Wonder if Michelle Obama reads the New York Times

From a New York Times article on how some anti-childhood obesity funding is cutting into funding for anti-smoking efforts:

Jeffrey Friedman, an obesity researcher at Rockefeller University, notes that there are many assumptions about what will work — more healthful foods in schools, a soda tax, getting children to be more active. Yet no interventions, when tested in large studies, have caused a big difference in children’s or teenagers’ weights.

It is very frustrating how many people believe in the god of Weight Loss despite proof to the contrary.

24 thoughts on “Wonder if Michelle Obama reads the New York Times

  1. I can’t believe people still promote weight loss as a realistic achievable goal. Do they really think fat people haven’t tried everything they can to lose weight, at least at some point? Do they really think we’re just weak willed? As someone who quit smoking cold turkey with no gum, patches, or anything else other than some depression and a little bit of rage concerning an incoming sin tax, they can go suck it.

    Since I’m already rambling, I’ll just continue, someone I used to work with and really respect works for and is actually a senior vp for a major diet company and it just breaks my heart that he works for them.

  2. They just won’t believe that there really isn’t any permanent way to make the majority of fat kids and adults thin. The amount of money wasted on weight loss is ridiculous. It’s time to stop focusing on obesity and move on to something that actually might be preventable.

  3. Kate… so true, so true. I also quit smoking… it was tough! But I did it, I have, you know, willpower. But I’m still fat, no matter how hard I may have tried in the past, no matter how much I exercise this willpower…

    My family all worships the god of Weight Loss, yet they’re fat too. Funny how this works.

  4. Admittedly, it’s hard to stop smoking; but it’s much more likely than weight loss. Also, the bad effects of smoking are much better supported than those of obesity, where we don’t even know which way the cause and effects go.

    • The benefits of quitting smoking is also much more proved than the “expected” benefits of losing weight – which is also included in the article.

      Maybe someone with a genetic predisposition to be fat and get high blood pressure, for example, would get high blood pressure even if obesity were prevented. It might be like taking an aspirin when you have the flu — your fever might go down, but the infection is unchanged.

      On the other hand, Dr. Friedman noted, the question of health benefits is answered for smoking. A person who stops will almost immediately substantially reduce the risk for heart disease. The person’s risk for lung cancer will be nearly frozen at whatever it was at the time smoking stopped. Half of teenage smokers quit.

      But if smoking continues, heart disease risk remains high, and the risk of lung and other cancers continues to increase.

      There’s also research that when very fat people become thin, their body is still not working like a naturally thin person’s does. As one paper put it, “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.” I wouldn’t be surprised if THAT causes problems too.

      • Not everyone’s health improves. Just for the record. Mine certainly hasn’t, if anything my mental health has degenerated all out of proportion to any benefit one could say resulted from quitting. Would be nice to be able to concentrate on a single task for more than five minutes again. And I quit two years ago, so you can’t even claim it will pass at this point. *sigh*

        • My mental health took a major turn for the worse when I quit too. I have an autoimmune disease that flares when I’m stressed and I took a substantial turn for the worse when I quit. Eventually I got past it, but it took a long time.

          I’m sorry you are still having so many problems after two years. I think for some people, smoking is a bigger emotional addiction/need (I don’t mean that in a pejorative way) than a physical addiction.

          • Really if for no other reason than stopping the constant harping on the subject from all sides, it was probably worth it all in all. Because even in the complete absence of physical health related improvement at least the additional stress of being constantly harped on and informed that I am a moral failure and I’m a menace to society etc etc has ended. From that direction anyway… I’m still fat after all heh.

            And really, who is to say that the two (quitting smoking and the deterioration of my ability to focus and concentrate) are related? Perhaps the two merely coincidentally happened at the same time.

            The sad thing is, if there was a pill I could take that would over the course of a couple physically uncomfortable months turn me magically skinny and delicious, just like the Chantix did for smoking, and leave me able to maintain my magically skinny and delicious state with only an minor, easily ignored if not worked past mental side effect and the very rare craving to be as focused as I once was… I’d do it, I’ll be honest.

            Hell, the side effect could be somewhat more serious and I might still consider it. Not because I think life would be any better if I was thin, but because it wouldn’t be any WORSE, and at least the stress of being constantly harped on wouldn’t be there. Not about that anyway — though without smoking and weight the only thing left to rail at me about is my religion and my politics, neither of which exactly fit in here in the heart of Focus on (everyone else’s) Family country lol.

