful forces lining up to prevent adoption and creation of knowledge about low-carb diets.

The World Sugar Organization thinks a diet should consist of no more than 25% sugar and they're prepared to lobby congress to pull funding on the WHO to promote this point of view.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,940287,00.html

This is another example of how politics and economics distort knowledge creation.

If it is true that carbohydrates are addictive and encourage rather than diminish appetite then the food and sugar industries have a lot in common with big tobacco.

Knowledge maker
Monday, August 25, 2003

ok. really, it depends on what you mean by "high carb."
The atkins stuff I think really has a lot of people confused.

If high carb diet means you are eating a lot of twinkies and ice cream, then yes, switching over to a diet of salads and roast beef is a good thing.

However, if high carb diet means you are eating a lot of rice and beans, I don't think switching over to a diet of bacon and ground beef is a good thing. 

I'm originally from the midwest USA, and the normal diet means a lot of twinkies, ice cream, roast beef, bacon, cheese, soda, budweiser, milk shakes, etc. The atkins diet works for these folks because it means cutting out 3/4 of what people usually eat!

But anyway. I'm not fat anymore, so I should stop getting into these discussions, because they go nowhere.

rz
Monday, August 25, 2003

There is a reason "low fat" diets don't work:  they do not satisfy hunger.  A bowl of special K, or a peice of toast in the morning with cottage cheese (can you think of anything more bland and unappealing?) will not last you one hour after eating it.  And both are loaded with carbs that convert quickly to sugar (keep reading the "Big Fat Lie" text for amplification).  But, if you eat an egg and 4 oz of any meat in the morning, you'll be good to go until well into the afternoon, and as a bonus avoid blood sugar swings.  That's why Atkins works.

Pandora
Monday, August 25, 2003

For an entertaining and somewhat thought-provoking read, have a go at Cities in Flight.  It takes two very big developments and postulates "what-if" from them.  Those two developments are:

- Anti-aging drugs which arrest the normal aging process.

- Anti-gravity.

The science is hokey (the book being written 40+ years ago), but the social aspects are more believable.  There are lots of interesting possibilities that one can think of just by asking, "What if anti-aging drugs become available?"

Personally, I think it's inevitable that we will discover the causes of aging -- the process that causes the body to "wear out".

-Thomas

Thomas
Monday, August 25, 2003

Will your kids still be eating KFC & MacDonalds?

www.marktaw.com
Monday, August 25, 2003

There will never be drugs that prevent aging and death. There will never be drugs that let you stay healthy without physical exercise.  Scientists will never improve on the body and brain we are born with.
Technology is advancing fast, scientific understanding is hung up on mistaken ideas. People mistake science fiction for science.

We should be very glad that preventing aging and death will never be possible. Unless you like the idea of everyone living in artificial cities in space, or other planets, once the earh is filled up.

The Real PC
Monday, August 25, 2003

Translation:  "I do not like change.  Death was good enough for my parents, and it's good enough for me."  (=

Actually, PC, I'd love to live in space *and* on another planet or two.

Sam Livingston-Gray
Monday, August 25, 2003

The Atkins diet works because people eat less. And I suspect this is because of Ameridan eating habits. You eat the hot dog or hamburger with your hands; take away the bun and it becomes more difficult.

You really should forget the pseudo-science. You gain weight because you eat more than you burn up, and if you want to lose weight you will have to go hungry.

Another thing worth remembering is that with the typical American diet when you are cutting out on carbs you are in fact cutting down on a lot of fat as well, because nearly all the snacks you eat contain the fatal combination of carbs and fat.

The point is that the Atkins diet is unsustainable in the long term. If you are cutting out carbs you are cutting out most fruit and vegetables; and, apart from being expensive, excessive protein intake is likely to affect the kidneys. And the lack of fibre will cause constipation and bowel cancer.

Stephen Jones
Monday, August 25, 2003

"How long will kids live?"

In some cases, far too long.

_STFU_
Monday, August 25, 2003

There are people who eat very little yet are overweight. This is because of the disorder known as Syndrome X. The number of calories is not the only factor. One person may take in a lot of calories and have lots of energy. Another person may eat the same amount and not be able to use the energy, because it's being stored as fat, as a result of insulin resistance.
Too much refined carbohydrates, and not enough protein or plant fiber, result in syndrome X. Also, I think, inactivity may contribute.

