Sunday, July 18, 2010

Of the corpulent and their kids

Last Thanksgiving, Half Sigma posted about an enjoyable online FAQ regarding turkey farming. In reading it, one discovers that domesticated turkeys have become too fat to mate naturally and consequently have to be artificially inseminated. HS wonders if there's anything for the turkies' persecutors to take away from this:
People have also been, allegedly, getting fatter. I think we need to look into whether there’s a genetic explanation. Are fat people having more children than thin people? It’s well established that married people weigh more than single people, and traditionally married people have children and single people don’t. Maybe people are getting fatter for the same reason that turkeys have gotten too fat to mate. It’s all in the breeding.
Jokah Macpherson looked at the GSS for confirmation or lack thereof, but only briefly summarized what he found, so I'll quantify it. In 2004, interviewers assessed participants' weights, placing them in one of four categories. The following table shows the number of children members of each category average:


Kids
WeightMenWomen
Slim0.691.77
Average1.611.89
Stocky1.861.84
Fat1.661.87

Among women, there is little difference across weight groups. To the extent that we're breeding ourselves into corpulence, it is on account of the Y's contribution. Guys who are thin as rails get a lot less action and have far fewer kids than men with meat on their bones do. Two-thirds of skinny guys do not have any children at all. Women want men who are able to bench press them, not be bench-pressed by them!

Parenthetically, notice how women report having more children in aggregate than men do. Women are always aware of when they procreate. In contrast, some guys will go to their graves without knowing.

GSS variables used: INTRWGHT, SEX(1)(2), CHILDS


7 comments:

B Lode said...

Parenthetically, notice how women report having more children in aggregate than men do. Women are always aware of when they procreate. In contrast, some guys will go to their graves without knowing.

Yeah, that's probably it. Skinny guys procreate as much as everyone else, they just have bad memories.

(Naw just kidding. Good post.)

artied said...

Erm...could it have anything to do with the fact that gay guys take care of themselves (for various reasons) & stay slim and don't procreate as much as the fat slobs ..... just asking.....

Audacious Epigone said...

Artied,

Just 6% of male respondents were assessed by GSS interviewers as being thin. These guys aren't cut--they're skinny.

Jokah Macpherson said...

Per the GSS gay men (or, rather, men who have had sex with one or more men in the past year) are actually slightly more likely to be overweight than straight men. I guess that's one stereotype that's not true, although as the Audacious Epigone points out you have to be pretty skinny to fit, heh, into the skinniest category - basically 95th (or 5th depending on how you look at it) percentile for everyone above teenage years.

I'm curious how much of the difference in child-fathering can be explained by the slenderness of the young. It doesn't look like much. If I remember correctly there's some sort of statistical measure that shows how much of a change in one variable relative to another is caused by a third - I just don't know/remember what it is.

Also, for the record, I could bench press more than my endomorphic sophomore year roomate so a larger body size does not necessarily mean more strength.

fbj said...

Those fat dudes...did they become fat before or after parenthood?
If I look at my male work mates, they tend to fatten up after the first child arrives...
I have a vague memory of a German study that looked at the BMI of army recruits in the 60s and compared with the number of kids they had. The result? reduced fitness for the blobs.

Underachiever said...

"Per the GSS gay men (or, rather, men who have had sex with one or more men in the past year) are actually slightly more likely to be overweight than straight men."

This might be true, but a high percentage of gay men are extremely thin.

Jokah Macpherson said...

"This might be true, but a high percentage of gay men are
extremely thin."

The percentage is actually less than that for straight men but both are in the 4-6% range so it's unlikely there's any significant difference.

Using google I found a study done on 67,000 people in Massachusetts that indicated higher obesity rates in straight men than in gays, but it was a health survey that focused on the right tail of the weight distribution and didn't merit the sweeping generalization that gay men are skinnier than straight men.