Fat, killer-vitamins and poor lifestyle

Published Sunday, July 13, 2008

Casmir Igbokwe


For some male travellers, the attractiveness of air hostesses could be a factor in deciding a particular airline to patronise. In India, private airlines recognise this fact by engaging beautiful and smartly-dressed young ladies as crew members. On the contrary, state-owned Air India used to care less about the physical appearance of its stewardesses. But stiff competition has jolted it from slumber. Recently, the airline prevented its fat air hostesses from flying. The reason it reportedly gave was that overweight crew posed a safety and health hazard. Five of the cabin crew took the airline to court. The Delhi High Court ruled against them, saying the airline had the right to do what it did. According to the court, the physical appearance of an air hostess matters a lot.


It also matters to many companies in Nigeria. Most new generation banks, for instance, try to beat competition by employing young shapely ladies in their marketing departments. Love it or hate it, it works for some of them. Some men are wont to fall for such traps by depositing huge part of their earnings to such ladies or their banks.


This is one of the advantages of maintaining a trim and shapely figure. But many Nigerians don’t really care about their weight. Some live a sedentary life. They sit in an air-conditioned office from morning till night without any form of physical activity. They eat as much junk as their stomach can contain. Even those who are jobless, especially housewives, have similar problem. Most of the time, some of them do nothing but sleep and eat. Their activities revolve around cooking and a few other household chores.


The problem is not peculiar to Nigeria. In the United Kingdom, for instance, food is not a problem. Most citizens can afford to eat five meals a day. They throw away the greater number of this food. A government food policy study indicates that UK families waste about 4.1m tonnes of food every year. This amounts to about £420 per family per year. Much of these foods are burgers, chips and other junks. This, perhaps, explains why about 50 per cent of adults are said to be obese in the UK.


Globally, over a billion adults are overweight. At least, 300 million are clinically obese. More disturbing is the World Health Organisation’s prediction that clinically obese population would balloon to 700m by 2015. As the world continues to grapple with food crisis, experts attribute part of the causes to obese people. A report credited to the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine says obese people consume 18 per cent more calories than average. They also reportedly contribute to climate change and higher food prices. The argument is that the higher the demand for food, the higher the efforts to produce more. The more the production, the more fuel or oil is used to service agricultural machinery. This eventually translates into higher energy and food prices.


Besides, fatness makes one look old and sluggish. It could engender cardiovascular diseases, arthritis, diabetes, and gall-bladder disease. Fertility experts have linked infertility in some women partly to obesity. Researchers at the University of Aberdeen discovered recently that obesity could also lead to poor quality sperm for men. The scientists reportedly examined over 2, 000 men whose partners have problems in conceiving. They found out that overweight men had a higher proportion of abnormal sperm and lower volumes of semen than men with a healthy body mass index. One probable reason, the researchers say, is overheating of the testicles caused by too much fat. As the lead researcher, Dr Ghiyath Shayeb, enthused, “We are pleased to be able to add improved semen quality to the long list of benefits that we know are the result of an optimal body weight.”


Maintaining this optimal body weight requires taking a balanced diet. Vitamins are an important part of this balanced diet. Fruits and vegetables are one of the major sources of vitamins. Nutritionists recommend at least five fruits a day per person. Some rich people decide to add vitamin supplements to their diet as well. Unfortunately, another research suggests that such vitamin supplements could actually result in a premature death. The BBC quoted scientists at the Copenhagen University as saying that vitamins A and E supplements could interfere with the body’s natural defences.


These scientists reviewed 67 studies and examined 233, 000 people. They found no evidence to support the belief that antioxidant supplements prevent diseases. To them, 16 per cent of increased risk of dying could be a result of intake of vitamin A supplements, seven per cent to beta-carotene and four per cent to vitamin E.


I’m sure those who deal in supplements will dismiss this with a wave of the hand. In Nigeria, there are companies that make fortunes marketing supplements. I don’t know if they have a defence to this research finding.


Hopefully, there may not be any research that will caution against the use of natural fruits and vegetables. I try to eat more of them these days. But some friends say I am fatter now than when I came back newly from the UK. I have tried as much as possible to reduce the quantity of food I take. But the more I try, the more I see mountainous food on my dinner table.


The ideal thing is for all of us to live a healthy life, eat balanced diet and exercise as much as possible. Those who are over 40 years should watch what they eat and drink. For women, there is no denying the fact that your appearance, to an extent, determines the type of suitor that comes your way. The married ones who feel they are not dancing to attract attention again should realise that, like the Indian hostesses, they could become victims of rejection at home.


  From my cell phone


Exorcise yourself of the ghost of intellectual bandwagonism as manifested in your June 22 ’08 piece regarding Prof. H. Nwosu’s book on June 12, ’93 polls. Please read the book before analysing. He didn’t exonerate IBB contextually, by deduction or induction.

Emmanuel Onwubiko, Author/journalist




You have surely come of age since TheNEWS/Tempo. Not a surprise to some of us who have closely watched you from the sidelines. Keep the quality up.

Dotun Adekanmbi, 08022231789



I’m a boy of 17 years and an ardent reader of your column. I’m deeply moved by your mode of thinking. How many people can say the truth openly? I planned on studying economics, but I will become a writer because you inspire me with your column.

Anonymous, 08076234938


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