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Sun Jan 6, 2013, 05:33 AM

Our Absurd Fear of Fat

Our Absurd Fear of Fat
Paul Campos

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/03/opinion/our-imaginary-weight-problem.html

To put some flesh on these statistical bones, the study found a 6 percent decrease in mortality risk among people classified as overweight and a 5 percent decrease in people classified as Grade 1 obese, the lowest level (most of the obese fall in this category). This means that average-height women — 5 feet 4 inches — who weigh between 108 and 145 pounds have a higher mortality risk than average-height women who weigh between 146 and 203 pounds. For average-height men — 5 feet 10 inches — those who weigh between 129 and 174 pounds have a higher mortality risk than those who weigh between 175 and 243 pounds.

Now, if we were to employ the logic of our public health authorities, who treat any correlation between weight and increased mortality risk as a good reason to encourage people to try to modify their weight, we ought to be telling the 75 million American adults currently occupying the government’s “healthy weight” category to put on some pounds, so they can move into the lower risk, higher-weight categories.

In reality, of course, it would be nonsensical to tell so-called normal-weight people to try to become heavier to lower their mortality risk. Such advice would ignore the fact that tiny variations in relative risk in observational studies provide no scientific basis for concluding either that those variations are causally related to the variable in question or that this risk would change if the variable were altered.

This is because observational studies merely record statistical correlations: we don’t know to what extent, if any, the slight decrease in mortality risk observed among people defined as overweight or moderately obese is caused by higher weight or by other factors. Similarly, we don’t know whether the small increase in mortality risk observed among very obese people is caused by their weight or by any number of other factors, including lower socioeconomic status, dieting and the weight cycling that accompanies it, social discrimination and stigma, or stress

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Arrow 79 replies Author Time Post
Reply Our Absurd Fear of Fat (Original post)
eridani Jan 2013 OP
Tutonic Jan 2013 #1
eridani Jan 2013 #2
Warren DeMontague Jan 2013 #5
eridani Jan 2013 #7
Warren DeMontague Jan 2013 #16
eridani Jan 2013 #36
eridani Jan 2013 #38
HiPointDem Jan 2013 #43
HiPointDem Jan 2013 #42
cthulu2016 Jan 2013 #3
Warren DeMontague Jan 2013 #6
eridani Jan 2013 #22
BainsBane Jan 2013 #54
eridani Jan 2013 #9
Warren DeMontague Jan 2013 #18
eridani Jan 2013 #21
Warren DeMontague Jan 2013 #24
eridani Jan 2013 #30
HiPointDem Jan 2013 #45
Warren DeMontague Jan 2013 #48
HiPointDem Jan 2013 #56
eridani Jan 2013 #57
Warren DeMontague Jan 2013 #4
eridani Jan 2013 #8
Warren DeMontague Jan 2013 #15
eridani Jan 2013 #19
Warren DeMontague Jan 2013 #23
eridani Jan 2013 #44
Warren DeMontague Jan 2013 #46
eridani Jan 2013 #47
Warren DeMontague Jan 2013 #49
HiPointDem Jan 2013 #50
HiPointDem Jan 2013 #59
Arcanetrance Jan 2013 #10
OccupyManny Jan 2013 #11
mrsadm Jan 2013 #12
eridani Jan 2013 #13
TrogL Jan 2013 #14
eridani Jan 2013 #20
TrogL Jan 2013 #29
Iris Jan 2013 #41
TrogL Jan 2013 #74
Iris Jan 2013 #79
Skittles Jan 2013 #61
Skittles Jan 2013 #52
eridani Jan 2013 #53
Skittles Jan 2013 #60
duffyduff Jan 2013 #76
Iris Jan 2013 #39
99Forever Jan 2013 #17
flvegan Jan 2013 #25
Systematic Chaos Jan 2013 #26
Warren DeMontague Jan 2013 #27
eridani Jan 2013 #31
HiPointDem Jan 2013 #51
obamanut2012 Jan 2013 #66
liberal_at_heart Jan 2013 #28
LisaLynne Jan 2013 #34
eridani Jan 2013 #37
LisaLynne Jan 2013 #69
Iris Jan 2013 #40
LisaLynne Jan 2013 #70
Iris Jan 2013 #71
muriel_volestrangler Jan 2013 #32
eridani Jan 2013 #33
muriel_volestrangler Jan 2013 #35
Warpy Jan 2013 #55
HiPointDem Jan 2013 #58
eridani Jan 2013 #62
HiPointDem Jan 2013 #63
eridani Jan 2013 #65
HiPointDem Jan 2013 #68
eridani Jan 2013 #72
duffyduff Jan 2013 #77
eridani Jan 2013 #78
Warpy Jan 2013 #73
Kalidurga Jan 2013 #64
eridani Jan 2013 #67
duffyduff Jan 2013 #75

