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Fat News Roundup

So how fat is your state? The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Trust for America’s Health released another pointless report this week ranking the fifty states by fatness. The article points to an overabundance of food, aggressive food marketing, poverty, and low levels of education as significant causes, which I suppose is a slight step up from the usual disgust and personal blame. The education thing sticks in my craw though, because it implies that if we fatties only knew better, we just wouldn't be fat. Please, thin Americans, TEACH us to overcome our body's genetic tendencies. For the love of god, won't someone tell the fatties about calories in vs. calories out?? They just don't know!

Then we have this gem, about how, chemically, being fat means that you can't resist cupcakes as well as thin people do. Again, thanks, but your study involving ten whole fat people isn't really enough to convince me that the entire fat population's brains work this way, not to mention that you don't even really know what these results mean. My favorite part of the article is as follows:

Some of the most intriguing imaging studies have peered into the brains of people who have lost significant weight and kept it off through diet and exercise alone—although researchers say they're hard to find.

"They are very controlled individuals, and they are very rare. We had to fly some in from Alaska," says Angelo Del Parigi, a neuroimaging scientists who finally located 11 "post-obese" subjects who had dieted down to the lean range.

You don't say? People who have lost weight and kept it off aren't just coming out of the woodwork? Can we not maybe draw a conclusion here?

Finally, I'm sure you've seen some of the hullabaloo about the new diet drugs being tested and submitted for FDA approval. It looks like as of this morning the FDA has rejected Qnexa, which is shocking news in and of itself. Could it be that someone over there finally cares about side effects? Did they actually learn something from the whole Fen/Phen tragedy? If so, it's not stopping pharmaceutical manufacturers from trying again. Arena Pharmaceuticals is working on a drug called lorcaserin which, according to MSNBC shows "promise" and "little risk". It also shows little effectiveness, as study participants only lost an average of five percent of their body weight. That's about twenty pounds for a 375 lb gal like me. Given the risk for side effects, especially the ones they don't know about yet, I wouldn't say lorcaserin is a worthwhile bet. Seems to me that maybe we should divert those pharmaceutical resources to working on cancer or AIDS instead of trying to make the population slightly less fat and potentially harming them in the process.

But anyway...Happy Friday!

Exploiting Fat Kids -or- Style Network is Despicable. | Two Links: Fat & Disability Discrimination US/AU

wriggle99 July 16th, 2010 | Link | Check this out if you feel

Check this out if you feel up to it. I'm afraid I don't at this minute and don't bother with the comments, the ones I managed weren't worth the boredom, let alone the offence.

Beanietude's picture
July 16th, 2010 | Link | I just finished reading the

I just finished reading the Guardian piece. Some of the comments are really worthwhile... pointing out the classism behind such a policy. Right off the bat, however, the article rubs me the wrong way...

Parents who fail to help an obese child eat and exercise properly, ignoring all advice and guidance, could be guilty of neglect, child health experts say today.


Viner and his colleagues say in their paper that there will be particular concerns if obesity is putting a child at risk of disease, such as raised blood pressure or diabetes. Before such a child was put on the register, however, there would have to be clear, objective evidence over a sustained period that the parents were not complying with a treatment plan based on good evidence, they say.

I'm sure we can all think of a scenario where "advice and guidance" is adhered to yet the child remains fat. Parents will no doubt be branded non-compliant liars and their children put into care anyway. And social workers in the UK can't even take care of children who are actually being abused, and, you know, killed so how does this Institute of Child Health think social services will be able to cope? Especially considering there are, if you believe Daily Mail readers, there are hundreds of Deth Fatz children in every school? And isn't there an overriding assumption that any extraneous fat automatically carries "a risk of disease", no objective evidence needed?

Quite frankly it all smells a bit and I can't say I terribly surprised.

rebelle July 16th, 2010 | Link | " Then we have this gem,

" Then we have this gem, about how, chemically, being fat means that you can't resist cupcakes as well as thin people do. Again, thanks, but your study involving ten whole fat people isn't really enough to convince me that the entire fat population's brains work this way, not to mention that you don't even really know what these results mean."

