What does Time change?

Overcoming Obesity in America (Time Magazine Cover page)

Overcoming Obesity in America (Time Magazine Cover page)

I was linked by Boing Boing to an interesting piece this morning listing the Top 10 Most Absurd Time Covers done by ReasonOnline.  I wanted to share because the commentary for the cover pictured to your right is rather refreshing.

Here’s a bit of an intro snippet to the concept behind making the list:

“[S]ince the British sociologist Stanley Cohen defined the moral panic phenomenon in the early 1970s as hysterical overreactions to imagined threats to social order, no publication has done a better (by which we mean worse) job of scaring the crap out of post-baby boomer America than Time, the top-selling newsweekly that’s dropping subscribers like the mythical meth mouth drops teeth.

On the Obesity panic cover Time offers up Radley Balko offers a few bits of “Settle Down” logic and science to combat those scare tactic statistics the media loves to throw around; including the 400,000 Deaths By Fat per year and Fatties Costing More for Health care bits that appear all the time when folks are trying to convince their readers of just how AWFUL fat is for each person AND THE WORLD!

I think that this one line in the critique “Moreover, while Americans have been getting fatter for 25 years” needs to take the same care in wording used for the rest of the scare tactics Time presents that teh author works on deconstructing.  After all, the media just seems to love to throw in this “Common sense” phrase without acknowledging that it too is often just used to increase the sense of panic about Expanding Waistlines OMG without putting a bit of context in there.

“Over the time period that you’ve heard that the obesity rates have quote “doubled” or gone up by 70 percent, the average weight gain is 7 to 10 pounds” “Going back forty years, by the way, we’ve also gained an inch in height”

But that is just a tiny quibble. I feel that overall it was a nice little piece to see this morning.

Science: kinda refreshing once in a while y’all. You might enjoy some of the other covers shown too.  Some interesting things to reflect upon on what is, here in Massachusetts, the third or fourth very gray and misty spring day in a row!


38 thoughts on “What does Time change?

  1. From what I understand, Mr. Balko is no fan of fat people or fat acceptance activist, he just is able to understand more science & show some more common sense than most haters & also seems to have more belief in the right of people to own their own bodies & decide how we live in them, etc. I suppose every little bit of common sense & understanding of science should be applauded. And, indeed, magazines such as Time are past masters of blowing things out of proportion & creating problems where none actually exist.

  2. The news, in all shapes, uses scare tactics to bring in readers. It seems that now more than ever, society is more paranoid. I’m sure that people die from obesity on a daily basis but so do starving people, drug addicts, people in care wrecks and, well, you get the point.

    The media grabs hold of something and blows it out of proportion so that their readers will perk up and listen. Having said all that, I know that obesity can cause problems, but not everyone who is overweight is obese. Some of the most athletic people I have ever seen are, to industry standards, obese.

  3. Wait…Pokemon was a moral panic?

    That was very interesting reading. It shows how the media take things way too seriously. Between blowing things out of proportion and literally scaring people into not wanting to leave their homes because those obese Satanic Pokemon-loving porno addicts are running wild in the streets, is it any wonder most news reporting today is taken with a grain of salt?

  4. Yes, I admit I’ve been killing people with my fat, satanistic, porn-loving ways while playing Pokemon. Damn Time for letting everyone else in on the secret.

  5. Actually, there is very little real evidence that ‘obesity’ kills anyone. Most things blamed on weight are not caused by weight & there is no illness which fat people get which does not also happen to thin people. The numbers have been so skewed that a few years ago the CDC downgraded the claim from 300,000 per year (& some were trying claim 400,000) to MAYBE around 26,000 & those deaths are also in question & greatly outweighed by the numbers of those who die in some sense because of being too thin & attendant health problems, risks. I have never actually known of or heard about one single death which could accurately be attributed to fat, but there are many which can be accurately attributed to dieting/WLS, excessive exercise, etc.

    About two years ago the King of Tonga died; he had weighed between 380 & 475 his entire adult life, so he was not SLIGHTLY fat or athletic. He was also 88 years old. So I suppose that we are supposed to believe he would have lived to be 100 if he had been thin, something Pacific Islanders seldom are. And in their own environment, when they are not infected by the fears, anxieties, & beliefs of ‘civilized’ culture, studies have shown that fat people have no increased incidence of hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, or stroke. And in my own family, the fattest members have been the longest-lived &, especially on my mother’s side, there is NO history of heart disease. Mostly we ‘don’t doubt’ that ‘obesity’ is a serious health risk & that fat kills people because so many people who make so much money off the ‘obesity panic’ constantly, loudly tell us that this is so.

