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NAAFA's Press Conference on Bullying and Safe Schools-C-SPAN

NAAFA just had their annual conference, held in Washington DC again this year. In recent years they have started to focus very seriously on the attack on fat kids, and I am really impressed with their efforts, especially this year.

Yesterday, August 8th, NAAFA held a press conference addressing the bullying of fat kids and demanding that weight and height be included in the Safe Schools Improvement Act of 2010, which requires schools receiving federal funding to address bullying and put anti-bullying statements into their codes of conduct.
Watch NAAFA's Press Conference on Bullying and Safe Schools on C-SPAN. It's nearly 40 minutes long!

CNN also covered the story here.

Tasty Morsels

Dr. Deah Schwartz has been busy lately. Her website, Leftoverstogo, has two active blogs as well as resources that support HAES and the treatment of eating disorders, particularly binge eating disorder (BED). The two blogs are Tasty Morsels, which features articles on body image, size acceptance, Health at Every Size, and arts therapy; and current events, which links to news stories, event information, and blog posts of interest.

There are two new posts on Tasty Morsels, The Time Fat Continuum aka Thoughts about the DREADED FRESHMAN 15 (pretty much self-explanatory) and America the Dutiful, about Darryl Roberts' documentary "America the Beautiful 2: The Thin Commandments (A Look at our Unhealthy Obsession with Dieting and Other Weighty Matters)," and his process of discovery as he researched the subject matter, as described to a group of HAES activists and professionals.

Roberts may have been preaching to the choir but he was hitting all of the right notes as he brought us along his path of discovery that included debunking the myths behind America’s “Thin Commandments” exploring the unhealthy obsession with dieting by the American people, and unveiling the discrepancies behind the rarely disputed message that in order to be healthy you have to be thin. As Darryl continued to work on the film he found more and more evidence that despite the fact that health may come in a variety of sizes, BMI continues to hold an enormous amount of unsubstantiated clout as the barometer of health and definer of obesity.

You could practically hear the choruses of amen and hallelujahs from the people on the call each time Mr. Roberts presented another revelation he experienced during his research. Here was someone who began his exploration into this arena without a bias towards our point of view and yet he was concurring with our most prized beliefs; one of which was the mainstream media’s role in defining the standards for beauty and how those homogenous images contribute to body dissatisfaction among girls and women that often result in disordered eating and full blown eating disorders.

And just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, Darryl Roberts told us a story...

There is a director’s cut preview of the film being shown on August 13th at the Sofitel Hotel near the San Francisco Airport, on the same weekend as the Association of Size Diversity and Health conference.

Dr. Pattie Thomas' Call for Stories

Guest post by Dr. Pattie Thomas, introducing her new project!
Last January (2011), a number of fat activists held a slacktivist campaign, conceived by Marilyn Wann, to raise awareness of size/fat acceptance/liberation during the month most often selected to go on a diet to attempt to lose weight. For those of you who do not know what "slacktivism" is, it is basically a low-effort, social media attempt to raise awareness of an issue. Often it results in a news report about how silly the "action" is, which in turn gets media coverage for the cause behind the action. To my knowledge, we did not get a lot of media attention, but we did have a lot of fun tweeting, changing our profile pix and using our status to encourage people to make ReVolutions, not Resolutions. We created a website to aid with the action, and it is now a central resource on HAES® and other fat-acceptance/fat-liberation resources: I engineered a lot of the nuts and bolts of the website, but content and graphics were provided prominently by Marilyn Wann, Amanda Evans and Amanda Levitt. The resources were collected from people on FaceBook and various listservs.

About 3 weeks ago, I became aware, through Amanda Levitt, of an upcoming television talk/reality show, called The Revolution. Airing on ABC, this is the latest weight loss show brought to us by 3 Ball Productions, makers of The Biggest Loser, among other shows. The show will feature women whose lives are in turmoil and who believe that if they can control their weight, other issues will fall into line. Several "experts" will guide them in their makeovers, including, disappointingly, Tim Gunn. I say "disappointingly " because Tim Gunn has spoken out against the fashion industries "thin and young" ideals and has featured plus-sized women on his own makeover show before. But then, I guess it isn't too surprising, because he often advises "slimming" techniques to these women.