Amen to that. In fact, there are studies that prove the opposite of what these dipdongs claim, and those studies were summed by Gina Kolata (via Mickey Stunkard, I think) like this: "There is no response to food among fat people that is not also shared by thin people." Fat people eat because they're bored, or depressed? So do lean folks. Fatties eat because it's a social thing to do? So do skinny Minnies, etc. So, chances are, for every 10 fat people you find who can't resist cupcakes, there are 10 slim people who can't resist one, either.

FYI: I set out to document how "fat" Colorado is, but alas, my tape measure quit after about six feet. Google says it's more than 8 million square miles. Holy cow! What BMI is *that*? Eye-wink

richie79's picture
July 17th, 2010 | Link | Rebelle, LMAO at your

Rebelle, LMAO at your Colorado comment. What next, a Biggest Loser for US states? Good luck fitting them all in the studio Sticking out tongue

ON a more serious note, that Guardian article is just scary. On one level, I suppose at least it's a step back from the position advocated by the Local Government Association a couple of summers ago of targetting ALL fat children for potential intervention. On the other hand, it should be the right of the sovereign parent to 'actively subvert' weight management initiatives they consider to be based on junk science or prejudice and which risk harming their child's self-image or their attitude toward food and fat. Threatening to take the child into care completely undermines that ability of the parent to decide how to best to raise their child in accordance with their own conscience and beliefs, and is typical of the big government approach, represented in the media by the Guardian and BBC, of the unchallengeable expert always knowing better than Joe Public, an approach I mistakenly hoped might be swept away under the new coalition government.

And then there's this alleged 'evidence linking adolescent and adult obesity with childhood sexual abuse, violence and neglect' which is not expanded upon but of which the implications are clear - fat parents of fat children are generally horrible, dysfunctional people who as well as being stupid, greedy, selfish misfits are automatically more likely to be abusing their kids in other, more acknowledged ways. If this theory takes hold, such parents will have yet another stereotype to fight against and disprove, which is all the more infuriating given that (as Beanietude rightly points out) British social services departments have a frankly abysmal record of protecting children from genuine harm. In one well-documented case Dundee City Council preferred to spend a sum equivalent to employing half-a-dozen social workers for a year monitoring and bullying a family with several fat children, ultimately removing them and an 'at-risk' newborn from the parents, whilst simultaneously seeking to excuse the deaths of several children on their protection register on the basis of under-resourcing.

As for there being no studies examining 'obesity' in a child protection context, I suspect a Dr. Farooqui of Cambridge University would strenuously object. Or do they only include studies which support the neglect / blame hypotheses? Evidence based policy, my fat ass. The 'finding' (again not excatly examined in detail - and here I was thinking the Guardian was a 'quality' organ) that 37% of children in care had become 'obese' since being removed from their homes suggests that despite all their supposed expertise in the field of child development, social services are no wiser than anyone else as to how to make and keep fat children thin. That alone speaks volumes and begs the question that if certain kids are going to be fat, surely it is better to leave them in a loving home environment than subject them to all the separation anxiety, feelings of self-guilt and resentment of authority that have been proven to accompany something which should only ever be a last resort for kids in genuine danger of imminent harm, and certainly not used as a method of 'punishing' those the state deems noncompliant?

"When people fear the government, there is tyranny; when government fears the people, there is liberty." - Thomas Jefferson

wriggle99 July 19th, 2010 | Link | that Guardian article is

that Guardian article is just scary.

Indeed. It's the use of suggestion and inference that is so underhand. They claim that fatness in a child doesn't mean abuse in itself, but then mention that adult fat people are reported to be more likely to have been abused, the implication is clear.

What is as bad as that is taking the failure of diets and 'lifestyle interventions' as an indicator of child abuse, or as an indicator of unwillingness to change other behaviours.

Alyssa July 18th, 2010 | Link | State Fat Study

I was disappointed to see that Wisconsin (my home state) ranked only 24th on fatness! Every day the local media here chastise fatties for being the fattest in the fattest state.

Seriously, take a look at the full report and the methodology section (p. 108). All of these "data" were gathered from a sample of people who "self reported" their weight and height, from which the "researchers" calculated BMI. Hello? Research 101. Self-reported data, particularly on sensitive issues like weight or income, are notoriously inaccurate. This report is one more example of dressing up inferior, inaccurate information to parade it around as "scientific data" in the service of fat hysteria.

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