Warning! The Top 5 Inventions That Make You Fat

cart-wheel-wikiNew technology is generally seen as being a good thing in the betterment of our lives, but what happens when a new gadget or tool has an unforeseen side effect that adversely impacts upon our quality of life? Most machines that mankind has invented have been delivered to make things easier for us, to save time or economise on labour expenditure, to increase our human efficiency in reaching a set outcome of a task; in other words, they are “labour-saving devices”.

But what happens when one such labour-saving invention gives us so much “freedom” from labour and manual work that we actually become soft and flabby and, ultimately, grotesquely unhealthy? Saving “effort” (in the form of physically breaking a sweat, walking from A to B, burning calories, building strength, simply “having to do something of a physical nature”) is all good and well, but at what point do we as human beings deem that we have saved enough time and labour in the balance against our own health and fitness? Labour-saving devices are all good and well but what do we choose to do with that time or work output that we have actually saved? Nothing? Rest idle? – thereby storing even more calories and becoming even more fat? What quality of life do we actually hope to have?

Many inventions of the past century or so are truly great in what they have allowed us to achieve. But at what price to our physical shape, health and vitality amongst the lazier members of society? Can we all be certain that in our spare “saved” 5 hours of physically-strenuous “manual-labour” time we will ALL go for a jog or run, go to the gym, play harder and faster, do more gardening, get physically active and burn off the calories?

Remember that we still eat the same number of calories as we ever did – sometimes even more. And we are all having to do less work! Joking apart, I seriously feel so strongly about this Technology vs Health battle, that I had to write this blog post to get it off my chest. There are some machines I think should either be blown out of the water, or else should come with a Health Warning, so lazy and exercise-shy they are making us…

So here are my Top 5 Inventions That Make You Fat:

