Living in New York City, I climb stairs. In my house, in the subway, at my job, and in random places you wouldn’t think would have stairs. Two months ago I climbed the Manitou incline which was like a giant staircase. I admit when I sometimes climb to the subway (I often take an elevated train), I get winded and going up the incline I thought my heart was going to explode.
Every day I take some kind of stairs, an while the exercise has done wonders for my legs, it has not made me thin. Riding my exercise bike 15-30 minutes a day has not made me thin, walking at least a mile or more a day had not made me thin, my daily stretches, my yoga, my summer swimming, my walks around the office has not made me thin.
There is a slogan: "Nothing about us, without us." which is often used among marginalized groups. It essentially means one group decides the fate/treatment of a marginalized group without their input. Fat activists see this all the time. "Obesity" organizations which decide on policy on how to make fat people thin don't seek input from actual fat people.
I have mentioned before that there is a constant assumption that if you are fat because you stuff your face and sit on the couch all day. Some organizations try to be gentle by saying “It’s not your fault you stuff your face.” Every single treatment for fatness is always the same: eat less calories than your body needs (aka a diet). It is the same treatment used in the last forty years and still hasn’t been proved to work in the long run.
If the people running this International Congress of Obesity would talk to an actual fat person (and not just try to treat them), they might figure out that taking the stairs will not make us thin.
When organizations pull stunts like this, the only thing at which they can possibly succeed is creating an environment that prevents people from, and shames people for, navigating the world in the way that’s best for them and their situation.
And shame on this Amanda Sainsbury who decided fat people must become thin or they will die and Health at Every Size is bad for encourage people to stay fat. But what can you expect from a person who writes diet books? (Even worse this quack is the editor in chief of the Journal of Eating Disorders).
While I certainly agree that it is possible to have healthy behaviours that provide health benefits at a wide variety of body sizes, I disagree that it is possible to be or to stay truly healthy at every size.
This is the second time I've seen someone add a Y to the end of health when referring to Health at Every Size. This, to me, changes the meaning. Even though HAES is more geared to fat people because of the discrimination we face in health care, HAES is meant for all body types. Healthy is an abstraction. You can't really define it because everyone has different ranges. My husband can get to the top of a mountain but put him in a lake, and I’m going to zoom past him. Are we both “Healthy” or “Unhealthy”?
It is thus not surprising that people frequently put off doing anything about excess weight until better conditions arise (e.g. when the children start school or leave home, when a better financial position or home is attained, after retirement, etcetera). The health at every size concept implies putting off doing anything about excess weight indefinitely, instead accepting a higher BMI and focusing on healthy behaviours.
Ironically here she accidently points out how HAES is better than dieting. People put off Dieting. They wait until January or when they have money. HAES you do every day, no putting off. No need for money. It's learning to be as healthy as you can in the body you have whether it be too fat, too thin, disabled, or suffering from a disease. You can do HAES if you walk the stairs, take the escalator, or jump up and down.
Fatness among 3-5 years old has dropped 43% and fat adults and kids over 5 and adults have stayed the same and have been for the past decade. Not just in the US but the world.
Paul Campos writes: As Michael Gard notes in his recent book The End of the Obesity Epidemic, data from all over the world indicate that, over the past ten to 15 years, obesity rates have leveled off or declined among adults and children.
Does this mean the epidemic is over? No, because the epidemic of fat hatred isn’t over. A few years ago I breathed a sigh of relief when multiple studies came out showing that overweight people lived the longest (longevity didn't decrease until your BMI reached 37 and even then it wasn't that bad) and the 400,000 people who died of fatness was revised to 25,814 http://www.obesitymyths.com/myth2.2.htm . For a minute I thought that we finally won. We finally proved that fat does not equal death and making fat people thin was not a cure. Maybe it was time to move to HAES(tm) and that instead of focusing on large bodies, we could focus on getting all people to eat right and find enjoyable movement.