Several things about this show caught my eye, not the least of which is the name and logo for the show. Note that the logo has a check mark that looks very similar to our ReVolutions spelling from last January. Then I found out that the show premieres in January 2012. Now, I'm not saying that our little slackivision is the inspiration for this, but the other thing that started happening not long after we started our campaign was Kellogg's put out a commercial that used a scale not unlike Marilyn Wann's Yay Scale. I'm beginning to think maybe someone is paying attention.

That thought led to a discussion on FaceBook which inspired me and my husband, Carl Wilkerson, to develop a Call for Stories similar to their casting call. Our call, however, is to celebrate ourselves right now, exactly as we are, without losing an ounce and without waiting for that magical someday when we have our lives all together. Our spokesperson, Trimm Nunn, issues the call in our video on PDA Nation (Positive Displays of Adiposity -- our YouTube Channel):

So we encourage everyone to come over to PDA Nation and either submit a "response video" telling us your celebration stories or put a story in the comments on the video. We will be collecting stories until the end of the year (December 31, 2011) and hope to use them in January to encourage people to give up resolutions and start a ReVolution! This is a chance to show (just in case they are really listening) that there are a lot of us, women and men, tall, short, fat, skinny or in between, who are not waiting for that perfect life and perfect body, but are enjoying ourselves right now, in the bodies we're in! I hope you will participate. I think it's time to say "no" to these reality shows that perpetuate self-loathing, not to mention reinforcing hatred of others. And it's fun!

Fatosphere blogger needs a hand

I've mentioned it before. I'm a fan of Tasha's Fierce's blog, Red Vinyl Shoes, which explores issues of race, gender, size, and disability. Maybe you've enjoyed reading it too (if not, check it out). She's written classic posts such as As Fat as I Wanna Be, Total Body Conditioning and The Class Dynamic of DIY Clothing. There was a huge debate on Jezebel over As Fat as I Wanna Be and Tasha commented on it here, in a post called My Fat, Your Issues.

She wrote a series of posts for Bitch Magazine, Size Matters, (scroll down for the Size Matters posts) and has a newer blog called Sex and the Fat Girl. She commented on the Size Matters series here, in a post called What I Learned About Fat and Feminism in 24 Posts or Less. The Bitch Magazine link also has a short bio, as does her blog.

Anyway, she's in big financial trouble, as detailed here, at her Chipin donation page. I've contacted her independently to confirm that this is for real, and it is. So, if you have a few dollars to spare and feel like giving something back for the excellent blog and articles, then please help her out.

Tasha, I hope you're back on your feet soon, and I hope that we get the opportunity to read a lot more of your work in the future.

New posts at the HAES Files

The ASDAH's blog, the HAES FIles, has been chugging along. I hadn't visited it for a while and when I checked it this morning, I was thrilled to find that three new posts had been added. I'm including links to them, along with short quotes to provide a little insight into the topics. They're all excellent, but I especially enjoyed reading Michelle May's post on the restriction-is-good meme.

First, honey, I can’t shrink the kids – why the Obamas need a new doctor, by Linda Bacon, PhD

 BMI testing is worse than ineffectual – it’s damaging. The last thing kids need today is more body shame in a culture already hung up on celebrity waistlines and skeletal fashion templates. As a teen recently asked me at a school with an active obesity prevention campaign, “Don’t they understand how it feels to walk through the halls and be confronted with signs that say, ‘we don’t want anyone to look like you’?”

Second, work of art or paint-by-number?, by Michelle May, MD.

There is a harmful meme that has become so widespread, so ubiquitous, that it is accepted as normal. It has subtly integrated itself into our society’s beliefs, thoughts, language, behavior, and reality. It’s so pervasive that it has become “conventional wisdom” and therefore it is rarely questioned...
 This meme is the belief that restriction is healthy. It usually starts with information about nutrition or weight management that mutates into rules and restriction. But the blurring of the line between healthy eating and restrictive eating is the difference between a work of art and paint-by-number. Either way, you end up with a nice picture—until you get up close to take a look.

Finally, public health authorities need to be held accountable, by Lily O’Hara, Section Head for Health Promotion, Health Authority – Abu Dhabi.

