The science of larditude


Now, I don’t want to pick a fight, but reality-telly-meets-science-programmes are, by and large, a waste of time. A bunch of volunteers are told to do something stupid or boring then get filmed with probey wiry things stuck to them while scienticians frown at monitors. Snore. Plus, the idea is usually only worth 20 minutes max, not the 60-minute fartfest that gets served up. 

Until Monday night’s Horizon Why Are Thin People Not Fat?, which was so packed with idiotic ideas that it made my heart sing. The aim was to find out if thin people can get fat if you force them to eat five squillion times their body’s caloric requirements for several queasy weeks. Before we even started the narrator pointed out that this experiment had been conducted before, on US prisoners, and the results were presumably available to anyone with a library card. Right then. This really is pointless. Bring on the students.

While waiting for the string beans to turn up, we met a strange man in a white coat and bright blue rubber gloves who kept stroking and poking a wodge of fat in a bowl. Squishy squish, it went, as he giggled and assured us that fat was our special friend. It might have been his. He couldn’t take his eyes off it. Kept flopping it about and smiling at it. Loving it. Then back to the students who were spooning down clotted cream and pork pies in the middle of the night. 

But what of the sciencey stuff? Well, we heard that a tendency to pork up might be genetic. Or the body devises its own template and does its damnedest to make you to eat/not eat to default back to this shape. It might make you throw up. It might make you stuff yourself like a python. It might (bit disconcerting, this) make you start fidgeting to burn off the extra energy. Even weirder, it might turn energy into muscle, even if you don’t take any exercise. Or it might just be that you’re fat because you caught it from a fat person.

Whoa whoa whoa, come again? Yep, you heard right. Fat could be catching. Cos there was an experiment, yeah, where all these, like, chickens were dying of this virus and they were really fat and everything. So the scientists did this blood test on all these fat people, yeah, to see if the virus had jumped the species barrier and they found that, like, loads of fat people had these antibodies.

What? What? Am I inhaling solvents? You can catch being fat from other people? Why does it kill chickens but not humans? Why is this not on the front page of every newspaper in the land? Why haven’t they made a vaccine? 

Not only that, but are we supposed to avoid fat people, then, like the dirty dehumanised typhoid Marys that they so clearly are? No, no, soothed the narrator (that nice Peter Capaldi, who should know better), because they’re probably only infectious for a couple of months, and anyway, they might be fat for a different reason. But still, ho ho, next time a fat person sneezes, make sure it’s only a cold that you catch. 

Brushing this dizzying allegation off our lapels like crumbs from a sausage roll, we ambled back to look at the by now slightly chubbier students. The end.

Did I dream the whole thing? No, somewhere, sometime, there will be a cosmic rumble between sneezing chickens and the forces of Slimfast. I just pray I’m alive to see it.




One Response to “The science of larditude”

  1. 1 PW

    I seem to come back to the same couplet wrt to weigh loss and fitness. It’s not poetry or anything pretty, just:

    Do more exercise/Eat less crap.

    And that really works. But I completely accept that the edges of “more” and “less” are sufficiently blurred for most people, that they’re not making enough of a difference. Or, in the case of the really stupid, they sincerely believe that the HobNob is health food, because it’s -you know- a bit bumpy. One or the other.

    Still. More/Less isn’t enough to render a television programme or provide couch potatoes with someone/thing else to blame, so we’ll continue to get this specious rubbish!


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