A couple of things about health in the news struck me this week.
The first is a serious one: studies show that our modern obsession with cleanliness is contributing to childhood asthma, leukaemia and allergies. Because we sterilise, cleanse, sanitise and antiseptic wipe everything to do with children to within an inch of their lives we are preventing the development of immune systems and leaving children vulnerable to diseases, especially leukaemia.
And as third world countries adopt first world practices their children too become more susceptible.
Children who go to nursery and playgroups of different kinds are less likely to be affected as they are exposed to a range of bugs and microbes just by meeting lots of other children. Children who are encouraged to play outdoors are also less susceptible.
I notice that my daughter regularly carries around with her hand sanitiser, which she applies to her tiny daughter’s hands after she has played on the swings at the playground.
Curiously, the generation of super-sanitising mothers do not seem averse to posting pictures of their tine child snuggled up, or even kissing, to a dog or cat. Now, I would be much more concerned about an animal that licks it’s own behind giving my baby a kiss than I would about my children picking up a toy, or even a biscuit, that they dropped on the kitchen floor.
Once again I find myself grateful to belong to the fortunate generation who got to roam free, to grub around in the dirt and then, later, to have some of the best music ever to listen to.
The other health news thing seems more laughable to me. It appears that experts have discovered, or perhaps invented, things called “obesogens” which do their bit to make people fat. These “obesogens” are found in packaging, in the stuffing that goes into furniture and even in dust and fluff that collects under furniture and in corners. Wooden or tiled floors are better for us than carpets and, once again, sitting down on the sofa is obviously bad for us.
It’s a novel idea to be able to say, “I am overweight because of the obesogens that surround me. It has nothing to do with overeating.”
However, a professor somewhere or other reminds us that what makes us put on weight is putting food in our mouths. Too many calories in = more pounds on the bathroom scales. Or is it all the obesogens jumping on the scales with us?
I might well laugh at obesogens but obesity remains a serious problem. They reckon that by 2045 it is likely that one in eight people in the world will have type 2 diabetes, caused by obesity. Last year, 14% of the global population was obese and 9% had type 2 diabetes. By 2045, 22% will be obese and 14% will be suffering from type 2 diabetes, according to estimates presented at the European Congress on obesity in Vienna.
But it can be remedied by persuading people to lose weight, according to a new study by Newcastle and Glasgow Universities. They ran a trial and found that nine out of ten people who lost 15 kilos (two and a half stones for those, like me, who are metrically impaired) or more put their type 2 diabetes into remission and no longer needed to take medication.
Two and a half stones! That is a lot of weight to lose. A whole small child! But clearly worth the effort to lose it.
The fashion world may not be quite so pleased. Big bums and thighs are fashionable, so they say. However, the big bums and thighs are supposed to go with a narrow waist and many women, like me, would find that having a great big backside would mean that their waist would pretty much disappear. Consequently, some are turning to plastic surgery and implants to “enhance” their rears.
How very strange!