Big Brother Is Watching Your Fat Kids

All right, I was instructed to write a “glorious rant” about this, but quite frankly, I’m plumb tuckered out, so I’m just gonna make with the cross-postage and quote other people extensively.

The subject is Fat Kids And What We’re Gonna Do About Them. I’ll fill you in after the jump in on what a bunch of wankers, some of them representing government agencies, are suggesting, but let’s start off with my expert advice on What To Do About Fat Kids: hug them. They damn well need it these days.

So an “Expert Committee” composed of reps from the AMA, CDC, and HHS has released new recommendations for managing the weight of children and teens. Here’s the short version: all kids and teens with a weight above the 85th percentile (going by rassafrassin’ BMI, natch) must receive a “special intervention.” Stage 1: new diet, more exercise. If that doesn’t make the kid thin after 3-6 months, we move to Stage 2: a strict low-cal, low-fat diet, supervised exercise, restrictions on TV time, and “increased monitoring by provider and/or family.” If they aren’t losing enough after another 3-6 months,

The child or teen is be placed in a structured behavioral modification program, which includes monitoring of their eating and activity, and the primary care provider and family is be involved in the behavioral modification.

All of which would be okay if, you know, too much food and lack of exercise were the only things that make kids fat, and if diets made fat people thin, and if growing kids didn’t need fat and calories to do that whole growing thing, and if it weren’t, you know, government agencies exerting control over citizens’ bodies. And maybe if they specified what the fuck a “structured behavioral modification program” is instead of just dangling that out there. And if fat weren’t primarily genetic. And if BMI were a reliable measure of “healthy” weight, especially in children. And if weight itself were really a huge health problem, which it’s not. And… wait, no, this is just straight up NOT OKAY. Nothing could make it okay.

But wait, that’s not all! I wrote this at my own blog this morning:

Another reason not to have children: If they’re fat, they could be taken away from me.

The News said that doctors are “calling for the government to enact stricter child protection laws and take action against the parents of obese children under 12” and that they should be considered guilty of neglect.

I mean, you all knew we were already moving in that direction, right? Now somebody’s come right out and said this should be policy. In Scotland, granted, but that doesn’t comfort me. I trust that Americans won’t let anyone else be Number One in Fatphobia for long.

What I find most galling is this quote from the doctor who’s suggesting that obesity be considered “parental neglect”:

I would say that having a child who is overweight poses as much a danger to their health as a child who is suffering malnutrition, or arguably more risk.

That is just so stunningly, offensively (on so many levels) wrong, I don’t even know where to begin. Being overweight is an arguably greater risk than starving? Are you fucking kidding me?

Apart from that bit of jaw-droppingly bad science, Sandy sums up the big pile of wrong better than I could:

We would need no other evidence of just how strong the social morality of health and wellness has become than if healthcare professionals and consumers fail to resist these unsound measures en masse. The soundest research for more than half a century has shown that obesity is not caused by “unhealthy” eating or sloth; that fat and thin children and adults eat and act no differently — and not nearly as badly as is being sold in media; that our children have never been healthier; and that no childhood obesity intervention has ever been able to show long-term effectiveness, only harm. The new guidelines for managing weights, diets and activities of U.S. children is a turning point in our country — a test of science over beliefs and agendas.

Fat Fu also picked up on all this and dissected it quite brilliantly, including noticing this humdinger: “The magnitude of the obesity epidemic is too great to wait for evidence-based guidelines before increasing efforts focused on prevention and intervention.”

The “threat” is too great to wait for evidence. There ain’t enough *headdesk* in the world.

I’ll leave you with two quotes from her, which pretty much sum it all up:

So even though we’re always told that fat is just a matter of “good nutrition and exercise,” good nutrition and exercise are apparently not good enough. Even if all the things that are supposed to “prevent” fat don’t prevent fat, then extreme measures must be taken to make prevention “work.” Which means, in the end, that “prevention” just amounts to forcing on kids the same weight loss strategies that don’t work on adults.

and

So, it’s pretty much exactly what the critics have been saying. This war on obesity is a panic. It’s the panic that’s driving it, and not evidence. There’s no more evidence that fat can be “prevented” than there ever was that it can be “cured.”

No, wait, actually that’s way too nice to sum it all up. I’ll leave you with The Rotund instead:

I’m all for body autonomy. You can do whatever you want with your body because I respect your right as a human being to have free will and be self-regulated. I am not going to tell you, as an adult, not to go on a diet or pursue whatever it is that will make you happy with your body. I might not want to be involved in your diet talk, but I’m not here to tell you not to do it, either.

But if you want to put your goddamn kid on a highly restricted diet and teach them about shame and body-hatred and why they are bad people because they do not meet the useless numbers on the BMI chart? You want to tell your kid s/he is lying to you about what they ate because otherwise they’d be losing weight? We’re going to have a serious problem. And don’t try to placate me with “well, it’s medically supervised and the doctor says it is okay!” because, honestly? That doesn’t generally mean shit.

216 Comments

Filed under 09_kate_harding

216 responses to “Big Brother Is Watching Your Fat Kids

  1. cp

    Hear, hear.

    The fat epidemic/war on obesity is a load of bullsh*t. This makes me SO angry.

    Yet another recommendation for some sanity, in “The Obesity Myth” by Paul Campos.

    Weight is not a problem. Lack of activity is likely to be a problem. And fixing activity will probably NOT do anything about weight, but it will help kids be healthier. Putting them on highly restrictive diets is insane. They’re growing, ffs!

    Welcome to the Brave New Eating Disordered World.

  2. But we have to make sure they know how fat they are, and that being fat makes them awful people. How will they know unless their doctors put them on strict, calorie-restricted diets? It’s not like we don’t have TV and magazines and movies and fashion designers and oh, everything to tell them.

  3. What is your opinion of former Arkansas Governor Huckabee and his fat kid eradication program in school? Body fat indices, etc.? Fat report cards to the parents (like they don’t know they have a fat kid!).

    Is it a good thing or a bad thing?

  4. “What is your opinion of former Arkansas Governor Huckabee and his fat kid eradication program in school?”

    Do you want my personal or my professional opinion?

  5. What is your opinion of former Arkansas Governor Huckabee

    Loathsome in his every endeavor.

  6. Oh — thanks Jack — you gave both on my behalf.

  7. Casket Patch Kids.

    Is anyone watching Roseanne Barr’s standup routine on the tube right now?

    Crazy shit.

  8. We can always rely on Jack for a double whammy.

  9. ROSEANNE BARR FUCKIN’ ROCKS!!!

  10. It’s called “Blonde & Bitchin” on HBO Comedy.

  11. Turn off the a/c, take away video games and the computer. Hand the kid a paintbrush and paint bases on the street.

    Once dry, give the kid a playground ball and draft neighborhood kids for one mean game of kickball.

    Play-the old fashioned way.

  12. Ivory Bill Woodpecker

    To adapt a phrase of Barry Goldwater’s, I think every fat kid in Arkansas should kick Suckabee right in the ass. :)

    I am SO glad this fookin’ arsehole [Hi, Mr. S] is not my governor any longer!

    [Original Goldwater: “I think every good Christian should kick Falwell right in the ass.” Hardline conservative though Goldwater was, he endeared himself to me with that comment.] :D

  13. Brian

    This is one of the few times I’m going to have to disagree. In my case, it *was* bad parental control of food. It *was* bad diet. When I was 12, I’d eat an entire box of chocolate covered granola bars in a day, go through a 24 pack of Coke in 2, I’d get the super sized meals at Mcdonald’s and still be hungry. I’m still overweight, but I’m lucky I didn’t die, let alone develop diabetes or have a heart attack.

    Parents are, if not the sole providers of food, they are the primary source. If you have a six year old that always wants fried chicken, he’s not going to *get* fried chicken unless you give it to him. It’s the parents’ money, it’s the parents that do the shopping, they have to take *some* responsibility. If you feed little Jimmy healthy stuff and he still gets fat, then fine, he has a problem, but don’t look at a kid hammering pizzas down with both hands and say “he’s healthy! It’s just a glandular problem!” That’s bullshit.

  14. The first thing that came to my mind was something along the lines of what Campos is saying–what about making sure kids are healthy rather than quibble about weight, BMI numbers not withstanding. I remember a quote from pro mountianbiker Penny Davis (at least I think it was her) from my racing days as saying that she doesn’t worry about her weight, that as long as she is eating good foods in good amounts and training soundly, her weight would take care of itself. Weight should not be conflated with health, because they are not the same thing at all. We counsel patients on diet and lifestyle as the ultimate healing in our school clinic all the time, and the emphasis is always on eating nourishing foods and adopting an exercise and/or qi gong program to find mental/physical/emotional balance and thus achieve well-being (which is different than the Western definition of health as being symptom-free, but that is another rant for another day, I s’pose). Arghhhhh!!!

  15. Marc

    Another issue is that forcing exercise on children has the very good chance of souring them on exercise for a lifetime. That’s basically what high school PE did to me — there isn’t a single athletic activity I enjoy and it’s going to cut my life expectancy drastically.

  16. Brian, nobody is disagreeing that children should eat well and get exercise. And if those were the guidelines: that all kids, fat or thin, should eat well and exercise – bravo. Most of us would be applauding.

    But that’s not what these guidelines are about. These guidelines are about forcing on fat kids whatever it takes to make them thin – no matter how ineffective, untested, risky or in most cases all of the above. And we’re talking about children as young as two years old.

    You’re saying these guidelines are good, because your fat you believe was due to an unhealthy diet. Well why not just cut to the chase and say that both fat kids and thin kids should eat a healthy diet and exercise?

    Because I don’t know if you ever looked up from your Big Macs to notice what your thin friends were eating. I know when I was a kid my thin friends were scarfing down hamburgers and fries and sodas at a rapid clip, while my fat friends were just as often pulling fruits and low cal foods out of their lunch bags because their parents were constantly putting them on diets or because they themselves had become obsessive about being too fat.

  17. “but let’s start off with my expert advice on What To Do About Fat Kids: hug them.” They damn well need it these days.

    Way to sum it up, Kate.

  18. Brian

    Everybody has different metabolic rates, which is fine, but if you say “oh, I’ll be fat anyway” and decide to never move again except to find another pillow-case sized bag of chips, you aren’t doing yourself any favors.

    Being fat is not like being gay or black or Jewish. Being fat means you’re either sick or lazy, which means you either need a doctor or a personal trainer. The “fat acceptance” movement is stupid because nobody wants to be fat, nobody likes to be fat, because being fat limits your mobility, your lifespan, your choice of sexual and romantic partners, and where you can buy clothes, just to name a few things, and unless you’re sick, there’s no excuse for it other than personal choice.

  19. Ivory Bill Woodpecker

    It sounds like someone’s believing what society tells him…

  20. I seriously hope you’re being sarcastic, Brian. (It can be hard to tell on the intarwebs.)

    I mean, Jewish people could change their name to something Anglo, stop using Yiddish slang, convert to some other religion, get that plastic surgery that puts your foreskin back (if male), etc, and voila! Personal choice, and it gets rid of all that anti-Semitism!

    And black people should just bathe in hydroquinone lotion and get their hair straightened and get plastic surgery and start acting “white” – again, personal choice! Racism gone!

    And fat people can starve themselves and exercise obsessively and, hey, whaddya know, plastic surgery and stomach mutilation surgery! It’s a personal choice, right?

    Jebus. If being fat was a personal choice, the way fat people are treated in our society? Very few people would actually choose to be fat. Yeah, I choose to have people assume I am either a lazy dumb disgusting slob or sick, it’s teh fun!

    […] the claim of our anti-fat warriors: Americans are fat because they don’t care enough to make the sacrifices necessary to be thin. Interestingly, it’s somewhat difficult to find people of even moderate intelligence and education who can maintain the level of self-satisfied ignorance necessary to believe that poor people “choose” to be poor, yet it’s very easy to find such people who accept as self-evident the notion that fat people “choose” to be fat.

    This inspires me to point something out to my more liberal readers. Remember that particularly clueless right-wing acquaintance of yours? The one who believes that anybody in America can become rich, because he thinks about poverty in a completely unscientific, anecdotal way, which allows him to treat the exceptional case as typical? The one who can’t seem to understand the simplest structural arguments about the nature of social inequality?

    The next time you see some fat people and get disgusted by their failure to “take care of themselves,” think about your clueless friend.

    Paul Campos

  21. Being fat means you’re either sick or lazy

    (sniff sniff) Do I smell troll?

    It’s not like you even have to look hard to find hard science that says that weight is largely genetic and dieting almost useless.

  22. Brian

    I’m not a troll, I post here all the time. Accusing me of being a troll because I disagree on one issue is being a little paranoid.

    If being overweight is genetic, and it’s bad for you, then you have a genetic disorder. You’re still sick. I’m still sick. Nobody is blamed for that. My only point was that if you’re fat because you’re lazy, that’s your own damn fault, and there are people that are like that. If it’s not the majority, fine.

    I agree that compulsory diet and exercise programs are extreme, but we obviously have to do something.

  23. Kate Harding

    Brian, thank you for giving me my very first opportunity to say, DUDE, GO READ MY FIRST POST.

  24. and decide to never move again except to find another pillow-case sized bag of chips

    This is such bullshit. I’m fat, and I’ve literally never eaten “a pillow-sized bag of chips” in my entire fucking life. Nor an entire cake. Nor a whole package of cookies. Or any of the other “whole” anythings that people invoke to suggest fatties are all gluttonous wretches. It’s seriously so. rude.

    your choice of sexual and romantic partners

    Again, bullshit. Sure, there are people who wouldn’t date me just because I’m fat, which is a legitimate preference, but what are the odds I’d want to date someone that shallow anyway? I wouldn’t want to date someone who wouldn’t date me just because I’m blue-eyed, either. I’ve never dated “a chubby chaser”–all the guys I’ve been with have liked women of all sizes, though in all but one case, I was the first fat girl they dated. And I’ve never been turned down for being fat. I have not ever for a moment thought that my choice of partners was limited by the way I look any more than it’s limited by my political leanings. I’m not crying a river that conservatives “might not want me,” either.

    Honestly. This shit is exactly why I always say being fat and happy is a radical act.

  25. Kate Harding

    Brian, what you describe is not the typical diet of a fat person, but compulsive overeating, which IS a disorder. One that only affects a very small percentage of fat people. (I don’t have the stats on compulsive overeating, but binge eating disorder, which is a slightly different thing, affects about 1.5% of fat people. That’s one-point-five, not even 15.) A child (or adult) who eats like that would indeed benefit from medical help — well in theory, anyway, since the default solution would still be a restrictive diet, which is a totally inadequate response to the problem.

