Chubby leads to violin or violin leads to chubby?

January 31, 2009 at 01:16 AM ·

Hi,

Lauries's discussion about health made me realize this: I have for a long time ask myself if violin was similar to Opera.  Ok, it is less true than before because to sell tickets, you now have to be a little more "cute" than before but it is a fact that beautiful and powerful voices in opera often come from chubby persons. I guess it is because of some physics reasons.  Well, in the violin world, many many great violinist are slightly to quite over weight.  I am not pointing anyone and don't want to qualify anyone of chubby because it is mean.  I have notice in my physical education courses that chubby persons are often not in shape but very very flexible.  They very often have a shorter neck and for sure a heavier arm that possibly make "resonnates" more the instrument. The action of gravity is so important in violin and maybe they can benefit better from it. I have often notice this in soloists: chubbier persons tend to make a more fleshy powerful sound and very skinny persons tend to make a skinnier sound (that can be beautiful too in its way).  I don't want to make a general law since it wouldn't be right because there is many exceptions to this. I know that so many things are related with physics in sound production.  Maybe the sound resonnates in you like a wind instrument, maybe the Chubbier persons are able to take a greater advantage of the gravity. I don't know

But I really think that the relation many practice = less exercise = a higher tendency to become over weigh is true in the musical world + they eat in restaurants and at various hours in the day...

Someone would have to make serious studies to really see if the chubby persons are naturally advantage or good in violin for the reasons I mention and thus all meet in elite musician positions (beat many skinny ones who wanted the same seat) or if I see many because of the life conditions musicians are forced to deal with.

I just wanted to know if some had any opinions about this.  It is probably because of life habits of sadly too many musicians but I'm not sure... Is violin like Opera?

Have a nice day,

Anne-Marie

 

Replies (47)

January 31, 2009 at 02:11 AM ·

I disagree categorically. I could name plenty of ectomorphic violinists. I think your reasoning would apply better to the brass. I'd even propose that violinists are in better shape than not only other musicians, but most Americans in general.

 

January 31, 2009 at 02:13 AM ·

I hope you are not going to use this as an excuse to eat Krispy Kreme doughnuts and be out of shape.  Your hands and fingers do not retain a great deal of fat, so if you want a wider vibrato, gaining weight is not the way to do it.  Unless you are morbidly obese, the thickness of your fingers is more a function of genetics, than a poor diet or lack of exercise.  Also, I'm not sure I share your sentiment that many violinists are heavy.  A few violinists that come to mind are Joshua Bell, Sarah Chang, Hilary Hahn. Anne-Sophie Mutter.  These musicians produce wonderful tones, and they are not the least bit overweight.  If anything, I would classify them as "leaner" than average.

At any rate, I am a certified nutritionist.  In my spare time, I give nutritional seminars.  As a nutritionist, I am a big advocate of healthy eating and exercise.  Eating lots of junk food will make you fat, tired, and depressed and I'm certain that will come through in your playing. 

 

January 31, 2009 at 03:15 AM ·

I notice musical prodigies are usually a bit chubby. They spend so much time practicing their craft they get very little exercise. What they don't realize is exercise will help their bodies, brain, and muscles function better,thus enhancing their prodigal ways.

January 31, 2009 at 04:32 AM ·

I think that a lot of us just end up focusing on the violin that we do not leave as much time or commit as much to exercise. Say what you want, but much of getting exercise is simply having determination to do so. It is the same with practicing the violin. But we only have so much time and energy. Also, a lot of very famous violinists are now into middle and old age, where we lose muscle and put on a little fat. If you look at the younger ones, I think you'd see that they are generally at a healthy weight.

January 31, 2009 at 04:49 AM ·

YASST - Yet Another Silly Stereotype Theory

Here are some alternatives ...

Many violinists are cat lovers, wonder if there is a link between liking cats or being around cats and playing the violin skillfully.

Many violinists are tea drinkers, wonder if there is a link between tea drinking and playing the violin skillfully.

Many violinists have blood type A, the Japanese will for sure wonder if there is a link between blood type and playing the violin skillfully.