Then the diet/medical/drug industry reared its ugly heads. We were bombarded with “studies” proving WLS cured everything; more infective diet drugs hit the market; the American Medical Association called us a disease; we are penalized for not joining “volunteer” workplace wellness. And anytime an actual study came out saying fatness is not in fact unhealthy, those studies were raked over the coals (Any study claiming fatness is bad is never questioned.) When the study came out claiming fatness among young children dropped 43% Forbes was quick to point out it went up first before going down a mere 14% (Although Paul Campos agrees with their assessment.)
Regardless of the drop, this fake war on children needs to end. There is nothing wrong with children enjoying movement and eating delicious and nutritious foods, but when you single out the fat kids, you cause eating disorders, low self-esteem and bullying. According to School obesity programs may promote worrisome eating behaviors and physical activity in kids Report:
30% of parents of children age 6-14 report worrisome eating behaviors and physical activity in their children.
7% of parents say that their children have been made to feel bad at school about what or how much they were eating.
Ending dieting and embracing HAES has helped improve my health, but it’s still hard when I’m bombarded with messages that fat is bad. I need to do more about dealing with the stigma of having a big body in a fat hating culture. If I can’t make the world a safe space, the least I could do is feel at home in my own body.
The Rudd Center recently came out with a study showing that weight stigma affects the stress hormone cortisol. This is just the beginning of showing that some "fat-related-diseases" may be more related to the stress of stigma rather than being over some arcane number.
Exposure to weight-stigmatizing stimuli was associated with greater cortisol reactivity among lean and overweight women. These findings highlight the potentially harmful
physiological consequences of exposure to weight stigma.
Another study said that labeling fatness as a disease undermines health.
Specifically, obese participants who read the "obesity is a disease" article placed less importance on health-focused dieting and reported less concern for weight relative to obese participants who read the other two articles. They also chose higher-calorie options when asked to pick a sandwich from a provided menu.
Essentially fat people who saw themselves labeled as diseased didn't care about health when dieting and also ended up eating more.
I've mentioned it before. Dieting pushes weight loss not health as the ultimate goal. You diet, you lose some weight, then the weight loss stops and you go on a massive binge. When all that matters is being thin, health usually goes out the window.
Stigma causes stress and anxiety. Fat people face stigma either outright or even unintentionally: Small seats, labeled diseased, poor quality clothes, assumptions that you drink soda, or don't exercise.
All this could lead to body shame and a mistrust in yourself. I mentioned that when I was climbing the Manitou incline it was harder the closer I got to my goal. I didn't trust myself to make it. It disturbs me because it's been over 10 years since I stopped dieting and tried to work on loving my body and still I have doubts. I still sometimes look at weight loss “successes” (the exception, not the rule) and wonder why couldn’t I do that.
Stigma is hard to escape especially when you are bombarded with weight loss ads, and fat hatred. When you're patronized and told just to eat one less cookie. So how do you escape the stigma? Staying in your house without access to internet isn’t going to cut it.
We can, and have, changed the world to becoming more accepting that people come in all shapes and sizes. It’s slow but happening.
However in the meantime we need to think of ways to protect ourselves from fat hatred.
The best way to deal with that is improving your self-esteem. Names become meaningless if you feel you are better than them. Here are a few suggestions to help deal with stigma.
Love yourself and tell yourself of your achievements. Tell yourself you deserve it.
Write everyday things you are grateful for.
Meditate and do deep breathing. Try not to think about triggers. Empty your mind if possible and concentrate on your breathing.
Take a nice relaxing bath and tell your body how much you love it. If they didn’t make a bathtub big enough for you, take a nice hot shower.
If you are someone like me who blogs about fat hatred, give yourself a respite when you feel like you’ve had enough. Read a fat positive blog or book.
Remember this is the only body you have. You need to trust it.
As I talked about a few months before, the American Medical Association decided that fatness is a disease, whether you're healthy or not. They are ignoring all logic and science. Some fat people are metabolically healthy while in some people fat is a symptom of disease. The gist is they want to try to impose same solution "Make the fat person eat less" that has never worked in the long run.
Why would the AMA do that? Could it be that the Affordable Health Care allows treatment of fatness that includes paying for diets, diet pills, and surgery.