Atkins recommended a balanced diet, just like all other diet MDs. The extreme low carbohydrate diet is only temporary, for correcting insulin resistance. Too much sugar makes the cells stop responding to insulin -- insulin is what enables cells to take in sugar and convert it to energy.
Eventually it leads to type II diabetes, which in turn causes heart disease and many other diseases.

The Real PC
Monday, August 25, 2003

Latter day Ponce de Leon scores:


http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2003/08/25/in_lab_seeking_secret_of_youth/

troglodyte
Monday, August 25, 2003

>The point is that the Atkins diet is unsustainable
>in the long term. If you are cutting out carbs you
>are cutting out most fruit and vegetables

Stephen, you keep arguing against Atkins yet it is clear you don't fully understand it.

Matt Foley
Tuesday, August 26, 2003

http://www.atkinsdietalert.org/

http://www.sundayherald.com/36238

http://www.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,4057,6949628%255E401,00.html

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,3604,1017510,00.html

I am not disputing that the Atkins diet might be a good idea for shedding weight quickly. And I certainly agree that the combination of fat and carbs in many snacks is a disaster.

What I am against is people suggesting that the present obesity epidemic is caused by people following "establishment" guidelines, when it is clearly the result of greatly increased calorific intake, particularly of fats.

And what really gets my goat up is rubbish such as this from Real PC: -------- "There are people who eat very little yet are overweight. This is because of the disorder known as Syndrome X. The number of calories is not the only factor"--------

I don't know if syndrome X came from Scully or Mudder, but I would have thought that the repeal of the law of conservation of energy might have been more thoroughly reported if it really has happened like Real PC seems to think.

The rule is simple:- calories come in; you either use them (and most calories are burnt keeping body temperature constant - exercise in itself uses very few) or they are stored as fat. If less calores come in than you need the fat is burnt and you lose weight. If more come in than you need the remains are stored as fat and you gain weight.

Stephen Jones
Tuesday, August 26, 2003

No, it is not simple. Individuals have different metabolisms. An inactive lifestyle and too much sugar can result in insulin resistance, which in turn can result in hyper-insulinism and Syndrom X. A person with Syndrome X does not have a normal metabolism and does not get the same amount of energy from food as a healthy person.
Syndrome X is a common cause of obesity and type II diabetes, which are becoming an epidemic in the US. The cause is lack of exercise and too much sugar. The ideas that exercise doesn't matter and that obesity is caused simply by too many calories are just aggravating the epidemic.
Cutting back on calories while remaining inactive results in hunger, which is an irresistable drive. Of course no one can lose weight permanently simply by eating less, especially if their metabolic system is out of balance.

The Real PC
Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Exercise is a red-herring as far as weight is concerned. Nobody is going to dispute that exercise is a good idea, and you'll feel better for it; you'll be fitter and you'll live an extra hundred years if you exercise, but it won't necessarily affect your body weight.

What will affect your body weight is a well regulated appetite. If your appetite isn't broken and you live a sedentary lifestyle, you appetite will adjust and won't require so much food to satisfy it. If you live an active lifestyle, ditto, your appetite will adjust to require more food.

If your appetite is broken and you're hungry when you don't require extra food, doing more exercise to work off those extra calories is attending to the symptoms rather than the cause.  And that exercise may work to increase your appetite. Catch 22.

Atkins is primarily about fixing appetites that have been broken by sugar rich diets. It addresses the cause and not the symptoms.

The reason the exercise excuse is so popular with the Medical Establishment is because it puts the blame back on the patients and absolves them of responsibility for their idiotic dietary regimens. "Gee, the low-fat diet doesn't work for you? Our advice is sound! All the medical experts say so! Maybe it's your fault! Maybe you don't do enough exercise!"

Yeah! Exercise to work off calories that you don't need in the first place that you consume because your appetite is broken. It's good for the economy!

Exercise for Fitness. Diet for Weight.

Knowledge maker
Tuesday, August 26, 2003

--Of course no one can lose weight permanently simply by eating less, especially if their metabolic system is out of balance. ---

are you suggesting that if someone switches from a 2200 calorie a day diet to a 1200 calorie a day diet, they won't lose weight? 

rz
Tuesday, August 26, 2003

They will lose weight temporarily but will be starving, which causes the metabolism to slow down.

Exercise is the complete solution to the problem. No one is fat in places where they have to walk every day. Even in NYC most people you see walking to work are normal weight, even though most probably only walk a short distance.