You could continue this list forever and ever and never come up with anything that makes sense. Such "observations" are subjective, prejudiced and most of all TOTALLY UNSCIENTIFIC and UNSUBSTANTIATED.

In other words, Nonsense!

January 31, 2009 at 06:24 AM ·

But Benjamin, cats are fabulous violin teachers. Every cat lover who plays the violin could tell you that. To celebrate, Yehudi Menuhin, no less, wrote "The King, the Cat and the Fiddle", a children's book. In it, the King's cat, named Joachim, teaches the King and all his ministers to play, especially the bean counting people. And they lived happily ever after.

January 31, 2009 at 02:21 PM ·

here is something that i have observed/understood that may be related to the topic, although i do not find violinists to be that different from people in other fields, that is, fat does not discriminate:)  (well, there are more studies out now indicating some hormones are at play or there are genetic issues, but that is beyond here)

often, when we are tired, we do not have the luxury to take a break or take a nap to restore energy.  our ancestors probably did.  i cannot picture a violinist laying down on the floor of the studio,,,he just grabs something, puts into the mouth and keep going.

instead of resting, we take in food as an energy source to fight fatigue, to keep competing:).

for immediate energy boost,  we often grab something that is high on carb, something that is readily available in the market place because the savvy biz people have anticipated our need.   and they have made it so tasty that  we cannot just have one:)

often,  we eat a portion or a piece ---or a whole box for some of us-- instead of eating to an exact point that we need.  in other words,  with excess, the food is converted to storage, in terms of glycogen for mid term and fat for longer term, in anticipation that we may need it when famine sets in, which rarely does in this day and age:)

here is the kicker: when we ingest carb, insulin comes into play to help absorb it into the blood stream.  insulin tends to fluctuate depending the the carb load; the larger the carb intake, the larger the amplitude of the insulin roller coaster ride.  when insulin crashes down, it triggers a rebound hunger, and the cascade builds on itself.  in other words, the more we eat in one setting,  we set ourself up for more hunger down the road ,,,a viscious cycle, hormonally driven.  think of a  300 lber  eating a whole plate of donuts because he is truly ,,,,hungry.

so, anne-marie,  have you been hitting your candy bars more frequently lately?    :)

ps, at my first glance, i misread the thread as something juicy:    hubby leads to violin or violin leads to hubby.  my bad.

January 31, 2009 at 03:10 PM ·

 "think of a  300 lber  eating a whole plate of donuts because he is truly ,,,,hungry."

Al, you are not talking about a Japanese sized plate "full" of a Japanese sized donut, are you?

January 31, 2009 at 04:14 PM ·

Total nonsense.

January 31, 2009 at 05:38 PM ·

I have had teachers mention the fact that I need to apply more weight to the strings with my right arm, but I've found that I always practice better when I'm exercised and at a healthy weight (I think it's because exercise helps me both physically and mentally). They don't mean that I need a fatter arm, just a more relaxed one. I can understand, though, how it's easy for violinists to get overweight. My brother is always encouraging me to get out and walk or run because he sees me sitting for practicing. However, if I understand correctly, you burn 170 per hour practicing violin.

January 31, 2009 at 07:52 PM ·

I'm a fatty, it must be true!

January 31, 2009 at 08:30 PM ·

Hi, thanks for your various responses!

First of all, I do hope that it didn't shock anyone because as I made it clear in my posting, I was wondering if violin is like opera because many of my favorite players are sligtly overweight.  I don't know, I just love their sound.  By the way, I am not using this as an exuse to eat donuts, I am very consious of my health and I am very slim for those who thought I was doing a prejudice to the slim people (I cannot because I am like this myself ! )  As I said, I was just wondering if...    I personally saw this with my eyes when my mom (chubbier than me) was naturally able to use gravity and produce a better sound on open strings on a cello.  I also observe this with some players around me.  But, there is nothing negative in wondering if persons x really "have it" on the violin.  I think it is a compliment to say to some persons that they are good in violin. If I say to asians that I like their playing and ask myself if asians are naturally talented for some reasons, I am not saying that the others are less good.   Even if scientists would proove that they would have x advantage over others, I swear I would be very happy for them and nothing else.   So please, you can find the idea stupid but don't think that by complimenting one group (just wondering if... in this case), I am saying the other groups are no good.  I'm not this type of person! I am always questionning myself and yes I see the violin as a sport and physionomy is important in every sport but my questions are never ment to say that group x is no good.  In violin, there is no "iron" law and I know this.  If my naïve interrogations shock those who are more on the "violin is nothing else but an art and the technical issues are available to even a dog who would be a true artist (just joking)" side, just tell it and I will try to avoid these questions.   We don't need any wars. Shoulder rests ones is ennough!

