View Full Version : Debunking the ''weight epidemic'' myth
9th January 2011, 02:24
If there's anything that has been clearly established by now, it is that there is no weight "epidemic" (let alone an "ob***** epidemic"). The only weight-related health crisis is the epidemic of anorexia that is spreading among girls and young women around the world, reaching frighteningly young ages.
Nevertheless, the media constantly and uncritically spreads the lie that people are "over"weight, when this is simply a falsehood that the diet-starvation and exercise-torture industries have concocted to sell their wares and reap profits.
Here are a number of articles that help debunk this persistent weight myth. The following post at a body-image web log links to dozens of pages that expose the lies:
And just for good measure, here's another one. Paul Campos, who has made a career out of exposing the weight fraud, has a splendid put-down of what is basically a war on children which the U.S. government has instituted to starve them into a smaller size.
Some high moments:
By every objective measure, including life expectancy and rates of chronic disease and disability, American children, like American adults, are healthier now than they were a generation ago
The claim that life expectancy in America is going to decline is unsupported by any demographic or epidemiological evidence.
over the past 20 years, extensive research has demonstrated that weight simply ceases to have any meaningful correlation with health.
A rich literature on stigmatization shows that the health costs of social stigma are high. I donít believe Michelle Obama wants to stigmatize f** kids, but a campaign dedicated to eliminating them is guaranteed to do so in a profound way.
one wonders if the First Lady has considered that putting her pre-teen daughters on diets is far more likely to make them eating disordered rather than permanently thin.
It is high time to stop stigmatizing girls and young women for being curvy, when in fact having a full figure is much healthier than being underweight. Moreover, the myth that there is an "epidemic" of people growing heavier is a complete fiction. As Campos indicates in his article, the very opposite is true.
One wishes the media would stop acting as if it were in the pay of the diet/torture industries, would stop propagating the fraud, would begin doing due diligence, and would try to ameliorate eating disorders by promoting a curvier ideal of beauty.
23rd March 2011, 13:36
I've come across another excellent article by Paul Campos that deserves a hearing.
Last year, Graham linked to a trenchant condemnation (http://www.judgmentofparis.com/board/showthread.php?t=1767#post4897) at HuffPo of Michelle Obama's appalling effort to introduce government-sanction bullying of curvy girls via her insidious "Let's Move" campaign.
Now Mr. Campos has published a devastating critique of the same appalling government agenda. It should be noted that Campos identifies himself as a liberal, so his slam of this truly evil program is a matter of principle.
He is very charitable towards the First Lady, but he spells out the damage that her curve-o-phobic propaganda is having on full-figured girls in language that hopefully even she can understand:
The first lady would, no doubt, be horrified by the suggestion that her Letís Move campaign, which is dedicated to trying to create an America without any fat kids, is itself a particularly invidious form of bullying. But practically speaking, thatís exactly what it is. The campaign is in effect arguing that the way to stop the bullying of f** kids is to get rid of f** kids.
Campos indicates that the entire "ob***** epidemic" is a colossal fraud, a myth that has been created out of whole cloth by the diet-starvation industry:
As Australian scholar Michael Gard points out in his new book...Americans weigh no more than they did a decade ago.
Perhaps the saddest statistic is the partisan political split on this issue. If there were ever a case where all Americans should be able to unite around a common concept, regardless of their political affiliations, it is this one. Surely every sane, compassionate individual should affirm that it is monstrous for the government to be stigmatizing plus-size girls simply for not starving and for being naturally full-figured. And yet this is not the case:
Nearly three in five Americans now believe that the government should have ďa significant role in reducing childhood ob*****.Ē
Predictably, the prevalence of this belief tends to split along partisan lines: 80 percent of liberal Democrats compared to only 37 percent of conservative Republicans and 33 percent of self-described Tea Partiers.
How can 80 percent of any group believe that the government should meddle in people's lives this way, particularly when it comes to children and young girls, the most vulnerable members of society? It's simply unthinkable.
This is not a political issue; this is a human-decency issue.
Campos's final point is the most incisive:
None of this even touches on a subtler and more invidious cost to the Letís Move campaign: the profound shaming and stigmatization of f** children that is an inevitable product of the campaignís absurd premise that the bodies of heavier than average children are by definition defective, and that this ďdefectĒ can be cured through lifestyle changes. F** kids have enough problems without the additional burden of being subjected to government-approved pseudo-scientific garbage about how they could be thin if they just ate their vegetables and played outside more often.
Michelle Obamaís campaign against childhood ob***** is exactly the sort of crusade that liberals who donít want to give ammunition to conservative critiques of government activism should oppose. It is a deeply misguided attempt to solve an imaginary health crisis by employing unnecessary cures that in any case donít work. As such, it is almost a parody of activist government at its most clueless.
It's bad enough that girls are targeted, from a young age, by a fashion industry, a diet-starvation industry, and an exercise-torture industry that all bombard them with relentless thin-centric propaganda in order to make them feel bad about not being underweight. The government should be protecting girls from such abuse, not propagating it. The last thing in the world that the government should be doing is aiding and abetting this war on curvy girls.