    Most fat people simply do not eat like that; it’s a false, destructive stereotype. The average fat person does not eat any more, or exercise any less, than the average thin person. Period. Anyone who can’t stop eating whole bags of junk food or drinking cases of pop does indeed have a problem (and thus deserves empathy, not scorn, but that’s a whole other issue). Most fat people do not eat like that.

    And what you call a genetic disorder, I call genetic variety. As you’ll see when you GO READ MY FIRST POST, it’s not at all cut and dried that being fat is bad for you. So if your genes predispose you to be fat, all that means is that you’re predisposed to be fat, not sick. And there’s no reason to fix what ain’t broke.

    As for the rest of what you said, are you fucking kidding me? Because the dominant culture hates people like me, I should refuse to accept myself and instead start trying to conform to the dominant culture’s expectations — regardless of the physical, emotional, and financial cost to me? Because the correct response to bigotry is trying to make yourself less of a target for other people’s hang-ups? The fuck? You know this is a progressive blog, right?

  26. If being overweight is genetic, and it’s bad for you, then you have a genetic disorder. You’re still sick. I’m still sick. Nobody is blamed for that.

    Well, yes, actual science says that fat is mostly genetic. But why does that make it a disorder? It doesn’t automatically mean you’re sick: in fact the ability to be fat is a survival mechanism highly useful to keeping the human species going. To say we don’t need that function any more because we in the “developed” world have plenty is naive. We’re still subject to natural disaster and human-induced disaster. It’s entirely possible that the USA or similar could be struck by drought and economic depression worse than that of the 1930s. Say we got rid of the gene(s) that allow humans to slow down their metabolism and store fat – survival in those precarious situations would be rather more desperate.

    It’s been documented that in societies where fat is a desirable trait, fat people have almost none of the disease traditionally associated in the West with being fat. Why? A lot less stress and worry, less iatrogenesis, dieting is considered weird. It’s not the adipose tissue itself that can make you unwell.

  27. Brian

    Melissa? Did you notice my post? I’m fat, too. I don’t like being fat. Being fat has never done me any good in my life, so even if it’s possible for people to *be* fat and happy, I can’t be. I’ve tried. I try to warn little chubby kids on the street to fix it before it ruins their lives, too. Being fat is not something that has made me jolly, it’s been a lifelong trauma that I wouldn’t inflict on anyone, and it annoys me to no end that people would even pretend that it can be something normal, something enjoyable even, and not something that, for most people, does nothing but screw them up physically, emotionally, mentally, and financially.

    Then, as if the bullying wasn’t enough, I have to hear this other side. “It’s genetic! Dieting doesn’t work! You’ll never look the way you want! You’re stuck like that!” So I have the one side telling me that I’m not acceptable the way that I look, and the other side telling me that I can’t change even though I want to. Look at me, I don’t even know what I’m arguing about anymore. I don’t know what to do. I guess I’m just another fat kid that society has FUBARed.

  28. And as we’re supposed to understand, Brian is every fat person.

  29. Brian

    Yes, Kate, I do know this is a progressive blog, which is why I love it so dearly, but since you don’t know, I’ll point something out. I grew up as a fat kid in the 90s, where childhood obesity was reaching a critical point but nobody was talking about it. When I was in school, I wasn’t treated like it wasn’t my fault, or like it was okay. I was tortured, and then I became invisible. Even talking about my weight now is hard; I can’t look at the scale when I go to the doctor’s office, and I’m still wearing clothes from high school because I don’t want to go to the store and have to try new things on.

    I *am* one of the kids that was fucked up by the system they, and we, are trying to change. I barely know what I’ve been talking about tonight because, for one, I was posting on a blog at 2 in the morning, and discussing obesity provokes a gut reaction in me. A fat kid like me only had two viable options that I knew about in school: ignore people, or lash out. I tended to lash out, no matter who it was. So I’m sorry that I commented on a post that I didn’t even want to read in the first place.

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  31. Melissa McEwan

    Melissa? Did you notice my post? I’m fat, too.

    Yeah and? There are Log Cabin Republicans, too.

    I try to warn little chubby kids on the street to fix it before it ruins their lives, too.

    Hey–great idea. Because if you’ve suffered a lifetime of shame and misery about being fat, the best thing to do is inflict that same shame and misery on children. If you’re seriously doing that, you’re a bully, and you should be ashamed of yourself.

    What the FUCK do you think gives you the right to walk up to a child and shame him/her for anything, no matter what your opinion of it? (Which, by the way, is drastically different from many other people’s.) Do you think a virulent homophobe should walk up to the child of gay parents and launch into a tirade about the evils of homosexuality? What if that person was raised by gay parents and felt it ruined their life (like the woman in this video identified as having been rasied by a gay father who now testifies against same-sex marriage)? Does that make it acceptable?! Fucking hell, dude–if you can’t stop being a self-loathing jerk, at least figure out how to keep it to yourself, instead of creating more self-loathing jerks just like you.

    the other side telling me that I can’t change even though I want to

    Uh, no. People who advocate health at every size are “telling you” that you don’t have to be thin to be healthy. They’re also “telling you” that you don’t have to be thin to feel good about yourself.

  32. Brian

    Melissa, I already apologized for my outburst, an outburst caused by the system this post is talking about.

  33. Melissa McEwan

    I already apologized for my outburst

    Your outburst above has nothing to do with your claim that you shame fat children on the street.

  34. Kate Harding

    Hey, Brian, I’m sorry — your last two comments have really made me see where you’re coming from, and I totally empathize.

    Melissa’s not kidding when she says being fat and happy is a radical act. It really is. And part of what that means is, my god, it’s difficult to like yourself in a fat body when — as you say — you’re constantly hearing that you’re unhealthy, you’re disgusting, you’re unlovable, etc.

    I’m sorry the fat acceptance side of things just feels like more frustrating pressure to you — I get that, too, I really do. When I first started reading about it, I secretly believed, “Okay, I get that fat people can be healthy, but I STILL WANT TO BE THIN. I STILL NEED TO DIET!” Hearing again and again that diets don’t work and obesity is genetic really was a blow for me at first; I didn’t want to believe there was nothing I could do about it. I didn’t want to believe my only choices were permanent starvation or actually accepting this disgusting (so I thought) fat body and just living with it. I wanted, more than anything, to just be normal. To just make all this fat shit go away.

    And I get that your problems really go beyond that — that you also have serious issues with food. That fucking sucks. It really does. I have a close family member who’s a compulsive overeater, and it’s a devastating problem and an incredibly tough nut to crack. Everyone has a different theory on what causes it, nobody has any clue how to fix it. I’m really sorry you have to deal with eating issues on top of just being a fat person in this society, which is hard enough by itself.

    But people like me aren’t the enemy, I promise you. I KNOW that what I’m saying sounds crazy and disappointing, and that it feels like there’s no way in hell you could ever like your body as-is — or that anyone else could ever like it, either — so fat acceptance is simply not an option. I have absolutely felt that way myself; you have no idea. All I can tell you is, it’s possible. And it feels a HELL of a lot better — a hell of a lot healthier — than hating yourself.

    All good wishes to you, Brian, seriously.

  35. Kate Harding

    Your outburst above has nothing to do with your claim that you shame fat children on the street.

    Whoa, yeah, I skimmed over that part. And I might have just been way too fucking nice up there.

    Brian, I still think I get where you’re coming from, and it really does break my heart. But dude? LEAVE THE KIDS ALONE.

  36. Brian

    Your outburst above has nothing to do with your claim that you shame fat children on the street.

    Melissa, I’ve never done that. I said I thought about it, but I would never do that.

  37. Brian

    I only felt that way a few times, when I was really depressed, and I wanted to save them from the pain I went through, and I still never did that. I don’t think that makes me an asshole.

  38. Melissa McEwan

    I said I thought about it, but I would never do that.

    Actually, you said: “I try to warn little chubby kids on the street to fix it before it ruins their lives, too.”

    If you really haven’t done that, I’m glad. But that’s not what you said.

  39. Kate Harding

    I said I thought about it, but I would never do that.

    Whew.

  40. Brian

    Okay, I re-read what I said, and yes, I said “I try”. That was a typo because I’ve been up nearly 24 hours and I was writing on emotions. You can think me a liar, but it was just an honest mistake. I’m sorry.

  41. *points up* Melissa got to the “self loathing” bit before I got a chance to, so I’ll just say I agree. I think it’s horrifically sad that Brian has internalized so much shame and hate and I think it’s particularly detestable that he would harangue fat kids today to install that same sense of self loathing and isolation he’s been subject too.

    I was a fat kid. I remember the shame, humiliation, and prejudice that engendered. I remember being picked on. I remember the feeling of isolation, the feeling of self-loathing. I remember fantasizing every day about being thin and finally being accepted.

    You know what? THAT SUCKED. And I’ll be fucking damned if I would even, for a fucking half second, think about inflicting that upon anyone else – especially a child.

    I’m 34 and I still struggle with accepting my body, my size, my worth. But I’ll be fucking damned if I think that shaming someone else – shaming a child – is a good idea. I fight with a fucked up body image every god damned day and it’s largely because I internalized this society’s abhorrence of fat. Knowing how much I’ve gone through, why would I EVER participate in the ritual and condoned shaming of anyone else for their size?

    The thing is? I’m *not* particularly fat as an adult. I’m not thin either. I’m just … well. I’m just exactly what my metabolism and genes dictate. I do my best to eat healthy and, while I don’t exercise as much as I should, I do try to remain active.

    And instead of spending every fucking day beating the shit out of myself for not being thin, I fight my own body dismorphia and try to re-teach myself to accept myself and my body as attractive, acceptable, and worthy of respect. It’s a daily battle, sure. But fucking hell. It’s worth it. And that is what we need to teach kids – not that being fat means they’re worthless, lazy, and bad.

    I mean jesus. That’s been the fucking party line for decades and you can see it’s worked wonders and created a society of thin, healthy, well-balanced, body-loving people, right?

    Honestly. This shit is exactly why I always say being fat and happy is a radical act.

    Well fucking said.

  42. Melissa McEwan

    You can think me a liar

    I don’t think you’re a liar. And I’m glad you haven’t actually done it.

    And I hope you’ll pay attention to Kate’s posts on this subject, and open yourself up to what she has to say, because, if you do, any compulsion you might have to do it will erode away, as you develop a new perspective on your size that has nothing to do with shame and everything to do with self-acceptance, which isn’t, despite your existing conceptions, the same thing as complacency. You can absolutely be self-accepting and work toward a healthier lifestyle at the same time.

    Trust me. I know.

  43. In between my writing and posting the comment, I see Brian made an honest typing mistake, so while I stand by what I said, I understand he’s not *actually* doing that. Thank the FSM.

  44. Kate Harding

    You can absolutely be self-accepting and work toward a healthier lifestyle at the same time.

    What is it the kids say? FOR THE WIN?

  45. Brian

    Yes, Kate, the kids do say that, but our attention spans are shorter, so we just go with FTW.

  46. Brian

    Anyway, the point I was trying to make in the beginning, despite my outburst, was that the common sense answer to the problem is have everyone eat healthy and exercise and whoever stays fat is supposed to *be* fat. I just don’t know how to could get people to do that without a program just like this, where you try to control private citizens’ behavior.

  47. Brian

    Well, actually, I do. You’d have to change the labor laws so that parents made enough to afford good food and also had enough time at home to cook it; you’d have to change the way the agricultural industry is run and subsidized so that more vegetables and fruits are grown, rather than subsidizing meat and crops used for soybeans and corn that are for cooking oil and non-food uses; you’d have to get rid of the convenience of fast food.

  48. dolia

    …what “problem” Brian? Remind me again….

  49. Arkades

    I agree that compulsory diet and exercise programs are extreme, but we obviously have to do something.

    No, we don’t. In a society that believes in self-determination, such things are left to the individual. As they rightly should be. It’s no one else’s damn business, frankly.

  50. lou

    An issue I’d raise is it’s next to impossible for people in high-poverty urban neighborhoods to get access to fresh fruit and vegetables. The cheapest food is the most processed and starchiest, and it’s often the only food easily available in the grocery stores (or mom and pop type stores) in urban neighborhoods. And it’s often not safe for kids to play outside to get the exercise they need. So obesity rates are higher in high poverty areas. But instead of trying to help parents in these situations, they’re going to be, once more, in essence condemned for being poor.

  51. Arkades

    I just don’t know how to could get people to do that without a program just like this, where you try to control private citizens’ behavior.

    Why would I care whether my neighbor is fat? Why should my neighbor care whether I am fat? What’s more, even if either of us *did* care, what would give us the right to dictate to one another the terms upon which lives must be led?

    Life. Liberty. Pursuit of Happiness. I want to live in a society that heeds these principles.

    Conversely, I have *no* desire to visit Planet Camazotz, nor to emulate their society.

  52. Well, actually, I do. You’d have to change the labor laws so that parents made enough to afford good food and also had enough time at home to cook it; you’d have to change the way the agricultural industry is run and subsidized so that more vegetables and fruits are grown, rather than subsidizing meat and crops used for soybeans and corn that are for cooking oil and non-food uses; you’d have to get rid of the convenience of fast food.

    Hey, I’d be all for that. However, that’s not going to stop fat kids from existing. My parents home-cooked breakfast and dinner for my brother and me every day. Good stuff. Vegies, fruits, lean proteins, non-processed carbs. Hell, my dad made a lot of the bread we ate. The first time I remember eating at a fast food joint was when my (thin) godparents took me there with their (thin) kids when I was about 9. Guess what? I was still fat, and the subsequent efforts to make me thin through a variety of medical and commercial interventions succeeded in doing nothing more than permanently damaging my metabolism and giving me serious food issues.

    Nobody–not the top researchers in the world–has yet figured out how to make a naturally fat person permanently thin. That includes kids.

  53. Oops, that first paragraph was supposed to be a cite from Brian, but I guess I got the coding wrong. Sorry!

  54. No, we don’t. In a society that believes in self-determination, such things are left to the individual. As they rightly should be. It’s no one else’s damn business, frankly.

    Actually, I disagree with you on this point. The government has every right, and moreover the responsibility to intervene in what is considered public health issues (particularly in countries where the major form of healthcare is nationalised health care. Like smoking bans, such intervention isn’t merely a matter of individual determination.

    Now, whether or not this actually IS a a public health issue is a different question, but one for which the validity of such doesn’t negate the right and responsibility of a country to intervene.

    I happen to politely disagree with Kate on the amount of this that is genetic/biological versus cultural/behavioural. However, it is VERY obvious that WAY out of proportion of anything fat people are shamed and demonised in our culture, and instituting programs like this just exacerbate such and merely increase the hate that is targetted towards larger people.

    Programs like this just increase the atrocious treatment of fat people, and justify the hate that people throw in their direction. Further, it also delegitimates OTHER public health programs and interventions (for instance, in England and New Zealand, they are instituting school meal programs that are low in calories and fats, and high in vitamins, minerals, etc rather than merely targetting, and hence dehumanising, one particular group of kids).

