“Stay busy, get plenty of exercise and don’t drink too much. Then again, don’t drink too little.”
– Herman “Jackrabbit” Smith-Johannsen
Sage advice from a person who lived to be 111 years old.
Alcohol has been around since 10,000 B.C., starting with beer. In fact, it may have preceded bread which, as will be discussed in the next article, might be a contributing factor to weight gain. Perhaps the ancients had it right by ‘drinking’ their bread…
Looking at the above graph, alcohol consumption hasn’t changed all that much since 1960. Peering back even further, Americans are remarkably consistent when it comes to having that ‘wee nip’ at the local pub. Considering the explosion in the variety of drinks available today, humans are adept at moderating their intake of spirits.
Therefore, one cannot say that alcohol consumption is related to weight gain as a trend in this country.
Surprise! American are not sitting around as much as they used to during their leisure time (time not working or commuting to work). That means that when not working, we are more active now than in the past as the graph below shows:
Alcohol, leisure-time activity and micro-nutrients – when taken as a whole – do not appear to be factors for U.S. citizens gaining weight. More than likely there are individual cases where this isn’t true, but this article refers to overall trends. It should be noted that this article isn’t cause to drink more, exercise less or eat junk food – doing one or more of those activities will probably make you fatter. What is being said is that Americans don’t drink enough for it to be a factor, nor do they exercise too little in their leisure-time (as opposed to other times), nor has our food become less nutritious (at the micro level) – on average.
So why are we getting fatter if the above hold true? Come back next week for Part 3 of this series to find out.
1) Will somebody ever make alcoholic drinks packed with vitamins and minerals?
2) Is there a link between malnutrition and democracy index?
3) What other surprising phenomena aren’t related to weight gain?
1st graph: ggplot(subset(alcohol.frame, Country=="United States"), aes(x=Year, y=Value, group=Year)) + geom_point(color="blue", size=2.5) + geom_line(aes(group=1), color="blue", size=1.1) + ylab("Amount (Liters per Capita)") + xlab("Year") + scale_y_continuous(limits = c(5,15)) + opts(title="Annual (per capita) United States Alcohol Consumption", legend.title = theme_blank(), panel.background = theme_blank())
2nd graph: ggplot(sedentary.frame, aes(x=Year,y=Percent.Sedentary.During.Leisure)) + geom_point(size=2.5, color="blue") + geom_line(size=1.1, color="blue") + ylab("% Sedentary") + xlab("Year") + scale_y_continuous(limits = c(0,100)) + opts(title="% Sedentary During Leisure Time", legend.title = theme_blank(), panel.background = theme_blank(), axis.line = theme_segment(), plot.margin = unit(c(0, 3.5, 0, 0), "cm"))