Join Date: October 2010
Re: Being full-figured is good for health (study)
The study was also reported on in The Independent
where the author used it as a springboard for some interesting observations:
Why do we believe there's virtue in our choice of food?
Because, under the modern Western dispensation, thinness is seen to be beautiful, dieting has become a form of self-sacrifice
Tuesday, 25 January 2011
Eating is good for you – and eating a lot is even better. There, I've said it; but before the ob***** police take me away for re-education in the cells beneath the Department of Health, I offer – as evidence in my defence against high treason in the war against f** – some findings published in the latest edition of Nutrition Journal, the results of a survey of 350,000 randomly selected Americans.
The analysis, in this highly respected academic publication, concludes that "overweight" people live longer lives, and that those who are ob*** tend to live longer than those who are thin. They are also, say the researchers from the University of California, more likely to survive certain dangerous medical conditions such as heart disease, renal failure and type 2 diabetes.
The lead researcher, Dr Linda Bacon, concludes: “It is overwhelmingly apparent that f** has been highly exaggerated as a risk for disease or decreased longevity. For decades the US public health establishment and the $58.6bn a year private weight-loss industry have focused on health improvement through weight loss. The result is unprecedented levels of body dissatisfaction and failure in achieving desired health outcomes.”
Hallelujah and pass the cream! Actually Dr Bacon’s observations elide two very different phenomena, which should be treated separately. As she points out, there is the publicly funded campaign (as bloated here as it is in the US) which spends countless millions telling us that f** in food is a terrible thing because it will kill us off prematurely – an assertion for which there is very little evidence, but which has the status of holy writ. Then there is the obsession with being thin, a phenomenon which is overwhelmingly the province of well-to-do women; this has nothing to do with health, and does not make any claims to be beneficial, in the medical sense. It is about image rather than content – and no less significant for that.
Thus, while the average dieter says that she wants to lose weight, it has nothing to do with being a “healthy weight” (whatever that is). Dieting has become a form of self-sanctification, of moral purification.
This is a point that bears consideration -- that starvation is seen in moral terms. The author expands on this point in an interesting way:
It has sometimes been argued that in an increasingly irreligious age, the body has become the most fashionable temple, to which devotion is paid in a peculiarly self-obsessed manner, to the benefit of no one but the owner.
In fact, religion and diet have always been closely linked. Fasting...is the most obvious example...always about being virtuous, in this case by obeying God’s word unquestioningly, and to be part of a group who by eating in a certain (highly constrained) way, were closer to that God.
There really is not such a vast difference, psychologically, between those ancient faith identities and the modern cults of food faddism. The latter, too, identify certain food items as inherently and absolutely “bad”, quite distinct from any nutritional or scientific evidence. Vegans are an extreme example of this tendency, in that they are able to judge all those who do not observe their own strictures as being participants in a form of collective wickedness. Yet other, less ascetic, brands of nutritional nonsense are also little more than food cults – for example, the so-called “organic” movement.
While every meta-analysis conducted over decades has failed to demonstrate that “organic” food has any superior nutritional properties to that grown with the aid of chemical fertilisers, the adherents to this cult remain unalterably convinced that they and their children will live longer and healthier lives than those who do not adhere to the same quasi-religious dietary law. They believe that so-called “non-organic food” – in reality there is no such thing – gives people cancer; yet since 1950, as pesticides and industrial farming have taken an increasing role in food production, stomach cancer rates have actually declined by 60 per cent in Western countries.
Those who are frightened by food are frightened by life itself. Eat up – and enjoy yourself.
What the author is getting at is another manifestation of the "aesthetics of guilt." Last year, a number of posts on this forum discussed how the visible fullness of the well-fed goddess was troubling to some people in the present day because we have had an aesthetic imposed on us that equates looking emaciated with being virtuous (disciplined, etc.).
The author of this Independent
article confirms this but also indicates how this secular-guilt phenomenon governs eating itself, with the act of eating being seen, absurdly, in moralistic terms, and that the issue of health is merely a canard to disguise or justify what is actually a moralistic crusade. Instead of spending time reading prayers, the modern woman reads food charts; instead of spending time in church, she spends time in a gym. It's the same kind of pointless self-abnegation, and a particularly empty exercise, because at least the self-abnegation of the past involved something purportedly higher than oneself, something spiritual, or at least imaginative; but now, it's merely a closed circle of self-loathing with no greater goal than altering one's physical appearance (and for the worse at that).
Women need to free themselves from this pointless form of secular guilt, and to begin taking pleasure in eating and in their own full-figured beauty.