    And, yes, Balko is pointing out that, on average, people in this culture are not fatter than they were years ago, but I am sure he still thinks that those of us who ARE fat are disgusting. Of course, my generation, the baby boomers, are aging & weight gain is not only normal & natural with age, but generally protective, but that fact, along with their ‘tinkering’ with the line demarking normal/overweight/obese makes them think that they have more credence for their arguments.

    And damn all you video game lovers for killing so many of us. My four-year-old granddaughter is starting to play some simple games on her mother’s WII, so I guess she has been possessed by the Devil. And I am not too shocked to see video games listed among things called moral panics because I have heard more than a few people insist that they are damaging, destructing, they rot people’s brains, etc.

  6. Yeah, the weather here really has been a pain in the neck lately. Makes my walk to the T kind of oddly pleasant though…I’ll take this over the blistering heat and humidity!

    As for the moral panic thing, I did a great post on this last year…I’ve become very interested in emergent moral panics in my own research. The Obesity Epipanic has all the signs of a traditional moral panic (or rather, moral crusade), and the media just fans the flames. They better be careful though, if some more mainstream people are wising up to their tactics: “obesity” as BMI-defined hasn’t increased since either 1999 or 2000. The CDC will have to construct another epidemic by dropping the “overweight” and “obese” thresholds again if they want to keep getting public panic money.

  7. Thanks Patsy for the awesome response to the “I know that obesity can cause problems”. Part of the trouble with things we all “know” is that they are never questioned…when brought to light it appears that; as Patsy said; really pointing out a particular death as caused by fat is tenuous at best…bah Patsy said it better 😉

    Bigliberty I agree about walking outside being more pleasant than in hot and humid weather but am starting to feel like I’m getting my winter SAD in the spring… and I worry that the thresholds for BMI are indeed slated for a future further reduction as well…

  8. Re: comment #5: Balko is pointing out that, on average, people in this culture are not fatter than they were years ago, but I am sure he still thinks that those of us who ARE fat are disgusting.

    That seems unfair. I’ve been reading Mr. Balko’s blog (The Agitator) for years, and I have never seen him use the word “disgusting” regarding fat people. Do you have any proof to back this up?

  9. Sorry, Mich, no, I don’t. I have only actually heard of him from other people. I guess I was jumping to conclusions there from what I had been told…that he pretty much believed the drivel we are fed that those who ARE fat are so because of ‘overeating’, etc., & also I guess because it seems most people who are in favor of scientific accuracy, giving proper information, etc., do still believe that fat is bad, ugly, etc. I have read a few things here & there by people proclaiming how idiotic BMI is, for instance, but they show their own photos & go on to make it clear that BMI is only idiotic if one is lean, muscular, & athletic. I will check out Mr. Balko’s blog & see for myself what his tone is. It was years ago that someone referred to him & I went on the impression that I got from what was said then….on a fat bulletin board where I have not read or posted in several years. If I am mistaken about him, I owe him an apology. I will check him out & see what I think.

    One last thing about ‘mortality & fat’…The greatest single risk factor for early death is being male, but no one is suggesting that men take female hormones or have sex change surgery. However, studies have shown that, at any given age until we get QUITE old, a fat person’s risk of dying in any particular year is quite small & that a woman who weighs 350 pounds or more has an excellent chance of outliving a lean man (say, 6’, 170 pounds as an example) by 3 or 4 years, which, since average life expectancy for men is up to about 76 for men, gives that 350-pound woman a life expectancy of 79 or 80. And statistics aside, a remarkable number of men do okay, including fat men; I personally have two fat brothers (both have ranged between 250 & 270 for years & have been fat all their lives) in their 70’s who are still alive & kicking.

  10. I did skim through Balko’s blog & I agree with a lot of what he says, his ‘libertarian with a small ‘l’ beliefs, that our bodies & lives belong to us to live in as we please, that we need less government intervention & ‘nanny-statism’, etc., but I will reserve my judgment on him. He did write an article about Walmart actually helping to ‘reduce obesity’ in some neighborhoods by making fresh produce more affordable, etc., & in article make reference to expecting to go to Walmart & see lot of ‘overweight women in polyester pants, fat kids, morbidly obese men”, etc., all of which I do see when I get groceries at my local Superwalmart. I caught some references to working out, which many of us of all sizes do, & also ads recommending almonds as a ‘healthy’ snack & some energy drink he likes, etc., but those are just impressions. I didn’t have the patience to read through ALL the archives. He does write some good stuff.