Anne-Marie

January 31, 2009 at 10:38 PM ·

We don't need any wars. Shoulder rests ones is ennough!

She's right--I think we can all agree that shoulder rests are an affectation, like a cowboy hat or a 4WD truck with mud all over it. People who use them can't be real violinists. 

January 31, 2009 at 11:09 PM ·

Darn. I was starting to feel good that someone thought I was a "great violinist." I'm going to go eat a cookie. 

January 31, 2009 at 11:44 PM ·

WHY DO SO MANY people feel compelled to post in a bold font? I am continually amazed at the big, fat sound that comes from the very thin arms of quite a few young female violinists I know.

February 1, 2009 at 01:34 AM ·

Anne-Marie,

Body weight is not only a health issue but also, rightly or wrongly, a moral one for many people in an affluent society such as where most of v.commies live.   Even if you were armed with strong scientific evidence, your theory would still be full of war potential the way linking tea-drinking and violin-playing would not.  Although I tend to agree with others that the connection you observed probably is not supportable by rigorous research, as is the case when a theory is supported by single-person observations only, I nevertheless applaud your courage to post this thread.

February 1, 2009 at 01:41 AM ·

Still thanks for the various comments,

Yixi, you really pointed out the real thing, I simply wanted to ask if someone has notice this but not in a mean way to anyone.  I know that the chubby vs slim subject can really make a fight but I really wanted to name no names because of this!   I simply like the unforced and nice sound some of my favorite players (who some happen to be a bit chubby, it's maybe just a coincidence) are able to do. They just seem so relax and you do not have the impression they force at all.  So, I thought maybe (and I say maybe because we do not have any scientific evidence) it was easier for them for physics reasons.  At my physic courses at college, we learn things about the different forces on the different object + a little bit of the physics of the sound.  Although I am not a science person, I really see that there is many principles and rules of physics in the violin and I am sure in our bodies.

I just want to say again that this post is not about something proven, it's just an interrogation!

A nice day to anyone,

Anne-Marie

February 3, 2009 at 01:18 AM ·

I've said this before, but many years ago I heard a spectacular performance (the Auer version) of the Tchaikovsky Concerto played by a terrific violinist (who shall go nameless) who was quite rotund. When he walked out on stage, I heard somone behind me say, "Which chin is he going to put it under?"

February 3, 2009 at 04:33 AM ·

Greetings,

personally I think the issue is neither offensive nor contraversial. There are indeed big differences between hevy and light physiquesw that affect technique to the extent that it can actually cause less than optimal playing and -teaching-.  For starters if you have a heavy bow arm it is usually necessary to have it slightly lower ,  with the lighte rmore raised for increased leverage. The clear difference can be seen from comparing Oistrakh and Kogan.  I have also had lessons with a number of fine Japanese soloists who have immediatley commented on the same thing simply because I have a very heavy arm ,  especially compared to Asian (women).  Quite a few Asain players have no choice but to use a degree of extra pressure and sometimes even a slighly raised shoulder to struggle for a big enough sound.  This has also led to a bow hold that tends to use a lot more first finger pressure.  There is also a big difference in the type and quality of vibrato one produices depending on the degre eof flesh on the fingertip. 

As always. the great players simply work with what they were given to an optimal degree.

I do think my violin my be getting fatter though...

Cheers,

Buri

February 3, 2009 at 05:51 AM ·

One word: Paganini.

One phrase: Obesity epidemic.