  1. The Motorcar.
    Family-Runaround-Car-2012-Fiat-PandaIn the old days we happily took the time in our day to: walk to get groceries, run an errand, take the children to school, go to visit a friend at the weekend. Now we invariably just hop in the car any old minute of the day to do each of these little errands in our “hectic schedule”. Because it’s just so damn convenient. But what are we actually doing with that spare time we have shaved off our daily chores by driving, rather than walking? I see clinically obese people rolling in and out of cars puffing for breath barely able to stand long enough to get their morning newspaper from the supermarket kiosk and occasionally wish “convenient cars” could be blown out of the water. Sometimes I wonder, do we wish legs at all? One car should be more than sufficient – having a second household run-around car to “just pop to the shops” whenever we fancy a Hello! magazine / tub of Haagen-Dazs / trip to the doctor’s is no excuse. Unless your legs actually don’t work. This is bad I think because: (a) it clogs up the roads and causes pollution; (b) it makes us crabby because we’re stuck in stressful traffic jams on our bottoms not taking in the fresh air or getting any aerobic exercise; and therefore (c) it makes us fat and unhealthy and can lead to obesity and life-endangering heart problems. Fresh air doesn’t bite! – It is lovely and good for you!
  2. The Microwave.
    microwave ovenNow nobody’s saying that we want to go back to the days of spending six hours in front of an open furnace cooking bread and pies and watching over all-day-long-slow-cook stews; but microwave cooking?! – Pul-eease. I’d happily kick every microwave out of every kitchen and I have to admit whenever I go into someone’s kitchen I look around for the tell-tale splats of tomato-based product sprayed over the roof or sides of the microwave, indicating a very poor quality of lifestyle and diet indeed. Hectic worklife or busyness is often cited as an excuse – sorry, but what work can possibly be more important than standing in the kitchen for a few minutes, cooking and eating your own healthy homemade dinners? Microwaves encourage even more laziness when we’re all lazy enough already. Who has so little dignity or care for their own nutrition that they’d rather eat something in a hermetically-sealed foil “pack” (made about 5 days ago no doubt, by a latex-gloved worker in a factory in Birmingham), rather than creating something fresh from scratch using natural ingredients? Cooking a meal only takes about 30 minutes. Hardly a great sacrifice in anyone’s 24 hours…unless of course you have the next worst invention ever….
  3. The Television.
    Plasma-TV-Living-RoomMassive and completely dominating the living room so that all there is to do in a house is to slump in front of it, energyless, and watch, goggle-eyed. In my observation over the years there’s always an excuse why people seem to have to watch yet more television. “So I can keep up with the hairdresser!” “So I stay in the loop!” “So I’m not bored or lonely!” But when are we going to switch the off-button and realise we have to at some stage in our daily life burn off some of those calories we’ve not burnt off already? When are we going to stop making excuses for being so sedentary? “There’s nothing on the telly!” – is what most people say to me when they can’t decide which of the 146 “crap” channels to watch all evening. Then they carry on watching it! What about going for a walk instead then, and burning off some calories?? And just because you’ve forked out lots of money each month for the fanciest wall-mounted plasma screen television and a subscription to loads of channels you don’t really care about, doesn’t mean you have to watch it! Simply, the more time we spend on our bottoms, the more lazy, flabby and obese we all become. This is such a dangerous way of life. Leisure time is literally killing us.
  4. The Laptop.
    Again, this is similar to the television. Laptop computers are supposed to save us time, but I am not so sure they do. They are the one “tool” I most don’t understand because rather than save us any time, they actually rob us of any useful, free, quality time. They are actually designed these days as an amusement arcade to fill time, rather than to save any. Fine if you’re using them to CREATE or to physically DO WORK on them (i.e. to create valuable product for your line of work), but most times they’re sold these days just as “media consumption” machines. Most people I see using them (myself included), don’t seem to have any spare time: their eyes are perma-glued to some exciting screen-based sedentary activity, such as: watching TV programmes, looking up people on Facebook, following trending celebrities on Twitter, just general surfing and watching interminable videos on YouTube. Again, we risk sitting on our bums now for hours on end in our leisure time (evenings, mornings, weekends), without even standing up to stretch or make a cup of tea, let alone go outside for a run or game of something physically invigorating. It used to be minutes per day, but now with all the various screens, beeps, updates and our crack-cocaine-like addiction to raw data consumption and rolling news, we seriously risk spending several whole days out of each and every week – on our bums. This is another insidious Fat Machine. And the off-button on a laptop is incredibly difficult, it seems, to find.
  5. Elevators and Escalators.
    Two slightly different calorie-avoiding machines. Why not just do the decent man-like thing and run up the stairs, two-at-a-time?! Why not? – because escalators and lifts are just so much easier on our poor weary limbs and leg muscles, that’s why. But, I ask you, what point do they serve, what real time do they save, apart from being annoying when you get trapped in a lift going up when you want to go down, getting stuck in a lift where someone has left an unpleasant smell, or tripping embarrassingly over your shoes when you forget to step off the top step of the escalator? Surely we should just accept that it’s in our best health interests to actually use our legs at some point in the day, and run up the stairs two-at-a-time with a slightly fitter heart. Breaking a sweat during the day is not embarrassing, is not to be shunned: what is embarrassing is lying under a defibrillator machine in A&E before your 50th birthday with chronic heart problems.

How many calories are you avoiding expending in your day? What inventions are you hooked on that bring even more sedentary ass-based hours into your day? I’m not a dietician or exercise specialist and have not the body of an athlete, but I was taught at university (Chemical and Process Engineering) the simple mass balance equation that:

Accumulation = Input – Output + Generation – Consumption

Put simply, the more time we spend on our fat behemoth asses and the less time we actually spend standing on our legs, moving about, lifting things, carrying things, running about, the more obese we are all likely to get and the less healthy we are likely to feel. I suspect I will get lots of excuses though…it is in our human nature to conserve fat and avoid energy expenditure after all…. 😉

OK, so blowing each of these 5 human inventions out of the water might be a bit extreme (and a bit of a disservice to their well-intentioned inventors) but the question is – are they now causing us more harm than good?

Happy ass-time!