Not walking at all is not normal, and you can't possibly be healthy if you never walk. If you walk every day you will not be fat.

The Real PC
Tuesday, August 26, 2003

IDoes knowledge maker seriously think that people are obese because they followed the medical establishment's approved healthy eating plans?

Get real! Obese people are those that don't follow the plans.

And where on earth do you get the idea that anybody recommends sugar as part of a healthy diet? The carbohydrate intake is supposed to come from pulses, whole grains, and fresh fruit.

And Real PC's claim that he doesn't see obese people doing a lot of walking so walking keeps you from getting obese is warped logic even by his standards. The reason you don't see mountains of lard walking the New York streets is that when you weigh twenty stone exercise is bloody uncomfortable.

Stephen Jones
Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Wow, has this thread gone off topic or what?

x
Tuesday, August 26, 2003

OK, I have to admit that i feel very strange posting this kind of comment on joelonsoftware but ... since the flame is started...

I have to admit that my culture is very adverse to the "Atkins low carbs diet" since I'm Italian and everybody know our spaghetti passion, but I'll try to be scientific.

Let's analyze which kind of diet had our grandparents (in Italy) : pasta, bread, potatoes , fruit and vegetables every day. Meat or fish once or twice a week. Very "High-carb" diet. "Obesity" was unknown word.

Then wents americans,  freed to us from fascism (thanks !), rebuilted the country (thanks !) and exported their culture (uhm ... maybe not "the best" of their culture).
And so we are in modern age we have McDonald, junk food, sedentary work and wonderful, we now have obesity too.

I think that blaming bread to be dangerous, It's denying our history.

Maybe somebody suffer of "Syndrome X" ... I don't know, but don't you feel the entire operation seems to be marketing inspired ? Come on Atkins, can't you think at a more scientific term that "Syndrome X" ?

My personal experience : I don't eat hamburger, fried and bacon and I have a very "high-carb" diet and I'm not fat ...

Just my two cents.

Giorgio
Tuesday, August 26, 2003

It's unfortunate that the thread seems stuck regarding the Atkins Diet.

After medical tests showed that I had severe heart disease, in January I attended a weeklong seminar sponsored in part by the author of another diet, Dr. Dean Ornish.  Some of you may recall that Ornish and Atkins actually had public debates regarding their respective beliefs on dieting.

Anyway, I'm now following Ornish's program (not just the diet) for reasons of survival: rigorous clinical research has shown that it can reverse heart disease.  Despite having to increase my carbohydrate intake, I have not gained weight.
This is mainly because I exercise and have not increased caloric intake.

You may recall that the original question in this thread was about longevity.  I posted a URL above that addresses that question with the discovery of some components in red wine that seems to enhance longevity.  The article also mentions other research that shows reduced caloric intake (consistent with sufficient nutrition) can also lead to greater longevity.  I suspect that reduced caloric intake is a greater determining factor in longevity than dietary arguments, assuming the body's optimal needs are met regarding vitamins, minerals, fiber, etc. 

Final remarks:

1) Dr. Ornish's current research indicates that the program also reduces the incidence and severity of certain cancers.

2) I enjoy what I'm eating now, and the modest exercise program makes me feel generally better.

3)  The Ornish program also includes stress management and Yoga. Check it out on Google if you're curious.

troglodyte
Tuesday, August 26, 2003

>Does knowledge maker seriously think that people are >obese because they followed the medical establishment's >approved healthy eating plans?

Nope. I'm saying the plans are unrealistic and unhelpful for some people. Happy to clarify that for you.

>Get real! Obese people are those that don't follow the >plans.

We're agreed there. We're both real. Very fortunate. We disagree in that I think that one size doesn't fit all.

>And where on earth do you get the idea that anybody >recommends sugar as part of a healthy diet? The >carbohydrate intake is supposed to come from pulses, >whole grains, and fresh fruit.

There is a lot more sugar in food than you'd think - I recently bought a healthy looking 'All-Bran' cereal ...shocked to discover it was 33% sugar. Similar gig with fruit juices and a whole range of products. If you're not checking the labels, you're probably eating a whole lot more sugar than you think. And the WHO describes Big Sugar's malign influence as comparable to Big Tobacco.

A lot of emphasis has been placed on the harmful effects of fat, and not enough on the harm that sugar can do. A generation of people who suffer from obesity and late-onset diabetes have been betrayed.

Knowledge maker
Wednesday, August 27, 2003

I think one of the problems Knowledge maker is that you are seeing tnings from a US viewpoint and I am not.