Again, this is an issue that transcends politics. This curve-o-phobic agenda would be wrong regardless of which political party initiated it. It's abusive, it's emotionally and physically harmful, and it must be ended. Now.
No plus-size girl deserves to be treated this way.
23rd March 2011, 19:35
To top it all off, he First Lady is now blaming plus-size children for the sad state of the economy! Have you ever heard anything more insulting and ridiculous in your life? Whatever your political beliefs, one has to agree that she has gone too far. She is shamming people's bodies. And on top of everything, Mrs. Obama often speaks out against bullying, but right now she is the biggest bully of them all.
I just read the books The Diet Myth and Health at Every Size. Both do a good job of debunking the necessity of this ďwar on ob*****.Ē I believe both books should be required reading for anyone involved in health. The only reason the war on ob***** is even an issue is because of the diet industry. It is in their best interest to keep the public ashamed and afraid of their bodies. And it seems everyone is helping the diet industry promote this attitude: TV, movies, magazines, adverts, and the government.
It is tragic, really.
6th April 2011, 19:30
I'm not sure if this has been linked here before but to me this recent paper in Nutrition Journal is the definitive debunking of the myths surrounding the "epidemic":
Weight Science: Evaluating the Evidence for a Paradigm Shift (http://www.nutritionj.com/content/10/1/9)
Some of my favourite excerpts:
"Researchers have demonstrated ways in which bias and convention interfere with robust scientific reasoning such that obesity research seems to "enjoy special immunity from accepted standards in clinical practice and publishing ethics"
"Most epidemiological studies find that people who are "overweight" or moderately ob*** live at least as long as normal weight people, and often longer"
"It may be, therefore, that the association between weight and health risk can be better attributed to weight cycling than adiposity itself."
"Most prospective observational studies suggest that weight loss increases the risk of premature death among ob*** individuals, even when the weight loss is intentional and the studies are well controlled with regard to known confounding factors, including hazardous behavior and underlying diseases"
"That weight loss will improve health over the long-term for ob*** people is, in fact, an untested hypothesis."
"BMI and health are only weakly related in cultures where ob***** is not stigmatized, such as in the South Pacific"
30th December 2011, 11:07
On top of everything, Mrs. Obama often speaks out against bullying, but right now she is the biggest bully of them all.
The only reason the war on ob***** is even an issue is because of the diet industry. It is in their best interest to keep the public ashamed and afraid of their bodies. And it seems everyone is helping the diet industry promote this attitude: TV, movies, magazines, adverts, and the government. It is tragic, really.
Very well said, ZoŽ.
It is a truism that efforts which advertise themselves being as "anti-" anything usually end up enacting the very activity that they denounce, except inflicting it upon the opposite side. Thus, "anti-bullying" campaigns often end up enacting terrible bullying of their own, except to the individuals accused of perpetrating past bullying. "Anti-discrimination" results in amazingly discriminatory practices of its own. "Anti-sexism" leads to today's situation of boys being left behind by the educational system. And so froth.
While this site avoids political discussions per se, except as they impact on size celebration, this is a tell-tale case of grim, statist intervention. But what's worse is that it is intervention on the wrong side. If anything the state--the government--should be protecting the public <i>from</I> the abuses of diet-profiteers, not conspiring with these parasitical corporations. It should be siding <i>with</I> the people, not against them.
A noble king would not permit such abuses, but in a democracy, money is power.
Still, the fact that these campaigns are targeting children and young girls, the most vulnerable members of society, is truly unconscionable. We live in a time when everyone has been conditioned to rush to the aid of perceived "victim groups." Well, here, for once, is a vulnerable group--full-figured girls--that actually <i>is</I> being victimized. And who speaks for them? Who campaigns on their behalf? One Colorado journalist? That's it?
Shame on the diet industry for enacting this misery--but we have long known that it is a predatory enterprise, top to bottom, and an indefensible blight on society.
Shame on the media for shilling for these weight-loss profiteers.
Shame on the government for (according to the most charitable interpretation) being the dupes of the diet industry, or less charitably (but more likely) being in its pay.
And closer to home, shame on anyone who sits idly by and allows this abuse of full-figured girls to take place and does nothing about it.
Childhood and youth should be a halcyon period of fun and frolic, a "golden age" (as the Romantics would deem it), not a time of stigmatization that leads to self-hatred and begins a cycle of food deprivation that self-denial to which women will sentence themselves for the remainder of their lives.
Let's all of us do everything in our power, at every level (locally and in the wider world), to stop this abuse of young girls, to end this statist oppression, to allow them to enjoy their childhood, to blossom happily into young women, enjoying a comfortable relationship with food, free to eat whatever they like, happily allowing nature to shape their figures into a lusciously curvy form, knowing that they are beautiful and radiant just the way they are.
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