  55. Melissa McEwan

    Like smoking bans, such intervention isn’t merely a matter of individual determination.

    Except when I used to smoke, my second-hand smoke was a legitimate reason to ask me not to smoke around other people.

    My fat ass doesn’t affect anyone but me.

  56. My fat ass doesn’t affect anyone but me.

    Well, IF you accept that there is a health risk from being overweight (which I think we all agree is highly dubious, despite our differences on the matter of degree) then the cost suffered by a nationalised health system makes an “epidemic” of such a valid concern, and reason for intervention.

    Again, the validity of such existing is definitely highly questionable. But if the hypothetical DID exist, then there is reason for intervention. Further (and maybe this is me coming from a different cultural background) I think goverment also has an obligation to encourage and promote healthy behaviour in its citizens.

    Course, this proposed program does none of this.

  57. If the US does move to a single-payer health plan, expect more, not less, governmental intervention into obesity. And it will be done because the government, as the provider of your health care, WILL have a vested interest in your body.

  58. Kate Harding

    I think goverment also has an obligation to encourage and promote healthy behaviour in its citizens.

    Sure. But encouraging and promoting is a far cry from implementing “structured behavioral modification programs.”

  59. CJ_in_VA

    I honestly can not remember how old I was when I was put on my first diet. I’ve been harassed about my size for as long as I can remember by my family, doctors, well meaning friends and some not-so-well-meaning classmates. (In my sixth grade autograph book, the other kids addressed me as “Goodyear” and “Hindenburg” or “Hindy” for short.) But you know – I look back at those old pictures and realize that I was not in any way fat. But it sure put me on the path of self-loathing and rebound dieting that got me where I am today.

    Our society does not support self-acceptance for ANYONE. The message is – whatever you are is not good enough. Diet, change your hair color, get plastic surgery, buy this car and you will be PERFECT. Well, ain’t no such thing. For anyone. But it seems that we reserve special disdain for the fat community and we’re turning that hatred on our kids. I was mortified when I saw the recommendation the other day that doctors need to stop using “fuzzy” words to address obesity in children… the notion that if we shock parents and children they’ll finally “get it”.

    I look at my child and see a skinny active healthy kid who eats well most days. Even she was targeted on the height/weight charts as being over where she was supposed to be for weight. WTP??? I refused to let them track her weight/cholesterol/blood sugars in the elementary school because it’s none of their fucking business. She has a doctor. The hysteria has to stop.

  60. Kate Harding

    Our society does not support self-acceptance for ANYONE.

    Very, very true.

  61. Melissa McEwan

    Well, IF you accept that there is a health risk from being overweight (which I think we all agree is highly dubious, despite our differences on the matter of degree) then the cost suffered by a nationalised health system makes an “epidemic” of such a valid concern, and reason for intervention.

    Does it? I don’t know that I would take that reasoning for granted. In fact, many existing nationalized health systems in various countries are quite happy to ignore things that have known health risks, because it impinges on personal liberties. (See: Britain–NHS and drinking culture.)

    Part of this is obviously due to the fact that it’s often a losing battle to try to undermine fundamental cultural behaviors, especially when those behaviors don’t carry a stigma. The reason weight sticks out as such a unique exception all the time is because there’s already so much shame associated with it. It’s a no-brainer to try to control fat people. But the government stepping in to try to forcibly limit drinking in Britain out of health concerns? LOL! Yeah, right.

    And part of it is due to the fact that impinging on personal liberties is widely (and correctly, in my estimation) regarded as having deleterious effects of its own. Depending on the viability of “intervention,” the added stresses to those into whose lives such intervening will take place might have make the strategy a wash, or worse.

  62. Does it? I don’t know that I would take that reasoning for granted. In fact, many existing nationalized health systems in various countries are quite happy to ignore things that have known health risks, because it impinges on personal liberties. (See: Britain–NHS and drinking culture.)

    Oh, I am not arguing that just because there may be a health risk that the government will intervene, because there is a considerable amount of influence from social perception unfortunately. As we regularly discuss here, these kinds of things operate in a social context that impacts where the focus of such things are, even to the point of effectively inventing something.

    Personally, and politically, I don’t regard merely impinging on personal liberties as a cause for concern or a reason for assumption of negative consequences. However, the degree of such is. Intervention in matters of public health is a perfectly reasonable justification for such in my opinion … however, in how much of an impingement is involved is where one’s concern can and should lie.

    But, of course, IMHO, YMMV.

  63. Arkades

    Actually, I disagree with you on this point. The government has every right, and moreover the responsibility to intervene in what is considered public health issues (particularly in countries where the major form of healthcare is nationalised health care. Like smoking bans, such intervention isn’t merely a matter of individual determination.

    How is an individual’s weight a public health issue? With smoking bans, there’s a clear reason it’s a public health concern: people who aren’t smoking can have their health endangered from second-hand smoke. There’s nothing similar for being fat… at least, not that I’m aware of. (If there *is*, I’ve been inflicting Second-Hand Chub on others for decades without evening realizing it!)

    As for the burden that weight concerns place on society’s medical resources… I think there are a *lot* of other issues surrounding the ‘who pays for what’ issue that come into play.

    At risk of being absurd for the sake of the argument: why draw the line at obesity…? Why not refuse to pay to support people with Type A personalities, since they’re more prone to stress-related illness? For that matter, why should non-parents pay into a medical system that covers pregnancy-related expenses? Why should people with no need for prosthetics pay into a system that supports amputees? What about extreme sports enthusiasts who wind up with severe injuries? How far does the social compact extend? When does the public good outweigh the costs? At one point is one no longer welcomed?

    Any universal health care system must be *truly* universal, or else find some means of discriminating among those deemed ‘worthy’ of publicly funded medical care and those whose needs are ignored. That system of judgments could get very ugly, very quickly.

    Who pays, and how much, under any type of ‘universal’ system, is a *very* valid concern. But I don’t think that set of concerns should be allowed to trump the rights of individuals.

    I’m a self-determinist. I believe government has a legitimate interest in preventing entities from harming or doing harm to others, but absolutely no legitimate interest in protecting us from ourselves.

  64. Mhorag

    Let’s define “fat”, first. Yes, I am currently morbidly obese, but there was a time when I was not. HOWEVER, I was always *treated* as though I were grossly, morbidly obese.

    My senior year in high school, my height was 5’2″, my weight was 140, my measurements were 38-24-40. There was a time in this country when I would have had men almost literally beating down the door to date and/or marry me, because I would have been considered very sexy. But this was 1977-78, where the ideal body was that of a 10-year old boy with tits (and little tits at that). I certainly didn’t qualify.

    And I hated gym class, which was nothing more than one long exercise in public humiliation. Yet, I wasn’t out of shape, either. I was no hard body, but I walked a mile and a half round trip to school every day, I carried at least 30 pounds of books (English and history freak), and I could climb five flights of stairs in less than 2 minutes (the length of time allowed to get between classes) while carrying said 30 pounds of books without gasping for breath. I didn’t drive, so I walked and/or took the bus everywhere I needed to go. I rode my bicycle 5 miles round-trip to the shopping mall, and to work that summer.

    And I was *still* that “disgustingly fat” girl who had to be shunned lest it be catching or something.

    So I had to listen to comments about how big my ass was, and how my tits were too “titsy” (I kid you not), and how my clothes made me look fatter than I was, and how John Doe wouldn’t be caught dead dating me (and said John Doe was no Brad Pitt).

    But I *wasn’t* fat. Just treated like I was.

    Talk about self-fulfilling prophecy. Especially once I entered the workforce and was employed in a job that was very sedentary. They don’t call it “secretarial spread” because aerobics instructors get it. Hell, I was in a job where I was reprimanded for getting out of my chair for more than break, lunch, and the occasional trip to the bathroom. I was supposed to be working, not walking!

    So what is “fat”? What is “normal” weight? And why do we care so goddamn much?

    Personally, fitness (not fatness) is what should be emphasized. Non-competitive physical activities should be available in schools (17 years of being the last picked for the team and blamed for the team losing cured me of any desire to participate in competitive sports). Smaller portions should be standard in restaurants (did you know dinner plates have grown from 10″ in diameter in the 1950’s to 12″ in diameter by the 1990’s? And that people fill their plates proportionately based on the size of the plate? Things that make you go hmmmm…). Far less high-fructose corn syrup should be used in processed foods.

    But like any of *that* will happen when there’s so much money to be made in the diet industry …

    Bitter? Damn right, I am…

  65. Flamethorn

    Brian?

    Being fat means you’re either sick or lazy, which means you either need a doctor or a personal trainer.

    What are you doing sitting on your ass and posting comments on blogs, then?

  66. Pingback: Quid pote simplicius?

  67. “Being fat means you’re either sick or lazy”

    I realize that the conversation has gone far beyond this statement, but this phrase has just been circling in my head like an evil buzzard.

    I will say — no, it doesn’t mean that for me. I am neither sick nor lazy, yet I’m obese according to the BMI.

    I haven’t been seen by a doctor for illness or injury (IOW, beyond annual checkups) since 2001, when I had a slight sinus infection.

    I can bench-press my own weight, do continuous, vigorous aerobic exercise (including running and cycling) for 40 minutes without being winded, and I accomplish more than the average “thin” person every day.

    In fact, my only problem with being “fat” is dealing with the hateful attitudes and judgments of others — and I’m getting very adept at greeting those with the exact same statement I’m going to make to you, Brian:

    “Thanks very much for sharing what/how you think. Please do not name my reality for me in the future. And so that you know what/how I think on this subject: I love who, what, and how, I am. I consider myself beautiful, sexy, and strong.”

  68. Djinna

    The News said that doctors are “calling for the government to enact stricter child protection laws and take action against the parents of obese children under 12” and that they should be considered guilty of neglect.

    This is what jumped out at me – that they’re trying to get it so that the mere existence of a fat child is sufficient proof of guilt. So, even if you DO have the kid eating so little that its malnourished and having them run 5 miles a day, the mere fact that it’s fat would be sufficient to have the parents declared guilty! guilty! guilty! And not for the reason that they should be considered bad parents.

    Hell, I bet they’re even trying to get this automatically by-definition guilt tied to percentiles. And you know what, even IF it were possible to magically make all kids “thin and healthy,” there’s still gonna be kids that fall in the upper 15%, because, um, that’s the way percentiles work. Or, if they tie it to BMI to define “obese,” you’d still get muscular athletic kids that qualify the way that muscular athletic adults do, right? Your kid’s too athletic, so you’re going to jail!

  69. tde

    “too much food and lack of exercise were the only things that make kids fat”

    Okay, please tell me what factor (independent of caloric intake and exercise) makes kids fat?

  70. Melissa McEwan

    Okay, please tell me what factor (independent of caloric intake and exercise) makes kids fat?

    A physiological disposition toward “fatness.” The fat collection that is natural to all children before significant growing sprees. Incredibly popular medications to treat ADD, ADHD, and other attention/focus disorders. Shall I go on?

    Another concern, btw, is that disease can make kids (and adults) fat. Sometimes weight gain (or, especially, bloating that looks like weight gain) can signal disease. Focusing so exclusively on weight reduction will, without a doubt, leave children with this symptom in the perilous position of missed diagnoses.

  71. Malthus

    Well, of course we can’t wait for evidence! You wouldn’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom quiche, would you?

  72. “The fat collection that is natural to all children before significant growing sprees.”

    My youngest was particularly prone to this — so much so that we dubbed him “H/V” (for “Horizontal/Vertical”) — he would fill out and get very soft and chubby just before shooting up about six inches and becoming thin and wiry. This was a pattern for his whole childhood, from babyhood through 18. (He is naturally “thin” as an adult.)

    During his horizontal phases, he craved different kinds of foods — usually high-fat and high-protein. I trusted his body and taught him to do so as well. He ate well (organic and local as much as possible, even though keeping two teenage boys in OG foods nearly broke the bank at times), and he was very active, regardless of his chubbiness or leanness.

    I firmly believe that if I had monitored his BMI during his horizontal phases and restricted his diet, he would not have had the nutritional “oomph” to do the amazing vertical growth spurts.

  73. Ask anyone on this thread who was a “fat kid” what was the worst thing about it — I’m guessing they will not say: “I couldn’t do the things I wanted to. I wasn’t fit enough to play. My health suffered.”

    I’m guessing that what they will say is:

    “The torture from other kids. The haranguing from adults. The sense that I was bad and wrong for being as I was.”

    There are a lot of anti-bullying programs in schools these days. Do they extend to a prohibition of chanting “Fatty, Fatty, two by four . . . ?”

  74. Arkades

    Personally, and politically, I don’t regard merely impinging on personal liberties as a cause for concern or a reason for assumption of negative consequences. However, the degree of such is.

    We differ on this, because I find the government impinging on personal liberties to be a rather alarming concept, full stop. That it can be done in miniscule degrees that seem reasonable and non-threatening at the time merely obscures the notion that once the principle is established that the government has the right (nay, duty!) to tell you how to run your life, there’s little disincentive to prevent the government from gradually exerting more and more control.

    I know that ‘slippery slope’ arguments often sound unnecessarily alarmist, but when it comes to governments wielding ever-greater amounts of social control over the governed, it seems like an entirely justifiable concern. After all, how often do people with power decide to voluntarily wield less power and thus diminish their own influence?

    I just don’t buy that the government has any business telling fat people not to be fat.

  75. Meowser

    Brian, nobody — no, not even size-acceptance activists — is saying that if you truly have an eating disorder that you shouldn’t get help. Eating disorders suck. They’re crazymaking. They’re emotionally and physically painful. If eating is truly a source of torture for you, no one is saying you should be happy with your lot. No way.

    However, it’s important to recognize that in many people, what appear to be an ED — compulsive or binge eating — is simply a rebound reaction to restrictive dieting. After I read Susie Orbach and Geneen Roth and Carol Munter, I quit dieting, and lo and behold, I no longer binge and rarely eat when I’m not physically hungry. Many people have found that “legalizing” all food has cured them of the need for “pillow-sized” bags of anything at a sitting, the consumption of which is often a symptom of the food-fetishism and chronic low blood sugar that often accompanies restrained eating (dieting).

    But ceasing to stuff myself didn’t make me thin, which brings me to the next point. Weight is complex, multifactorial and individual. There’s a lot of evidence that people who have insulin-related disorders — e.g. type 2 diabetes and PCOS — are born with a tendency to put on weight, as opposed to the weight causing the diabetes or PCOS. There’s also a lot of evidence that the chronic dieting that many people are pressured to do from early childhood slows the metabolism further and puts on still more weight. There are also many more medications on the market that engender weight gain than there used to be and they are being used and younger and younger ages.

    You can call those “excuses,” if you like, but I prefer the word “reasons.” If there’s nothing inherently deviant about my behavior, no “excuse” is necessary. I have already seen the doctors and taken the meds. They didn’t slim me down. Deal with it.

