Ever Heard of Cretinism?

Graham Robb’s dreams about French villagers sleeping their ways through winter in extraordinarily unhealthy bovine and swine company could perhaps be disregarded as idle fantasies. (“Why work when you can hibernate?“, IHT, Nov 26)

Actually, it’s worse than that.

Has Mr Robb ever heard of “Alpine cretinism“, a condition that made people lose muscle tone and co-ordination, restricted their height and greatly impeded their cognitive development?

“Alpine cretinism”, as the name implies, was endemic in much of the Alps until very recently, when diets finally became rich in iodine.

Rather than practicethe forgotten art of doing nothing at all for months on end“, those people may have been literally unable to do anything else.

Are there “lessons to be learned from those hibernating ancestors“? Well, there is one: get your recommended dose of iodine, daily.