February 3, 2009 at 01:18 PM ·

buri's comment on bow arm (weight) is very interesting!

February 3, 2009 at 07:49 PM ·

I am not sure I understand or agree with why a person's greater than normal/average body weight should effect tone production on the violin. Isn't it true that there is more weight in the arm than actually needed to produce a strong "weighty" tone.  One has to be very careful with the concept of applying pressure because it tends to be thought of as vertical pressure. Applying vertical pressure one would imagine that the tone would easily be crushed and that it is not vertical weight so much as pushing and pulling the tone. Mimi Zweig in her workshop kept telling us that one wants the lightest "bow hold" one can get away with and to avoid extremes in torquing or leaning too much into the index finger. Others have spoken of tell tale signs of applying weight incorrectly with dents in the thumb and overly red or calloused areas of the index finger. My understanding is that there is a transfer of weight from frog to tip and back and that vertical pressure will tend to crush the vibrations.

Also, one needs to take into account the role of the violin in meeting the bow with resistance so that all of the tone production does not come from the right  arm and the muscles of the shoulder. This also has an effect on how high the violin scroll is in relation to the tailpiece end of the instrument and what height the arm finds itself as you move the bow from frog to tip.  In addition, if  the violin rests on the collarbone and you've got a built up chin rest to make up for any gap in where your jaw meets the instrument, your instrument will be at a lower plane and you should experience less fatigue and less effort needed to transfer weight from your arm/back/shoulder blade/muscles  as you draw the bow for a rich sound. 

It is  true that more weight is needed as one plays closer to the bridge and that, as the string length is shortened by playing pitches higher and higher up the fingerboard, one must move the bow closer to the bridge and, therefore, more weight would be needed. Still, I can't imagine that someone in good health, even a bit underweight, wouldn't have enough natural weight available to transfer from frog to tip, and that everyone, regardless of their weight, needs to apply the factors mentioned above with regard to producing a strong, resonant tone.

  As for thick fingerpads, I have seen close-up many an average thickness fingerpad  that produces a beautiful lush sound because it is where the fingerpad touches the string and how bent or not it needs to be to increase surface area without sacrificing precision of pitch. It would seem that one could compensate for what genetics did not provide so perhaps people with thicker finger pads have it easier by nature but that does not necessarily mean those who don't cannot learn to produce as rich and lush a sound.

 

February 3, 2009 at 08:26 PM ·

I did a little research on Henryk Wieniawski because my orchestra will be accompanying a competition winner on a violin concerto of his this month.  He only lived to be 44, and several of his biographies, including  this one mention that his "later years" were plagued by heart disease aggravated by obesity, and that because of this he often had to play recitals sitting down.

At age 43, I find this story rather disturbing.

 

February 3, 2009 at 10:10 PM ·

My comment isn't that so many great violinists were over weight but that many of them had a particular body shape. Short, squat, large boned, no neck, large shoulders and large hands - you get the picture?  

February 3, 2009 at 10:21 PM ·

Greetings,

Ronal, I agree 100 percent with what you are saying.However,  I think thiese are the fundamentals from which smethign a little paradoxical occurs that I find somewhat difficult to express.  First of all if you have a really heavy bow arm (as per Oistrakh) the position is going to have to be careful because it is increduibly easy to tip over into the crush zone. However,  I think there is a kind of ideal balanced, sdort of zen state in which eveyrthing is optimum in which a meaty bow arm does give an edge in producing a deeper ,  perhaps even more sonorous sound.  Not saying its better. The lighter player will simply have a leaner beautiful sound.  Are we talking abotu a kind of unuse dpotential here?

Its an interesting question.

Cheers,

Buri

February 3, 2009 at 11:27 PM ·

Stephen, what you say does indeed make sense. I can see that. I am going to look over my Oistrakh videos, and compare his position as a younger man when  he was leaner to how he looks at mid-career and also later on. This should prove very interesting.