  76. Meowser

    appear = appears, doh.

  77. tde

    “A physiological disposition toward “fatness. The fat collection that is natural to all children before significant growing sprees. Incredibly popular medications to treat ADD, ADHD, and other attention/focus disorders. Shall I go on?”

    Ahh, “disposition” a.k.a. slow metabolism the first refuge of the obese.

    “Fat collection before growth spurts” – so you mean that all those morbidly obese 12 year olds are just going to shoot up a few inches and grow out of it? That argument just might be persuasive if America’s rampant obesity levels dropped off for adults. But, of course, that is not the case.

    Re drug side effect – perhaps, I haven’t looked into it. This factor would – obviously – not have any relevance to the millions of fat kids who are NOT on such drugs. And, of those who are, I think even you would concede that adjustment of caloric intake/exercise could still control weight, even with the addition of drugs.

    Can we return to reality here – this country has a serious problem with fat people, both adults and kids.

    Reading through these recent threads claiming that obesity really isn’t a problem (and heck, can sometimes be a darn good thing) is a bit like reading Mitt Romney writing about evolution or one of the Kagan talking about how the surge is working. Just because you can string a bunch of words together and construct an elaborate argument doesn’t mean that you are not full of crap.

  78. I know that ’slippery slope’ arguments often sound unnecessarily alarmist, but when it comes to governments wielding ever-greater amounts of social control over the governed, it seems like an entirely justifiable concern. After all, how often do people with power decide to voluntarily wield less power and thus diminish their own influence?

    I don’t agree with slippery slope arguments no because they may be alarmist, but rather because they are used in place of rational argument, without evidence, and have never really ever been borne out.

    I come from a country where moderate constraints on free speech are considered okay (in fact, virtually all western nations don’t have laws protecting free speech to the n’th degree), and we seem to not descending into a pit of tyranny in the slightest. It’s perfectly reasonable for a society to chose reasonable measures without the horrible things that those that would use ‘ad infinitum’ arguments say would occur. Same thing with public health concerns.

    But, as you said above, this is a disagreement of opinion however.

    I just don’t buy that the government has any business telling fat people not to be fat.

    I didn’t say they did, and in fact have been roundly criticising the program Kate brought to our attention throughout all this. However, in a more socialised country (ie one where one can nationalised health care) I would argue that just as the government as a responsibility to provide for its citizens, so do those citizens have a responsibility to the society at large.

    But, as I said above, IMHO, YMMV.

  79. slow metabolism the first refuge of the obese.

    What the hell does that mean? “Refuge”?

    On a side note, it is always awesome to get someone in here saying “self-acceptance is not ok as defined by you, only as defined by me.” It also helps if they didn’t read anything and if they sound as pompous as possible. Bravo, tde!

  80. Melissa McEwan

    What the hell does that mean? “Refuge”?

    I believe it means: Something that makes wanton shaming decidedly inconvenient, so it must be dismissed out of hand.

  81. Meowser

    Kate, don’t you just love being the new Mitt Romney?

    Tde, you only see what you want to see. You apparently don’t think people have tried hard enough to slim down, which means you don’t talk to fat people at all unless it’s to tell them to get their fat asses our of your slenderly superior way or to tell them how “concerned” you are that their health habits aren’t as perfect as yours. I know of only one fat woman out of the hundreds I’ve met in my life who hasn’t been on multiple diets from a very young age. She is by far the healthiest woman I’ve ever met.

    Dieting (i.e. attempting intentional weight loss), especially when done repeatedly, only serves to make most people fatter, crazier and sicker. A few win the diet lottery and get to clip the rest of us about the head for it forever. But just for S’s and G’s, feel free to try my handy-dandy Instant Social Experiment next time you deign to mix with the moo-cow hoi polloi at your local mall. Go up to the first ten fat white adult women you see and ask them if they were on a diet in eighth grade. I’ll bet every one of them says “yes.” Now ask them if they were on a diet in fourth grade. If you get less than 50% “yes” responses, I’ll eat it — even if “it” is spirulina on a spelt cracker.

  82. “self-acceptance is not ok as defined by you, only as defined by me.”

    Nicely summarised JackGoff!! :)

    Woah, tde, would you like some spittle with your shaming?

  83. tde

    “What the hell does that mean? “Refuge”?”

    In this context, refuge means “excuse” or “lam-o justification” used to avoid responsibility for one’s actions.

    “On a side note, it is always awesome to get someone in here saying “self-acceptance is not ok as defined by you, only as defined by me.” It also helps if they didn’t read anything and if they sound as pompous as possible. Bravo, tde!”

    Is “Self acceptance” – untethered from reality – really such a great goal to have? It sort of reminds me of how all the kids on the soccer team gets a trophy even though they lost.

  84. Melissa McEwan

    “Fat collection before growth spurts” – so you mean that all those morbidly obese 12 year olds are just going to shoot up a few inches and grow out of it?

    No, but you said: “Okay, please tell me what factor (independent of caloric intake and exercise) makes kids fat?” You didn’t say: “Please tell me what factor (independent of caloric intake and exercise) makes kids morbidly obese.” Don’t be a sarcastic arse with me just because you decided to use “morbidly obese” and “fat” interchangably.

    Can we return to reality here – this country has a serious problem with fat people, both adults and kids.

    Can you elucidate for me what, exactly, the country’s problem is, bearing in mind we don’t have nationalized healthcare that’s paying to treat any weight-related health problems?

  85. It sort of reminds me of how all the kids on the soccer team gets a trophy even though they lost.

    Which says a lot more about you and your worldview than actual reality.

  86. Djinna

    Kate’s other home has lots of great links to actual studies that show that not only does eating less not make most naturally fat people thin, eating more doesn’t make naturally thin people fat. She linked to one in the very first bullet point of her very first entry here:

    http://kateharding.net/2007/05/08/yes-i-like-gina-kolata/

    We’re not ignoring evidence, we’re trying to fight culture-wide assumptions that have no basis in evidence, and are in fact contrary to the evidence. Besides, I thought “the first refuge of the obese” wasn’t “I have a slow metabolism” but “I’m not fat, I’m big boned!” Cartman is made fun of saying that for a reason. I’m not trying to say that Cartman is the example that matches the reality of most fat people, most of us KNOW that we’ve been on very restrictive diets and excessive exercise diets that did jack squat for making us thin, so when the evidence actually says something that tends to match our own experiences, yes, we tend to believe it.

  87. Melissa McEwan

    In this context, refuge means “excuse” or “lam-o justification” used to avoid responsibility for one’s actions.

    Yeah, because if a person actually has a low metabolism due to, say, a thyroid problem, but is one of the 40 million Americans without healthcare to pay for the (very expensive) thyroid medication to correct the problem, attributing their excess weight to that low metabolism is just a “lam-o justification used to avoid responsibility for one’s actions.” Brilliant.

    Am I the only one who’s ever noticed that people (usually men) who can eat egregious amounts of food without gaining a pound and attribute it to “high metabolism” never elicit any comments that treat high metabolism as a myth? Why is it that it’s only low metabolism that’s regarded as a figment of one’s imagination…?

  88. Meowser

    Am I the only one who’s ever noticed that people (usually men) who can eat egregious amounts of food without gaining a pound and attribute it to “high metabolism” never elicit any comments that treat high metabolism as a myth? Why is it that it’s only low metabolism that’s regarded as a figment of one’s imagination…?

    I dig, Melissa, I dig. Here’s a quick true or false quiz for all you determinist/haters:

    _ My ex-boyfriend had a BMI of 21 and consumed 12 or more beers a day in addition to his meals, and when he sobered up he replaced the beers with a pillow-sized bag of Oreos and didn’t gain an ounce from any of it. True or False?

  89. Kate Harding

    this country has a serious problem with fat people, both adults and kids.

    Just because you can string a bunch of words together and construct an elaborate argument doesn’t mean that you are not full of crap.

    tde, we are in total agreement on both of those points.

  90. Kate Harding

    Kate, don’t you just love being the new Mitt Romney?

    I’m having the T-shirt made as we speak.

  91. Kate: Zing!

    Djinna:
    Hell, I bet they’re even trying to get this automatically by-definition guilt tied to percentiles. And you know what, even IF it were possible to magically make all kids “thin and healthy,” there’s still gonna be kids that fall in the upper 15%, because, um, that’s the way percentiles work.

    Holy shit! Why is this the first time I’ve heard that reasoning? Of course Kate and Fatfu and the Rotund have launched brilliant condemnations that I can only stand and cheer for, but this… what a concise, perfect illustration of why the problem is not health but “normalcy.”

  92. tde

    Meowser writes: “Tde, you only see what you want to see.. . . you don’t talk to fat people at all unless it’s to tell them to get their fat asses our of your slenderly superior way . . . next time you deign to mix with the moo-cow hoi polloi at your local mall.”

    Wow – where to begin. I take it that you, unlike me, see all, not merely what you want to see. Oh, and as for mixing with the moo-cow hoi polloi – I shop at Walmart all the time. My “local mall” is where all the beautiful people and tourists go shopping.

    Meliss writes: “Don’t be a sarcastic arse with me just because you decided to use “morbidly obese” and “fat” interchangably”

    Well, I don’t think anyone here is really concerned about kids who are a few pounds overweight. If all of your comments about “predisposition” and drug side effects were just about kids who were a bit chubby, fine, you’re right. But, honestly, it seems like you are retreating here.

    “Can you elucidate for me what, exactly, the country’s problem is, bearing in mind we don’t have nationalized healthcare that’s paying to treat any weight-related health problems?”

    Sure, even though we don’t have single payer, those of us with private insurance pay more for our insurance because of policy holders who are obese. And, obese people without insurance have to rely on emergency room treatment which is passed on to everyone else via taxes used to pay for ERs as well as the fact that hospitals pass these costs onto other patients as well.

  93. Ooo, the Mittster. That’s new. Usually fat acceptance is compared to the Tobacco Industry. ‘Cause gosh knows a handful of people fighting a multi-billion dollar industry IS JUST LIKE Big Tobacco.

  94. tde

    “Yeah, because if a person actually has a low metabolism due to, say, a thyroid problem, but is one of the 40 million Americans without healthcare to pay for the (very expensive) thyroid medication to correct the problem, attributing their excess weight to that low metabolism is just a “lam-o justification used to avoid responsibility for one’s actions.” Brilliant.”

    Two things – if someone does actually have “low metabolism” all that means is that it is more difficult to control their weight. Nobody said life was fair.

    But what makes the argument lame-o is that so many people (including you apparently) latch onto the possible existence of such conditions to excuse and justify ALL obese people.

  95. Kate Harding

    Sure, even though we don’t have single payer, those of us with private insurance pay more for our insurance because of policy holders who are obese. And, obese people without insurance have to rely on emergency room treatment which is passed on to everyone else via taxes used to pay for ERs as well as the fact that hospitals pass these costs onto other patients as well.

    Ooh, ding ding ding! Somebody made the fat people cost society money argument! I was waiting! (Well, actually, somebody sort of made it earlier, but not quite so vehemently.)

    Actually, it’s pretty damned hard for obese people to get private insurance at ALL, tde, so you’re probably not paying higher premiums because of them. Paying taxes for their ER visits? Sure. Know why that is? BECAUSE THEY CAN’T GET INSURANCE.

    Or because they can’t afford insurance, because obesity is highly correlated with poverty. Though of course that has nothing to do with why everyone hates fat people.

    Regardless, is that seriously your biggest issue with where your tax dollars are going? Toward helping sick people?’Cause personally, I’m not so stoked about funding the goddamned war, but maybe that’s just me.

  96. Actually Kate, I said unhealthy people cost countries with nationalised health care more, not fat people, and that’s why unhealthy behaviours can be seen as public health issues (personally I see them as public health issues rather because morally we should help unhealthy people, but some people need monetary justifications).

  97. Melissa McEwan

    Well, I don’t think anyone here is really concerned about kids who are a few pounds overweight.

    No, but they are called “fat,” so when you ask me to give you reasons a kid might be fat, as opposed to reasons why a kid might be morbidly obese, you’re going to answers for–shocker!–why a kid might be fat.

    if someone does actually have “low metabolism” all that means is that it is more difficult to control their weight

    Not quite that simple. Depending on the severity of the problem, and the presence of other compounding factors (history of yo-yo dieting, smoking, other disease, activity-limiting injury, etc.) it could mean it’s “more difficult”(/impossible) to not carry 5 extra pounds, or “more difficult”(/impossible) not to carry 50 extra pounds.

  98. tde

    “Actually, it’s pretty damned hard for obese people to get private insurance at ALL”

    Not so. Most private insurance is group plans that cover groups of employees so that everyone at a particular company or group is covered, including the obese.

    “Regardless, is that seriously your biggest issue with where your tax dollars are going? Toward helping sick people?’”

    I thought we were talking about why obesity is a problem for society, not just for the obese? If you want to talk about Iraq, hell yes, it is a waste of money. So are farm subsidies, the missile shield program, abstinance education, etc.. But that is a bit off point, isn’t it.

  99. Meowser

    Tde, you don’t seriously believe that if all fat people were denied health care, the “savings” would be passed on to you, whose BMI has ipso facto deemed you far more deserving of care? As long as health care is a for-profit enterprise, they have to get their money somewhere. They’re just yowling about how expensive fat people are to treat as part of a divide-and-conquer strategy of pitting working-class people against one another. And obviously, it’s working spectacularly well.

    And I am not mooching off you or anyone else — I work and pay my taxes and premiums just like you do. Nor do I have any health problems that would be “solved” by weight loss. It’s simply not the case that if every fat person became thin they wouldn’t need to see doctors and they’d die peacefully in their sleep at age 95 without needing any surgeries, diagnostic procedures or medications of any kind. Old people, fat or thin, use up more health care resources than anyone else, so I suppose you also oppose any medical efforts made to extend their lifespans?

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  101. I’m a fat person with health insurance who never actually goes to the doctor. Since I’m paying into a system while costing it nothing, can I sponsor some fatties who go to the doctor? Can we be allowed health care then?

    As pointed out, the reality is that most fat people struggle to get health coverage and when they do get it, its often subpar. Poor health care has been correlated with a lot of health problems. I wonder if anyone will get upset about THAT correlation, or if only correlations involving pudgy bellies matter.

  102. tde

    “No, but they are called “fat,” so when you ask me to give you reasons a kid might be fat, as opposed to reasons why a kid might be morbidly obese, you’re going to answers for–shocker!–why a kid might be fat.”

    Okey dokey, so would agree that growth spurts, drug side effects and predisposition might explain why there are fat kids but not morbidly obese kids?