  5. I just sent a letter to Dear Abby yesterday because she perpetuated the stereotype that people gain weight from overeating. A woman wrote in to say her weight had fluctuated in the 2 years she had been dealing with her mother’s cancer and death, and a patient in the medical office where she works asked her if she “was happy with how she had let herself go.” and wanted advice on how to deal with comments like that. Abby’s final bit of advice was to tell her that the weight would come off the same way it went on – one bite at a time.
    I told Abby that if she was going to give advice to fat people, she needed to educate herself on HAES and FA/SA so that fat people could be better prepared to navigate a fat-phobic world, that one’s weight is no one’s business and a better comment would be for the letter writer to give the asker a cold stare and ask “Why do you want to know?” That puts the onus back on the asker of the question and makes them feel a fool, and rightly so.
    When people like Dear Abby perpetuate fat stereotypes, is it any wonder that mainstream America refuses to get over their mistaken beliefs? Not to mention that doctors and researchers are still arguing over whether diets/exercise work for weight loss……………

    • Vesta, I saw your blog entry and thought you handled your response very well, though I doubt she’ll change her mind, but maybe if enough people write her.

  6. She’ll ignore you… the amount of subtle fat hate she expresses every chance she gets is phenomenal. I remember one column where a teenager wrote in asking for advice about her mother belittling her about her weight, and Dear Abby’s advice was essentially “maybe you should consider listening to her and doing something about the weight, she is only concerned about your health”.

    And a few days ago she actually published a response on the fat people using the larger handicap stalls issue that boiled down to “the writer should lose weight now because if she doesn’t she’ll need to use the handicap stall for real when her knees fail” or something.

    Honestly the past oh, five or so years, I’d say about half her responses show an amazing lack of empathy for other people anymore.

  7. I don’t read advice columns, but my parents used to read the original Dear Abby many years ago. It sounds as if the daughter is even more fatphobic than the mother was, which may be indicated by the increasing lack of empathy. Each generation in this country over the past century or so has become generally more fat-hating than the one before it.

    The dangers of dieting/weight loss have been well documented & they increase with age, so that people who are in their 50’s or older increase their mortality rate by several hundred percent with weight loss. On average, those who are at least somewhat fat deal better with illness, survive & recovery from surgeries faster, & live longer than thin people. However, there is little money to be made in telling people that. Instead, they continue to lie to us, minimizing the dangers of weight loss, exaggerating the effectiveness, & greatly exaggerating the actually very small health risks of fat, which may in fact be more related to the stress with which fat people live & the difficulty in getting good medical care than fat anyway, & which decrease to the point where, at my age, there ARE really no increased health risks from fat. I am not popular because I will not drink the Kool-Aid & I am what the pushers of drug, diet, surgeries, &’lifestyle changes’ term ‘non-compliant.’

  8. Erin S – I saw that one about the handicapped stalls and I almost came unglued over that one. I figured I had better not write her over it because I wouldn’t have been coherent or polite (can we say lots of 4-letter words would have sprinkled that letter). I happen to be one of those fatties that uses the handicapped stall in restrooms, for more than one reason. 1- I have bad knees and I don’t like having to use a toilet that makes me feel like I’m sitting on the floor (I also need the hand rails to pull myself up from the toilet). 2- I’m fat and I need enough room to be able to wipe (regular stalls certainly don’t give you that when they put the tissue dispenser right next to the toilet at knee level). 3- I’m fat and I need to be able to get in and shut the door without falling into the toilet or sitting on the damned thing first.
    Now, when people look at me, all they see is the fact that I’m DEATHFATZ. They can’t see that I have bad knees or back problems, so they don’t know why I need to use the handicapped stall, just like I don’t know why that young, thin woman used the handicapped stall. The only time they know I have a right to use the handicapped facilities is if I’m using my wheeled walker, and I don’t always use that (sometimes I’m using the store’s electric mobility cart, and those don’t fit in the restrooms).
    Yeah, Abby’s thin privilege is showing more and more, and I take as many opportunities as I can to educate her, even if she ignores me. I figure eventually she’ll either get tired of ignoring me and straighten up her act or she’ll quit publishing letters from fat people (yeah, like I have so much influence…..lol).

    • The thing that irked me the most with that is that sometimes I use the larger stalls also… and it has absolutely NOTHING to do with my size. I’m still deathfatz and omg scary epidemic fattie AHHH and whatever, but they don’t prevent me from using the regular stalls.

      Know what does? The fact that I’m pretty claustrophobic. While the regular stalls are not generally small enough that they cause me much more than the slightest twinge, on really bad days I use the bigger ones just to avoid even that.

      When I saw the all fat people will need it because our knees collapse on our 25th birthday (sarcasm) response, I was tempted to fire off that I’m ‘obese’ but I use the larger stalls because of my claustrophobia, so I’m just terribly sorry that that isn’t a real enough disability for her. But really, at that point, I was just like “why bother when nobody will see it” you know?