  11. Hmm, this is curious. Or maybe I should say, I’m curious. I agree that the media hypes everything. I don’t even read newspapers or mags. And I understand that most of you are tired from years spent trying thing after thing after thing that did not work. Let me include, I have a weight problem. Earlier this year I hit 180lbs, I am now fat. So don’t misunderstand me thinking I’m some thin person, here to flame you all for your transgressions. I’m also not here to talk with you at length about some amazing new ‘thing’ I’m doing that’s causing my weight to magically melt away. I’m not looking for web-friends to share dieting tips with either.

    Having said all that, let me get back to my confusion. How & Why. Cause & Effect. The Time article was correct. We do have an issue with obesity in America. Now, don’t jerk my comment off your site before you at least finish reading it. I have a purpose for all my actions, trust me. Before you blast me with any one of a million defensive comments back, hear me out. As you can see, I am following the rules. I’m trying to get & give information about weight issues. The problem is less about the Time piece, or the evil weight industry money making machine & more about how come no one is talking about the right things.

    What if. What if the science that is published in main stream america is wrong. What if the scientific facts are so grossly misinterpreted that we no longer have factual information to use any more. Look, I am angry about the obesity problem. I was before I became overweight, and I’m even more so now. Doctors should be held more accountable for their diagnosis, the government should be responsible enough to give us real information. Scientists should be honest about products that are causing obesity.

    Being fat is not about being lazy, or eating too much or not eating enough yogurt & celery, or not exercising enough. Being fat is a symptom of a metabolism that is not functioning effectively. We have science that proves that. But general practitioner doctors usually don’t know enough to effectively treat a metabolic disorder. But they pretend they do & take our money and frankly, do not care.

    Something in our diets have changed over the last 50 years. But, instead of the doctors & lawmakers & scientists looking at what’s honestly to blame, they force-feed us lies about exercise & diet fads while ripping us off continually.

    And sadly,the people who are most effected by the problem are too tired, misguided and discouraged to do anything about it. Acceptance groups are a good thing, but there can be a bad side to it as well. I hope you can all be objective enough to let me finish.

    I’ve been on many, many of this type of sites over the last week, and here is what concerns me. You have all lost your power.

    And, I’m confused because I don’t understand how it happened. I want to stand before you, right now, jumping up & down, begging you to not give up. Please don’t give up. This is a fight we can win. There aren’t many of them left in the world, but this one, this one we can win.

    If we stay strong, if we don’t give up. And I’m not talking about exercising more, or dieting better. I’m talking about demanding, and talking really loud, and not settling.

    You don’t need acceptance, you are the one that determines your worth. Have any of you gone to your doctors and said: Excuse me but, this isn’t working. This isn’t right for me. We need to keep looking for the right answer. Have any of you stood up for yourself and said, No, Dr. Iknoweverything, It’s not about more exercise & I am following the eating plan that you gave me, it’s still not working, we need to keep looking for the solution. If you’re doctor hasn’t found a real solution to your weight problem, change doctors. You’ll know that the solution is right, because you’ll slowly, but easily lose the weight.

    Are you perusing the web looking for love & acceptance, or reading over all the research that’s been done in an attempt to find out what WILL work for you so you can go back to (or start) living a (yep, I’m gonna say it) NORMAL life?

    What saddens me about reading your stuff is not that you are overweight or that you’re easy targets for all the hateful idiots on the web that have no life, but that you’ve lost your power. AND you are totally ok with that.

    So there is the information that I am giving. The information that I want to get is to know how many of you have had a real, useful conversations with your doctor about your metabolism? And are any of you seeing either an internist or endocrinologist?

    The reason I ask is that I am finding out our thyriod does alot more that most doctors understand. Also, the food we eat changes our hormone level on a much greater scale that most doctors know. I bet many of you suffer from depression & lethargicness. It’s because of our ever-changing hormone levels that ‘normal’ exercise does not work. How many of you drink diet soda? The chemical sweeteners in the diet soda causes metabolic syndrome.

    It would make me happy if someone, anyone, responded objectively to my comment.

    Here’s an interesting medical journal write up on the problem. (it’s not a diet site, it’s a research-science site on a study out of Canada)tp://www.nutritionandmetabolism.com/content/2/1/5#IDAXS45E

