Even newer new body news

In March we were happy to report new body news. It was revealed that body shape does not affect heart health. All the apple-shaped people could celebrate.

Unfortunately, there’s now newer new body news which says that shape does matter, in just the way apple folks fear. Sorry!

On the other hand, cutting salt may increase your risk of heart disease, but the facts are too complicated for a quick summary. It is pretty clear, though, that if you are young, healthy, slender and live in Belgium, you don’t have to worry about salt. So order some more pommes frites!

10 thoughts on “Even newer new body news

  1. As for salts, my understand was that the real problem was always understood to be sodium to potassium ratio, and not sodium (let alone salt) per se. Of course, for most people the easiest way to lower their sodium to potassium ratio was to reduce their salt intake, hence the standard advice, despite it’s misleading nature. (I’m not sure how many bananas one would have to eat to make a difference. I’m not joking.) So, if I read anything about people in some sub-group not having a problem w/ “salt” and blood pressure (that was always what was supposed to be the problem), I’d want to know if there was anything else about them (diet, natural environment, mineral content in the water, etc.) that was effecting their sodium/potassium ratio before I jumped to any conclusions.

  2. Rob, your post appears to be irrelevant; this is not about looks. It’s not fun to have someone try to turn posts about health into adverts for evolutionary psychology.

    Matt, it looks as though the researchers think there’s another set of interactions that are at work:

    Those who consumed the least salt had a 56 percent higher risk of death from a heart attack or stroke compared with those who had the highest consumption, even after controlling for obesity, cholesterol, smoking, diabetes, and other risk factors.

    The researchers don’t have a firm explanation for this finding, but they speculate that sodium intake low enough to decrease blood pressure may also decrease sensitivity to insulin, encourage a stress response in the nervous system, and affect hormones that regulate blood pressure and sodium absorption. “Each of these effects might have unfavorable impact on cardiovascular mortality,” Staessen says.

    The article is in the May 4 JAMA.

  3. JJ- that’s actually completely compatible with what I’d read in the past about sodium- that it wasn’t sodium per se that was the problem, but having a bad sodium/potassium ratio. If you need sodium, (which you do) but try to improve your sodium/potassium ratio be reducing your sodium alone, you can do yourself damage. But it was the very first work on sodium and high blood pressure that pointed out that it was the sodium/potassium ratio that was important! Many doctors don’t seem to realize this, though. (I suggest not worrying too much about one’s sodium, exercising regularly, leading to sweating, and eating bananas for potassium, but as that’s what I’d do anyway it’s not a surprise that I’d recommend it.) But the idea that sodium = bad was _never_ supported by good research.

  4. What I don’t understand is why we insist upon referring to women’s bodies as fruit. (Not that I’m blaming this site for doing so–it’s a cultural reference we understand; I’m more questioning how it came up in the first place.) Even though there’s nothing derogatory about apples, pears, or bananas (yes, I’ve actually seen “banana” body types listed in those “how to dress your body” sections of magazines, I suppose in an effort to create a neat categorization?), it takes on a hint of the derogatory.

    I once wrote a piece about the implications of having a makeover, and many commenters took the opportunity to critique my face. (Naturally! Woman writing about beauty standards = free-for-all. But I digress.) I remember one commenter writing, “Her face is mango-like–it’s bigger up top and then tapers down.” Now, a mango is shaped like an oval, which is what those same banana magazines say is the face type you should try to achieve with makeup. But by saying I had a “mango” face, she turned my perfectly normal face shape into a criticism (the rest of the comment made it clear that she wasn’t an admirer).

  5. Autumn, that’s a nice point, though I doubt we insist on it. I also tend to accept Lakoff’s and Johnson’s idea that we really do not possess much of a non-metaphorical vocabularly. If that’s so, then we need a metaphor that helps us refer to being rounder and wider in the middle. And it would be nice if the metaphor used related to metaphors for other shapes.

    Fruit seems to do the job here. What else do we have? Maybe the sparkplug vs the tire shape??

  6. The mainstream press so rarely gets health reporting right I don’t even bother with it anymore. Exercise in moderation, eat in moderation, fuck all the rest.

  7. No offense intended. I thought the content of the Sex Roles article is relevant to the CNN piece and other issues about media and body image discussed on this blog; and also because it is from a recent special issue of the journal devoted to the topic of evo psych, featuring critics, proponents, and even feminist evo psychologists. I reckoned others also might find it an enlightening primer on tensions between evo psych and feminism.

  8. Pioneer, for it’s worth, they do have the content of the scientific article right.

  9. Yes, I see in this case they do, but it’s a rare moment. I gave up on mainstream science reporting when the AP reported a chemical increased the risk fo death. How does one make a risk greater than 100%?

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