The papers have been full, lately, of revelations about how the NHS is failing in almost every respect, and how it's all the government's fault. No argument from us, then. MRSA in hospitals kills more people each year than die on the roads, ten times that number die unnecessarily from blood clots which can be prevented by drugs which the NHS doesn't prescribe, they're planning to close 92 of our 204 A&E departments, patients still have to contend with those ghastly mixed wards, target after target is missed or quietly forgotten (the latest is to recruit 3,000 experienced nurses to treat people in the community instead of in hospital - oops! there goes another one …), time after time the government's only answer is to bang on about patient choice, refusing to recognise that what people want isn't a choice, it's just one hospital staffed by adequate numbers of doctors and nurses that can treat them when they're ill, not six months after they've actually died.
Anyway, you don't need The GOS to tell you about that - you know it all just as well as he does, and no doubt you feel the same about it as he does too. So here are a couple of little snippets that you might not have seen in the tabloids ….
Some doctors have just revealed that being thin doesn't automatically mean you're not fat.
Some now think that the internal fat surrounding vital organs like the heart, liver or pancreas - invisible to the naked eye - could be as dangerous as the more obvious external fat that bulges underneath the skin. Since 1994 Professor Jimmy Bell, a professor of molecular imaging at Imperial College, London, has scanned nearly 800 people with MRI machines to create "fat maps" showing where people store their fat.
According to his data, people who maintain their weight through diet instead of exercise, are likely to have major deposits of internal fat, even if they are otherwise slim. "The whole concept of being fat needs to be redefined," said Bell, whose research is funded by Britain's Medical Research Council. Doctors worry that thin people may be lulled into falsely assuming that because they're not overweight, they're healthy.
"Just because someone is lean doesn't make them immune to diabetes or other risk factors for heart disease," said Dr Louis Teichholz, chief of cardiology at Hackensack Hospital in New Jersey. Even people with normal Body Mass Index scores - a standard obesity measure that divides your weight by the square of your height - can have surprising levels of fat deposits inside.
Of the women scanned by Bell and his colleagues, as many as 45 per cent of those with normal BMI scores (20 to 25) actually had excessive levels of internal fat. Among men, the percentage was nearly 60 per cent.
Relating the news to what Bell refers to as TOFIs, or people who are "thin outside, fat inside," is rarely uneventful. "The thinner people are, the bigger the surprise," he said. He said that they have even found TOFIs among people who are professional models. According to Bell, people who are fat on the inside are essentially on the threshold of being obese. They eat too many fatty, sugary foods - and exercise too little to work it off - but they are not eating enough to actually be fat.
Experts have long known that fat, active people can be healthier than their skinny, inactive counterparts. "Normal-weight persons who are sedentary and unfit are at much higher risk for mortality than obese persons who are active and fit," said Dr Steven Blair, an obesity expert at the University of South Carolina.
For example, despite their ripples of fat, super-sized Sumo wrestlers probably have a better metabolic profile than some of their slim, seated spectators, Bell said. That's because the wrestlers' fat is primarily stored under the skin, not streaking throughout their vital organs and muscles.
The GOS says: That'll be me, then, The Grumpy Old Sumo. It all reminds me of my favourite movie quote, spoken by Angela Lansbury in The Company of Wolves: "Beware the man who is hairy on the inside".
Meanwhile Andrew Parker of Manchester Metropolitan University has worked out that moving your eyes from side to side for 30 seconds every morning can boost your memory by up to 10 per cent. Students who took part in the eye exercise tests found that their memory recall was boosted by a spot of eye jiggling. The exercises work, it is thought, because the eye movements cause the two hemispheres of the brain to interact more efficiently with each other.
Parker says "It may help someone recall an important piece of information for an exam or for a shopping list."
He presented 102 university students with recordings of a male voice reading 20 lists of 15 words. The subjects were then handed a list of words and asked to pick out those that they had just heard. On average, the students who had moved their eyes from side to side performed 10 per cent better than the rest. Up and down eye movement was no use at all.
The GOS says: Sorry, do I have to move my eyes side to side or up and down? I can't remember. And all those people giggling because I look such a prat waggling my eyes around will be really sorry when I remember what it was I've forgotten …
Makes you proud, doesn't it? That our modern society still manages to find a place for important, thrusting, dedicated researchers who can sit in their ivory towers and come up with gems like this? You remember things better if you wiggle your eyes around, even thin people can be fat, and the ocean has lost its ability to absorb CO2 because it goes on year after year absorbing exactly the same amount … 1981 0.3 billion tonnes, 1985 0.3 billion tonnes, 1989 0.3 billion tonnes, 1991 0.3 billion tonnes, 1995 0.3 billion tonnes, 1999 0.3 billion tonnes, 2001 0.3 billion tonnes, 2004 0.3 billion tonnes … cor, you can just see the problem, can't you?
Sorry, hobby-horse showing. Did you notice how I cleverly left a lot of the years out so as not to be boring? They were all 0.3 billion tonnes, though. Trust me, I'm a scientist.
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