    • Veronica if you’re indeed still waiting for a response I think another blogger did a FANTASTIC job of addressing one of the huge concerns it seems that you have here: http://www.therotund.com/?p=627. As for “Normal” I just posted on that as well. I’m glad you’re not “saddened” that I’m overweight (*snort*) but really I’m not a “dieting sister”, as I explained before. I’m not now nor will I ever again be pursuing weight loss or some REASON to defend against and cure up my “Being Fat At You”. I’m not here looking for OTHER ways beyond media-hyped methods to “Cure” my fat. The real disconnect that it sounds like you’re having in reading what is here and elsewhere in the fat-o-sphere is that I don’t feel FAT is bad. I’m NOT TRYING (nor WILL I TRY) to “cure” it. There is nothing WRONG with my body in the size or shape it has. I feed myself well, exercise for fun and strength and you know what? At the end of the day I feel good. That IS normal. Trying to define normal for each person is where we get into trouble. So if you’re truly interested in hearing what we have to say (what I have to say) please do stick around. But understand that what I’m doing here IS being powerful in my own way. I am not being quiet. I am not silenced. I am a woman; a FAT woman; telling the world that she’s fat and there’s NOTHING inherently wrong with it (nor is it anyone’s business at any rate!). So does that answer a bit where I’m coming from? 🙂

      • I appreciate you response. You missed my point. I may have not made myself clear, I do that sometimes. Let me try again, I think our interaction will be much more enjoyable for me if you at least understand where I am. I don’t wish to fat-bash you or take away from your power, please believe me.

        Through my weight-loss struggle (& I don’t want to talk about weight loss) I am beginning to see that the information about metabolism is very, very wrong. But I only have my information to go on. I thought (wrongly I know now) that I might find a few others that had the same problem. Not to share dieting tips with, but just to fill in some blanks for me as I continue my research whilst getting through the really long wait as my Dr’s adjust my med levels.

        I also wanted to talk about the poor med care I (& many others) are receiving. I am trying to find a way to get the media to consider looking at the research they have yet to ignore.

        So, as you can see, I am not trying to be your dieting-buddy. Is it a little bit clear now?

        And please don’t think I want to influence you (or anyone) to lose weight or diet. I was merely saying that based on the research I have found, it is not because of laziness or gluttony that many people cannot lose weight. Thought maybe that might be empowering to anyone thinking that they’re not trying hard enough.

        Wouldn’t that last paragraph fit in to a fat acceptance response?

        • Sorry if I was a bit snippy Veronica. I’m new to trying to respond to folks who aren’t either totally on-board or complete “YOU SUCK FATTY trollers” so this is new territory for me; bear with me.

          I do agree with your suggestion that metabolism could very well be an additional factor to consider in the conversation of “WHY” regarding fat. Yet as much research may exist to point to this factor adding to the plethora of non-exercise or food-intake related “reasons” that people can be and are fat; there is even more research pointing to the reality that even IF we knew WHY people are fat; that still doesn’t mean cutting back on calories or increasing exercise would ever serve to permanently eliminate said fat.

          Getting doctors to address real issues IS a problem. Getting the media to not focus ONLY on “FAT! WILL KILLZ YOU!” and offering all the shady ways to go about trying to get rid of that fat is important. As Patsy pointed out though I don’t just feel we’re being sold the wrong methods or means of weight loss; I feel that we’re being sold on the idea that fat is bad; which underlies the entire system.

          You don’t need to fit into any pre-made “fat acceptance” response Veronica. I’m not even sure there is one sort of “Fat acceptance” voice that could be claimed what with the myriad of different views expressed just in this circle of blogs alone here on the fat-o-sphere and fat chat feeds. It is important to get people talking. I feel that’s what we’re doing.

          • April – Here is an example of some of the research the media overlooks: http://www.nutritionandmetabolism.com/content/2/1/5#IDAXS45E.

            With my background as a weight lifter & avid cyclist, I have added insight to how food affects our metabolism, as well as how our metabolism works to keep up alive. We may not have a clear understanding of how our bodies have adapted now that we hunt for nutrition at the grocery store…

            What if we were able to eat normal amounts of food (as most of you here probably do) and exercise a little without being fanatical (again, I bet many of you do) and our bodies responded properly???

            Would love to hear your thoughts on that!!

          • Veronica,

            I’ve been following this conversation with some interest. Could I ask for clarification on one thing?

            Could you please explain how a body should ‘properly’ respond to normal amounts of food (by which I assume you mean enough to relieve hunger for the individual) and moderate exercise?

            In other words, what is your definition of the ideal physical outcome of a optimal metabolism?

            I think your explanation would help me understand exactly where you’re coming from.


          • Spoonfork – keep in mind I am not a doctor or scientist. I’m also not saying that I know it all.

            A body whose metabolism responds normal should be able to eat a diet that has a good mix of nutrients. Normal food, not some crazy fad diet. Calorie amounts should be based on the type of work the person does, and how much exercise they enjoy doing & have time for. (Many overly weighted people I know don’t eat that much. I was always able to out eat them when I was thin.)

            Moderate exercise to me is 45 minutes twice a week.