 Body size oppression is a social determinant of poor health. Public health authorities are supposed to improve the social determinants of health, not make them worse. They are meant to be working towards health for ALL people.  Governments have signed up to this through a succession of charters at the World Health Assembly. It’s time we held them accountable and demand the adoption of modern health promotion practice that is enhances health for all.

ASDAH Conference to Feature All-Star Lineup

ASDAH is hosting a HAES conference in San Francisco from Friday August 12 to Sunday August 14, 2011. Here's the press release. Looks like it's going to be a great conference!

No Body Left Behind - The HAESSM Model: Ensuring an Inclusive Approach to Health and Wellness”
The Association for Size Diversity and Health will host its Fifth International Educational conference in August in San Francisco.  Entitled “No Body Left Behind - The HAESSM Model: Ensuring an Inclusive Approach to Health and Wellness,” the conference boasts an impressive list of speakers from a wide variety of disciplines.  Keynoting will be Linda Bacon, UC Davis and Lucy Aphramor, RD, Coventry University, UK discussing their recently published article in the Nutrition Journal which concluded that prescribing weight loss is ineffectual and unethical.
Additional speakers include Professor Amy Farrell, who recently appeared on The Colbert Report to discuss her book:  Fat Shame: Stigma and the Fat Body in American Culture, a study of the historical roots of fat denigration in the United States; Stephanie Brooks, RD, Fall Ferguson, JD, MA, Judith Matz, LCSW, Laura McKibbin, LICSW and Lenny Husen, MD—who will speak about the importance of promoting wellness as opposed to healthism.
Newly added participants also include international experts Amy Herskowitz, MSc, a senior program consultant for the Ontario provincial government in the Ministry of Health’s mental health program area; and Lydia Jade Turner, BA, PG Dip, Managing Director of BodyMatters Australasia, an Eating Disorder clinic pioneering the Health At Every Size® approach to treatment in Sydney Australia, will discuss how ED and HAESSM approaches can work collaboratively to promote self-care and client wellness.
A special highlight of the conference will be a showing of  the latest director’s cut of Darryl Roberts’ highly anticipated new film, America the Beautiful 2: The Thin Commandments—A look at our unhealthy obsession with dieting and other weighty matters. Open to the public, the film will be shown Saturday, August 13 at 8 p.m. followed by a Q&A with the director and several participants in the film.  A virtual press conference with Darryl Roberts will be held Tuesday, August 2 at 5:00 PM EST.  Those interested in participating should email ASDAH at .
The conference is paying more than lip service to the concept of inclusion in health and wellness.  Attendees are invited to participate, both in the fitness demonstrations led by licensed fitness instructor, Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick) and in live demonstrations depicting challenging health care situations and breakout groups on Sunday where attendees will work together to strategize practical solutions to ensure inclusiveness in modern health care.
“It’s one thing to talk about how a healthcare provider and patient should relate to one another in a clinical situation, and a very different thing to actually do it,” said conference co-chair, Dana Schuster.  “This conference will allow attendees to practice their skills, as well as draw on their experience, knowledge, and ideas to provide an opportunity for everyone present to work together to find common, real-world solutions.”
Tickets to the movie as well as a complete and final conference schedule can be found at the ASDAH website


"Health At Every Size®" is now a Registered Trademark

A press release from the ASDAH:

August 1, 2011, San Francisco, CA--The Association for Size Diversity and Health (ASDAH) is pleased to announce that they have been granted a trademark for Health At Every Size® services and materials  This is the culmination of many months of patient work and planning on the part of the ASDAH Board, who are careful to stress that the trademark registration is part of an ongoing effort to keep the term from being “borrowed” by diet and weight-loss programs not in keeping with the original intent of the phrase.
“This is not about keeping the Health At Every Size® approach exclusive to ASDAH,” said ASDAH President, Deb Lemire.  “Through the diligent work of many people both within and allied with our organization, the Health At Every Size®  principles have come to mean something very important to people of all sizes who want access to compassionate, relevant and rational health care.  We simply want to protect this phrase from individuals or large corporations who would seek to co-opt the phrase to hawk their latest diet or weight-loss program.”
The new trademark is just one in a series of proactive responses to the continued misguided public and political approach to health and weight.  In June, ASDAH launched featuring outspoken advocates for the Health At Every Size®  paradigm.  ASDAH also recently responded to a commentary in JAMA suggesting the removal of higher weight children from their homes.  While the removal was proposed as a last resort, “the option should not even have been on the table,” says Lemire “when the Health At Every Size®  approach is a viable and compassionate alternative.”  ASDAH has drafted a policy response which can be downloaded from its website. 