Defining obesity as a disease should encourage more doctors to offer treatments like surgery and medication, Hamdy says. Two new obesity drugs, Qsymia and Belviq, were recently approved by the FDA
Qsymia is an appetite suppressor. It goes back to same fucking "cure" of eating less. And it has a mile long list of side effects. Of course you can say all meds have side effects. They do. However, why take a drug with terrible side effects that won't work?
And Belvig was proved to not work even before it was released.
The AMA's classifying the fatness as a disease opens up a lot of money to the diet industry. It will continue to work on the faulty assumption that we must make fat people eat less. The weight loss/gain cycle will continue.
Even this doctor in this TED video who is not being fat positive agrees that the issue isn't EATING TOO MUCH but metabolic issues that cause fatness in SOME but not all people.
Essentially stop trying to cure the fatness, instead cure the actual disease.
This week is Weight Stigma Awareness Week. Weight Stigma often comes
from assumptions. The strongest stigma is if fat people just eat less
they will be become thin and healthy. It is at the bottom of every cure for
fatness: diet pills, surgery, low calorie diets, lifestyle changes are
all to make a fat person eat less. Bullies claim that fat people
are lazy and lack willpower, the well-intentioned think it's not fat
people's fault. Food is everywhere. Except that why don't thin people
have the same problem?
Everywhere we are bombarded with hateful messages: (Trigger warning ahead.)
The second? Costco as much as anything else is why the land of the free
and the home of the brave is also the trough of the tub o’ lard, our
exceptionalism measurable by not only our G.D.P. but also our B.M.I.
That’s body mass index, and our bodies are indeed massive.
Even when Fat people say enough, we are okay with our size, that
no matter what our eating habits are, we don't deserve to be treated
like shit, that some of us are healthy and fat, that many of us eat no more than thin people do, we are told we are delusional or making things worse.
Obesity is a class issue, like tobacco. People in every class used to
smoke, rich and poor, educated and non-educated alike. But when tobacco
was conclusively linked to disease, more and more educated people
stopped, until the image of smokers reached a tipping point, and went
from “cool” to “loser.”
Yes people with a lower SES are more fat,
but it's more likely to do with bias in society rather than poor people
eat too much. Being fat is not like smoking. Smoking is a HABIT, being fat is hugely genetic. And if the fat is a habit why do so many people fail to lose weight?
Even "Doctors" think it's okay to shame fat people. In Katz, D. L., Murimi, M., Pretlow, R. A. & Sears, W. (2012). Exploring Effectiveness of Messaging in Childhood Obesity Campaigns. Childhood Obesity 8(2): 97-105 (The article unfortunately is not available unless you subscribe) is filled with praise for programs who shame fat children. Many of the quotes are disgusting but I will share one.
Sears: Good medicine means encouraging
children and giving them the tools to get lean. An occasional child might be
pushed over into anorexia, but I think the situation that you mention in
Seattle is an overreaction and represents unwarranted fear.
Guess what? Teenagers who were formerly fat were found to suffer from eating disorders.
These problems may not be diagnosed quickly, because parents and doctors
"think it's a good thing that these teens have lost so much weight,"
said lead researcher Leslie Sim, an assistant professor of psychology
and an eating disorders expert at the Mayo Clinic Children's Center in
I have mentioned before that some of the worst habits I've ever picked up came from dieting. The worst being the dieting/binge cycle. Thankfully I never do less than at 12oo cal diet but I did a lot of crazy things to lose weight. I think of all the people who starve themselves or have weight loss surgery and consume less calories than a normal person needs. Why isn't this considered anorexia? Just because they are fat?
Stigma also affects health greatly. Not just from the stress of being bombarded with messages that you are less than human if you are fat, but bias in even getting your health care.
Obese people are less likely to survive cancer, and one reason may be a surprising inequality: The overweight are undertreated.
often short them on chemotherapy by not basing the dose on size, as
they should. They use ideal weight or cap the dose out of fear about how
much treatment an obese patient can bear. Yet research shows that
bigger people handle chemo better than smaller people do.
