Today in Don’t Read The Comments

Marilyn Wann takes on weight bias in healthcare in “Big deal: You can be fat and fit” on CNN.COM:

…People are telling their stories of weight bias in medical care on websites like First, Do No Harm, This Is Thin Privilege and Obesity Surgery Gone Wrong. The National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance has been speaking out on behalf of fat people’s civil rights since its founding in 1969.

Health professionals of good conscience are joining this effort in increasing numbers. They’ve developed an approach called Health At Every Size that is proving to be better for people’s health than weight-loss attempts. The Health At Every Size professional organization,Association of Size Diversity and Health, this week launched the project Resolved, a response to New Year’s weight-loss resolutions. It invites people to share stories about weight discrimination in health care and opinions about what needs to change.

Weight bias has been documented among doctors, nurses, fitness instructors and other professionals on whom a fat person might need to rely for help. Last year, researchers who themselves are part of an anti-“obesity” institution (Yale’s Rudd Institute) surveyed medical professionals who specialize in caring for fat people and found that they had high levels of weight bias, viewing us as “lazy, stupid, and worthless.”

Image courtesy of the Rudd Center Image Gallery

Image courtesy of the Rudd Center Image Gallery

Paul Campos uses the latest “obesity paradox” study with “Our Absurd Fear of Fat” in The New York Times to argue that policing fat is worthless:

The study, by Katherine M. Flegal and her associates at the C.D.C. and the National Institutes of Health, found that all adults categorized as overweight and most of those categorized as obese have a lower mortality risk than so-called normal-weight individuals. If the government were to redefine normal weight as one that doesn’t increase the risk of death, then about 130 million of the 165 million American adults currently categorized as overweight and obese would be re-categorized as normal weight instead.

[…]

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.  […T]iny 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.

Both articles are well worth reading, but I would skip the comments on those sites. If you must discuss with someone, chat about it here ;)

8 thoughts on “Today in Don’t Read The Comments

  1. New visual theme? I like it a lot. My sister and I have a 10,000 morons theory about the comments at just about every major website. It’s disheartening to keep being reminded that so many people post rude things. So we pretend that most of the vile comments on the web come from 10,000 anti-social trolls that spend all of their time posting hate everywhere, and the rest of humanity is more lovable.

    Sadly it’s a fantasy, but pretending it’s true helps me sleep at night.

  2. I posted some backup for Paul Campos on the New York Times site. This is one of the few sites I will try to engage on as the civility and IQ levels are higher than average.
    Regarding internet trolls, I had the misfortune of spending an entire semester with 6 of them. They all belonged to same fraternity and signed up en masse for my course, entitled “Obesity: From Cells to Society”. Their goal apparently was to torture me all semester and then give me 1 out of 10 for all categories on the student evaluations which almost led to the cancellation of my class until I argued that the data were statistically invalid. All of them were Ron Paul supporters and most were econ or business majors. I tried to cater to them by giving them readings from the Cato Institute and Reason magazine –basically the anti-nanny-state line of reasoning for size acceptance. All semester I heard comments that are identical to the ones posted over and over again on internet forums. Their classmates agreed with my characterization of this gang of 6 as internet trolls. So unfortunately the stereotype of trolls as frat boys seems to be true.
    Not all frat boys are bad. My own son was in a fraternity and I am academic adviser to his frat.

    • The stuff about healthy people being the ones to get off the floor, while TRUE, really what was her point? To say that fat people who can get off the floor are worthwhile, and the ones who can’t aren’t?

      I wasn’t sure about that either. If the goal is to move the “fitness” focus away from weight to other measures of fitness it kinda works, but in an able-ist fashion. Besides we superfat people, people with balance and mobility issues or amputees may have difficulty getting up off the floor that has nothing to do their general level of fitness.

      Well if she even would admit we exist……

      We are a statistically small part of the population, so I can understand her wanting to focus on the not-very-fat majority. It would be nice if that had been clarified, though, especially since so many articles use pictures of superfat people to illustrate articles about the much smaller people in the “overweight” category.

      There’s also the question of whether “fitness” is obligatory (the way it is often presented in the media) or not. Whether to pursue fitness is a personal decision.

  3. Pingback: What does fat acceptance have to do with health? « Living ~400lbs

  4. Is it “weird” that I look at that woman and I don’t really see a fat person? So many women here look like that… it honestly just seems normal to me. Maybe I’m just not a judgmental prick. I don’t know.

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