Calling out fatphobic attacks on Rob Ford

Shameless, a Toronto-based youth magazine, is calling out fellow lefties for their fatphobic treatment of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford in an article called Fatness and Rob Ford, by Julia Horal-O'Brian.

I am a fat person who bicycles. I am a fat person who does not own a car. I am a fat person who cares about the environment. I am a fat person with progressive politics, who volunteers for progressive organizations, and who happens to carry around more adipose tissue than average. When you tell Rob Ford that he’s a fat fuck who needs to get on a bike, you erase me as a fat cyclist. When you say that mentioning Ford’s weight is justified metaphorically because it represents conservative values, you erase me as a fat progressive. If you think that correlating Ford’s fatness with his terrible politics doesn’t also strongly imply a criticism of fat more broadly, you aren’t thinking critically.

When you use fatness as an insult, you are chipping away at my hard-earned sense of dignity, acceptance and self-love of my fat body. And when you brush off my concerns about the language we’re using in our critiques of the mayor, I’m hearing, loud and clear, that I don’t have the right progressive body, that I fall outside your realm of acceptability as a progressive person in Toronto.

Perhaps the best part of this is the comments, where plenty of stereotypes and mistaken assumptions come up and are quickly corrected. Lots of people there really seem to get it.

Toronto Public Health Messages: Doing it Right

I just wanted to take a few minutes to share some material from Toronto Public Health. This stuff is a few years old; the brochure I'm quoting from was first used in 2007. However, it's worth revisiting for the positive, nonjudgemental, HAES-compatible messages. It's perfectly pitched and beautifully balanced. It doesn't preach unjustified self esteem. It talks about knowing what you can change and what you can't, and basing self esteem on accomplishments rather than on appearance.

The brochure is called "Nutrition Matters: Helping Children to Be Active, Eat Well and Accept their Bodies." In addition the the usual advice on physical activity and nutrition, it includes this section on body image:

  • Accept Yourself.
    Parents and caregivers affect the way children feel about themselves and their bodies. When children feel good about themselves and their bodies they are more likely to make healthy choices.
  • Encourage a healthy body image in children.
    Genetics play an important role in determining body shape and size. Help children understand that there are things they cannot control. Ask children to look at other family members to help find out if their bodies are programmed to be tall, short, big, small or in between. Remind children that their bodies are changing and growing, and that weight gain is normal, especially during puberty.
  • Reflect on your own body image and be aware of the messages you send about your body.
    Do you emphasize your skills and talents rather than your physical appearance? Be aware that the comments you make about your weight or body parts influence children. When you have a positive view of yourself and your body, the children around you will feel better about themselves.
  • Believe in and promote the message that healthy bodies come in many heights, weights, shapes and sizes.
    Avoid making comments about people based on weight, shape, size, race, age or gender. Children who learn to accept diversity are better able to love their own bodies and themselves.
  • Teach children that weight and shape teasing is unacceptable and hurtful.
    If you hear children calling someone “fat” or “skinny”, do not ignore it. Let children know that everyone is unique and that all body shapes and sizes have beauty and value. Talk to children about respect and standing up for others.
  • Accept children for who they are.
    Tell them they are special and important. When adults feel positive about children, these children will feel good about themselves.
  • Praise children for the things they do, like the way they treat others, rather than for the way they look.
    Encourage children to focus on their abilities, not their appearance. Help them to identify their strengths.
  • Encourage children to be critical of the images and messages on TV, in magazines and on music videos.
    Explain how the media uses unrealistic images to sell products. Talk with them about what they see and hear. By helping children identify unhealthy images, they develop a more realistic picture of the healthy range of body shapes and sizes.