            And the outcome would be for that person to be on the high side of the medical definition of ‘normal’ weight, (because I don’t believe they are that accurate)(and don’t misunderstand my use of the word normal, please)

            I should be able to eat normal food, not excessive amounts or junk food, or all sugary foods, but normal foods. And I should be able to do ‘normal’ amounts of exercise, like I stated above. And if I gained 5 lbs, I should be able to do a little more exercise, or cut back on my calories a little bit for say, a week or two, and go back to the weight I was at.

            Last november, I decided I would do what ever it took just to find out what my body needed to lose weight, as an experiment. (I wanted to see if something was wrong with me or if I was just lazy) So, I ate only healthy food for 6 weeks. And I rode my bike, at 15amph for 3 hours 6 days a week, and lost 3 lbs.

            That is not ‘normal’. I went to a doctor, who looked at me & said he seriously doubted I had a thyroid problem, I probably just ate too much food & I’m old. (he also commented that with my lifelong habit of eating steak & eggs regularly, I should be way more concerned with cholesterol levels.) Well my thyroid IS slow, and my cholesterol is good, 160)

            So, along with going to a new doctor, I also started to experiment with the foods that I ate, becuase a friend of mine told me about a wheat allergy he was suffering from, we had alot of the same symptoms. Not restricting my calories, but removing certain foods from my diet.

            I(along with my doctors help) found that certain foods made me feel depressed and anxious. Certain foods made me feel energetic. Some foods made it hard to concentrate and some made it easier.

            This was very interesting information for me. Th doctor doesn’t have a ‘test’ he can run for a wheat allergy. The only way he can find it is to have me remove all wheat products from my diet, then reintroduce them one at a time, to see the reaction of each. That is how we confirmed my allergy.

            I don’t know if I answered your question sufficiently, but I tried.

            Let me know where you think I’m coming from, I’d be interested in hearing that. Gotta go, I have a 45 mile bike ride at 7am. (man, I am going to suffer now…)

            PS, I did not say my 6 week ordeal with exercise was normal. I’m not an exercise fanatic. I needed to take it to that extreme only to isolate the problem. That amount of riding would kill anyone, even me ; )

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  13. Beautifully put reply, April, & the above post is an example of the many fat or somewhat fat people in this culture who swallow almost all the lies about fat & health, eating, etc. I hope that someday Veronica will learn better than to hold onto the myths & misinformation into which she is putting faith now, but if not, she is unfortunately in good company, since about 95-98% of fat people still believe that they are in danger of early death, unhealthy, ugly, etc, & must DO something about themselves. We are an admittedly small cadres of rebels, but hopefully our numbers are growing & certainly our resolve is strong. We have definitely NOT ‘lost our power’, but, with greater fat & self-acceptance, self-esteem, with more accurate scientific information & greater confidence in our life path, we gain more power every day, at least as individuals & small, mutually supportive groups. Now if we could only bring everyone in this insane culture the same freedom & power, how much happier & healthier everyone would be.

    Just for the record, the majority of fat people will live as long as the majority of thin people & in some cases longer, but we will live much more happily & get more from the experience if we love & accept ourselves, celebrate our beauty, & do not waste our time, energy, & health in vain attempts to be someone we are not.

    • Patsy – did you even read my comment???

      “What if. What if the science that is published in main stream america is wrong. What if the scientific facts are so grossly misinterpreted that we no longer have factual information to use any more. Look, I am angry about the obesity problem. I was before I became overweight, and I’m even more so now. Doctors should be held more accountable for their diagnosis, the government should be responsible enough to give us real information. Scientists should be honest about products that are causing obesity.

      Being fat is not about being lazy, or eating too much or not eating enough yogurt & celery, or not exercising enough. Being fat is a symptom of a metabolism that is not functioning effectively. We have science that proves that. But general practitioner doctors usually don’t know enough to effectively treat a metabolic disorder. But they pretend they do & take our money and frankly, do not care.”

      I’m just sayin’.

  14. Being fat may also not be about metabolism not functioning properly, as you put it, Veronica. In fact, there is strong evidence that body size is every bit as genetic & inherited as height or hair or eye color, that we are designed to come in widely different sizes & shapes. I don’t c consider fat to be a ‘symptom’ of anything except the genes I have inherited from many generations of people, many of whom have lived well into their 80’s or 90’s, as much a natural part of me as my height. I have cerebral palsy; THAT is a birth defect, though it doesn’t make me a defective human being. Fat is just the way I am made. I would suspect, from what I have read & been told by others who know the science better than I do, that ‘metabolic disorders’ are rare & that most of us are just fat because we are fat because we are fat. There is no cure for it because there doesn’t need to be one.