I have written before about doctors refusing to treat fat people or giving them surgery and treatments needed. I even spoke once to a supersized woman whose doctor refused to give her an lifesaving operation (the story has a happy ending, another doctor did the surgery).
When are "Doctors" and "Journalist" going to listen? Stigma against fat is stigma against the fat person. It will lead to poor health care, eating disorders and stress.
I remember when Leptin was touted as the hormone that would cure fatness forever. There would be drugs to fix fat and you would become slim, trim, and be able to live like a first class citizen.
When it turned out that Leptin wasn't the fat hormone but the starvation hormone, and only worked in a small amount of people it, vanished as a miracle cure. Although if you search Leptin in Google, you'll find a bunch of leptin diets.
Now the new leptin is gut bacteria. Researchers took gut bacteria from two twins, one thin, one fat and injected it into lab mice .
Researchers found pairs of human twins in which one was obese and the other lean. They transferred gut bacteria from these twins into mice and watched what happened. The mice with bacteria from fat twins grew fat; those that got bacteria from lean twins stayed lean.
The thin mice were then adored about their mouse peers as being healthy despite all the cheese they ate.
The next step, transferring thin people's shit into fat people.
“I’m very excited about this,” he added, saying the next step will be to try using gut bacteria to treat obesity by transplanting feces from thin people.
I had to double check to make sure the article wasn't the Onion. New York Times? Check. Written by Gina Kolata check. Based on a study in Science, check.
Zoe Williams of the Guardian points out the crazed obsession with "curing" fatness as a moral issue:
Other people's weight became all our problem when we started a) calling it an "epidemic" and b) totting up how much it costs the NHS. This is illogical.Malnutrition costs the NHS significantly more and yet no moral judgment accrues around people who are too thin or, for reasons of incapacity, aren't being fed properly by the people who should be caring for them...
Except there is one more issue. The mice with the thin bacteria were put on diets.
The team also showed that a “lean” microbial community could infiltrate and displace an “obese” one, preventing mice from gaining weight so long as they were on a healthy diet.
Diets usually work in the short term. This is no different than diet pills. All of them require you to also do a low calorie diet and pills will help you lose a little more weight. But none have proved to work in the long run.
Sometimes it gets tiring to be experimented on. To be given pills, surgery and shit in hopes that I conform. Instead of treating all disease as weight loss, why not look into actually curing the disease?
I wouldn't know even where to start to estimate about how much money diet industry had gotten from me. From the memberships at Weight Watchers and Nutrisystem, the gym memberships I gave up after 6 months, the diet soda, the diet foods, the diet books. I am guessing somewhere in the range of 2ok probably more.
My biggest consumption was diet coke. Diet coke was my beverage of choice through almost every single diet. From the ages 15 to 27 (Low carb dieting didn't allow diet soda) I would drink two or three 2 liter bottles a week, not to mention cans and bottles form the vending machines. I remember my excitement when Coke released diet cherry coke. One of my writing rituals was a bowl of popcorn and a glass of diet coke by my side while I wrote (today it's water or tea.)
I gave up diet coke when my low carb diet said it was a no-no. Except when I wasn't dieting, I would go back to drinking diet coke.
Diet coke was the last dieting product I had to give up. It had been my fair weather friend for so long. It remained with me after I gave up dieting, long after my book was out, long after I preached fat acceptance. I kept it as the one diet product I wanted to keep. I didn't drink it as I once did and I thought about giving it up for good. The last occassion was December 8, 2007. I only know the date I had been in Syracuse visiting friends and taking photos. After a long day with still more to do, I found myself tired. I asked my husband to go out and get me some tea or coffee or something with caffeine. At the time I didn't drink soda because I had made the association between corn syrup and feeling nausaous. He came back with a diet coke not realizing that I was thinking of giving up. I was so tired I drank it. It had been almost a year since I had one.
I couldn't believe how bad it tasted. Did I really drink this regularly for most of my young adult life? I realized my biggest addiction hadn't been food (once I stopped dieting, the binging on sugar/salty snacks diminished) but diet soda.