Response to eridani (Original post)

Sun Jan 6, 2013, 06:14 AM

1. I think that there have been multiple (perhaps thousands) of scientific studies conducted

to prove that obesity or higher-weights in general reduce life expectancy. I also believe that there is an occasional study or placebo to refute those perhaps thousands of scientific studies. Is this latest research study that placebo?

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Response to Tutonic (Reply #1)

Sun Jan 6, 2013, 06:21 AM

2. The study in question is a meta-analysis

--i.e a survey of nearly a hundred different studies from all around the world with more than 3 million subjects.

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Response to eridani (Reply #2)

Sun Jan 6, 2013, 07:09 AM

5. Oh what scientific basis is he suggesting that very obese people are killed by "social stigma"?

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Response to Warren DeMontague (Reply #5)

Sun Jan 6, 2013, 07:14 AM

7. Like, say, not going to the doctor because the diagnosis is always "lose weight"

--regardles of what the problem is? Like facing discrimination in employment and housing? That kind of thing kills, and not just fat people.

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Response to eridani (Reply #7)

Sun Jan 6, 2013, 04:31 PM

16. the first assertion seems a bit spurious, to say the least.

If people want to rationalize not wanting to lose weight, or being fat, they should just acknowledge that's what they're doing, instead of concocting elaborate sociological rationales for the thing.

The bottom line is, obesity isn't good for you.

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Response to Warren DeMontague (Reply #16)

Tue Jan 8, 2013, 02:21 AM

36. If people want to rationalize not wanting to be heterosexual

or being gay, they should just acknowledge that's what they're doing, instead of concocting elaborate sociological rationales for the thing.

The bottom line is, being gay isn't good for you. Neither is being male or being black.

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Response to Warren DeMontague (Reply #16)

Tue Jan 8, 2013, 03:16 AM

38. Nice rationale there for being an accessory after the fact to bullycide

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_of_Kelly_Yeomans

In evidence to court, Yeomans was described as a pleasant and friendly girl. However, she was reported to be the victim of repeated harassment and taunting, particularly about her weight. Her parents said that the incessant bullying had left Yeomans feeling miserable. Her mother asserted that she had gone to her daughter's school, Merrill College, Shelton Lock, thirty times to complain about the issue, but received no assistance. School officials, however, claimed they had received only one complaint.

Matters came to a head in September, 1997, when a group of youths reportedly gathered at Yeomans's home on several consecutive nights, on each occasion throwing food at the house and shouting taunts aimed at Yeomans. Her mother later said that the incident prompted Yeomans to tell her family, "It is nothing to do with you Daddy, nothing to do with you Mummy, and nothing to do with you Sarah . I have had enough and I'm going to take an overdose."

The parents said they were worried and sought help for their daughter's obvious depression, but did not believe she would carry out her threat to take her own life. However, Yeomans was soon found dead in her bedroom after taking an overdose of painkillers.


Tough to get enough exercise if you can't do it in public for fear of constant vicious abuse.

http://chronicle.augusta.com/stories/1997/03/23/met_205736.shtml

Jacqueline Graham still can't bring herself to show her son's room to a stranger, but you don't need to look past the photos in the living room to see who he was: He was the fat kid who didn't have any friends. The easy target. The mark. It's all there in his eyes: The sweetness. The shyness. The hurt.

At 5 feet 4, 174 pounds, he wasn't the heaviest kid at his school. But he was sensitive, and when others teased him about his weight, when they chased him down the street or smacked the back of his head when the teacher wasn't looking, he sometimes cried. In the social hierarchy of fifth grade at Westwood Heights Elementary School, that put him squarely at the bottom.

WOULD THINGS HAVE been any different at Parkway Middle School? Sammy was to have started sixth grade there that Monday, the morning his father cut him down from the tree.

<snip>

He was logical and precise, gifted not only at puzzles but at music and math. He could dissect complex arguments with lawyerly skill. Yet he liked the same toys as his cousin, an infant. And he was awkward and clumsy; he couldn't even clap. Josh rode a bike before he could.