"Your Kids are Listening. Set a healthy example when your kids are young," another Toronto Public Health brochure, has similar messages.

This is what Michelle Obama's Let's Move campaign should look like. And talking about Let's Move, the language on the website has been changed. Instead of talking about "eliminating childhood obesity within a generation," they're using this wording:

Let’s Move! is a comprehensive initiative, launched by the First Lady, dedicated to solving the challenge of childhood obesity within a generation, so that children born today will grow up healthier and able to pursue their dreams

It still has a negative and (IMHO) unhealthy focus on body size - and I don't really understand how having a BMI above an arbitrary value would stop someone from pursuing their dreams - but at least they've toned down the worst of the rhetoric. Apparently fat kids are now allowed to exist as long as they don't cause a problem. Hum.

Marilyn Wann on State-Sanctioned Kidnapping

Foster Care for Fat Children? Gastric-Bypass Surgery? Two Wrongs Call for a Fight.

Thanks again, SFWeekly. Excellent piece.

Last week, major news outlets seemed pleased to report that a Harvard public health expert wants Child Protective Services officials to take fat children from their families.
As scary as that sounds, what David Ludwig advised, in the pages of the Journal of the American Medical Association -- one of the world's foremost medical journals -- is far more terrifying: "It may be unethical to subject such children to an invasive and irreversible procedure [gastric bypass] without first considering foster care."

Finally! An "obesity" fear monger admits that weight-loss surgery -- aka stomach amputation, digestive bonsai, gut lobotomy, gastric guillotine, and having your esophagus stretched to your anus (slight exaggeration) -- is dangerous. Or, in Ludwig's own words, its "long-term safety and effectiveness ... remains unknown, and serious perioperative and long-term morbidity and mortality have been reported." (Translation: You could get very sick or die, for little or no lasting weight loss.)

What kind of choice is this for kids? We cut off your stomach or we cut you off from your family? That's the best advice a Harvard public health expert can offer?

Yeah, I've got a third option. Stop telling fat kids that their bodies are tragic and inherently diseased, teach them the same things about nutrition and physical activity as you would any kid, and let them grow up into normal (fat or thin) people who are comfortable in their own bodies.

Marilyn also includes this very telling statistic:

For every 100,000 children, 11.8 have type 2 diabetes and 2,700 have diagnosed eating disorders.

Please don't try to tell me that all of the panic mongering over childhood obesity and all of the social prejudice against fat people isn't contributing to more and younger children developing eating disorders.

If it becomes acceptable to take children away from their parents because they're fat, how much further will it go? Internment camps for fat kids? It sounds like a distopian future out of a science fiction novel, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if it's being discussed seriously in some circles. After all, everyone knows that foster parents aren't all that great, on average. If you think that kids are fat because there's something wrong with the way they're being raised, then you'd go in for state-controlled reeducation, wouldn't you? To me, it seems like the unspoken conclusion. If you're reading this as someone who isn't pro-size acceptance and thinking that sounds like it might be a good idea, then give some thought to the history of that type of policy.

More casualties in the War on Fat

In the Arizona Republic: Liposuction deaths: Phoenix area doctor convicted of murder, manslaughter

An Anthem physician who had three patients die during plastic-surgery procedures in his clinic was found guilty of murder and manslaughter Friday in Maricopa County Superior Court.

Dr. Peter Normann was pronounced guilty of second-degree murder in the deaths of Ralph Gonzalez, 33, of Scottsdale, and Leslie Ann Ray, 53, of California, and of manslaughter for the death of Alicia Santizo Blanco, 41, of Gilbert...

Throughout the trial, which began June 10, Normann's attorneys, John Johnsonand Vikki Liles, maintained that the deaths were accidental, the result of known risks of plastic surgery, and claimed that if Normann, 50, were found guilty, it would mean that all doctors would be liable for procedures gone wrong.

Autopsy findings had listed the deaths as accidental.

But in her closing arguments earlier this week, Deputy County Attorney Jeannette Gallagher said the "combination of incompetence and arrogance in trying to cover up his (Normann's) incompetence led to their deaths."