    “Not quite that simple. Depending on the severity of the problem, and the presence of other compounding factors (history of yo-yo dieting, smoking, other disease, activity-limiting injury, etc.) it could mean it’s “more difficult”(/impossible) to not carry 5 extra pounds, or “more difficult”(/impossible) not to carry 50 extra pounds.”

    Actually it is that pretty much that simple. A person’s body fat is primarily a function of the ratio of caloric intake versus exercise (calories expended). If a person with “slow metabolism” or “thyroid problems” or “redisposition” consumes 14,000 calories in a week and performs exercise that uses 15,000 calories per week that person is going to lose weight. If their physical activity consumes only 13,000 per week, they are going to gain weight.
    They may lose or gain a bit more or less than others, but over time, that is just reality.

    When people deny that – that’s when we get into the lame-o excuse making nonsense.

    And yes, if you have injuries it makes it harder to consume calories. Duh. But if you have a person with no arms and no legs in a hospital bed and their caloric intake exceeds their energy consumption, they are going to gain weight. If their caloric consumption is less than the meagre calories they consume, they will lose weight.

    I mean, really, have you ever sat down with a nutritionist and jsut discussed these simple concepts?

  103. Djinna

    Jess: Holy shit! Why is this the first time I’ve heard that reasoning? Of course Kate and Fatfu and the Rotund have launched brilliant condemnations that I can only stand and cheer for, but this… what a concise, perfect illustration of why the problem is not health but “normalcy.”

    I think it’s the same reason why it took a couple pages of reading through all the analysis and comments for someone to point out that they specifically said that it doesn’t matter if they have evidence to support them, we have to Do! Something! Now! This is all so vile, and inspires such a visceral reaction that it takes a while to actally cover all the things that are really, really wrong with it. But seriously, wherever they’re getting their definition of “average” from, the thing about averages is that when large populations are considered, there will ALWAYS be those that are either above or below average. That’s just basic freakin’ math. And you can’t criminalize being outside the first standard deviation.

    Not that I’m a demographer, or a statistician, I’ve just plotted enough real-world data over the years that had no social baggage whatsoever to gag at the idea of something that is always going to be there, by mathematical definition, being treated as inherently bad. When there’s actual human misery on the line, it just becomes that much more contemptable.

  104. tde

    Meowser – “Tde, you don’t seriously believe that if all fat people were denied health care, the “savings” would be passed on to you, whose BMI has ipso facto deemed you far more deserving of care?”

    Meowser, I don’t know why you assume I am “slender” as you posted above or why you believe that I have a particular BMI. Probably for the same reason that you assume that I am the sort of person who doesn’t “deign to mix with the moo-cow hoi polloi”. In other words, just some childish attempts to insult me. Do you think such comments make you more persuasive? Or are you just walking around with alot of anger?

  105. In other words, just some childish attempts to insult me. Do you think such comments make you more persuasive? Or are you just walking around with alot of anger?

    And we have a winner for ironic comment of the day :)

  106. Melissa McEwan

    If a person with “slow metabolism” or “thyroid problems” or “redisposition” consumes 14,000 calories in a week and performs exercise that uses 15,000 calories per week that person is going to lose weight.

    Fine, but let’s talk about reality, can we? Many people with untreated thyroid problems also suffer from extreme exhaustion. That’s not the same as “laziness.” That’s literally being unable to do the sort of activity that burns 15,000 calories per week. I mean, it’s convenient to be able to make flippant remarks about a weight-gaining disease with no regard for its details, but it’s not real intelligent.

    I mean, really, have you ever sat down with a nutritionist and jsut discussed these simple concepts?

    I mean, really, could you be more condescending?

  107. Miche

    There are a lot of anti-bullying programs in schools these days. Do they extend to a prohibition of chanting “Fatty, Fatty, two by four . . . ?”
    In my daughter’s school (out here in the socialist utopia that is New Zealand), yes, they bloody well do. The standard school rule is NO PUT-DOWNS, which means NO nasty chanting or name-calling _at all_.

    I grew up on diet after diet and with a lot of haranguing from my mother, who “didn’t want me to go through what she’d gone through” as a fat kid. What she didn’t realise was that her behaviour was doing exactly that. After watching a documentary on TV about how some fat people are made fatter by dieting, she apologised to me, and said she didn’t know, and that she’d just wanted me to be happy.

    Well, I am happy. And I’m still fat. I eat healthily, make sure to get enough exercise, walk a lot and don’t let my size stop me doing anything. In fact, I just had a medical for a _very_ active job, and was given a clean bill of health — not a word was said about my weight, either by the company doctor, or my new boss, except “you’ll need to take the legs of your overalls up, we can’t all be greyhounds.”

    Oh, and as for comments about how socialised medicine will lead to Big Brother-type intervention in the lives of fat people? We have socialised medicine, and our share of screeching about the “obesity epidemic”. And you know what? The government health agencies aren’t taking fat children from their homes or forcing them onto strict diets. What they _are_ doing is encouraging parents to help their children make healthy food choices, and to get more exercise _as a family_, which helps everybody.

  108. Kate Harding

    Actually Kate, I said unhealthy people cost countries with nationalised health care more, not fat people, and that’s why unhealthy behaviours can be seen as public health issues (personally I see them as public health issues rather because morally we should help unhealthy people, but some people need monetary justifications).

    Sarah, no worries. I got that, which is why I didn’t yell at you before. It just kinda blurred together when I was responding to tde. I totally agree with you on these points.

    I thought we were talking about why obesity is a problem for society, not just for the obese?

    TDE, that’s what you were talking about, yes. The rest of us were talking about what’s happening to fat kids, and how appalling it is. Because the point is that obesity usually isn’t a problem, even for the obese (except at the extremes). I happen to be obese, according to BMI. Here’s a full body shot of me. Here’s another.

    That’s the kind of body the government is talking about, even if it’s not the one you’re picturing.

    Since I’m paying into a system while costing it nothing, can I sponsor some fatties who go to the doctor? Can we be allowed health care then?

    BStu, I love you.

  109. Kate Harding

    Actually it is that pretty much that simple. A person’s body fat is primarily a function of the ratio of caloric intake versus exercise (calories expended).

    Ooh, and we have our first lesson in the laws of thermodynamics! Liss, I might need a graphic for that, too.

  110. “Angry” fatties gets brought up! Oh, and pointing out that fat people can buy into the anti-fat system as well as anyone else. I think I’m one anti-fat cliche away from BINGO from this thread.

    “You’re too fat to get laid” Check
    “Won’t someone think of the children?” Check
    “You’re just angry” Check
    “You’re a burden on health care!” Check
    “Why do you assume I’m thin?” Check
    “You’re delusional” Check
    “You must be lying about what you eat” Check
    “You just want an excuse to be fat” Check
    “But I don’t wanna!” Check

    I just need a “I did it, so can you!”.

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  112. Kate Harding

    OMG, BStu, are you making the official Fatty Bingo card, or am I?

    (Or, rather, am I asking Liss to make it, on top of the 17 other graphics I’ve asked her for?)

  113. Arkades

    I think I’m one anti-fat cliche away from BINGO from this thread.

    I’ll take “inside every fat person there’s a thin person trying to get out!” for the block…

    Oops, guess I got carried away. There’s no ‘blocking’ in Bingo. Yet Hollywood Squares is much more fun!

  114. Kate Harding

    But we haven’t crossed off “Carrying around X extra pounds of fat is like walking around with a backpack full of X! You just feel better when you’re thin! It’s common sense!”

  115. Hey, I’m a graphic designer. Don’t challenge me.

  116. Sarah, no worries. I got that, which is why I didn’t yell at you before. It just kinda blurred together when I was responding to tde. I totally agree with you on these points.

    *nods* Figured we would :)

    I though I would mention that as a woman who was an athlete growing up, I have a lot of muscle (not tons, but definitely above average – and particularly so for the US women’s average of such) and so on weight charts, I actually score on the heavy end of ranges, which is bizarre. The presumption of weight for women in this country is not just a matter of a lack of fat, but also a lack of muscle it appears …

    Oh, and as to those photos … *fans her lesbian self rapidly* … you’re SURE you’re straight, right? ;)

  117. tde

    “Fine, but let’s talk about reality, can we?”

    Okay – just so we are clear – you are agreeing that a person who consumes 15,000 calories per week while expending 14,000 in activity will gain wait over time while the same person who consumes 13,000 per week will lose weight over time. Right?

    “Many people with untreated thyroid problems also suffer from extreme exhaustion. That’s not the same as “laziness.””

    I don’t think I said that people with untreated thyroid problems are lazy.

    What I will say is that I believe there are are people who are lazy who like to blame their obesity on “slow metabolism” or whatever.

    “I mean, it’s convenient to be able to make flippant remarks about a weight-gaining disease with no regard for its details, but it’s not real intelligent.”

    Gosh, I didn’t know I was dealing with someone with expertise regarding the details of weight-gaining disease. Good. I was wondering, what percentage of morbidly obese people have thyroid problem? 90%? 50%

  118. Melissa McEwan

    What I will say is that I believe there are are people who are lazy who like to blame their obesity on “slow metabolism” or whatever.

    I’m quite certain you do.

    Gosh, I didn’t know I was dealing with someone with expertise regarding the details of weight-gaining disease.

    Well, I’m not an expert, and I don’t believe I ever claimed to be, but nice to see you again, Mr. Sarcasmo. What I do know about thyroid disease comes from a family history; my mother and sister both have thyroid problems which require medication, as did both my mother’s parents.

    I was wondering, what percentage of morbidly obese people have thyroid problem? 90%? 50%

    I have no idea, and I’m not sure that even an actual expert on the disease would, considering that the main reason diseases go untreated is because they are also undiagnosed.

    And let’s remember that the whole reason I brought up untreated thyroid disease was not to make the claim that obesity was largely attributable to it, but to point out that your contention claims of low metabolism are nothing more than an “‘excuse’ or ‘lam-o justification'” for obesity was not universally true. Just because I wouldn’t let you get away with a blanket statement, don’t accuse me of making one, when I patently did not.

  119. tde

    I wrote: “I thought we were talking about why obesity is a problem for society, not just for the obese?”

    Kate responded: “TDE, that’s what you were talking about, yes. The rest of us were talking about what’s happening to fat kids, and how appalling it is.”

    Okay if want comments to be limited to agreeing with you about how tough it is to be a fat kid, I’ll bow out. But, you see, I thought you were making a policy argument that the government should get involved in trying to eliminate childhood obesity.

    In fact, my first comment was in response to your post’s language that such programs would be okay “if, you know, too much food and lack of exercise were the only things that make kids fat . . .”

    I pointed out that, in reality, weight depends solely on the ration of calories consumed/calories expended. It doesn’t matter if you have a huge thyroid problem or if you are an olympic athlete, if you consume more calories than you expend, you will gain weight. You even seem to agree with this, albiet in a snotty way: “Ooh, and we have our first lesson in the laws of thermodynamics!”

    So which is it?

  120. Kate Harding

    Hey, I’m a graphic designer. Don’t challenge me.

    Oh, man, it’s all you, then. And it must be done.

  121. Teppy

    A person’s body fat is primarily a function of the ratio of caloric intake versus exercise (calories expended). If a person with “slow metabolism” or “thyroid problems” or “redisposition” consumes 14,000 calories in a week and performs exercise that uses 15,000 calories per week that person is going to lose weight. If their physical activity consumes only 13,000 per week, they are going to gain weight.
    They may lose or gain a bit more or less than others, but over time, that is just reality.

    When people deny that – that’s when we get into the lame-o excuse making nonsense.

    Actually, when people deny that, that’s when we get into actual scientific research proving that weight isn’t actually as simple as Thermodynamics 101.

    Or perhaps the New England Journal of Medicine is run by lame-o excuse-makers.

  122. Meowser

    Tde: If a person with “slow metabolism” or “thyroid problems” or “redisposition” consumes 14,000 calories in a week and performs exercise that uses 15,000 calories per week that person is going to lose weight.

    Melissa: Fine, but let’s talk about reality, can we? Many people with untreated thyroid problems also suffer from extreme exhaustion. That’s not the same as “laziness.” That’s literally being unable to do the sort of activity that burns 15,000 calories per week.

    Yes, and let’s not forget one more thing: The same activities don’t burn or waste the same number of calories for everyone. Therefore it might take some people two or three or more times the amount of exertion to rid themselves of the same number of calories. Also, bodies adjust to attempts (particularly multiple attempts) to cut or waste calories, whether it’s in intake our output. This, and not the inherent laziness and greed of people and their callous disregard for your personal financial health, is why almost all weight loss is temporary. Nobody owes it to you to eat nothing and live in a gym forever.

  123. Melissa McEwan

    Or perhaps the New England Journal of Medicine is run by lame-o excuse-makers.
    :lol:

  124. Kate Harding

    Okay if want comments to be limited to agreeing with you about how tough it is to be a fat kid, I’ll bow out.

    Yes, of course I want comments to be limited to agreeing with me. It would be so hard to maintain my bubble of delusion if they weren’t.

    I thought you were making a policy argument that the government should get involved in trying to eliminate childhood obesity… In fact, my first comment was in response to your post’s language that such programs would be okay “if, you know, too much food and lack of exercise were the only things that make kids fat . . .”

    For someone who whips out the sarcasm pretty freely, you’re not so good at spotting it, huh? Also, did you miss the part where I said “Nothing could make this okay”? I mean, unless you accidentally left out the word “not” there… You can’t seriously think I was somehow arguing that the government should “get involved in trying to eliminate childhood obesity.”

    You even seem to agree with this, albiet in a snotty way: “Ooh, and we have our first lesson in the laws of thermodynamics!”

    Nope, don’t agree with it at all. Here’s what happens. People make a concerted effort to expend more calories than they consume. In most cases, this makes them lose weight.

    Then, in most cases, one of two things happen. 1) They plateau at a weight that’s still fat, and even decreasing the food and increasing the exercise from their already punishing standards will not make them any thinner. Or 2) They start to gain it back, while still eating and exercising just the same.

    Then people accuse them of lying about how much they’re eating and exercising, because this violates the laws of thermodynamics!

    I’ll refer you here.

    And dude, I’ve lost 110 lbs. in my adult life. I know from calories in/calories out. It comes back for almost everyone, even if you’re really, really “good.”

  125. Kate Harding

    Or perhaps the New England Journal of Medicine is run by lame-o excuse-makers.

    Teppy, I adore you. And thanks for the link — always handy to have another arrow in the quiver.

  126. tde

    but nice to see you again, Mr. Sarcasmo.

    Oh, I am not being sarcastic. If you know about the details of weight-gaining disease – and simply aren’t just making crap up – I’d be happy to be educated.

    “I have no idea”

    Oh, nevermind then.

    “And let’s remember that the whole reason I brought up untreated thyroid disease was not to make the claim that obesity was largely attributable to it, but to point out that your contention claims of low metabolism are nothing more than an “‘excuse’ or ‘lam-o justification’” for obesity was not universally true.”

