THIS newspaper prides itself on its readers’ insatiable craving for accurate reporting and trenchant analysis. However, Babbage will concede that man cannot subsist on such an ethereal diet for long. And even if he could, sticking to it would doubtless prove nigh on impossible around this time of year, where enticing aromas of traditional Christmas fare waft hither and thither in homes all over the Western world whetting the less rarefied sort of appetite.
According to the OECD one in six adults in its 33 mostly rich member countries is obese (measured as a body-mass index of 30 or more). And the problem is not confined to human beings. Pets, too, are getting chubbier.
2. Avoid eating late: Light regulates the body’s biological clock—priming an individual’s metabolism for predictable events such as meals and slumber. There is now evidence to suggest that, at least in nocturnal mice, eating out of whack with the circadian rhythm does indeed lead to increased weight gain
3. Drink lots of water: The first randomised controlled trial studying the link between water consumption and weight loss suggests that drinking water before meals does lead to weight loss, even controlling for the number of calories consumed during the day. And the effect seems to be long-lasting. Participants told to drink water during the trial tended to stick with the habit (apparently they like it). Strikingly, they have continued to lose weight, whereas the other participants have put it back on.
5. Don’t diet: When served an unusually large slice of pizza, compared with what others appear to be getting, dieters treat this as a licence to pig out when the dessert comes. People who are not on a diet, meanwhile, actually appear to restrain themselves during the subsequent courses.
6. Finally, in the unlikely event that any reader should be planning to run a marathon on Christmas day (like the one organised in New York for the first time this year) here is how to calculate what to eat before the race and what pace to adopt to make it safely across the finish line.