Giorgio has already mentioned the same thing.

You are talking about sugar in packaged food, but I never buy packaged food, and only ever use a can opener to open a can of tomato puree. And I don't take sugar in coffee or tea.

Now you are right that there is no, "one size fits all", but there is tremendous flexibiltiy in standard dietary recommendations; you can have between 15% -35% protein, 40-65% carbo-hydrates, and
20-40% fat and you are still within the guidelines. The only thing that is stressed is to ensure a reasonable amount of fresh fruiit and vegetables, and a reasonable amount of fibre for health reasons.

Stephen Jones
Wednesday, August 27, 2003

I agree that the idea is to be reasonable. The amount of carbohydrates or fat doesn't matter very much. I'm a vegetarian so obviously I don't follow a low carbohydrate diet. For a healthy person, there is no need to avoid carbohydrates. But for someone who has diabetes and heart disease resulting from the typical US lifestyle, avoiding carbohydrates temporarily might be life-saving.
It's a misconception that heart disease normally results from a high fat diet. Maybe in some cases it does, but more often refined sugar and white flour are the cause of artery disease.

The Real PC
Wednesday, August 27, 2003

And I forgot to mention: lack of exercise contributes greatly to heart disease. Exercising every day raises HDL and lowers LDL, for example.
Lack of exercise is unnatural and results in all kinds of health problems.

The Real PC
Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Dear Real PC,
                      Have you the remotest scrap of evidence that refinied sugar and white flour are a more common cause of artery disease than saturated fats?

Stephen Jones
Wednesday, August 27, 2003

[Have you the remotest scrap of evidence that refinied sugar and white flour are a more common cause of artery disease than saturated fats? ]

Yes. Artery disease (the major cause of heart disease and stroke) is commonly caused by type II (adult onset) diabetes. Type II diabetes is related to carbohydrates, not saturated fats. Saturated fats can also contribute to artery disease, but the most common cause is diabetes.

The Real PC
Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Many people with high cholesterol do not respond to a reduction in dietary cholesterol. When they cut the carbs, the cholosterol usually plummets.

Patient: 'doctor, I read that serum cholestrol is manufactured in the liver and is often not correlated to dietary cholesterol.'

Doctor: 'yes, that's correct'

Patient:' oh by the way, my cholesterol is really high'

Doctor: 'reduce your cholesterol intake'

this happend to someone I know who's cholesterol dropped more than 100 points by restricting carbs, and I suspect it happens many times a day.

doobius
Wednesday, August 27, 2003

That's right. The connection between diet and cholesterol levels, LDL levels, etc., is not simple or direct. MDs have had a very hard time understanding this.

The Real PC
Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Type II diabetes is caused by obesity. A normal weight person won't get it however much bread he eats. In fact if you cut out a lot of fat from the diet, it is unlikely that he will eat enough carbs to be overweight.

There is now an epidemic of type II diabetes in the States, the UK and the Gulf, and it is even affecting teenagers. However  if you look at the majority of elder patients, only a small number of whom are affected by type II diabetes, then you will find that high consumption of saturated fats is the main cause.

Stephen Jones
Thursday, August 28, 2003

Type II diabetes and obesity are caused by syndrome X, a gradual process that can take years. If a person is inactive and takes in a lot of refined carbohydrates, they can wind up with hyperglycemia and low energy caused by high insulin levels. The body tries to adjust to the unnatural intake of large amounts of refined sugar.
In response to the feeling of low energy, the person often reacts by taking in more refined carbohydrates, which temporarily raises their blood sugar and energy level. The result is a vicious cycle, leading eventually to insulin resistance (type II diabetes).
High levels of insulin and glucose in the blood eventually contribute to artery disease. This is probably the major cause of heart disease, which may become an epidemic as the current generation of kids reach their 30s.

The cause is inactivity and refined carbohydrates.

The Real PC
Thursday, August 28, 2003

Sorry to ram thias home, but although diabetes II may become the major cause of clogged arteries in the future, it is very far away indeed from being so at present.

Stephen Jones
Thursday, August 28, 2003

Smoking cigarets and lack of exercise are also major causes, and there are some genetic factors.
Cholesterol in the diet is not a cause. Saturated fat may be a factor, but probably much less so than refined sugar.
If you want to destroy a civilization just give them free Cola, cigarets, automobiles and TVs.

The Real PC
Thursday, August 28, 2003

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