April 15, 2004

Beware the Nation of Weebles

Now Mr Mouse has been scurrying about over the last couple of days through this blog and that, doing a great job of avoiding Miss Kitty. In his adventures, he collected quite a few scraps of paper upon which various different things are written. I was looking through this pile and ran across some very interesting information, and found some connections that I thought I would share. After all, if it was not for us Parrots pointing the way, most discoverers would have discovered diddly-squat.

I guess the first thing that I ought to bring to your attention is this very well written, albeit a bit long, piece from The New Yorker about a new scientific methodology: biological economics in the form of a study into anthropometric history.

Around the time of the Civil War, Americans’ heights predictably decreased: Union soldiers dropped from sixty-eight to sixty-seven inches in the mid-eighteen-hundreds, and similar patterns held for West Point cadets, Amherst students, and free blacks in Maryland and Virginia. By the end of the nineteenth century, however, the country seemed set to regain its eminence. The economy was expanding at a dramatic rate, and public-hygiene campaigns were sweeping the cities clean at last: for the first time in American history, urbanites began to outgrow farmers.

Then something strange happened. While heights in Europe continued to climb, Komlos said, “the U.S. just went flat.” In the First World War, the average American soldier was still two inches taller than the average German. But sometime around 1955 the situation began to reverse. The Germans and other Europeans went on to grow an extra two centimetres a decade, and some Asian populations several times more, yet Americans haven’t grown taller in fifty years. By now, even the Japanese—once the shortest industrialized people on earth—have nearly caught up with us, and Northern Europeans are three inches taller and rising.

The average American man is only five feet nine and a half—less than an inch taller than the average soldier during the Revolutionary War. Women, meanwhile, seem to be getting smaller. According to the National Center for Health Statistics—which conducts periodic surveys of as many as thirty-five thousand Americans—women born in the late nineteen-fifties and early nineteen-sixties average just under five feet five. Those born a decade later are a third of an inch shorter.

Just in case I still thought this a trivial trend, Komlos put a final bar graph in front of me. It was entitled “Life Expectancy 2000.” Compared with people in thirty-six other industrialized countries, it showed, Americans rank twenty-eighth in average longevity—just above the Irish and the Cypriots (the Japanese top the rankings). “Ask yourself this,” Komlos said, peering at me above his reading glasses. “What is the difference between Western Europe and the U.S. that would work in this direction? It’s not income, since Americans, at least on paper, have been wealthier for more than a century. So what is it?”

It, it turns out is the growing gap between the haves and the have nots, the increase in choosing fast food over nutritious food and the mass urbanization of the populations, which spreads disease more rapidly.
As more and more Americans turn to a fast-food diet, its effects may be creeping up the social ladder, so that even the wealthy are growing wider rather than taller.
So, McDonald's is to fault for the this trend of Americans to become obese after all? Well, although the court's have yet to sustain that there is a cause of action against McDonald's for the obesity of its patrons, McDonald's is taking steps toward doing its part in making Americans healthier, announcing today a plan to market new health conscious Adult Happy Meals.
Instead of Happy Meal standards like a burger and a toy, the new Go Active meal will include a salad, an exercise booklet and a pedometer meant to encourage walking.
Hopefully Americans will take heed. Of course, if you listened to us Parrots, you would eschew meat all together and stick with fruits and coarse grains.

Another correlation found between The New Yorker story and some of the other news items floating around was this:

The Netherlands, as any European can tell you, has become a land of giants. In a century’s time, the Dutch have gone from being among the smallest people in Europe to the largest in the world. The men now average six feet one—seven inches taller than in van Gogh’s day—and the women five feet eight.
So, the Dutch are now the big people on the planet. Well, it also seems that they may be some of the stupidest people in the world also. As a Parrot, I have long been accustomed to being around sailors. Sailors mutilate their bodies by getting tattoos, and piercing various parts of their bodies. I have noticed the youth around the world all want to be sailors or look like sailors or whatever, because all cuss like sailors and put tattoos all over their bodies and pierce places that really should not be pierced, but have the Dutch not gone a bit too far?

Now I am sure that all of these stories came from somewhere. I am positive that there should be some attribution paid to various bloggers for having found these stories. However, Mr Mouse failed to take notes. I am not too sure he actually intended that I should have poured through these various scraps to find items for use in composing this story. He may have merely intended to use them as fresh bedding. Still, if you fell that you have been robbed of your claim at having found any one of these stories, please leave a comment and I will be happy to rectify the situation.

Posted by Bird Brain at April 15, 2004 04:18 PM

cartolina - cartoline - chrysler - citroen - clonecd - cocktail - comici - cucina - curiosita - cursori - desktop - dessert -

Posted by: automobile at September 29, 2005 09:05 AM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?