In the water, his awkwardness vanished. Not in the daytime - he was too ashamed to let anyone see him in his bathing suit. He had to swim in long pants and a shirt. But at night, it was magic, like shedding his body. In the water at night, he was free.

<snip>

He can only imagine how it must have happened, how God must have watched Sammy steal into the yard with a flashlight, a rope and a step stool, having pieced together his final puzzle: The body he hated. The school he feared. The perfect place that awaited his soul.

He could go there. He would go there. It would be easy, like swimming. Just position the stool and climb up, toward heaven. Then step into God's waiting arms.

http://blogs.sfweekly.com/exhibitionist/2011/09/marilyn_wann_bullycide.php

Teens who perceive themselves as "too fat" -- regardless of what they actually weigh -- are more likely to think about suicide and attempt suicide, according to a 2005 study.

In April, two 14-year-old best friends in Minnesota, Haylee Fentress and Paige Moravetz, died in a shared suicide. Haylee was teased for her weight and her red hair. Haylee's aunt, Robin Settle, said that although Haylee wasn't "severely overweight," she was so self-conscious she rarely ate at school.

Brian Head was 15. One day, students were pulling his hair and slapping him. He had been bullied for his weight since seventh grade. He shot himself. In a poem discovered later, Brian described himself, "as an insignificant 'thing,' something to be traded, mangled, and mocked," reports Barbara Colorosa, author of The Bully, the Bullied and the Bystander. Brian's father successfully lobbied for a law in Georgia that makes bullying a crime.

Brian's death wasn't the last weight-related bullycide. In 1996, I heard about 12-year-old Samuel Graham, who hanged himself from the family's backyard tree rather than start junior high and face taunts about his weight.

In 2004, eighth-grader April Himes skipped 53 days of school to avoid weight-based bullying. School officials were unable to stop the harassment, but they also informed her she must attend or face a truancy board and possible juvenile detention. At that news, she hanged herself.



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Response to Warren DeMontague (Reply #16)

Tue Jan 8, 2013, 03:54 AM

43. The science says something different. It's well-known in the field; moderate overweight - moderate

 

obesity, statistically, = lower mortality.

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Response to Tutonic (Reply #1)

Tue Jan 8, 2013, 03:52 AM

42. no. this has been well-known for some time.

 

In fact, BMI values in the overweight range appeared to be slightly protective relative to normal weight with a hazard ratio of 0.94 (95% CI 0.91 to 0.96), the researchers found.

Results from earlier studies have also shown lower mortality associated with moderate overweight and obesity. "Possible explanations have included earlier presentation of heavier patients, greater likelihood of receiving optimal medical treatment, cardioprotective metabolic effects of increased body fat, and benefits of higher metabolic reserves," the researchers suggested.

http://www.clinicaladvisor.com/no-increased-mortality-for-mildly-overweight/article/274504/#

BMI < 23 also = increased mortality.

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Response to eridani (Original post)

Sun Jan 6, 2013, 06:34 AM

3. Our weight problem is not imaginary

I don't care for the tone of the article. One doesn't best correct a mistaken impression by creating and equally false countervailing mistaken impression.

Being moderately overweight is not very dangerous, statistically.

Being extremely overweight is. (And isolated belly fatness probably is a warning sign in moderately overweight people.)


But after the myths are cleared away, we still have the fact that in exurban and rural America you cannot go shopping without seeing several people who are much fatter than the fat lady or fat man in a 1920s circus side-show.

The reality is a very real morbid obesity epidemic combined with an over-broad definition of obesity.

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Response to cthulu2016 (Reply #3)

Sun Jan 6, 2013, 07:12 AM

6. I wouldn't write off the possibility of unknown environmental variables being a factor, too.

I'm not "oh, blame the fat people". American diets, particularly in certain states, suck. There's no doubt on that. And God knows there are enough people who think exercise consists of lifting the latest issue of Us from the supermarket rack or doing 2 couch squats an hour to a vigorous regimen of "I Married A Kardashian".

But there have also been disturbingly unexplained observations around animals, like lab animals, mysteriously getting fatter in recent decades as well:

http://news.discovery.com/animals/fat-pets-obesity-weight.html

There may be chemicals in the environment which are contributing to this.

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Response to Warren DeMontague (Reply #6)

Sun Jan 6, 2013, 06:25 PM

22. Could very well be the case

Wondering if there are any direct effects on health.

