Tuesday, May 15, 2012

"Fat" Isn't The Problem

I just got an email from PreventObesity.net which talked about the new HBO series Weight of the Nation (WOTN). It is a four part series on the Obesity! Crisis! that seems to plague our society. The problem with this series, however, is that it doesn't focus on health, only obesity. And when you equate fat with unhealthy, things get dicey quick.

Even the tagline pisses me off: "To Win, We Have To Lose." and the picture below it doesn't help.
The picture comes from an "expert" within the series that said outright:
"Obesity will crush the United States in[to] oblivion."

Whoa there, that is a serious claim! You mean that us fat people are going to sit on the US and kill it with our fatness? Wow, just wow. Another issue that comes up is the price the nation will take for all these obese people. Never mind the other research that says being overweight isn't the problem, but that an unhealthy lifestyle is and that it is practiced by every body size in our nation. Fat does not equal unhealthy; skinny does not equal healthy.

The Association for Size Diversity and Health has put out a response to WOTN called Debate the Weight. Fall Ferguson over at the HAES blog has said she has contributed to this and also put out her own issues regarding WOTN. I encourage you to read it as it lays out why people like her are fighting against the conventional wisdom that the HBO series is bringing. Some of her issues are the fear mongering, the destructive, misinformed message they are sending, and the emphasis on unhealthy eating habits ("such as restrictive dieting, weight cycling (“yo-yo dieting”), and other disordered eating patterns.").

By the way, I think it is worth stating one of the breakdowns ASDAH has provided (pdf) for WOTN trailer. It is about our kids (links in the pdf, if you are interested): "(Claim) This is probably going to be the first generation of children who are going to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents."

"(Response) This is another example of fear-mongering of the worst
kind. This claim was first made—without any evidence
to back it up—by some researchers who later admitted it
was based on “back of the envelope” figures and that
they “never meant for them to be portrayed as precise.”
It’s been repeated so often, that few question its source
any more. The truth is that people living in
industrialized democracies are living longer than their
parents and grandparents, with no evidence of a reversal
of that trend. In fact, the “overweight” category of BMI
is statistically the longest-lived, and there is evidence that
“overweight” may be protective among older adults.
Moreover, even if there were a demonstrable link
between BMI and longevity, the general trends toward a
rise in the average BMI has leveled off in the past
decade. The numbers simply do not bear out the claim
that our children will not live as long as we do."
 Nuff' said.

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