You know, I write a lot about science reporting here, but the emphasis there is on reporting. I have not taken a science class since high school, and I did not do well in the ones I took then. My degrees are in English and writing, and my professional experience is in writing and editing. I don’t analyze scientific research here; I analyze texts. Also, I rant. Anything else is beyond the scope of my qualifications.
Fortunately, I have an endless supply of material, because analyzing texts appears to be beyond the scope of a great many writers’ and editors’ qualifications these days.
On the plus side, I’ve been noticing some shockingly logical and panic-free reporting about fat coming from Reuters lately. I was even beginning to wonder if there’s a health editor somewhere in there who actually has a clue. And who, you know, actually takes their editorial policy to heart.
Overweight women are known to have a greater chance of giving birth to a larger-than-normal baby. But new research suggests that these odds stay higher even when a woman loses weight before pregnancy.
In a study of more than 146,000 women who’d each given birth twice, researchers found that those who maintained a normal body weight before each pregnancy had the lowest odds of having an abnormally large newborn.
Not surprisingly, women who were overweight or obese before each pregnancy had higher risks of delivering a large baby.
However, overweight women who lost weight before their second pregnancy did not eliminate their increased odds of having an oversized newborn.
I’m nodding, I’m nodding… No, it’s not surprising that fat women have big babies. And it’s certainly not surprising that losing weight before a pregnancy won’t affect the outcome of said pregnancy. I mean, dieting obviously doesn’t alter your genes — that’s where we’re going with this, right?
Not so much.
This, the study authors speculate, could mean that a woman’s excess pounds have a lasting effect on subsequent pregnancies, even after she’s slimmed down.
ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? The weight she already lost somehow comes back to affect the size of the baby? As La di Da puts it: “Zombie fat: you can never be rid of it even if you cut its head off.”
Liss, may I please borrow the “What the Poop?” graphic? ‘Cause seriously, no one but Mama Shakes will do for this one.
Although a cat macro might do in a pinch.
This is the kind of shit that’s in the news every day. (And about every subject, of course, but fat’s what I do.) “Scientists” make asinine statements, which are reported with no follow-up questions (e.g., “Respectfully, sir, mightn’t a genetic influence on birth weight be a more plausible explanation for these results than fucking zombie fat?”), no investigation into who’s making these statements and who’s funding them, and no goddamned critical thinking about what they’ve just put into print.
Like, say, the conclusion to both this research and this article:
Ideally, the researchers conclude, women would lower their odds of having an overly large baby by preventing their own excess weight gain in the first place.
Well, shit. And me without my flux capacitor.
I guess all I can do now is add a LOT more kegels to my daily routine, since between the fat on my body now and the 110 zombie pounds I lost in the late nineties, I’m poised to have, like, a 40-lb. baby someday.
Of course, for all my finger-pointing, I’m not above making my own dumb-assed mistakes. Yesterday at Shapely Prose, I linked to an article discussing why school obesity interventions are uniformly failing. I was in a rush (on my way to — gasp! — exercise), so I just posted a round-up of fat news. Which meant I didn’t read all those articles as closely as I would if I were intending to rip them apart.
I did, however, read closely enough to ensure that none of them had little ludicrosity bombs tucked in among the logic, as is so often the case. (Well, the Slate article did, but I acknowledged that.) Articles that say things like, “Dieting damages your health and ultimately makes you fatter, so obviously, fat people need to go on permanent diets” are sadly common. Even more common are articles that say, “A new study shows fat’s not really that bad for your health… In conclusion, fat’s really, really bad for your health.” So I’m wary of linking to articles I haven’t combed over for such statements. And I combed that KC Star article pretty well.
I just didn’t notice it had a second page. I’m smart like that.
Meowser noticed, bless her heart. On page two, we have this:
“If the mother is eating Cheetos and white bread, the fetus will be born with those taste buds. If the mother is eating carrots and oatmeal, the child will be born with those taste buds,” said Robert Trevino of the Social and Health Research Center in San Antonio.
Quick, name three foods your mother loved/loves, which she almost certainly ate while pregnant, and which you cannot fucking stand. Did it take you longer than 10 seconds? I DIDN’T THINK SO. I mean, a three-year-old could swat down the logic there.
But “experts” say it, writers write it, editors publish it. Somehow, nobody in that chain questions it. So — setting aside the fat panic for a moment — women once again get the message that their children are not separate human beings with separate minds, bodies, and tastebuds; they are mere reflections of their mothers’ personal choices. Meowser pretty much sums it up when she calls such statements “anti-feminist, regressive, guiltbaggery.” And by regressive, she means, like, a good 600 years. As Jess put it in comments: “And if the mother is scared by a goat during pregnancy, her child will be born with cloven hooves.”
These things? Are why I get THAT WAY.