Gallagher claimed that two of the deaths constituted second-degree murder because of Normann's "extreme indifference to human life," and the third death was manslaughter because of Normann's "conscious disregard of substantial and unjustified risk of death."

This sort of thing is disturbingly common (there were recently lap band-related deaths in New York and in California, for example). However, it is good to hear that there was a criminal conviction in this case.

Set Point Theory Explained

We often hear people on the Fatosphere mention “set point theory” or their set point when talking about why weight loss doesn’t work for most people. This can be a very confusing term. I thought I would explain MY understanding of set point theory, one I have come to after reading the experts, interviewing Fatosphere participants and my own experiences with weight loss and gain.

Set point theory suggests that our body has a particular range of weight that it is comfortable in, usually about 10% of a body’s weight. That means, if you weight 175, you have about an 18 pound range; if you weigh 325, you have about a 33 pound range. Most people lose and gain within this set point on a pretty regular basis. They may put on a little weight in the winter and lose it in the spring. Or get busy and drop a little weight. Or gain a little when stressed. Or lose a little during an illness. Or whatever. Movement within this range is normal. However, movement outside of that range is not. In fact the body seeks homeostasis – that is the body seeks to stay within that range. To move outside of that range something must go on, something must happen to the body.

This range appears to be set by a number of factors. The strongest factor seems to be genetic, as a number of studies have found. In fact, adoption and twin studies have determined that about 75% of us have the body size we do because of genetics. For that other 25%, a number of factors can mess with your set point, moving it either up or down. Disease is one of those factors. For instance, there exists a great deal of evidence suggesting diabetes causes individuals to get fat. Thyroid disease, Cushing’s Disease, PCOS and other diseases all cause weight gain. Medications can cause weight gain or loss. Depression can also cause the body to gain or lose weight. Stress can cause gain or loss. And, the kicker, DIETING can also mess with this homeostasis – increasing body weight the majority of the time.

When something tries to change the weight of an individual, the body fights back. This is true of both up and down. In the Vermot Prison study (1964) when researchers overfed prisoners, they found that the prisoners gained about 15%-25% of their body weight, then their metabolism shifted so that they could gain no more. One guy was eating 10,000 calories a day just to maintain that gain. When they quit eating so much, the majority returned to their original weight.

When we try to lose weight, the body will let it happen for a time, but then it starts fighting back. It starts adjusting the metabolism to hold onto weight. It starts an almost voracious desire for high carb and high fat foods. And the kicker, most bodies will increase the set point range, believing that it has experienced starvation and must protect against such danger again.

My own personal opinion: for 40,000 years the primary threat to the majority of humans tended to be not getting enough to eat. In fact, starvation was a strong threat until the end of World War II in the United States and is still true for some poor in the U.S. and for many inhabitants of Third World countries today. Since starvation was common, the majority of our bodies learned to hold onto weight at all costs. Any time our bodies experience lack, they learn to be more efficient in holding weight: i.e. the body that experiences lack increases the set point. Children who experience famine have very efficient bodies – bodies designed to hold onto fat. People who experience starvation repeatedly will have bodies that get better and better and holding on to fat.

So, how is the body supposed to tell the difference between starvation and a diet? It can’t. All the body knows is that the signals (signals of hunger or craving) it is sending are being ignored. And the only way it knows to respond is as if there is a famine. So it holds onto weight and creates a demand for high calorie foods. And so the diet fails for the majority of us.

Now, that is my understanding of set point theory. Any questions? Anyone else want to chime in with their own ideas about it?

Just an FYI, I have signed contracts with Pearlsong Press for two books: Talking Fat about the rhetoric (persuasion) surrounding the obesity epidemic and Acceptable Prejudice? about fat and social justice. Look for the first one to come out next year.

New HAES Blog Posts in Psychology Today

The Psychology Today website has recently been providing a forum for a much-needed mainstream discussion of fat acceptance and HAES. They're featuring Harriet Brown's pro-HAES blog eating disorders blog, Brave Girl Eating and Pattie Thomas' fat acceptance Blog I Take up Space.

Harriet Brown's newest post, Health, not weight: On shifting the conversation, has generated a really interesting (and by "interesting" I mean "a debate between HAES proponents and people yelling 'but everyone knows fat is unhealthyyyyyyyy!'") discussion in the comments section.