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Response to Warren DeMontague (Reply #6)

Tue Jan 8, 2013, 04:32 AM

54. a recent study suggests a particular bacteria may induce obesity

I saw the article linked from DU. Stress and irregular sleep habits also contribute, along with all the other things we already know about--overeating, not getting enough exercise, and for a small percentage of people, hormones.

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Response to cthulu2016 (Reply #3)

Sun Jan 6, 2013, 07:21 AM

9. So? All those people live longer than people did in the 1920s

Mostly because of reduced infant mortality, to be sure. The entire package of urban industrialization is healthier for everyone, all told. Of course it could be tweaked a lot to make it better--walkable cities, elimination of food deserts, subsidizing fruits and veggies instead of high fructose corn syrup, etc. Not sure why anyone thinks these things would lead to the elimination of overweight or obesity, even though we would likely weigh somewhat less on average.

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Response to eridani (Reply #9)

Sun Jan 6, 2013, 05:29 PM

18. Trying to redefine very obese as somehow "healthy" isn't going to help.

If people want to be fat, hey, that's their call. Consenting adults and whatnot. In fact, go to any mall in America and you'll see LOTS of folks who don't seem terribly wrought out about it at all, happily munching on corndogs and 90 oz. slurpees, "social stigma" notwithstanding.

But it's not healthy.

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Response to Warren DeMontague (Reply #18)

Sun Jan 6, 2013, 06:21 PM

21. And you'll see lots of people munching on corndogs and drinking slurpees--

--who aren't fat. And you'll also see fat people who walk or do other exercise in public, despite the constant public abuse.

Fat is neither healthy nor unhealthy. Regardless of weight, anyone can decide to eat healthier food and be more active.

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Response to eridani (Reply #21)

Sun Jan 6, 2013, 07:13 PM

24. No one should be "abused", no matter what they look like.

And lots of factors- including genetics- are involved. But I haven't known any overweight people, or obese people, who haven't seen some improvement with dietary and exercise changes.

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Response to Warren DeMontague (Reply #24)

Mon Jan 7, 2013, 04:52 AM

30. True. However, "some improvement" = "still fat" for most

You may feel better and have better blood chemistry and blood pressure, but there is no drop in the level of public abuse.

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Response to Warren DeMontague (Reply #18)

Tue Jan 8, 2013, 04:00 AM

45. Except the science says that indeed, moderately obese are healthy, as measured by mortality risk.

 

I conclude that your bitch is an aesthetic rather than scientific one. You find the sight of fat people eating distasteful. We could call it a prejudice.

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Response to HiPointDem (Reply #45)

Tue Jan 8, 2013, 04:12 AM

48. I rarely go to the mall, and I don't give a shit what other people do.

Unlike some people, I'm not into telling consenting adults how to live their lives. And if people want to be fat, more power to them.

However, they're not entitled to their own facts; "moderately obese" by the standard AMA weight chart probably includes most people who would be considered "thin" or "average" in the USA. I'm slightly over my weight for my height, because I'm stockier and bigger than the average. Yet, I'm in fairly good shape.

The height-weight charts and categories don't tell the whole story, but it's definitely NOT healthy for people to be very obese. Fat, in general, is not good for people.

Again, I don't care nor do I judge what other people do. I do observe it, however. But the only fat person it bothers me to see is in the mirror, which is why I exercise regularly and try to keep a healthy diet.

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Response to Warren DeMontague (Reply #48)

Tue Jan 8, 2013, 04:42 AM

56. There's no such 'standard AMA weight chart'. Old-style Height/Weight charts aren't typically used

 

in clinical practice, and there never was any "AMA" chart anyway.

BMI is used; the standards are quite clear & near-universally used in clinical practice in medicine & dietetics.



Very severely underweight = <15
Severely underweight = 15-16

Underweight = 16-18.5

Normal (healthy weight) = 18.5-25

Overweight = 25-30

Obese Class I (Moderately obese) = 30-35
Obese Class II (Severely obese) = 35-40
Obese Class III (Very severely obese) >40



I'm 5'6". If I weighed 215 pounds my BMI would be 34.7, classified as 'moderately obese'.

I actually weigh 135, & at that weight I have a pot belly & noticeable fat around my waist, though my BMI is low-normal (21.8).

If I weighed 215 I'd be obviously obese. No one would consider me 'thin' at 215 by any stretch of the imagination.

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