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Damned if you do...

By now you might have heard of the study where data analysis found that, no matter what your starting BMI, losing a certain amount of weight (in some cases as little as 5%) can increase your risk of mortality. That's a grim result in a culture where we're all told repeatedly that fat can't possibly be healthy and that losing weight is the only way to save ourselves. In her Huffington Post article, Harriet Brown aptly calls this situation "The Obesity Paradox" because really,what's a fat person to do? Either we're killing ourselves by quietly remaining fat or we're killing ourselves by going all good fattie and attempting to lose weight.

I feel like we need more information here than is being given in the study. For one, what methods did these people employ to lose weight? Were they doing it on purpose or did they just discover a previously unnurtured love for vegetables or pilates? Because I've experienced Health At Every Size-related weight loss and I'd really hate to think that some incidental weight loss that happens because of an adoption of healthier habits could be affecting my body as negatively as weight lost doing Jenny Craig or juice fasting.

Maybe the answer is to just ignore ALL of the studies -- the ones that tell us to lose weight and the ones that tell us to never lose weight -- and focus on enjoying whatever life we doomed fatties have left. Isn't that what HAES is about anyway?

Consequences of Bariatric Surgery | Response to Attack on Fat Mothers

Viola's picture
June 17th, 2010 | Link | I haven't read the study, I

I haven't read the study, I haven't even heard of the study until now. Reading that, there are a lot of questions and I suppose reading the full study might help, especially seeing what conclusions the researchers themselves have drawn. Were all the participants in the study a certain percentage of body fat or at a minimum BMI level? I mean does this study specifically use people considered obese and morbidly obese? Does this include people who have lost weight from things like WLS, smoking or illnesses such as cancer? Is age a factor? Is there something related to the weight loss that could be an issue, such as all the pesticides stored in fat being released?

Losing weight from HAES methods assumes that you've gained weight because of unhealthy practices, maybe even such as dieting in the first place. If you've always practiced HAES, even as a child, I think weight loss is less likely to happen. So maybe whatever caused you to gain weight is problematic. One thing I've noticed in myself is that even accidental weight loss can result in a rebound gain. So when I was pregnant and lost weight on the day I gave birth, eventually my weight got up to even higher than my pregnancy weight, which I found really depressing, to be honest.

I wasn't trying to lose weight while pregnant, but I do admit that especially the second time around, I just didn't have the same thoughts about food that I had while breastfeeding. For some reason, while breastfeeding, I felt like I had to graze constantly, even eating when I wasn't that hungry. Then I got pregnant, my daughter weaned and it was like a flip switched. I could eat in the morning and be good for hours, or just forget to eat for long periods of time. I was eating to my natural hunger, and then when I was breastfeeding again, that grazing thing came back and after 2 years I gained a lot of weight, even though I was still nursing. I don't know if it's because the grazing was now a habit and I forgot how to interpret my own cues, or my metabolism changed. I've noticed if that I stop exercising, my appetite seems normal and I'm happy with it, but when I trying working out, I feel that same restlessness, like I must seek out food. I assume that my body wants to keep me from losing weight, which make sense biologically, but I find I don't tend to lose weight by exercising and eating vegetables. Maybe I need to eat a lot more vegetables or something.

Those who support calorie restriction with optimum nutrition for the sake of longevity caution against any kind of fast weight loss, noting that it is linked with decreased longevity. So maybe it is the rate of weight loss that is an issue.

worrier June 17th, 2010 | Link | "Maybe the answer is to just

"Maybe the answer is to just ignore ALL of the studies "

I have a policy (for want of a better word) of having no trust in anything anyone has to say about weight. I still read and listen to what's said about weight, including any studies I read about. But after a life time of listening to people's pronouncements about weight (I was first put on diets at 8, so it pretty much is a lifetime) I've learned that distrusting what is said about weight is the only safe way to go, for my physical health, and my sanity.

wriggle99 June 18th, 2010 | Link | Harriet Brown aptly calls

Harriet Brown aptly calls this situation "The Obesity Paradox"

Yeah, a "paradox" of expectation-for what they're worth.

I too am wondering about how weight was lost, but from here I'd say it's because if you lose weight by adjusting your intake and/or out put of energy, you are technically reduced-obese, in other words you are interrupting/ disrupting your fatness and that is a huge stress on the body, from several directions. Whereas if your metabolism adjusts itself and weight loss flows from that-apart from if it's making that adjustment out of illness- then it is likely to be more benign.

Bilt4Cmfrt's picture
June 18th, 2010 | Link | Yeah, yah know, us Fat Folk

Yeah, yah know, us Fat Folk are just so chock full of paradoxes. Dropping dead like poisoned flies but still walking around. So we must be Undead. Sexually broken yet, somehow, fooling around, sexing it up, and reproducing enough to cause grave childhood obesity concerns. That is, if you subscribe to the genetic component of being fat, or the efficacy of breeding (All you gay, lesbian, and non-breeding people, well you know how much fun you are or aren't having) . Which, of course, means Fat Folk must reproduce by cellular devision.

So, if I've got this straight, we are undead, self-replicating, beings made of pure Paradox.

Quick, somebody contact the Dr Who writers. This is good stuff.

"No matter how cynical i get, I just can't keep up. . . ."
-Lily Tomlin

strawberry June 18th, 2010 | Link | And in spite of being

And in spite of being headless, we also manage to eat a lot. How does THAT work?

Wanderer's picture
June 20th, 2010 | Link | Double-checking the article...

I looked it over, and here's what it boils down to, using my own stats (5'10", 267 pounds):

Losing more than 15% of your body weight reduces your life expectancy. If I lose 40 pounds or more, I shorten my life expectancy. (This may be related to the stress of dieting, as many diets consume muscle to burn fat.)

Losing more than 5% of your body weight reduces your life expectancy if you're already at a normal BMI. If I weighed 170 pounds, losing 9 pounds would shorten my life span.

Losing 5% - <15% of your body weight is okay if you're an overweight male, but reduces your life expectancy if you're an overweight female.

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