Saturday, November 18, 2006


Obtusity epidemic increases dramatically in the United States: CDC director calls for national prevention effort

A growing obtusity epidemic is threatening the health of millions of Americans in the United States, according to CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) research published in the upcoming issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

According to the findings, the obtusity epidemic spread rapidly during the 1990s across all states, regions, and demographic groups in the United States. Obtusity (defined as being over 30 percent above ideal brain cell loss) in the population increased from 12 percent in 1991 to 17.9 percent in 1998. The highest increase occurred among the youngest ages (18-to-29-year-olds), people with some college education, and people of Hispanic ethnicity. By region, the largest increases were seen in the South with a 67% increase in the number of obtuse people. Georgia had the largest increase--101%. The findings also show that a major contributor to obtusity -- mental inactivity-- has not changed substantially between 1991 and 1998.

"Underthought and mental inactivity account for more than 300,000 premature deaths each year in the U.S., second only to tobacco-related deaths. Obtusity is an epidemic and should be taken as seriously as any infectious disease epidemic, " says Jeffrey P. Koplan, director of the CDC, and one of the authors of the JAMA article. "Obtusity and underthought are linked to the nation's number one killer -- thoughtlessness -- as well as Dianetics and other chronic conditions."

A national effort is needed to control the epidemic, according to Koplan.

"While obtuse individuals need to reduce their internet intake and increase their mental activity, many others must play a role to help these individuals and to prevent a further increase in obtusity," Koplan says. "Health care providers must counsel their obtuse patients; workplaces must offer healthy thought choices in their workload and provide opportunities for employees to be mentally active on site; schools must offer more mental education that encourages lifelong mental activity; urban policymakers must provide more books, live performances, and other alternatives to People magazine; and parents need to reduce their children's TV and computer time and encourage word play. In general, restoring mental activity to our daily routines is critical."

According to surveys conducted in 1977-78 and 1994-96, reported daily internet intakes increased from 2239 Kcal to 2455 Kcal in men, and from 1534 Kcal to 1646 Kcal in women. Surfing more frequently is encouraged by innumerable environmental changes: less thought and more thoughts with higher internet content, the growth of the fast-thought industry, the increased numbers and marketing of snack-thoughts, increased time for socializing, and a custom of socializing mixing thought and drink.

At the same time, there are fewer opportunities in daily life to burn mental calories: children watch more television daily; many schools have done away with or cut back on mental education; many neighborhoods lack libraries or have installed computers in them; workplace thought-function has become increasingly automated; mental household chores are assisted by labor-saving machinery; and reading and writing have been replaced by the telephone for all but the shortest communications.

According to Koplan, the American lifestyle of convenience and mental inactivity has had a devastating toll on every segment of society, particularly on children. Research shows that 60% of 5- to 10-year-old children already have at least one risk factor for thoughtlessness, including knowing commercials by heart and not "getting" any cultural references not based on TV shows.

According to CDC research published in the upcoming issue of JAMA, more than two-thirds of American adults are trying to improve brain function or keep from losing brain cells, but many do not follow guidelines recommending a combination of fewer TV shows and more mental activity. The latest Surgeon General's Report on Mental Activity and Health shows that more than 60 percent of adults are not participating in the recommended 30 minutes a day of moderate mental activity most days of the week. The Report stresses that mental activity need not be strenuous to achieve health benefits.

The December JAMA contains two articles and an editorial on obtusity by CDC authors: "The Spread of Obtusity in the United States"; "Are Health Care Professionals Advising Obtuse Patients to Try Thought?"; and an editorial, "Internet Imbalance and Public Health Policy."
Koplan will release the findings of the JAMA articles at the American Medical Association's 18th Annual Science Reporters Conference at the University of California at Los Angeles in December. (For more information call the AMA at [312] 464-5374.)

Also: This just in...

I recently checked my Stat Counter, because, as so often, I had nothing better to do. [Actually, I not only have something to better to do, I have someone willing to pay me to do it, but I keep putting it off. And it's work I said I wanted...] Anyway, I found that between the people who came looking for Gengoroh Tagame and the people who came looking for Greasetank, I could account for 75% of my visitors. Well, I suppose that testifies to a waning interest in Fran├žois Sagat, although most of the European [as opposed to UK] hits were looking for him.

But that left me with something to think about, and it was this: I get about 25 "unique" hits a day. Leave aside for the moment the interesting question of how one is meant to interpret "unique" hits -- it's like the Public Radio cant about how programming is made possible by listeners "like you."

If Public Radio has many listeners like me, they are in Big Trouble.

But, if 19 or 20 of those 25 unique hits are looking for material on the Unholy Trinity, that leaves me exactly five visitors a day, half of whom were apparently all using the same computer in Burlington, VT. Don't get me wrong: I have nothing against Burlington; I've spent a fair amount of time in Burlington, though most of it before it fell under the sway of Bernie Sanders. [I once received a T-shirt for Christmas that proclaimed itself a product of the "People's Republic of Burlington." Never let anyone say that Massachusetts has a lock on New England nutcases.]

But back to my stats: five people? Why not just get those people together for dinner and spill my supposedly interesting guts without having to comb the internet for apposite illustrations -- especially if half of them live in one place? Well, it turns out the answer is in how you ask the Stat Counter for information [duh].

When I stumbled on the idea of asking for figures by the month rather than by day, I saw that while I may only have 25 unique hits a day, I actually have 500 unique hits a month, and 168 returning hits. That made me feel better, and should also enable those of you who had gotten a bit squeamish about my interest in the statistics to relax: you are in fact not the only person in your geographic area with such perverse tastes. In fact, maybe I should take a leaf out of Howard Dean's book and start organizing Troll Get-togethers across the US...

Ah, it's a short but merry life we lead, here in the blogosphere.

Hang in there.
And pray for all those less fortunate than yourselves, especially those who have real things like food and shelter and warmth to worry about.

And, please, remember the BlogBrothers, who are always in my heart.


  1. Ok, I'll bite (don't get too excited) - how much of it is really lifted with some cosmetics from obesity reports - tres cool, and not overly obtuse:)

    In terms of stat-counter it is a mystery ansd while inviting my "hood" to dinner may be tricky, I have no issue using e-mail direct or as a bcc to communicate off blog with my core group.

    But yes, I do wonder who the hell ae the readers and am honored by the attention and appalled by it also.

    Have a good sunday guy

    btw - love the word verificatio- starts with xkk and all I can think is so close to triple X and yet so far......

  2. You REALLY want to know?
    Try googling "obesity epidemic" and see what you find. But only if you are really interested.

    Although I will admit that "Dianetics" for "diabetes" was my favorite substitution...