February 3, 2009 at 11:42 PM ·

i have always been "struck" by szeryng's high bow arm angle, as seen here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=66Lq1nHRp24

here is another one,  presumably later (may be 15-20 yrs later imo).  i cannot say his weight is a factor but his bow arm seems  lower:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o3TWMqQCGxY

 

looking foward to seeing what ron finds.  the only thing of concern, besides age difference and weight difference, is whether we can say with much certainty that "all else being equal".

 

 

 

 

February 4, 2009 at 12:31 AM ·

Hey, I didn't have to say a word that many mentionned Oistrakh and Oistrakh is exactly my ultimate idol (nuber one!).  He had the nicest vibratos in the world. Yes, he could make what I called "airplane crashes" on few occasions because he was too strong for the violin but overall he had SUCH a sound.   We could say, Perlman is a bit the modern Oistrakh (especially in vibratos) Buri, you pointed exactly what I wanted to tell but was a little stuck in expressing because of ethic issues.  Yes, indeed as I always mention here, I can see this difference between me and my teacher's physic (Russian). I have always said that I wanted the sound of a Russian but was built like a Japanese!  ( generally speaking here because I know their is exceptions!)  Yes, as Ronald pointed out, you can compensate and I would add especially at a lower level.  At an average level like I am, all my comments, ironnically, in gigs are on my unforced power in sound and nice vibratos (for an amateur in amateur gigs or exams of course).  I know I would not make it in very very difficult works where the physical is essential or at least, not make it the way I want it to sound.  But when we talk of soloists, going against your natural is almost impossible.   I am so happy that some people understood that the point of all this was not be mean to anyone!   I could write a book with all the strategies I use and experiment everyday to hopfully come always a little closer to my dream sound despite everything.  Maybe each type of person (if we sort them by the physical aspect) should learn from another. 

Someone like Buri is probably the perfect teacher to show how to produce a great sound to a Japanese student

                                                                              and

A Japanese with tiny fingers is probably excellent to teach chromatical scales to Buri in 10th position where there is no space...for big fingers! (Just joking Buri I know nothing about your chromatical scales in 10 position!)

Anne-Marie

February 4, 2009 at 12:56 AM ·

Greetings,

<A Japanese with tiny fingers is probably excellent to teach chromatical scales to Buri in 10th position where there is no space...for big fingers! (

 

I juat slap a finger down and wobble it  around.   

Actually I have quite slender fingertips but wa slucky enough to have quite a broad hand.  Not perfect butif you look at Kogans hand sructure that is ideal in my opinion.  I also recall Hugh Bean alking about Heifetz` hands. He said that what alays struck him wa show ordinary they looked.  There were simply no extremes.  Its always aggravating to have to deal with exceptionally long first fingers or short litlte ones.

Cheers,

Buri

March 7, 2009 at 04:42 PM ·

I hope my most recent response here got diverted correctly to the post in which Al Ku asked  about the height of his daughter's bow arm. What I  meant to write here is that I finally got to look over my Oistrakh videos and see that even as a young man, Oistrakh's elbow and arm were considerably lower than what we see in Auer's pupils and about as low or lower than what he looked like later in life.  I assume this was a change that Stoliarsky, his main teacher,  may have advocated and is perhaps a chief difference between the Old Russian and the newer Russian school at that time. It appears that Oistrakh had a very broad forearm stroke (this can be seen in the incredible freedom he shows in detache strokes in the Bach Double he plays with his son) and was able to allow a totally relaxed arm to give him all the sound he needed without forcing anything. He transfers weight from frog to tip with pronation but it appears less pronounced compared to other violinists because his arm remains low and this appears to be a function of the tilt of his violin which is considerably more slanted than with Heifetz, for example. Possibly, his heavier weight later on caused an adjustment in the height of his arm but it was still low  compared to many players and  I cannot accurately determine that an increase in weight caused any change in his marvelous sound. It was rich as a young man and remained so throughout his life.