The Wall Street Journal recently published a press release that the diet industry is currently worth $109 Billion and is expected to reach 137 billion in 2017.
The North America Weight Loss / Obesity Management Market was worth $104
billion in the year 2012 and is expected to reach $139.5 billion by
2017. U.S. is the largest market, followed by Canada. The market will
grow at a healthy pace in the next five years due to the increasing
number of lifestyle diseases such as diabetes and cardiac problems,
increasing personal disposable income, government initiatives to
increase awareness of health and fitness, and technological
This market includes: commercial diets such as Weight Watchers, weight loss surgery, pills, wellness plans, nutritional counseling, diet foods, books and yes diet soda. One of the companies highlighted as a big diet industry player is Coca-Cola. (And pepsi too.)
Now why do you think this press release was in the Wall Street Journal and not say the JAMA (It might be, I haven't checked) because dieting is a cash fucking cow. There isn't any money in telling people maybe they can eat a little better or move a little more or that they are perfectly healthy outside the arcane normal weight BMI. Or simple
Do you think with all these billions that the diet industry really wants to you to be healthy and well? Or do they just want your money?
For days I couldn't believe my ears. My anger was so strong that I had to take a breath before I could say anything.
The American Medical Association, in their infinite "wisdom" despite warnings from their science advisory board against the decision has doomed (trigger warning) all fat people with a BMI of 30 and above, regularless of their health, as having a disease.
You can teach aerobics classes, swim, walk, run, eat your vegetables, only eat 2000 cal a day, be in perfect health but if your BMI is 30 and above, you have a disease.
Granted some diseases can cause you to gain weight (such as sleep apnea, diabetes, PCOS and hypothyroidism) and some diseases can cause you to lose weight (hyperthyroidism, cancer, some autoimmune diseases such as Crohn's and Celiacs) but in these cases being thin or fat aren't the disease they are a SYMPTOM.
Yes, there are certain health risks associated with having an elevated BMI, such as Type II diabetes and heart disease. More broadly, a higher BMI is associated with a greater risk of cardiometabolic abnormalities, as measured by blood pressure, triglycerides, cholesterol, glucose, insulin resistance and inflammation. Nonetheless, almost one quarter of “normal weight” people also have metabolic abnormalities, and more than half of “overweight” and almost one third of “obese” people have normal profiles, according to a 2008 study.
My biggest issue isn't AMA's stupidity (actually it is), but that in the end they will push the same cure that doesn't still doesn't work and that is Dieting (Big d), diet pills and surgery. In the end that this will lead in more pressure for fat people to get surgery, take diet drugs, do commercial diets such as Weight Watchers. Even though none of these have been proved to work and help in the long run for the majority of people (sure you're always going to find people who went from fat to thin and stayed that way, but they are the exception not the rule.)
This all goes back to one thing, the billion dollar industry. It really is the money. The biggest medical association saying obesity is a disease and giant check to the dieting, pharma, and bariatic surgeons.
This year, Americans will waste $66 billion on weight-loss products. The "weight-loss" industry is a misnomer: nearly everyone regains lost weight and up to two-thirds gain back more than they lost. Repeat customers are the business model of the weight-regain industry — an industry that expands every year, even during recession. (Which wouldn't happen if their products worked, right?)
Marilyn has a petition urging the AMA to change their decision.
On Saturday I attended the Just Foodconference. It was a two day event Friday and Saturday. I couldn't go Friday because I had to work. Just Food's mission is to promote sustainability in regards to food and water as well as usage of local and organic foods. Just Food does a lot of work with CSA, Community Gardens, farm schools etc.
I joked with my husband that I hoped that I wouldn't hear the O word during the conference. He responded the first person who mentioned it I should go up and punch them.
It didn't take long (Not to punch someone, I had not intention of hitting anyone).