    Actually, my first comment took issue with the contention in the original post that obesity was “caused” by something other than diet/exercise ratios. Then you trotted out the “predisposition” or “slow metabolism” line. I noted that it is the first refuge of the obese, meaning that people who are obese often like to blame something they can’t control for their obesity. The simple fact is, that even if you have the mother of all thyroid problems, you can still lose weight by consuming fewer calories than you expend. Did I say it was easy? No.

    So I never claimed that it was universally true that every obese person who claims to have a thyroid problem is a liar. But, in my experience, there are a great many obese people who just need to eat less and exercise more. That’s why I asked you if you knew the percentages.

  127. Teppy

    Teppy, I adore you. And thanks for the link — always handy to have another arrow in the quiver.

    ::blush:: The link was right on the tip of my brain because I was reading Rethinking Thin at lunch, and that study was one of the studies cited when explaining that no, a calorie is not always going to act the same way when it’s consumed by different people.

    (And I’m reading Rethinking Thin because you mentioned it on your other blog. So I adore you right back. [And I’m not a crazy Internet stalker, just another fat girl who’s tired of being treated like a leper/puppy molester/dimwit.])

  128. Repeat after me, tde: “A human body is not as simple as a heat engine.”

  129. Kate Harding

    And I’m not a crazy Internet stalker, just another fat girl who’s tired of being treated like a leper/puppy molester/dimwit.

    It would almost be okay if you were a crazy internet stalker, just for that line.

    (Note to crazy internet stalkers: I’M KIDDING! YOU’RE NOT OKAY!)

    Repeat after me, tde: “A human body is not as simple as a heat engine.”

    JackGoff, awesome.

  130. Djinna

    One other thing, aside from the fact that our bodies adjust our day-to-day metabolism based on our personal long-term and recent history, because they like to maintain the status quo above all else, for some people, their metabolisms are so slow that if they WERE to eat few enough calories to continue to lose weight, they wouldn’t be eating enough food to get their other nutritional needs met. There is more to nutrition and diet than just calories. Things like vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and other things that we call “nutrients” for a reason. Seriously, I’m sure I’m not the only one here who has been on a

  131. tde

    “And thanks for the link — always handy to have another arrow in the quiver.”

    You might want to actually read and understand the article before you add it to your quiver. Even the abstract merely says that there are may be a genetic basis for “the tendency to store energy as either fat or lean tissue and the various determinants of the resting expenditure of energy.”

    “Nope, don’t agree with it at all. Here’s what happens. People make a concerted effort to expend more calories than they consume. In most cases, this makes them lose weight.

    Then, in most cases, one of two things happen. 1) They plateau at a weight that’s still fat, and even decreasing the food and increasing the exercise from their already punishing standards will not make them any thinner. Or 2) They start to gain it back, while still eating and exercising just the same.”

    So then you have repealed the law of thermodynamics?

    The last research I saw a while ago confirms that the body does attempt to regulate itself to maintain a certain weight – that is if someone is 100 pound overweight and they ratchet up exercise to lose 10 or 15 pounds, it will be be more difficult to lose the next 20 or 30 pounds or whatever. But the reality remains that if you expend more calories than you consume you will lose weight over time.

    I think that in your two scenarios what happens more often than not is that an overweight person loses weight and then decides to reward themselves or slacks off the regimen they had been following. Another possibility is that someone is exercising regularly and can consume, say 3,000 calories a day and still loose a few pounds a month. Then they take a week off exercising, but still eat 3,000 calories a day, instead of dropping the calories down to their activity level.

    Look, I know it is fucking hard to loose weight. (That’s one reason that meowser’s comments were particularly inane – they assumed that I must be some thin person or otherwise how could I possibly not agree with him/her). And, from what I have read on the subject, if a person yo-yo diets, it become progressively harder for them to control their weight later in life. Frankly, that is all the more reason for the governmoent (and everyone else) to encourage children to eat and exercise properly.

  132. tde

    “Repeat after me, tde: “A human body is not as simple as a heat engine.””

    Okay, I repeated twice.

    But let me ask you this: Suppose you have a person whose body activity consumes 730,000 calories at a fairly constant rate. Will that person weigh more or less at the end of the year if they consume 700,000 calories in food at a consistent rate?

  133. You are trying to simplify again. It’s still logically fallacious, as a human body is not merely one system outputting energy at a constant rate, nor is it taking it in and creating usable energy at a constant rate. It’s a chemical process that involves multiple factors, which cannot be described like this in a way that accounts for reality.

  134. Kate Harding

    One train leaves Chicago going 60 mph. The other train leaves New York going 70 mph. At what point will I get really sick of this discussion?

  135. Meowser

    Look, I know it is fucking hard to loose [sic]weight. (That’s one reason that meowser’s comments were particularly inane – they assumed that I must be some thin person or otherwise how could I possibly not agree with him/her)

    If you really are one of us, then it’s even more vexing that you won’t get on your own goddamn side and recognize that personal size is not always a matter of free personal choice and that all of us are not exactly the same, and that your body type is not a sign of the apocalypse. I think the black community once had a name for those of their kind who refused to refute the self-loathing stereotypes that kept them all down — “Uncle Tom,” was it?

  136. Melissa McEwan

    for some people, their metabolisms are so slow that if they WERE to eat few enough calories to continue to lose weight, they wouldn’t be eating enough food to get their other nutritional needs met

    This actually happened to me after a back injury and subsequent surgery. (And no, the back injury was not because I was fat, even though I was.) I was starting with a shitty metabolism (see family history, above) to begin with, and the only way I’ve ever been able to keep my weight from exploding was exercise. Well, when I couldn’t exercise, it exploded (even with a nutritionist’s help). I actually became malnourished trying to keep my caloric intake low enough to prevent weight gain. And it still didn’t stop me gaining weight.

  137. tde

    JGoff

    Yes, I am trying to simplify. You are trying to evade. I understand that energy consumption/use and use is not “constant”.

    So let’s make it more complex. Suppose a person eats, on average 2,000 calories per day and the daily caloric intake never varies below 1900 or above 2100 per day. Suppose that person expends in exercise and bodily activity an average of 2200 calories per day and that the consumption never varies below 2100 or above 2300. What will happen to that person’s body weight after a year?

    The fact that so many in this thread try to avoid facing this reality says much about the source of the obesity epidemic in this country.

  138. And, from what I have read on the subject, if a person yo-yo diets, it become progressively harder for them to control their weight later in life.

    Because when you yo-yo diet, the laws of thermodynamics change?

  139. tde

    “If you really are one of us, then it’s even more vexing that you won’t get on your own goddamn side and recognize that personal size is not always a matter of free personal choice and that all of us are not exactly the same, and that your body type is not a sign of the apocalypse. I think the black community once had a name for those of their kind who refused to refute the self-loathing stereotypes that kept them all down — “Uncle Tom,” was it”

    One of us? (?)

    And then, moving on to compare a fat person who is realistic about the causes of being fat with someone who participates in the systematic enslavement and oppression of other human beings based on race?

    Wow. Just wow.

  140. Meowser

    And BStu, I so need that “Fatty Bingo” card.

  141. tde

    “At what point will I get really sick of this discussion?”

    From what I can gather, your “niche” is posting about “fat acceptance”. If you don’t want to discuss that and related issues, I guess you could post about something else.

  142. Melissa McEwan

    Oh, I am not being sarcastic. If you know about the details of weight-gaining disease – and simply aren’t just making crap up – I’d be happy to be educated.

    “I have no idea”

    Oh, nevermind then.

    LOL – Honestly. Using my not knowing the answer to one question (despite my pointing out even experts probably can’t answer that question) to suggest everything else I said was my “simply…just making crap up” is truly pathetic. You’re like the captain of the shittiest debate team evah.

  143. Meowser

    Moi: I think the black community once had a name for those of their kind who refused to refute the self-loathing stereotypes that kept them all down — “Uncle Tom,” was it”

    Tde: One of us? (?)

    And then, moving on to compare a fat person who is realistic about the causes of being fat with someone who participates in the systematic enslavement and oppression of other human beings based on race?

    Wow. Just wow.

    OK, I take it back, then. You’re not an Uncle Tom. You’re an Uncle Tommy Thompson.

    And with that, I am now officially bored with this thread. Needle to the B-side, y’all!

  144. tde

    Meowser, be sure an put a space on the Bingo card for comparing people with whom you disagree to “Uncle Toms” and you might want to go ahead and reserve a spot for comparing them to Nazi’s too, since I’m sure you will be getting there in a few posts.

  145. Actually, tde, there is very strong research to show that the body quickly moves into “starvation” mode while dieting, and therefore reduces the calories burned as a survival mechanism. This is why “dieting” does not work, and has never worked, as a weight reduction tool. The researchers did NOT want to admit this. They were shocked and appalled to admit that they couldn’t “cure” obesity.

    If you are a “a fat person who is realistic about the causes of being fat”, you might want to get some of that there edumication about what you’re up against.

    As I said, I am “obese” according to BMI charts. The problem with the “guidelines” proposed is that it uses the BMI, which has is a totally lame-o excuse of a system for calculating weight to health ratios.

    Research indicates that 4% of college age women have bulimia — 1% have anorexia — these are diseases that kill.

    The rate of morbid obesity? 4.7%

    So, if you’re worried about the health-care cost to you, better worry, too, about those skinny little girls in your office who are puking up that corporate lunch on a regular basis.

  146. tde

    “You’re like the captain of the shittiest debate team evah.”

    If by “shittiest debate team captain” you mean the one that called you on your rhetorical b.s., then I guess you are right.

    I mean, really, the “he’s not a lazy glutton, he has a medical condition” is a joke for everyone except those who are drinking the “obesity is good for you” kool-aid.

    But, anyway, I’m out – time to go endure the worst 90 minutes of my day, which is riding my bicycle to the beach and back. I’ll stop and burn some crosses for Meowser on the way.

  147. ahem — tde — you brought up nazis, and actually, that would be KKK, not nazis, who burned crosses.

    But thanks for clueing me into your character type. :)

  148. Kate217

    Moira, I love you more every time you post.

    Kate H & Melissa, couldn’t possibly love you more.

    tde, in answer to your one-note samba, yes, if you burn more calories than you consume, you will lose weight. The disconnect that’s happening that makes you think that we’re all a bunch of self-delusional denial dwellers is the environment of calories in/calories out.

    Some bodies are hybrids, and get 40+ mpg. They are called all sorts of sanctimonious crap, the kindest of which is “fat.” Others are HumVees. They get 40 gallons to the mile.

    So, if person A is a hybrid, s/he could eat an apple and a cup of low-fat cottage cheese, walk three miles and gain weight. Give person B, a HumVee, that same apple and cottage cheese, and s/he’s run out of fuel before reaching the corner. By the time the HumVee has finished the three miles, s/he has lost a lot of weight. That does not make the HumVee morally superior to the hybrid, merely differently engineered.

    Just because you don’t believe it doesn’t make it not true.

    In evolutionary terms, being able to store fuel as fat for lean times was an advantage when food security was low. Now it’s a moral failing.

  149. tde, no one is saying every fat person has a thyroid condition. We’re saying not every fat person without a thyroid condition is lazy glutton. Please do learn the difference.

  150. Melissa McEwan

    If by “shittiest debate team captain” you mean the one that called you on your rhetorical b.s., then I guess you are right.

    Ooh, tough talk.

    Unfortunately (for you), most of the people who read this blog have functioning brains and basic literacy skills, making them more than capable of following the thread history, so you have to do better than proclaim victory. You have to actually win.

  151. Kate Harding

    But, anyway, I’m out – time to go endure the worst 90 minutes of my day, which is riding my bicycle to the beach and back.

    That makes me sad, tde, for real. Exercise should be fun. The fact that we’re trained to see it as something grueling we must do to keep our weight down, not something we should do just because moving your body is enjoyable and promotes good health, is a serious bummer.

    Find a form of exercise you enjoy, and it might just become the best 90 minutes of your day.

  152. Actually, making Fat Hate Bingo cost me a 90 minute hike, but I can do that tomorrow. Wouldn’t have been fair of me to go hiking while fat, anyway. The law of thermodynamics really frowns on it.

  153. Suppose that person expends in exercise and bodily activity an average of 2200 calories per day and that the consumption never varies below 2100 or above 2300. What will happen to that person’s body weight after a year?

    I’m actually not evading, I’m just saying that, for one, this situation is not indicative of a realistic situation, for one, regardless of your fudging with the word “average”. It seems you’re the one who would like reality to go away. You want to simplify the situation as a heat in, work out, waste heat deposited elsewhere, when people’s bodies are not definable as this type of system, as a whole.

  154. Find a form of exercise you enjoy, and it might just become the best 90 minutes of your day.

    I suggest hooking himself up as the actuator in a Carnot Engine. That way, he gets the most work out of his input heat. ;-P

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  156. Here is why calories in-calories out DOES NOT WORK, as explained to me by a kindly and patient person who has a PhD in human biochemistry.

    “It is true that the First Law of Thermodynamics must apply to the human body. And, given the simplistic approach which many dull normals take, lots of people are confused about what ‘consumed’ and ‘burn off’ mean.

    There are active control systems which reduce the amount of energy used involuntarily for many of the body’s autonomic functions. There are also significant energy excretion systems which are active in many bodies. A very basic enumeration is as follows; note that in real life you have to add a bunch of interactive arrows symbolizing the feedback controls (hormonal, and also enzyme regulation by product inhibition and allosteric interactions) which connect these systems.

    C – N – S1- S2 – S3 – I – H – E – V = 0

    C = calories eaten
    N = non-absorbed calories excreted in bowels
    S1 = calories stored as fat
    S2 = calories stored as carbohydrate
    S3 = calories stored as protein
    I = calories used in involuntary movement
    H = calories used for heat generation and other metabolic processes
    V = calories used in voluntary movement
    E = calories excreted in urine (Examples: fat converted to glucose in the liver, incompletely burned triglycerides and albumin)

    Note that there is “manual” control only on C and V. Deliberate variation of C and V will immediately cause feedback to all the other systems, and you have absolutely no control over the net outcome. None of these variables are independent of the others. All adjust to restore equilibrium when any one of them changes. So you can’t say that the amount of energy stored as S1 is “whatever is left over”, because there is no such thing as “left over” in a feedback-controlled homeostasis.

    So can increasing V and decreasing C result in less S1? Of course, provided that I, H and E don’t change enough in response to prevent that outcome. “Just try harder” is useless advice. You have no control over what your personal regulatory processes do with changes in voluntary input and output. And if you spend your life trying ever more drastic alterations of V and C in order to escape continuous public abuse by idiots, you can screw up the regulatory mechanisms even more.”

  157. Kate Harding

    BStu and JackGoff: hee hee.

