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Fatberg!

Have another piece of cake, Chubby?

OMG!  New scientific research indicates that obesity is likely about three times as great a factor in mortality rates as had been previously believed, up from 5% to 18%.  Some 78 million people in the U.S. are struggling with the condition…or not.  Some twenty per cent of deaths in the 40-85 yr. age group can be attributed to the consequences–heart disease, stroke, diabetes, sleep disorders, et al. –of obesity.  Bad scene.

We’ve gone from “Pinch an Inch”, which used to be the standard for determining  one’s  descent into fatness, to “Grab the Flab”, since there’s so much of it.  The CDC is “troubled”.  We all should be.  It’s easier to get into this condition than it is to get out.

Now there is some promising news—childhood obesity is declining in some groups in some areas.  That’s good.  But the over-all picture is not pretty (Just check out any beach scene).

There are interesting quirks in the picture.  For instance,  a recent study on rats (They’re so like us in so many ways) by the National Institute on Aging indicates that periodic fasting (the so-called “5-2” diet, healthy, Mediterranean-type meals for  five days and low-calorie, high-protein meals without carbohydrates for two days) appears to improve blood sugar levels, keep the rodents lean and even boost their cognitive skills (What does a rat have to think about anyway?).  The researchers speculate that this regimen trains people to eat less overall without making them feel deprived.  Well, there you go, then.

The fasting days do seem pretty ascetic—between 500 and 1000 calories—and probably not real big on chocolate, but the menu does seem doable.  Lots of people only show up at the gym on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, if they could make Tuesday and Thursday their “fast days”, they might really make some headway.  The combination might work out rather nicely.  We’d better find something that works or we’ll each have to have our own zip code…and back-up beepers.

And speaking of fat….  Did anyone else catch the news piece about the 15-ton blob of fat found in a sewer in the United Kingdom, London, specifically.  The utility company, Thames Water, who made this find, called it a “fatberg”, the largest ever discovered in Britain.  “Largest ever discovered in Britain” implies that other, smaller, bergs have been discovered.  Yuck!  And, indeed, Thames Water deals with such all of the time.  They’re composed of congealed fat—household oil, food fats, that kind of stuff—and  other wrongly flushed  stuff like baby wipes and fibrous materials of various sorts.  This particular prizewinner was big enough to fill a double-decker bus, according to the company.

It apparently took about six months for the ”berg” to accumulate and it was discovered under a road in the London suburb of Kingston.  Local residents complained (Well, wouldn’t you?) when   they were unable to flush their toilets.  The company says that untreated fatbergs cause flooding and backups.

So…how does one “treat” a fatberg”?  The mind boggles.  Is there a Roto-Rooter intrepid enough to tackle something like this?  Do explosives figure into the possible solutions, so to speak?  What might be the result of dynamite being deployed in such a situation?  Waste water department everywhere are probably readying contingency plans for their bailiwicks at this very moment.  Are there major education  campaigns being planned to tell the public—again—what NOT to discard into the systems?  This could be a long-running situation.  Constant vigilance will be necessary, just like at the borders.  One never knows when a happening like this might be in the neighborhood.  Fifteen tons of Yuck.

Be on the lookout.

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