I discovered that I had missed a panel on Friday from the NYC Obesity Taskforce. Had I known about it previously I might have taken the day off and gone both days. This is how the panel is described in the program:
Curious about the New York City Obesity Task Force plan to prevent and control obesity? The plan includes the identification of 15 municipal sites suitable for urban agriculture projects throughout the City’s five boroughs, which will be made available through GreenThumb for the participatory installation of new community gardens. Come participate in design charrette of an example site and discuss design elements and site development challenges.
Then came keynote speaker filmmaker Bryon Hurt who directedSoul Food Junkies. I will make a disclaimer that I haven't see the movie yet (I intend to). The movie examines the director's father refusing to change his eating habits despite a diagnosis of aggressive cancer, the history of Soul Food, and access to healthy foods, particularly in minority neighborhoods. In his talk, something the director wanted to do was a movie like Food Inc, King Corn, Supersize me, The Future of Food, and Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead but with a focus on the black community. The director did make a point that he tries not to be judgemental in the movie.
But the real question is this: what happens when we remove the subject of fatness from both events? The first one no longer becomes a program of making fat people thin but creating community gardens. The second becomes a talk about getting people better access to health foods. (BTW one of the clips Mr. Hurt showed during his talk is of a woman complaining that the vegetables in her local market are "pathetic." She complained, she met resistance, the quality of the produce improved.)
Community gardens, healthy eating, access to health food is the focus of any coherent health plan for the country, or it should be. Once you remove that idea and limit your focus to making fat people thin, we lose everything.
According to The Huffington Post, Mrs. Obama told her hangout audience, "I have two young daughters. We never talk about weight. I make it a point. I don't want our children to be weight-obsessed. I want them to be focused on: What do I have to do, in this body --because everybody is different, every person's body is different-- what do I have to do to be the healthiest that I can be."
I have mentioned before that soda bans and taxes don’t affect me, since except for the rare root beer, I don't drink soda, diet or regular, large or small. I pretty much drink only water and tea. The only time I buy soda is the two parties I give every year. (And yes, because I love my friends, I even buy diet soda if they want it.)
You wouldn't know that from some of the comments on my blog. According to the trolls, I don't exercise and I eat only chips, pizza and burgers.
The issue is this. I often hear the statement "Fight fat, not fat people" by “well meaning” people who think that by saying hate the sin, not the sinner it absolves them from the pressure they put on fat people to become thin. However, since fat is genetic and losing it in the long run is near impossible for most people, how do you think fat people feel when they change habits, improve health outcomes and don't get thin? Do you still want to fight their fat?
A recent study done by Harvard shows that while the majority of people want interventions in childhood “obesity”, they don't believe fat people should pay a surcharge for health insurance (that's a relief. That makes only food the villain and not health care.)
Respondents were much more likely to support less-intrusive measures to curb obesity: 80 percent of those surveyed said the government should require calorie counts to be posted, 75 percent said they'd like the government to prevent the use of food stamps for soda and other sugary beverages, and 88 percent said they'd support requiring public school students to get at least 45 minutes of exercise daily.
By contrast, more drastic measures were less widely supported: Nearly two-thirds said they'd oppose a $50 annual surcharge on health insurance premiums for obese people, 80 percent opposed making soda or junk food possession a punishable offense in schools...
The issue here isn't healthy eating, the issue is that this is done solely because people are fat. It's our fault that you can't get a pitcher of soda with lunch; or your kids can't have pizza at school, or cupcakes for someones birthday party. Even if the whole world benefits in the long run, it's done because of us. It's our fault.
The problem is now that the meme of fatness equaling anti-health has been repeated so universally and so often, it might be impossible to separate them.
That's not actually the case, though. While "the obesity epidemic" may be a convenient catch-all for the illnesses and health problems related to our food chain, it's a lazy term and an inaccurate one. Are we actually worried about public health? Or are we offended by fat bodies that don't meet our thin ideals?
If the issue was that people in this country had horrendous eating and exercise habits but no one was fat, you wouldn’t see this. This is has nothing to do with ill health and everything to do with people being fat.
This is why we need to stop associating health with thinness. We need to stop fighting fat and accept that people come in all sizes and that when they eat healthy and exercise they may not become thin.