    La Di Da: RAWK. Any chance that person would be willing to have his/her name used, so I can repost that everywhere?

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  159. Kate: Unfortunately I have long since lost contact with that person. :( The formula’s pretty standard, but you could probably rephrase the rest and I’m sure it would be okay. (I know I have, heh)

  160. Melissa McEwan

    Here is why calories in-calories out DOES NOT WORK, as explained to me by a kindly and patient person who has a PhD in human biochemistry.

    I just want you to know that the awesomeness of that explanation has thrown me into a fit of furious bean-flicking.

    Go “V”!

    (And huzzah huzzah for serendipitous double entendres.)

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  162. Teppy

    But let me ask you this: Suppose you have a person whose body activity consumes 730,000 calories at a fairly constant rate. Will that person weigh more or less at the end of the year if they consume 700,000 calories in food at a consistent rate?

    They’ll probably weigh the same — possibly a few pounds more, possibly a few pounds less — as they did at the beginning of the year.

    The reason? The body regulates your weight fairly carefully, so if you operate at a 30,000 calorie/year deficit, your metabolism is going to go down to compensate. You might lose weight initially, but as your metabolism slows, so will the weight loss. And, eventually, the caloric deficit isn’t going to lead to further weight loss; in fact, your newly-slowed metabolic rate might just make you gain a few pounds overall.

    Even if you don’t believe something, tde, it’s still true.

  163. La di Da

    [ Kate: And it’s been a while since, so I’m not 100% certain those were her own words anyway – she would often email me little bits from discussions she’d had with her biology nerd buddies (but she was the nerdiest biology nerd ever so she wouldn’t send me anything that didn’t make it past her Pedant-o-meter). :) ]

  164. Brian

    I’m still wondering if I could have a thyroid problem, or if I’m just depressed. I definitely eat enough calories and get plenty of sleep, but I never have energy. But I don’t mean energy to run five miles, I mean energy to feel like going to school. It’s a struggle to get out of bed for me, and it feels like it gets harder every day.

  165. tde,

    Let’s look at Calories in/Calories out. The argument is – on the first order approximation, just as a matter of physics, if fewer calories are ingested, more fat must be burned.

    Actually, just as a matter of physics, this isn’t so. There’s nothing forcing the body to use fat as a source of energy. It can use lean mass (and it does), or it can simply ratchet back the energy expenditure (and it does this too). In fact, as a general proposition, all three happen in varying proportions when energy intake is reduced, and particuarly when fat mass drops by about 10%: metabolism is decreased, thermogenesis of digestion is decreased, activity is decreased (you feel sluggish, you fidget less), lean tissue is broken down (quite a lot actually), and fat is broken down.

    So, even if we could reduce the breakdown of fat as variable depent on intake and expenditure to an equation, it wouldn’t be “calories in – calories out”. It would be a complicated differential equation, because the rate of change of the variables are dependent on each other. And we’d probably need a supercomputer to solve for it with sufficient accuracy to be of any use – provided we could even make reasonable estimates of these variables.

    Funny I should mention that, because we actually have a supercomputer in our head designed to manage these calculations with astounding precision – keeping our energy intake matched to energy expenditure with an accuracy of 1 or 2%. It’s called the hypothalamus. And it regulates all of this using a thermostat that monitors fat.

    It’s also what controls appetite and kicks our ass when we try to fight it long-term on intake, because it’s under the impression that it knows much better how much we need to eat than the cerebral cortex. And assuming you can fight it long-term is something like assuming you can and should hold your breath till syncope. The “longer” people are expected to control it, the more people drop off. And by five years out almost everyone who has lost significant weight has regained. Not a big surprise, given that we’re talking about HOMEOSTASIS – the strongest controls there are in a living organism.

    Ah on reload I see La Di Da did it much better, but I’m still going to hit submit.

  166. Melissa McEwan

    It’s a struggle to get out of bed for me, and it feels like it gets harder every day.

    Brian, that could be thyroid, or depression, or even chronic fatigue syndrome. Exhaustion is symptomatic of lots of things, some more serious than others–but you’re young. You should definitely go to a doctor if you haven’t been already. It could be something as simple as needing iron supplements! No need to suffer unnecessarily when there’s, in all likelihood, an easy fix.

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  168. It would be a complicated differential equation, because the rate of change of the variables are dependent on each other.

    And it wouldn’t be just one differential equation, but a system of differential equations, and non-linear at that.

  169. Kate Harding

    Brian, I definitely second Melissa’s recommendation of seeing a doctor. My first thought was clinical depression, but her other suggestions are very possible, too.

  170. Kate Harding

    Fat Fu, I love you for being a science geek.

  171. La di Da

    Brian, it could also be a sleep problem – my whole life, even when I was a kid and not fat, I fought fatigue. I’d sleep in all the time and have to fight to get out of bed, fall asleep at 3pm, and so on. Finally got a sleep study and diagnosis, and with the correct treatment the difference is incredible.

    There are studies estimating a significant number of people, fat and slim, have numerous health problems thanks to not being able to get enough sleep (and going undiagnosed and untreated). I know for a long time I was convinced I was just unfit or too fat, and I think a lot of fat people are simply told to lose weight or exercise more when things such as sleep apnea need other treatment that actually works.

    I hope you can find a HAES-friendly doctor willing to look at all the possible causes such as previous posters have mentioned, not just blame it on being fat. (Find another doctor if they do!) Good luck.

  172. t87

    FatFu

    So if a 15 year old who is 5’3″ inches tall and weighs 300 pounds were to ask you for advice, would you say: “Might as well not worry about it, dude, even if you do somehow manage to lose weight, you will probably just gain it back in 5 years”?

  173. Kate Harding

    t87, I’m not fat fu, but here’s the advice I’d give that kid: find a form of exercise you enjoy, and do it regularly. Eat a wide variety of foods, listen to your body’s cravings, eat when you’re hungry, and stop eating when you’re full. If you do those things and you don’t have any medical disorders, you will end up at the right weight for your body, which may or may not still qualify you as “obese” on a BMI chart.

    I’d also tell him that’s the easy part. The hard part is tuning out all the bullshit, not feeling ashamed of yourself all the time, not wanting to punish yourself, not feeling like a failure and a bad person. Oh, yeah, and dealing with fatphobic assholes.

  174. t87, fat acceptance doesn’t exist as a “downer” for dieters. That’s what dieting is for. Fat acceptance is a different path. Part of that is recognizing the false promise of dieting for what it is, but this is not a move of resignation, but of affirmation. Fat acceptance doesn’t preach “give up”. Its about learning that we can be healthy and happy in the bodies we have and that we don’t have to put off living until we get the body we think we were supposed to have. Fat is not a state of failure.

  175. “Fat is not a state of failure.”

    BStu — thank you for that one — I’m tucking it away next to my Bingo card! (and thanks for all the other great comments, too)

    t87 — are you related to tde, by any chance?

    Say — I have an idea — if there is an “obesity epidemic”, then it stand to reason that fat people will soon become the majority. Why don’t we just band together and sit on all the fat-phobics of the world? (Isn’t that their lurking fear, anyway? :) )

  176. t87

    Portly – one and the same. Sorry for the confusion, I usually sign into other sites as t87 and made that post under t87 out of habit.

  177. t87

    Bstu wrote: “Fat acceptance doesn’t preach “give up”. Its about learning that we can be healthy and happy in the bodies we have. . .”

    I know you aren’t FatFu so it’s unfair to ask you to explain his/her words. But FatFu said that almost everyone who loses weight will gain it back in 5 years. If so, what is the point of even trying?

    There’s no doubt that there is prejudice against fat people, that losing weight is not easy, that some people are genetically predisposed or conditioned over time so that they have even more difficulty losing weight. All that said – if you eat fewer calories than your body uses, you will lose weight eventually. It is an impossibility not to. But read the thread – there are several people who just can’t bring themselves to face reality.

    And while the “fat acceptance movement” (if there is such a thing) is surely correct that society is judgmental and that it is unrealistic to expect every one to have the body of taut preteen Swedish boy (to borrow a phrase from Kramer), the “movement” does a disservice to all obese people when it (to borrow another phrase) condemns them with the bigotry of low expectations.

  178. La di Da

    I know you aren’t FatFu so it’s unfair to ask you to explain his/her words. But FatFu said that almost everyone who loses weight will gain it back in 5 years. If so, what is the point of even trying?

    Well, you can try if you like. It’s your body. The point is that you will have a much better time in the long run if you can learn to be happy and healthy without trying to lose weight. This is not “low expectations”. To say that this is “low expectations” is also very rich-white-people-in-Western-countries-in-the-past-50-years-centric.

    f you eat fewer calories than your body uses, you will lose weight eventually. It is an impossibility not to.

    Did you even read that thing I posted (and what Fat Fu said too) about how the human body is a feedback-controlled homeostatic unit? This is not something someone made up to sound all sciency and clever to “justify” being fat, this is what you can find in any authoritative human biology textbook. Unfortunately many doctors forget their first-year bio training, to the detriment of fat people everywhere.

  179. And it wouldn’t be just one differential equation, but a system of differential equations, and non-linear at that.

    My favorite! At least, this was the kind of thing I thought was really neat back when I knew how to solve systems of differential equations with dynamic parameters.

  180. “But FatFu said that almost everyone who loses weight will gain it back in 5 years.”

    t(87 or whatever) — Honey . . . darlin’ . . . that’s not just Fat Fu — it’s well documented:

    http://www.physorg.com/news94906931.html

    http://eurheartjsupp.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/7/suppl_L/L27

    “If so, what is the point of even trying?”

    Oh — I think we’re making progress! You have led yourself to your very own “fat acceptance movement” education moment!

    IMO, the point of the fat acceptance movement is to STOP trying to “lose weight” (whatever the hell that means, since that weight might be fat, muscle, or vital organ tissue) and to start living in acceptance of the body you are in, right now, in a way that feels good to you.

  181. t87

    “Did you even read that thing I posted (and what Fat Fu said too) about how the human body is a feedback-controlled homeostatic unit?”

    Yep read it. But if you are contending that people will not lose weight eventually when their caloric intake remains below their caloric output, you are just wrong.

    Is it equally easy for everyone? No. Is it hard to consistently consume fewer calories than your expending? Usually. Does it get harder to lose weight as one becomes more and more obese? Yep. Is it really complicated to figure out the precise formula for how many calories a specific person needs to expend before they will lose weight? Yes, but it isn’t necessary to know the precise answer.

    Look, if you sit down with a nutritionist who will analyze your weight, percentage of body fat, amount of daily exercise, etc., s/he will be able to give you a pretty good approximation of what amount of weight you will lose if you, say, double your daily caloric expenditure or cut your average daily caloric intake by 20%. The fact that nobody can give an exact answer to that does not mean that the underlying principles are wrong.

    But – here – I’ll make it easy for you – just go on medline and find an article that indicates that there is a single person in the world whose body weight did not decrease when their caloric intake dropped below their caloric expenditure for a few months. Go ahead. Just one person in all of the fucking world.

  182. t87

    “To say that this is “low expectations” is also very rich-white-people-in-Western-countries-in-the-past-50-years-centric.”

    Wait, I thought I was an Uncle Tom – at least according to one poster above. I am so confused. But, thanks I guess, rich white people in western countries have done pretty well for themselves in the past 50 years, I guess.

  183. La di Da

    t87 – Yes people will lose weight, and not necessarily adipose tissue, in the short term. The SHORT TERM. But your body tends not to agree that this is a good thing and – wayhey – it does its best to get back to where it was. The regulation of this system is not instant. Find me a study that shows more than 10% of people are capable of long-term weight loss. 5 years minimum, no piddly little “successes” like 10lbs, seeing as how the expectation is that fat people ought to lose much more. Bonus points if you can find one where those people live normal lives, not obsessed with weight loss maintenance. Surgically-induced eating disorders (eg bypass, lap band) are not allowed.

    I’m an example of someone whose weight didn’t change when I ate less than my body used. I ate 300-500 calories a day, for around four months. I exercised frantically. Did not lose weight. It’s true. I don’t even any metabolic or thyroid disorders that could explain it, apparently my body likes being fat. Said my DOCTOR. Perhaps you would like a signed note from her explaining this. For fuck’s sake, there are people who’ve had gastric bypass surgery who are physically unable to eat much (especially calorie-dense food), whose removed/detached small intestine precludes them from absorbing much of the nutrients anyway, who are GAINING weight. That’s powerful biology, and actually quite awesome, in the original sense of the word. But they must be cheating, right? Or lying or something. Those stupid fat people can’t do anything right, not even surgery! If only they would take your condescending advice, because obviously you know more about skience and their own bodies than they themselves, then they would lose weight!

    I don’t understand how people can claim that well-documented biological processes such as the homeostasis of the body aren’t really correct, because everyone knows eat less-exercise more or whatever “works”. It’s like creationists and flat-earthers. Oh wait, someone already wrote an article about it.

    OK, I’m done feeding the troll.

  184. Ooooo!!! t87(de)!! the US National Library of Medicine — aka “Medline” — oh yes — that is the be-all and end-all of medical research!

    Oops!! In their “today’s news” 6/14/07 articles,
    (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_50819.html)
    there seems to be an article about “the obesity paradox” as relates to greater survival rates from coronary illness among fatties who are supposed to be at high risk.

  185. Oh, and I had a previous post that is still in moderation, probably because it had a couple of links in it. You might want to go back and read those links.

    That’s all the troll food I have today, too — hope that fattens you up!

  186. t87

    “Perhaps you would like a signed note from her explaining this. . . . Those stupid fat people can’t do anything right, not even surgery! If only they would take your condescending advice, because obviously you know more about skience and their own bodies than they themselves, then they would lose weight!”

    I guess it is easier for you to make up outrageous and insulting statements and attribute them to me rather than read what I wrote. Including the following:

    “I don’t understand how people can claim that well-documented biological processes such as the homeostasis of the body aren’t really correct”

    If you will read through my posts, you will see that I have acknowledged 2 or 3 times today that the body works to mantain its weight. That just means that weight loss is more difficult when people have been obese for a long period of time.

    “there seems to be an article about “the obesity paradox” as relates to greater survival rates from coronary illness among fatties who are supposed to be at high risk.”

    Okay . . . I don’t think I had ever said anything about survival rates from coronary illness, but thanks anyway.

  187. t87

    For what it’s worth, I don’t think you’re a troll. I think you say what you believe.

    Look, about 15 years ago it was still really only a theory that fat is regulated homeostatically. Now it’s been worked out to the molecular level.

    I don’t think you understand what the implications of that are. To you that just means that losing weight is “hard.”

    But what it means is that expecting someone to maintain a weight far below their set point may be the equivalent of expecting them to remain hypothermic for the rest of their lives, or sleep deprived, or dehydrated. Those would be, after all, the appropriate analogies with other homeostatic drives.