    I am part of a very large aging generation. Most of us gain some weight with aging, which is natural & protective & has been a damn good survival mechanism. Most serious illnesses come with aging & those who have some meat on their bones deal with them better & survive longer &, as we continue to age & move on toward being OLD, some shrinking happens as part of the aging process. If we respect our natural bodies, leave them alone, & stop living at war with them, they tend to do what they are supposed to do, as individual bodies. That diets are so heavily sold is a sign of the hatred & prejudice in our culture & the desire of many to take full advantage of the fears & insecurities of others. That they don’t work is a huge sign that they are not supposed to work.

    No disrespect to you, Veronica, but I have been educating myself on fat/health & related topics & working seriously on fat & self-acceptance for over 30 years. Your viewpoint may not be as extreme as those who flat-out hate us & believe we are lazy, gluttonous slobs, but you still believe deeply that being fat is BAD, WRONG, & a problem which must be solved. That is still part of the belief system which feeds the weight loss industry & undermines the health, happiness, freedom, & access to all the world offers of fat people. It is fine to be angry as hell at those who lie to us, manipulate & take advantage of us, try to frighten & bully us with misinformation & snake oil sales tactics, but some of us do not believe that it is just that they are selling the WRONG snake oil, but that they are still out there emphasizing the necessity of selling ANY at all. Energy & resources should be devoted to curing diseases; fat is not one.

    • I will never view someone disagreeing with me as disrespectful. I just don’t think you are taking the time to really read what i said. But that’s ok. I’m good with that.

  15. Just one more thing to add. I would recommend to anyone reading/posting here that you read the excellent analyses of scientific studies at http://www.junkfoodscience.com as Sandy explains things much better & in more depth, with more scientific detail than I can. The posts about studies showing factors of ‘the obesity paradox’ are particularly excellent & I just read another this morning which is especally significant to me as I approach my 60th birthday, the evidence found in study after study on many thousands of people over the past more than 40 years showing that it is indeed not only normal & natural for many of us to be fat, but that some weight gain with aging is also natural & protective & that people who do gain weight with age are overall healthier & tend to live longer than those who are very thin or who lose weight. Indeed, study after study shows that as we age, losing weight increasing our risks of early mortality by several hundred percent. Sorry, folks, I am not on that train search of the magic weight loss bullet. I will live as well & fully as I always have in the body I have & hopefully follow in the footsteps of my fat relatives who have lived into their late 80’s & 90’s. Fat is not a killer disease &, despite all the propaganda to the contrary, fat people are not dying young in droves, while those who devote their lives to losing weight over & over or adopting new ‘lifestyles’ to keep it off frequently ARE dying quite young.

    The fact that the culture we live in adores & nearly deifies the few with genes to be very thin, that is not the norm for most people & when you consider it, it makes sense that it is not. Being very thin & having the metabolism of a human bird is not a great survival trait & those who can survive on less & store energy in their bodies have been likely to survive longer & to pass on their genes. If it were not for the thrifty genes of the fat ones, the human race would have become extinct long ago & I fear that, if the ones who are pushing universal slenderness as the be-all of modern life have their way, it won’t be too much longer before our species IS extinct.

    And as far as I know, Veronica, for the majority of people, when we eat & exercise ‘normally’, our bodies DO respond properly for each person’s individual makeup. Your statement presumes again that there is a ‘right’ & a ‘wrong’ way for bodies to be, perform, & look & I do not.

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  17. Hi Veronica!

    I’m not the best person to talk to these points because, unlike most people who write in the fat-o-sphere, I actually eat pretty badly and I am flat out lazy. I walk my dog because I don’t have a fenced- in yard. I enjoy exercise, I just don’t do much about it. The same is true of sleep – also a factor in metabolic changes that is under-reported and underappreciated. I LOVE it, I just don’t do it. I’m also not all that fat. I’m overweight according to BMI, but I’m lucky in that at least 5 pounds are in my boobs so people tend not to notice my other bulges. I’m not passionate about HAES, and I frankly don’t know as much as April, Patsy, or probably anyone who is active on these blogs. I’m still going to put in my 2 cents because this is a free country and I can.

    I think it’s a sensible hypothesis that most people’s metabolism has been fubared by nutritional changes. And I also have no doubt that people in general are eating more processed food and are way more sedentary than is healthy. I say this based on not on any science, just on going to my grocery store and seeing the options. Our (American – can’t speak to any other) society is not set up to make movement easy – what I wouldn’t give for sidewalks in my neighborhood, or interesting places to walk to. Hell, I’d even pay taxes to get them! I will also not argue with you about the fact that side effects from these changes – beyond weight gain, hypertension, cardiovascular problems and type 2 diabetes – are not well known or understood. I know that drug companies are studying metabolic changes in the hopes of finding things they can fix. I hope that someone is studying the basic science behind it, but I wouldn’t put money on it. Basic science doesn’t make all that much money and often isn’t immediately usable.