Pattie Thomas has responded to some of the points about medical research in an excellent new post, A Lesson in Cause and Effect. Pattie starts with a discussion of confounding factors in the research on weight and heath:

A number of issues have been raised regarding existing obesity research. I'd like to raise three basic points that I think almost all critiques agree upon regarding the comorbidities and costs of obesity:

Ecological Fallacy: Many of the studies that have been done are population studies about adults at different weights and not following adults who gain or lose weight. Then it is assumed that if the health of the lower weight persons is better than the higher weight persons (or some other combination of lower, middle and higher weights), the loss (or gain) of weight will bring all people into the same state of health. This is a big assumption and is not supported by these studies. This is called an ecological fallacy. It is taking population data and applying it to individual members of the population. Many people would be surprised to find out how lacking the literature is when it comes to studying the effects of weight loss on individuals.

Confounding Data Interpretation: Many of the comorbidities correlated with weight can be explained by other factors and/or other factors have not been considered or ruled out in the studies. A lot of studies assume that all fat people do not exercise and all thin people do exercise. Thus, these factors are confounded with studies of weight making comments about activity levels and studies of activity levels making comments about weight control. Diet gets confounded in the same way. BMI has become a short-cut not only to assessing someone's health, but to assessing someone's health practices. But in studies where such factors as activity level, consumption of certain kinds of food, social factors such as socioeconomic levels and stress levels have been accounted for, weight becomes an almost non-existent factor.

Money sometimes tips the scale against truth.
Biased Funding: So, why in the face of the two above points, does the science get so misreported and misunderstood? Money. And that is the third contention. Much of what the media reports is not science at all, but is reported as if it is science. "Studies have shown..." are magic words in our public discourse. But much of what is reported comes from press releases by people with vested interests in the public believing certain things...

She goes on to discuss correlation and causation - how they can be confused and how to judge the nature of associations - in detail. The post is informative and the discussion is just starting to take off.

Marilyn Wann in SF Weekly

Just a couple of quick links. Marilyn Wann has a new blog entry at SF Weekly, focusing on intersectionality: A 'Big, Fat Parade' Could Expand Livable Space for All of Us

Instead of making long lists of outsider groups who deserve long-overdue welcome and then debating who's deserving and who isn't, what if we were all welcome all the time?

We learn about ourselves piecemeal, but we live one life in one body. We need to be all of the things we are, all of the time. That's how pride intersects with freedom. If you can't be at home in your own body, where are you supposed to go?

Marilyn also reminds us that the No Lose Conference starts tomorrow, July 8-10, in Oakland, CA. It sounds like a great program, and hopefully someone in the fatosphere will be attending and will post their experiences.

Crowdsourcing: Responses to #fatpeoplenightmares

I have been following people on Twitter counteracting the heinous hashtag #fatpeoplenightmares, which was apparently being used to spew fat hate (I'll be honest, I haven't had enough sanity points to look at the collective tweets). I have also come across a few responses, including Megan Tonjes' vlog rant.

But I thought I'd do some crowdsourcing and see what responses (tweets, videos, blog posts, etc.) you've come across (or created!) in response to #fatpeoplenightmares over the last few days.

What are your favorite responses? Please post in the comments!

Russia looking to impress tourists by ousting fat police?

This article from the Australian Herald-Sun demonstrates several classic fat tropes. Apparently Russia's Interior Minister wants to eliminate fat people from the police force, as part of an effort to professionalize their force and make them "look more dignified."

"The fat and paunchy will not get through," Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev was quoted as telling a private meeting.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has vowed to cut the police force by a fifth, and increase its professional level. The officers have even got a new uniform, with a more tailored look. Now they have just a month to pass tests to prove their suitability in the slimmed-down force.


"With puffy eyes, hanging cheeks, bull necks and huge bellies, many Saint Petersburg policemen look unappetising," complained Neva 24 website, saying that 12,000 of the city's 40,000 officers are overweight.

Unappetizing? According to this article, at least, this supposed effort is entirely about aesthetics--particularly for the sake of impressing tourists and investors--people who bring in the money. What's perhaps most interesting about this article is the focus on fat men.