March 8, 2009 at 08:39 PM ·

Ronald, what interesting post!  Yes, I have noticed that too with Oistrakh's playing! Not many people in the world are able to have a relaxed arm like he had and this is why he played things in an extraordinairy way.   And yes, I have not often seen (to not say never) people with such solid forarm bow strokes!  Menuhin said : I have never seen someone move so quickly from the frog to the tip as Oistrakh.  What makes a good violinist is very complex and as I said previously it is also very possible that it is simply a coincidence that many of my idols happen to be slightly to a little more chubby!   But I still believe that those with heavier arms (because one is chubby, has big bones naturally or is an amateur of body building lol!) have a slightest advantage to make a better use of gravity!   But in any case, a too high bow arm blocks the sound for any body types!!! It's a well known fact!

Anne-Marie

March 8, 2009 at 09:47 PM ·

I don't think Isaac Stern would have got away with that bow arm if he hadn't been ... slightly rotund.  Not much finesse there for angling Buri's oriental nymphette first finger pressure to compensate for lack of flab.

And having seen him play the Brahms live I can testify there was a river of sweat running right down his fiddle and dripping off the end - probably the most exercise the bloke ever got ...

March 8, 2009 at 10:55 PM ·

Think about it:

1. irregular hours

2. nervous energy

3. first class travel with sumptuous meals provided

4. lots of water loss the nights you "work" and overdoing the makeup-liquid intake.

5. little time for a regular whole-body exercise routine

= calories in > calories out!

It would take a strong sense of vanity to avoid this, which the young(ish) beautiful female violinists seem to have. There is no doubt that their concerts and recordings sell for more than musical/technical reasons.

Andy

March 8, 2009 at 11:24 PM ·

Greetings,

>first class travel with sumptuous meals provided

mmmm...

Cheers,

Buri

March 9, 2009 at 03:44 PM ·

Very interesting comments on this subject. 

I have a thought.  It seems to me that classical musicians along with those with high intellect seem to associate sport and physical fittness activities with a lack of brainpower.  This of course, is general observation.

In other words, physical passtime can be viewed as a waste of time.  The mind is the only thing to be stimulated.

I'm going into my 70th year in 2009 and I am both a violinist and a competing track and field athlete.  I don't want to look or feel like most of my non-active friends. As far as all the stuff about body weight vs violin performance,  simple nonsense.  

 

 

 

 

March 9, 2009 at 07:43 PM ·

George, for the first sentences of your post about some intellectuals who consider sport as a waste of time, I know what you mean and I find this stupid!  In my head violin is a "sport" equivalent to precision sports like golf, arrow and bow, horseback riding (jumping) etc.   I mean, no you do not lose as much calories as if you run or swim for a long time. But you still move (the necessary to play) much more than what people usually think + stand up for 5 + hours in a row is more tough for the legs than sitting down.   And, it's maybe horrible to say because of ethic concerns  but in certain sports, the best one are often (not always) chubby.   For example, some kinds of fighting sports, some athletes in weight lifting and yes even at the olympics, those who throw the hammer the further possible (traduction from french: lancer du marteau! I don't know how to tell it in english).   I personnally do not prone to be "big" since I do efforts to be healthy myself but I have to admit that in some sprots, slightly overweight persons doing pretty good.  Maybe we should make a difference between precision sports and sports that can be a part of a "fitness" program but this is another debate!   Anyway, violinists who consider athletes like lesser beings are wrong because they are themselves doing a kind of sport!

Anne-Marie

March 10, 2009 at 07:16 PM ·

Hell, I feel like I'm obese and I play the violin like total poop.  :)

 

Such interesting posts, though.

March 10, 2009 at 08:40 PM ·

lol Brian!

Oh, if only extra calories would go in fingertips, I would eat a truck full of cakes!

Anne-Marie

March 13, 2009 at 04:36 PM ·

good thouhts Anne Marie,  you are right about some athletes being overweight, yet still considered elite.  You find them in the power sports and you also find them in sports where hand eye coordination is improtant, such as Golf.  Although I find it difficult to consider John Daly an athlete. Unfortunately they gererally have short life spans or suffer from various medical conditions in later life as do most obese or overweight induviduals

Keeping fit will not guarentee anything but quality of life.  This observation....In order to perform at a high level in the pure athletics, one must focus on the moment, relax, breath correctly, remain in good form under the most difficult of circumstances, train and cross train every day, and most of all want to win.  Is that not what this playing the fiddle well entails?  Exactly.