    That’s not high expectations. That’s supreme arrogance to expect someone to live the rest of their lives that way.

    Anyway this new understanding, combined with purely empirical evidence showing the abysmal rates of “success” for long-term weight loss, is why even the NIH no longer talks about ideal weight for fat people any more – it’s now all about that magical 5 or 10% that is presumably within the set point range, and which they think is still realistic.

    On that issue, I’m personally agnostic – I think it’s just as well to exercise regularly and eat a reasonable diet and not worry about weight than get picky over 5% or 10%, when probably the health effects they’re seeing in those cases are just due to exercise anyway.

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  189. First off “t87″ (why no longer tde?) you can do us a favor and lose the “sarcasm quotes” when talking about fat acceptance. Its insulting and disrespectful, so if you wonder why people respond to you as if you insulted them, its probably because you do so in a very obvious manner.

    You also insulted fat people in a more subtle manner that I doubt you even thought about as insulting because you hold fat people in such low regard that you think that opinion is just fact. Frankly, you’re not trying to “get it” right now. I explained to you that it is wrong to look at fat acceptance as “giving up” and your response was simply to ask, “yeah, but why are you giving up?”

    Fat acceptance isn’t the “bigotry of low expectations”. That only works if you accept fat as a state of failure. It isn’t. Its the state we are. We haven’t “given up” as you seem intent on assuming. We have accepted our bodies and ourselves for what they are and not what we think they ought to be. We recognize that the call to lose weight isn’t simply a tough goal to achieve, its physically impossible for nearly everyone. This isn’t about not wanting to try. Its about learning that the thing we are trying for is neither achievable or necessary. That forcing our bodies to be something they aren’t isn’t a noble goal. That we can be healthy, happy, and loved at the size we are and we can stop delaying life until we are the size we think we were supposed to be.

    The failure of weight loss isn’t a reason to throw one’s hands up and say why bother trying. Its a reason to ask if its what we should be doing in the first place. Fat acceptance isn’t a movement to accept failure. Its offering a different option. Fat acceptance isn’t easy. Its not a quiter’s weak-willed ploy. It is a challenge to live in a society so hell-bent on stigmatizing fatness and stay happy in our fat bodies. It is difficult, but this is a goal we can achieve. This isn’t a goal designed to make us feel like failures. If some people hear about fat acceptance and decide to stop dieting, GOOD. Good for them. Its a decision that will be profoundly beneficial to their physical and mental well being and I wish them all the luck in the world on it. Fat acceptance has none of the mythical powers to endanger the “rights” of dieters as you seem to imply. But it darn well should have the freedom to advocate for an alternative.

    Finally, tde87, the fat hate bingo wasn’t a crib sheet for you. Please don’t try to hit all of the points on the card. You’ve mostly filled it now, anyway.

  190. Kate Harding

    t87, I wouldn’t have responded to you so many times if I thought you were merely a troll. But boy, are you borderline.

    People have patiently and respectfully explained to you why the “calories in/calories out” formula is too simplistic to be scientifically sound. It does not mean that dieting is “hard.” It means that dieting will make your body think it’s starving.

    Before the diet began, the fat subjects’ metabolism was normal – the number of calories burned per square meter of body surface was no different from that of people who had never been fat. But when they lost weight, they were burning as much as 24 percent fewer calories per square meter of their surface area than the calories consumed by those who were naturally thin.

    The Rockefeller subjects also had a psychiatric syndrome, called semi-starvation neurosis, which had been noticed before in people of normal weight who had been starved. They dreamed of food, they fantasized about food or about breaking their diet. They were anxious and depressed; some had thoughts of suicide. They secreted food in their rooms. And they binged.

    The Rockefeller researchers explained their observations in one of their papers: “It is entirely possible that weight reduction, instead of resulting in a normal state for obese patients, results in an abnormal state resembling that of starved nonobese individuals.”

    We have offered you links to medical journals. We have explained numerous basic concepts to you in plain English, and directed you to sources for learning more.

    And here’s the argument you keep coming back to: “All of that information is wrong, and none of you want to face reality.”

    If you can’t see how ridiculous that sounds, I don’t know why any of us should bother engaging with you anymore. You’ve shown no respect whatsoever for our intelligence or our critical thinking skills, but you keep demanding that we acknowledge you as the authority here because… you’ve been to a nutritionist? The hell?

    Melissa pegged it about a zillion comments ago:

    Unfortunately (for you), most of the people who read this blog have functioning brains and basic literacy skills, making them more than capable of following the thread history, so you have to do better than proclaim victory. You have to actually win.

  191. Mhorag

    tde/t87: I grew up surrounded by people just like you. I went through school with them, to church with them, had them in my family. I am going to say to you what I should have said to them:

    SHUT THE FUCK UP. All you are succeeding in doing is attempting to make me feel worthless, useless, and ugly. And I’M NOT. So instead of hating myself, I’m going to hate YOU.

    That’s right. I HATE YOU. I hate your insistence that a simplistic formula of calories in/exercise out automatically results in the perfect weight and body type. I hate your insulting words and condescending attitude. I hate your barely-veiled insinuation that our bodies makes us lazy, weak-willed, and subhuman. You’re not living my life, so BUTT OUT.

    And if this pisses you off – good. Now you know how I feel when you go off on your pet rants.

    Hmm. I feel pretty good now. I’ve been wanting to say that for the last 40 years (I’m 46 and currently dealing with menopausal weight gain). I think I would have fewer weight problems if I’d just given in to the urge to scream out those words years ago.

  192. t87

    fatfu – I’m sorry but I didn’t understand your last two paragraphs about the 5-10%. I wholly agree with your comment that “it’s just as well to exercise regularly and eat a reasonable diet and not worry about weight”. The problem is, of course, when someone’s idea of a reasonable diet is 2 large Dominos pizzas and a pint of Ben and Jerry’s for dinner. (And lest anyone think I am stereotyping or insulting anyone – I am referring to dinners that _I_ used to eat.) That’s why I asked you about your advise for a 15 year old who is, say, 5’5″ and weighs 300 pounds or something. If its true- as I believe you and other posters have stated – that it is virtually impossible to achieve long-term weight loss, do you just tell the kid that the problem is society’s problems with him and not his eating/exercise habits?

    BStu wrote: “We recognize that the call to lose weight isn’t simply a tough goal to achieve, its physically impossible for nearly everyone.” Here is a quote from Kate’s latest link on that issue:
    “One way to interpret Hirsch and Leibel’s studies would be to propose that once a person got fat, the body would adjust, making it hopeless to lose weight and keep it off. The issue was important, because if getting fat was the problem, there might be a solution to the obesity epidemic: convince people that any weight gain was a step toward an irreversible condition that they most definitely did not want to have.
    But another group of studies showed that that hypothesis, too, was wrong.”

    Mhorag wrote: “That’s right. I HATE YOU. I hate your insistence that a simplistic formula of calories in/exercise out automatically results in the perfect weight and body type. I hate your insulting words and condescending attitude. I hate your barely-veiled insinuation that our bodies makes us lazy, weak-willed, and subhuman.”

    I don’t think I have said that dietary/exercise regimens “automatically results in perfet weight and body type.” I certainly don’t think that is true. It is a long, hard road. It took me 15 months to lose 60 pounds and I have been on a plateau for almost a month now- which is discouraging to say the least. And even when/if I do reach my goals, I still won’t be able to do much about my body “type”. Some people have well proportioned bodies and some people are dumpy, even when they are not obese – that’s just the way it is and you can’t change that (short of major plastic surgery) anymore than somebody can make their face pretty if it isn’t. And I clearly do not insinuate that our bodies “make us” anything. If anything, the opposite is true.

  193. t87

    Oh, and I guess I should say that since I seem to have exhausted Kate Harding’s patience and this thread is sort of her house, I’ll bow out. If anybody wants to continue this round and round, my email is drahthaar – at – gmail.com

  194. Meowser

    No, two large pizzas and a pint of Ben and Jerry’s isn’t a “reasonable dinner” for anyone who cares about nutrition, obviously. And that’s way more than I could eat in a day if I forced myself, let alone at a single meal, and I have a BMI of 37. I don’t know any fat woman, even those twice my size, who eats like that. Even my ex-husband, who also has a BMI of around 37, couldn’t eat that much, and he’s got a pretty good appetite.

    But that is where Health at Every Size comes in. Ever heard of it? HAES means you concentrate on feeding yourself well and moving joyfully and letting your weight fall where it may. It also means that if you have an ED or eat in a way that doesn’t make you feel or function well, you treat that as a separate issue from weight, since people of all sizes have EDs and problems with eating poorly and that screws up everyone’s health, not just that of fat people.

    In your case, stopping the binges seems to have resulted in significant weight loss, but that’s not the case for everyone. But HAES works for improving people’s health regardless. It’s been proven to work, and is sustainable over a lifetime for most people. That’s not true in the slightest of pressuring people to diet to fit a so-called “ideal” BMI, and it’s an even screwier idea when applied to kids. Kids who are exposed to an HAES approach for real aren’t going to grow up thinking two large pizzas and a pint of ice cream is “dinner,” believe me.

  195. Meowser

    I’ll amend the last comment: With the possible exception of certain hollow-legged teenaged boys, but typically, in the absence of an ED or neuroendocrine disturbance, this sort of eating behavior disappears by adulthood.

  196. Danielle

    The worst part about all this is that i find t87 comments triggering. I wish i didn’t. I wish that little kernel in me didn’t still believe that if i really restricted my self one more time i would lose the weight.

  197. I know i’m late to the party, but i was catching up when i saw this and felt i had to respond.

    “Being fat means you’re either sick or lazy”

    As a child, i occasionally rode my bike to and from school… which was 8 miles away. Sixteen miles round trip. I was still the fat kid. Every now and then i would walk home. If i were able to, i would do it again. But i’m not able to.

    Because i am sick. For the past 10-15 years, i have been dealing with two chronic pain conditions which make even low-impact exercise excruciating (endometriosis and fibromyalgia). Sometimes it’s all i can do to get through the day.

    Where am i on your contempt-o-meter now? Now that you know i’m sick, will you give me a “get out of fat free” card? Should i wear a giant fucking neon sign that reads “I AM SICK” so that people will forgive me the sins of my size? Will you suddenly develop any amount of respect for me or the shit i have to put up with from ignorant asshats like you? I’m guessing the answer is “Like Hell”.

    This is the point where i’d attempt to wrap it up with a witty comment to soften the blow. Or perhaps a parting shot that indicates any response on your part is a moral victory for me. But my hands hurt too much to waste any more typing on someone with a room-temperature IQ.

  198. Kate Harding

    The worst part about all this is that i find t87 comments triggering.

    Danielle, I’m so sorry. And it takes a long, long time to get rid of that remaining kernel, I know. This whole thread is a pretty good example of why that is.

  199. Holy shit! Why is this the first time I’ve heard that reasoning? Of course Kate and Fatfu and the Rotund have launched brilliant condemnations that I can only stand and cheer for, but this… what a concise, perfect illustration of why the problem is not health but “normalcy.”

    This was my reaction when I started readng about this initiative — the federal government has decided to alter normal biological distribution. Fabulous.

    Off to finish reading all the comments.

  200. One aspect of this that I find very troubling is the idea of putting kids on low-fat diets. Aside from the idiocy of putting kids on a diet at all, kids NEED fat for their brains and nerves to develop, and for proper myelination to occur. It’s been documented that kids who do not get enough fat in their diets can suffer from brain damage, stunted growth and other disorders.

    http://junkfoodscience.blogspot.com/2007/06/when-food-fears-and-healthy-eating_16.html

    Our son suffered brain damage as a result of oxygen deprivation in utero (undetected detachment of the placenta). His doctors both pediatrician and neurologist were adamants that we be sure to get plenty of fat in his diet to help encourage nerve growth and regeneration.

  201. Mary

    Ah, Bstu strikes again.

    A fat fetishist (you know, “chubby chaser”) who publicly urges women not to diet.

    Anyone else see the danger and hypocrisy?

    I do.

  202. Kate Harding

    Mary, since I know you’re one of BStu’s trolls, I’m probably going to start deleting your comments, but I’ll respond to this one anyway.

    Are you seriously trying to discredit BStu by revealing THE BIG SECRET that he’s attracted to fat women? ZOMG! That explains everything! And since we all know no sane person could be attracted to fat women, there’s no reason to take anything BStu says seriously! Thank FSM you came along to tell us something we NEVER would have figured out about him otherwise, because he’s so ashamed of his preference, and he goes to such extraordinary lengths to hide it.

    BStu, you’re banned!

    Except, oh wait, yeah… there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being attracted to a particular body type. And nothing wrong with being fat. And EVERYTHING wrong with dieting — which thinking people attracted to all different body types can understand.

    Oh, yeah, and BStu’s obvious intelligence remains the best reason to take him seriously.

    Unlike fucking trolls.

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  204. Gosh. I didn’t realize I was going to be “outed” for something I’m open about.

    Sorry my Own Personal Troll (patent pending) has struck. And don’t joke, Kate. Some in the “movement” have banned me based on “Mary’s” say so. :D

  205. Marie

    “There isn’t a single athletic activity I enjoy and it’s going to cut my life expectancy drastically.”

    Are you kidding me? You’re sitting there passively saying you fully expect to die early and it’s all the fault of those nasty PE teachers?!?! Try taking some personal responsibility for a change!

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  208. Kate Harding

    Marie, you should check out Michael Gard and Jan Wright’s The Obesity Epidemic: Science, Morality, and Ideology for a really fascinating take on how P.E. sucks the joy out of physical activity for a lot of people. Both authors have backgrounds in phys ed.

  209. Mary

    Kate, you look thin and healthy. I don’t know why you’re encouraging this unhealthy behavior.

    I will pray for you.

  210. Aw, ain’t that good to know, Kate? You can pass for acceptable.

  211. Marie

    Kate – Thanks for the link, but you missed my point. Marc certainly isn’t alone: PE sucked the joy out of any athletic activities for me for many years, and I know many people who feel the same way.

    I was commenting on the fact that Marc is blaming his school experiences for the fact that his dislike of exercise is, in his own words, “going to cut [his] life expectancy drastically”.

    That must be one of the ultimate examples of abnegation of personal responsibility. If Marc realises that his lack of exercise is compromising his health, then it’s HIS responsibility – and his alone – to get more active.

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  213. Kate217

    If Marc realises that his lack of exercise is compromising his health, then it’s HIS responsibility – and his alone – to get more active.

    Who died and made you God? If Marc is happy even believing that he’s trading longevity for enjoying what time he has, who are you to tell him that he’s wrong? It’s his life.

    My parents were both raging alcoholics who were unable to face their condition and get help. Whereas that was painful to their children, once we became adults, they had no responsibility to stop drinking for our benefit. Would I have prefered it? Of course. Did they owe ti to me? No.

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