Fatness, more and more, is becoming a global class marker (in a very different way from the past). For a long time Western nations have fought fat in large part because it became an indicator of national weakness. Now, it's also about the bottom line.

Still, the effort in Russia to root out fat policemen is "unofficial," indicating that it's not such an acceptable thing to say outright. The spokesperson for the interior ministry denied that weight would be used to judge police, stating that there is no policy about weight.

"If a man weighs 180kg and runs the distance in 10 seconds, then there's no problem," he said.

ASDAH's new HAES Blog

The Association For Size Diversity and Health, a Health at Any Size (HAES) advocacy organization made up of medical professionals, academics, and activists, has recently begun publishing a very impressive new blog!

The authors are a HAES all-star team, most of whom have written books that are Health at Every Size classics:

So far, the blog has three substantive posts. The first is an introduction by Deb Lemire, president of ASDAH: the HAES files: what is the Health At Every Size(SM) approach and why it is important.

The Health At Every SizeSM approach is about the ways that people of all sizes can maximize their health.  This approach does not mean to give up or to let everything go.  It is an active process by which people work positively with their bodies and within their lifestyles to achieve a level of health which is reasonable and above all, sustainable for them...

We are no longer content with sitting in the back of the room, listening politely as policy makers, the media, and the food, diet and health industry dictate how this is going to play out.  We are done asking for a seat at the table, we are taking one.

Next is a post by Linda Bacon, The HAES files: on the fat beat, the Health At Every Size(SM) approach deserves “equal weight”.

By overlooking the Health at Every SizeSM approach, aren’t journalists missing the full story on fat? In coverage of the so-called War on Obesity, why is the HAES-led Peace Movement so invisible?
It’s a Journalism 101 cliché that there are not just two sides to every story, but three or more. Yet most health reporting relies on the singular viewpoint of “anti-obesity experts.” The problem is not just that contrarian voices aren’t heard in articles about weight, it’s that few reporters recognize those voices even exist.

The newest post is by Deb Burgard: the HAES files: promoting health or peddling weight loss?.

My challenge – to health care providers, family, fitness and nutrition experts, school officials, our own government and public health agencies – basically, anyone who will listen – is to have the courage to make the argument for health without doing it on the backs of fat people.

All of these posts are worth reading in their entirety.

Their goal is to post one new article a week. Since it doesn't seem to be on the Notes from the Fatosphere feed (yet), I'd strongly urge anyone who's interested in HAES to bookmark it.

Medical weight bias discussed in Prevention

There's an article on medical weight bias in July's Prevention Magazine. When Your Doctor Makes You Feel Fat, subtitled "Overweight women are often given a biased diagnosis because of appearance. Here's how to make sure you get the health care--and respect--you deserve."

This article features interviews with a number of women who have experienced weight-based discrimination from medical professionals. However, in spite of the title, the advice it offers is pretty sparse. It suggests calmly discussing the discriminatory behavior with the doctor or nurse, and if they react badly, switching to a different provider.

The article acknowledges that as long as society holds fat people in low regard, so will doctors. Of course, the weight based paradigm in that's fashionable in the medical community - and in magazines like Prevention - almost guarantees that doctors will try to link every health concern to weight, often failing to properly diagnose and treat fat people's health problems.

The New York Times scores a knockout

There's a great article in the Times online, originally published on June 12 in the New York edition: Hands That Punch Also Gently Guide. It's about a teacher and professional heavy weight boxer named Sonya Lamonakis. And, it's a straightforward article with no snarky comments about Sonya's weight. How refreshing!

AT 5-foot-7 and 220 pounds, Sonya Lamonakis has a stinging left hook. She is the Women’s International Boxing Association’s third-ranked heavyweight, and has all but assured herself a chance to fight for the world title after beating the 300-pound GiGi Jackson in a six-round bout in April.

But her powerful fists become soft, instructive instruments in her day job, as a teacher at the Family Academy, a public elementary school in Harlem.

Friday Fun: The Badass Fatass Superhero Name Generator

Direct from Stacy Bias, fat activist extraordinaire, the Badass Fatass Superhero Name Generator!

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