P&V LOL #3: Health advice changes with the direction of interest rates

Last Monday we introduced the mathematical concept of inverse proportions, as part of our new series Peter & Vickie’s Laws of Life (LOL).  This week’s LOL is an example of  another mathematical concept, the one-to-one-correspondence, A.K.A. bijection, and could be stated thus: There is a 0ne-to-one correspondence between the change in direction of health advice and the change in direction of the U.S. Treasury Bond Interest Rate.


Here are some examples that support this LOL (refer to the graph above):

One of the best teachers I had was Mr. Ford, a bulky, real-man-football-coach, who didn’t eat salad but always found fun, engaging ways to teach.  For a few weeks of 8th grade biology, he would begin nearly every lesson with, “When you eat a ham sandwich with lettuce …” and proceed to explain how you digest carbs, protein, etc., but the lettuce was pure cellulose, provided no nutritional value and went “right on through.”  This became a class favorite.  He’d say his line and excited hands would instantly thrust into the air as our little buts bounced off the seats.  We just couldn’t wait to finish the rant against lettuce.  In fact, the final question on that year’s final exam (worth 20 points) was an essay: “What happens when you eat a ham sandwich with lettuce?”  My buddy Austin Shelton (who played guitar in my band back then) got 25 points because, in addition to the correct answer, he added a diagram of the complete “lettuce path”, showing it coming out the ass.  The year was 1968 and interest rates were on the rise.

Then, in 1982 Frances Moore Lappé published Diet for a Small Planet, in which she, among other things, promoted the nutritional value of lettuce and interest rates made their steepest reversal of the 20th century!

Need more proof than this? OK, here goes:

In 1941 people begin using Margarine (a trans-fat) instead of butter and the war against saturated fats in our diets begins in earnest.  Interest rates reverse course.  In 2006, saturated fats are good again, trans-fats are bad, trans-fat labeling becomes mandatory and NYC bans trans-fats in restaurants.  Once again interest rates reverse course.

In 1900, doctors actually prescribed smoking to calm nerves, etc.  Smoking was thought to be good for you.  Interest rates were on the rise.  But scientists were beginning to connect smoking to health problems and in 1921 several states banned smoking.  Interest rates began to drop.  In 1940 doctors began promoting smoking again and, believe it or not, cigarette companies advertised in the JAMA.  Interest rates began to rise.  In 1960 Smokey the Bear said (in an anti-smoking campaign) “Only you can prevent forest fires.”  Interest rates began to fall.

What’s next?  Guess we’ll have to wait until interest rates rise again to see the newest health fad.  Until then, I’ll follow the advice I heard from Julia Child defending her “rich French foods”, saying that her mother always advised “Moderation in all things and a little bit of everything.” — and I’ll enjoy a little bit (or a lot) of everything at our great local restaurants — especially the ones with live music (see here).

In these days when TV chefs are more popular than rock stars, here’s a tribute (with music) to the greatest TV chef of all time.