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Health Guidelines

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Gaazy
18573.  Wed Apr 27, 2005 4:36 am Reply with quote

Alcohol units, fat, vitamin RDAs, salt (have you seen 6 grams of salt?), recommended number of minutes of exercise.... how do they come up with these?

It must have been on a conspiracy website that I read somewhere that the current alcohol guidelines were set by coming up with a number and halving it, on the basis that people would be certain to break them anyway, and with any luck they'd still be within the limits originally set.

The trouble with alcohol guidelines in particular is that all the undesirable effects seem to have been lumped together to come up with an all-purpose consumption limit, with the danger of getting hurt in a fight or accident conflated with the risk of liver cirrhosis.

In any case, from what I've seen on innumerable documentaries and news items, young people nowadays appear to polish off several times a day's allowance even before setting off for a night's clubbing.

Recent research on speed limits suggested that the majority of drivers will keep within a limit if they deem it reasonable, but ignore it if they don't; I just wonder whether that's equally true with health guidelines.

 
Deke
18577.  Wed Apr 27, 2005 7:28 am Reply with quote

It's always been my experience that any kind of limit or restriction is always regarded as the starting point.

 
dr.bob
18586.  Wed Apr 27, 2005 8:46 am Reply with quote

All health guidelines are extremely unreliable since they don't take into account your weight, build, lifestyle, and all the other billion factors that affect what you can and can't safely eat or drink.

Interestingly enough, recommended levels of radiation exposure are set (in this country, anyway) by the National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB). These levels are based on experimental evidence, though this evidence is questionable since it's generally based on accidents given how hard it is to convince people to let you irradiate them until they die.

In the last few years, the recommended levels of exposure have been gradually falling. However, there was a period in the 60's when the levels actually went up. Apparently these days the NRPB freely admit that they knew full well that these levels were not appropriate. However, if they had been set lower, the newly formed nuclear power program would've been bankrupted and so a high-level decision was taken to increase the recommendations despite the contrary scientific evidence.

 
laidbacklazyman
18588.  Wed Apr 27, 2005 9:08 am Reply with quote

My cholestoral level is at 6.5. Although in a national sense quite high, locally my Dr is not overly concerned because it's pretty much average locally.

 
eggshaped
18623.  Thu Apr 28, 2005 3:53 am Reply with quote

Slightly off topic, but I remember reading a study about a level crossing which was around a corner, but which was either very very rarely used or not used at all (I forget which). Anyway, the crux of the story was that local drivers coming round the corner would always drive slightly too fast, in that if there actually was a train there, they would struggle to stop in time. i.e. according to stopping distances, they would skid to a halt before the train, but after the barrier.

The council then put a hedge on the corner, making it even more difficult to see the train. The drivers did slow down, but only to a speed whereby they would still struggle to stop in time.

I think the moral of the story was that people always drive with an element of risk, but the risk rarely exceeds a certain level.

Hmmm, that was more off topic than I expected it to be.

 
dr.bob
18641.  Thu Apr 28, 2005 9:40 am Reply with quote

Risk parity (or whatever the correct term is) has long been used to argue that increasing safety measures is a waste of time since people will simply feel safer and therefore take more risks.

The old argument is that the best way to improve people's driving is to ban seatbelts and place a large, metal spike in the middle of the steering wheel :)

 
Flash
18642.  Thu Apr 28, 2005 9:46 am Reply with quote

There's a different but related argument run by anti-compulsory bicycle helmet campaigners in New South Wales, to the effect that compulsory helmets put women off bicycling because they don't want to muss their hair, so they drive instead ... so there are more car accidents. It's a difficult chain of cause and effect to establish convincingly, of course.

 
Gaazy
18645.  Thu Apr 28, 2005 9:54 am Reply with quote

dr.bob wrote:
The old argument is that the best way to improve people's driving is to ban seatbelts and place a large, metal spike in the middle of the steering wheel :)
Not quite as scary, but actually trialled, is the idea of doing away completely with road markings, even at junctions, so that each motorist has to take much more care to avoid collision. The closest I've come to this is on toll motorways, where there's what's quaintly called a "plaza" for about 15 lines of traffic to converge onto 2 or 3 - without any lane markings whatsoever.

 
Gaazy
18647.  Thu Apr 28, 2005 10:10 am Reply with quote

Then there's use-by dates - time was, we threw butter, bacon and milk away only when they began to be niffy, cheese and jam only when they started to get mouldy (though we weren't above scraping the mould off an eating what was beneath) - now, for heaven's sake, there's a sell-by date on bottled water. What is that going to do when it gets old?

 
Flash
18649.  Thu Apr 28, 2005 10:13 am Reply with quote

In America (or at least in the bit where I went last summer) they had a system for crossroads where there was no right of way; everyone had to stop, and then cross in the order that they arrived at the junction, irrespective of which road they were on. Seemed to work OK, though it was predicated on everybody having very good manners.

 
Frances
18652.  Thu Apr 28, 2005 10:51 am Reply with quote

Indian risk management is very simple; there isn't any. There are no barriers alongside railway lines or cliffs. If you're daft enough to walk under a train, or drive off the edge, well, the world's better off without you. Practical eugenics.

 
Gaazy
18654.  Thu Apr 28, 2005 10:57 am Reply with quote

This subject is all bound up with litigation paranoia, which is why companies - especially in America - try to foresee any possible complication which might arise from the use of their product. This has led to some hilarious disclaimers, which are collected by avid bloggers and are widely available online.

One of my favourites is Do not put the base of this ladder on frozen manure (presumably because somebody once did; the manure melted, the ladder-user fell and then sued the company).

More at http://www.gerryreid.com/legalpg.htm.

 
Flash
18655.  Thu Apr 28, 2005 11:17 am Reply with quote

I've suggested to that site these additions:

May contain nuts
Thank you for not smoking
This page intentionally left blank

 
Gaazy
18656.  Thu Apr 28, 2005 11:21 am Reply with quote

Flash wrote:
I've suggested to that site these additions: May contain nuts

That one is, of course, at its glorious best on a packet of nuts.

 
Beehive
18657.  Thu Apr 28, 2005 11:28 am Reply with quote

Quote:
Not quite as scary, but actually trialled, is the idea of doing away completely with road markings, even at junctions, so that each motorist has to take much more care to avoid collision. The closest I've come to this is on toll motorways, where there's what's quaintly called a "plaza" for about 15 lines of traffic to converge onto 2 or 3 - without any lane markings whatsoever.


...And while we're at it, why not get rid of all those petty, restrictive regulations about what side of the road you're allowed to drive on?

Has anyone else hard the argument about making motorcycle helmets non-compulsory? Apparently, this would save more lives overall, as people killed in motorcycle accidents tend to make good organ donors.

 

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