    That said, I actually think that the article to which you linked proposes information that has been covered pretty extensively in the media. There is even a response campaign from the Corn Refiners Association (http://www.sweetsurprise.com/). [I really recommend the spoofs of this campaign on YouTube] In fact, I think that it’s pretty well established in the dieting/food media that the healthiest diet is that closest to what nature has made. What hasn’t been done is making healthy living an easy option. Eating well, with a healthy mix of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meat or non-animal protein, will cost you either time or money (or most likely both.) The same is true of exercise.

    To Patsy, April, and any other blogger who can – and likely will – correct me about the science: Please do. I just don’t know that the science that currently exists about metabolism is complete, although I’m sure there is much more out there that I don’t know about. I think what Veronica is looking for is more of those studies, and I’d love to hear about them too. While I don’t have a problem (yet) there are people I love whose endocrine systems are completely out of whack, and who are suffering as a result.

    And Veronica (assuming you’ve made it this far) – thank you for posting. The problem with being able to choose what we read is that places can become echo chambers as a result. Like exercising my body, I know that listening to arguments is healthy for me, but that doesn’t mean that I’ll go out of my way to do it. (Good lord, have I really become that lazy? I really need to start getting out more.)

  18. Also, to Patsy: I love that you took the time to look into Mr. Balko when presented with Mich’s rebuke. Not only did you look at the blog, you took the time to think and post about it. That says alot about you and I really appreciate and admire it.

    • Wriggles – I don’t know if I understand your question. I define myself as fat because I am fat. I didn’t take your question as an insult. Do you mean why haven’t I already lost the weight?? Like why am I still fat?

      • wriggles – In a reaction to some stress in my life, I habitually ate a pint of ice cream every day for a little over a year. Also was eating in restaurants alot.

        Why do you ask???

  19. Veronica,

    Why do you ask???

    What I’m getting at is that your reading of fat acceptance as ‘giving up’ is reducing it to far less than it is (oh the irony!).

    It is not that we’re tired of trying different things that don’t work, it’s that we’ve tried one thing-in many guises- over and over again, and have finally recognised the truth of that definition of madness- doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result.

    We interpret metabolism too narrowly.

    If we see weight gain or fatness as a metabolic adjustment, then cutting calories is a metabolic adjustment, out body adjusts to that adjustment, we then consciously adjust to our body’s adjustment to our adjustment of the initial adjustment- which was weight gain/fatness, and so it goes on ad infinitum.

    That’s part of the tiredness you mentioned. The burden of stigma could itself cause adjustment, as you mentioned in your case in the form of stress, it can also repress the desire to move and increase appetite, a bit like your own experience.

    In my case, I discovered- after I stopped trying to lifestyle change, that when I even think of reducing calories, my mood plummets, like when you get into a lift (elevator) at the top floor and go down to the basement.

    It is utterly useless, the best thing I can do is what I’m in the process of doing, and that is to stop.

    Not everyone reacts exactly the same, but the fact is we are all still fat.

    • wriggles – I understand what you are saying. Please remember, the opinion of ‘giving up’ was from the many, many FA sites I went to. I am learning a different perspective at this site as many of you have been patient enough to share with me.

      You & I are in different places. I cannot assume to know what weight loss or calorie consumption or exercise you have done that has succeeded or failed, only you know that.

      I caused my weight gain. The increase of ice cream consumption immediately after quitting smoking, immediately after hysterectomy surgery, during an emotional change in my life was more than my body could handle. I gained 40 lbs in 1 yr.

      But other people are different. I have always been (relatively) thin all my life. Geez, I used to body-build. I don’t know what it is like to be overweight for an extended period of time.

      That means I don’t have an understanding of what it is like for you, or April, or Patsy. But I like hearing about you all. It educates me…. It’s good.

      • Veronica,

        You & I are in different places.

        More than that, we understand the same facts differently and have different interpretations of those facts. So it’s difficult for you to pick up what I’m getting at, as it is for me to explain it to you.

        For instance when you refer to; … weight loss or calorie consumption or exercise… ,
        as I said before, this is one thing, reducing calories, either by manipulating what you eat or expending calories i.e. from exercise.

        It is one thing, that producing the same result to such a predictable extent, that if it was almost anything else, it would be seen as definitive.

