Monday, October 22, 2018

Today's Curious Question

I have seen increasing mention that the correlation between high-fat diets and cardiovascular disease (CVD) may be because high-fat diets make people overweight, and overweight is recognized as a CVD risk factor.  Intrisically, or because overweight people get too little exercise?  All pre-Agricultural Revolution societies have been heavily dependent on meat, like these walking supermarkets:
Now, pre-Agricultural Revolution societies do not have many fat people.  (Even pre-Industrial Revolution societies usually do not.  Hunters are too busy hunting fleet-footed game; serfs are too busy feeding the nobles.)  It would be a little odd for meat-eating to survive in the gene pool if it was a net disadvantage.  Of course, CVD kills us off usually past the age when we procreate; perhaps the net advantage from improved brain function and muscle repair outweighs the disadvantages.  

But I suddenly had a thought: do overweight vegetarians have high CVD rates?  First, have you ever met an overweight vegetarian?  It beggars the imagination how this could happen.  I like lentil soup and hot bread with butter, but I am hard pressed to see how you could eat enough to get fat.  Still, they must exist.

When I went searching for "overweight vegetarians CVD" in scholarly articles, I could not find any articles examining this.  I did find articles that looked at CVD risk factors, but not CVD itself.  (The assumption is that the CVD risk factors adequately predict CVD.)  It would be an interesting study.  Find 500,000 vegetarians so that you can find a sample of them that are overweight (n=1000, maybe), then compare their CVD rates.

I am working on the overweight risk factor theory myself.  I am 209.0 pounds this morning; BMI 29.2 (still overweight, but no longer obese).  

BTW, this Samsung Health app that I use, while it has been very helpful, has one serious defect.  It categorizes my  calorie burn as resting or light exercise.  I suppose that if I ran, it would recognize that as heavy exercise.  But even the work that I did shoveling part of 30 tons of road mix was still "light exercise," because the phone only saw me walking.  When my wife takes me and the dog on a walk, the climb back up the hillside or driveway is just walking;  but it is actually "heavy exercise."  The slopes are substantial.


  1. My theory is simpler.

    There's nothing wrong with eating carbs, so long as your insulin response is healthy.

    But if you eat carbs every two hours, every day, for months or years, your insulin response won't stay healthy.

    Traditional cultures that ate primarily carbs would eat perhaps two large, widely-spaced meals, every day. They didn't snack throughout the day. Traditional high-carb foods took too much preparation to make that feasible.

  2. Congrats on the weight loss!

    As for overweight vegetarians: cows, elephants, manatees. I don't know if this has any human correlation, but you can get pretty big eating like a rabbit!