Saturday, 18 September 2010

What's the 'new smoking' this week?

It's been tanning, obesity, bottled water and soda in the past. So what's the new smoking this week?

You probably missed this story a few days ago (it was, after all, published in The Independent). On the front page it was flagged up as 'Is sitting the new smoking?' Inside it had the slightly less sensational headline 'How sitting can make you ill', and it's a classic of the genre.

You'd have to have been living under a stone for the last decade or so to have missed public health messages on smoking, drinking, healthy eating and exercise. Whether we act on them or not, many of us can reel off figures on weekly exercise and alcohol limits – as well as the exact contribution to our five-a-day half a kumquat provides – like well-loved stanzas of poetry.

And if a growing band of doctors and medical researchers have their way...

(Which they usually do.)

...government health advice will include another bullet point. Experts in cancer, heart disease and obesity are all calling for advice on "sensible sitting" to become, in future, part and parcel of public health drives.

...Dr Alpa Patel, of the American Cancer Society, thinks it is only a matter of time. "I think the research community is building a strong evidence base [on the dangers of sitting] that will likely influence public-health guidelines in the future," she says.

The 'strong evidence base' is, needless to say, one of stupefying banality.

If we sit down for eight hours a day, we are not spending any of that time walking, running or swimming.

I'll be damned.

Sitting implies an absence of exercise. 


In fact, as Dr Patel says, "sitting is one of the most passive things you can do." 

You don't say.

Pretty much anything burns more calories than just sitting down. 

There's plenty of more of this in the article, although I should warn those of you who don't have a scientific background that complex ideas of this kind appear throughout.


cornyborny said...

Fucking communists. They just won't be happy until Joe and Jane Public are doing daily state-mandated star jumps in front of the telescreen, will they?

Mark Wadsworth said...

There is a horrifying Kraft Durch Freude stream to this. They go after the fatties and the size zero models with the same gusto.

Sitting is in fact one of the healthiest ways of living your life. Athletes are not known for their longevity, as opposed to e.g. authors or economists, or indeed the Queen, whose jobs consist of sitting around all day long.

Mr A said...

My God! And lying down is even more passive than sitting! And I do that 8 hours a day!!! I'm going to die! I'm going to die!

Just what do these idiots have to come up with for the Government to stop listening to them?

Anonymous said...

I frequently masturbate furiously whilst sitting down.

I frequently achieve my 5 a day

Bucko said...

Oh my God! I had to sit down to read that...

jredheadgirl said...

Where is all of the $$$ going to come from to pay for all of these "important" this era of depression, high un-employment, and furloughs? I mean, it takes a hell of a lot of funding to state the obvious, right?

The waste is staggering.

Oh, and yes, I'm sitting down..

Christopher Snowdon said...


How will they afford it? I guess they could take it by force from whichever industry they are at war with...

BrianB said...

Interesting to read the comment on the bmj blog by James 'Hurricane Force Winds' Repace (for it is he), Chris.

I think his obvious hubris will be his utimate downfall, but in the meantime his post provides us with a useful insight into the dark and terrifying place that is the anti-smoker's mind.

Anon1 said...

I can see a business opportunity here. In homes and offices around the world we can introduce the Eugenics Fitness Chair (Model 3756). The seat section is designed a là trap door which collapses at regular random intervals, allowing “the sitter” to fall to the floor. The energy required in picking oneself off the floor, the constant alertness, and the belly laughs from seeing family/colleagues undergoing “the treatment” can only be beneficial for State Health. The health effect is only enhanced during busy, working to deadline periods.

"Please take a seat" will never be the same again.

Anonymous said...

I bet that parliament will soon vote a comprehensive 'chair and stool ban' for all public places - at least, what those morons take for granted to be so-called 'public spaces'...

At least, smokers already have to STAND outside mostly, so I hope that there'll be soon a study revealing that smoking is in fact good for your health? ;-)

Chris Oakley said...

Anybody recall a major public health success in the last decade or so? I am trying to build a list. Ditto a major success for epidemiology in western society since the 1950s.

Is public health efficacy inversely proportional to both investment and the volume of press releases?

Anonymous said...

A very good point Chris Oakley. I suggest that it is the lack of major medical successes in recent decades that is behind the panicked attempts to blame all ills on the patient's own choices and behaviour.


Anonymous said...

well, it suppose to be in 3D, can I download and watch? will it show normally?

Angry Exile said...

I was going to make the Strength Through Joy point but I see Mark Wadsworth got there way ahead of me.

Andrew said...

Sitting leaves people unfree to walk around and chastise various unhealthy behaviors they may see, thus creating a potentially more unhealthy environment on the whole. It is well-meaning but not good enough to sit and complain about others' unhealthy behavior.

People who are able to concentrate on books for an hour or so should be deemed especially suspicious in light of this new reasoning. Hell, even 30 minutes. I mean, people watching TV usually get up more frequently for commercial breaks.

Where do I pick up my grant check?

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Anonymous said...

Must be why that budget airline is replacing seats with things that you lean against...

...or else it's getting mixed up between people and cattle.