        This one thing is itself a metabolic adjustment-or attempt at it- it is viewed by our bodies as such a threat that it will sacrifice a lot to thwart it; that’s ‘the fight’ you speak of.

        Another way of saying that is; what creates weight, is what defeats our attempts to recreating it according to our dictats.

        I recognise that you maybe a basically slim person who has fattened, similarily, some fat people are able to slim; in both cases there is a tendency to return to the status quo if the body can, that is it’s imperative.

        Please remember, the opinion of ‘giving up’ was from the many, many FA sites I went to.

        Obviously, I cannot speak for others, but I think it’s important for those who’s views are more mainstream than FA to remember that if the object is to reverse fatness-or ‘obesity’ as they insist on calling it.

        Then that is the priority, not how it’s done .

        It is clear that their calorie manipulation has failed to turn fat people into thin, therefore it is they who’ve given up on moving on to something that does work-which is what you do when something doesn’t work.

        It is they who insist not just that it is this way, but that it must be this way and should be the way and no other way is possible or should be. The question is why?

        None of them will answer this.

        If you say to them, diets don’t work, but who cares, let’s find something else for those who want it, they say not an option.

        I appreciate you being an all to rare example that it is possible to disagree honourably , that is all I can really ask of anyone.

      • wriggles – Part of the problem is I may not be explaining myself properly.

        Weight loss isn’t about calories. It’s about our metabolism.

        If a persons metabolism is off, it doesn’t matter how few calories they consume or how much exercise they do – they are not going to lose weight.

        This is my point. Now giving up would be accepting what your doctor tells you (your fine, you just need to diet & exercise more).

        The ‘fight’ needs to be with the healthcare system. These doctors that don’t properly diagnose the problems, because they either don’t have the right knowledge or don’t take enough time. They have no accountability.

        And overweight women leave the doctor’s office, go home and feel bad about themselves because they can’t ‘lose the weight’.

        About your comment, I respect intellegent people sharing their differing views with me. I read your comment & I just don’t understand what you are saying. Not because you didn’t explain it well, it just didn’t get through. I will continue to reread your reply & see if I get it.


  20. Veronica,

    I will continue to reread your reply & see if I get it.

    Feel free to ask me any questions, you can get in touch via my blog if you prefer.

  21. Veronica, I know you believe that being fat is a metabolic disorder. I know you believe that failing to do something about it is giving up.

    I don’t agree with either premise.

    I have five generations of family photos on my wall. They date back to shortly after the Civil war up to the present day. Over ninety per cent of the people in those photographs are fat. They’ve been everything from coal miners to accountants, farmers to free lance writers, and they are nearly all the same shape.

    According to you, nearly every one of us has suffered from a metabolic disorder.

    All but a handful lived to be at least ninety. Those who didn’t, well, they were like my father who drowned at 74. Nearly all of them lived long lives and remained vital, active people to the end.

    So if they were all suffering from a metabolic disorder (which seems a bit unlikely to me, if only because there were so many of them), it doesn’t appear to have done them much harm.

    I have not ‘given up’ on anything. I have chosen to love and embrace the body I have. Giving up suggests dissatisfaction and depression. What I am doing gives me contentment and frees me from self-loathing. It allows me to look in the mirror and see all the strong, funny, determined, talented, quirky fat people I come from and love them, too. It allows me to celebrate me. It allows me to take good care of me without negativity and carping at myself.

    And if I’m lucky, I’ll be just like all the other fat people in my family, and live a long, productive, healthy life.

    Why mess with what’s worked for so many generations of people I love?

    I do not see anything that needs fixing.

    • Twistie – Thanks for disagreeing me, and adding your ‘why’. That enables me to learn outside of my own experience.

      As I’ve said before, I don’t know everything. My family history didn’t involve obesity so your info about it is much better than mine.

      And my reason for roaming around asking all these questions is to get other info to educate myself. Your info was very helpful because it is so different from what I have heard from others. This rounds it out a bit, which is important to me!!

      Can I clarify one thing though?

      ‘According to you, nearly every one of us has suffered from a metabolic disorder.’

      Many people struggling with weight problems & finding they are unable to lose weight with ‘reasonable eating & exercise’ MAY have a metabolic problem that has gone undetected, because many doctors do not know enough about metabolicc issues.

      @vesta44 outlines it much better than I here: http://fathealth.wordpress.com/2009/06/18/hypothyroid-nah-just-eat-better-move-more/

      And please don’t forget, if you are overweight and happy with that, then my comments do not apply to you. (I don’t believe that everyone that is overweight is unhappy or needs to be fixed.)

      Thanks for your reply…

  22. Pingback: Fun with old Science News Letter article titles « I AM in shape. ROUND is a shape.

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