So any time I hear stuff from intellectual snobs or cultures and religions that value mind over body,  I am truly astonished.    Peace,  from a dedicated francophile!!!

 

S

 

 

March 13, 2009 at 06:33 PM ·

I just got back from a week in London.  The area where we were staying was close to a number of good music schools.  So, I saw lots of people walking around carrying violin cases (and other instruments as well).  None of them were visibly overweight.  In fact, almost all of the seriously overweight people that I saw were speaking with American accents.

Elaine

March 13, 2009 at 06:52 PM ·

Yes - but are violinist's cats overweight?

March 13, 2009 at 10:30 PM ·

Bill, ask Buri, he has a cat!

Anne-Marie

March 15, 2009 at 10:43 PM ·

Greetings,

Elaine music studnets in Londn do not look fat because they cannot afford to eat.

As for my cat sicne I wa sgiven him I have got his weight down by careful feeding and an hour a day on the treadmill. (dangle a sardine from the control panel).   However,  like the hooro stories of the obese lsoing oddles of weight he actually has a firry surplus of skin hangng down from his stomach which whips from side to side as he runs causing great hilarty to my friends.  He now has deep self esteem problems.

Cheers,

Buri

March 16, 2009 at 08:10 AM ·

Entirely tangental, I know, but Al wrote "often,  we eat a portion or a piece ---or a whole box for some of us-- instead of eating to an exact point that we need", and that reminded me of an interesting thing they did on crappy tabloid TV here recently, where they looked at cooking books from the 30's and this decade, and compared the portions sizes and Feed X number of people" guides for the recipes.

The meal sizes were massive now in comparison.  What was rated to feed 4-6 people is now rated to feed 2.  And the amount now to feed 4-6 was a trippling of the main ingredients.  I also recall seeing a TV program on obesity where they asked little kids to eat until they were full.  When the food was initially given in a smaller portion size, even though they could get more, the kids all stopped at a sooner point that when the original portion size was larger.  In other words, they appeared to adjust their expectation of 'full' according to what their eyes saw, as well how much they ate.

March 16, 2009 at 03:21 PM ·

ok, here are some observations that can get me into hot water since it is a bit continentally/racially charged:

asians are getting fatter, those both in the west and in asia.  in fact, kids in hong kong are one of the fattest in the world because they eat a mixture of eastern and western goodies.  

europeans in europe, whereever i go, tend to be thinner than americans.  some older men may sport a nice, good looking belly, but overall, no out of left field 300 lbers.

americans are a new breed because of its "culture".  not very certain, but some blame the original food pyramid on the obesity trend when it was once incorrectly thought that a diet low on fat but high on carb will help maintain healthy weight.   then the recent newly redesigned food pyramid addresses the difference between good and bad fat , etc    300 lbers in america are seen all over.  tough to break habits...

then there is this study looking at whites vs blacks (this is academic stuff so breathe easy). turns out that higher income blacks are heavier than lower income ones and lower income whites are heavier than higher income ones.

 

 

March 16, 2009 at 08:57 PM ·

Mr. Ku, what interesting facts!

 

What about me?  I'm asian, but bred in america, and don't even know how to use chopsticks, read or speak my native language.  Would I be considered white?  I sometimes do........but I am not 300 lbs.....even though I'm not the lightest korean in the field.

In case you're wondering, I'm just kidding about all this.  But your facts do prove thought provoking.

 

XD

March 16, 2009 at 10:08 PM ·

brian, i have very picky ears and your violin playing is quite exquisite already. 

so you could be phat! :):):)

btw, here is another study that was quite well known and telling:

as much as i can recall, they studied some twins of japanese descent, those with one still living in japan (thus still under japanese diet and culture)  and one living in hawaii (thus american culture and diet).     i forgot exactly the parameters that were followed, but suffices it to say that the "american" twins have developed higher cardiovascular risk factors, with higher body weight being one. 

this elegant little study suggests that our environment plays a big role,,,

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