  9. Erm… healthier food, less soda, more exercise… aren’t those “interventions” likely to improve children’s health, even if if they don’t shrink waistlines? I don’t like the idea of money being diverted from anti-smoking campaigns, but it’s a simple fact that many children are eating poorly and not moving enough, so if schools can help with that, I think that’s a good thing.

    • I have no problem with making sure all kids have access to healthy food, enough food, fun exercise, safe places to play, and other healthy things.

      I have a problem with:
      1) Assuming the thin kids don’t need these things, or already have them;
      2) Assuming the fat kids don’t have them;
      3) Centering goals and measuring progress by labeling kids as “obese” and “not obese”.

      • Well, exactly.

        The little girl who was once one of my eggs got a Note Of Concern from her school because her BMI was 24 or something.

        She eats tons of fresh fruits and vegetables, dances and does Muay Thai kick-boxing as well as running around like a happy puppy at all times, and has not an ounce of flab on her body (not that it wouldn’t be OK if she did, but she doesn’t happen to).

        Fortunately, her dads set her straight instantly that BMI is bullshit and the important thing is that she is eating and exercising in ways that make her happy. (I happened to be there at the time and felt for her–at her age, I also had a high scale weight despite not being at all fat at the time, and also was shamed for it. What was I supposed to do? Lose muscle? Lose bone? Not that it would have been appropriate or in most cases even possible for the kids who did have fat to be ordered to lose it. Now I am fat and muscular and have heavy bones, so I may get a Letter of Concern from the government telling me that I may become a human black hole.)

    • Weight is not a behavior, nor is it necessarily the result of certain behaviors.

      I agree that school kids need more opportunities to exercise in ways that are appropriate for their current ability levels, and more access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Couching those concerns in fat-shaming language is not, however, likely to achieve anything but fat-shaming.

    • I don’t even know why I am feeding what is undoubtedly a troll… but here goes.

      Sugar is not evil. Lots and lots of supposedly healthy things have as much or more sugar than a soda. Fruit juice for instance. Fruit itself for that matter. Even whole grain ‘healthy’ carbohydrates convert to SUGARS because that is what they do. So no, reducing soda consumption by itself will not “improve health”.

      As for the healthier food… I remember very clearly when I was first slapped in the head with the idea that the food my parents were feeding me wasn’t healthy. I was 12, and I spent a week straight sobbing all the time because I was convinced my parents were trying to kill me and they hated me and thats why they were only giving me bad unhealthy foods. Trust me, doing that kind of a mind job on a little kid is NOT going to improve health.

      And the moving more? Most kids are freaking perpetual motion machines anyway. Even the fat ones. I know that at age 12 when I first started getting slapped with the mind f*ck that is societies “you are fat and that makes you a BAD BAD PERSON” message to little kids, about the only way you could get me to hold still was to physically hold me down.

      Until the societal message of “you are fat and therefore disgusting” caused me to be so ashamed of myself that I didn’t want to be seen so I just stayed in my room all the time.

      Want to see the hideous fat beast that had to be singled out at age 12 and have it carefully explained to her that she was fat because she didn’t exercise, drank too much soda, and her parents were feeding her unhealthy foods that would cause her to die by the time she was 30? Here you go! GET READY! Shield the children!

      http://tinyurl.com/266s2vn

      I’m the one in the back holding up the dinosaur’s head.

      • From that picture, it looks like I was about the same size as you around that age and got the same response. Of course, I subsequently went and yo-yo dieted myself fat in my teens because I was so petrified of TEH DEATHFATZ, so now everyone feels like they were justified in the warnings… Why can’t the world just leave happy, healthy kids alone?

        • And thats the obscene thing… not that kids are or are not fat, or that some kids prefer reading and others prefer track and others prefer dating or WHATEVER…

          The really truly obscene thing is that this disgusting obsession with weight, weight, all the damn time WEIGHT is taking perfectly happy kids and turning them into me. Not all of them, but at least a few will wind up profoundly broken in ways that normal folks can’t even imagine, and all because of the open season society has declared on fat people.

  10. It amazes me that society has not caught up to the fact that it is healthier to be what it calls “overweight”. Thanks to better nutrition and better medical care, we’re living longer than ever before. Society is still fixated on a thin ideal from the 1930s, when the Depression resulted in mass malnutrition, then the war years and rationing kept people severely underweight.

    We’re not supposed to be skinny. It exacerbates osteoporosis, it is an indicator of higher mortality at younger ages, and so on. Our children are healthy – they’re also taller, with denser bones and bigger muscles. Fat is good.

    (My favourite thing is that without fat, children in particular lose brain function. We need fat to be smart!).

    And hi – popped over from a link thru Shakesville, but I’ve seen you in my LJ! :) Fat positivity for the win!

  11. Pingback: July Month-End « Living ~400lbs

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