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Paul Campos and America's Moral Panic

Paul Campos gave a great interview over at The Atlantic yesterday, but what I found most interesting about the whole thing were the comments on the article. Almost every one is well thought out, literate, and full of good discussion about the topic at hand instead of devolving into 'fatties are stupid and gross and OMG should just lose weight' territory. I'm not saying they're all favorable or that I agree with all of them, but I find it so much more enjoyable to read a well-constructed point that I disagree with than what amounts to a handful of insults or ignorant BS one might find in comments on other articles.

Anyway, give it a read. A lot of commenters brought up the type II diabetes question which I couldn't immediately debunk in my head. Anyone have good information on the correlation of fat and type II diabetes and medical costs?

Check out Kate Harding on WTTW Chicago | Fat and the Fear of Movement

Wanderer's picture
July 30th, 2009 | Link | Well, current medical data

Well, current medical data indicate that fat cells produce resistin, a hormone which reduces glucose uptake:

Of course, that's in mice; they're just beginning the more advanced protocols. And, as noted, race has much more of an impact on diabetes than weight does.

Meowzer July 30th, 2009 | Link | About the diabeeetus: T2d

About the diabeeetus: T2d has one of the strongest genetic links of all diseases, and the other strong link is aging. As Paul Ernsberger once put it, nearly everyone will get t2d if they live long enough. Almost everyone under 70 who gets it has a family history of it. It's not like the formula goes, "eating too much causes you to get fat which in turn causes you to get diabetes," it's more like both t2d and weight gain are likely sequelae of insulin resistance, which is hereditary, and the weight gain usually happens first, since insulin resistance is present from birth.

And as someone who has PCOS (also related to insulin resistance) but isn't diabetic, I can tell you that the worst thing you could possibly do with someone with IR who is still producing insulin is put them on a weight-loss diet, especially one where they are told not to eat anything substantial when they are hungry. Not eating when hungry makes an IR person's pancreas work way too hard. I get shaky and hot if I ignore hunger signals, and while I haven't passed out yet I have come uncomfortably close. Working with dietary composition might help, but doing the you-aren't-really-hungry-you-just-ate-yesterday thing is just asking for trouble.

The other thing is, with earlier diagnosis and treatment, amputations as a result of diabetes are rare anymore, and are more likely in very old people, who were probably diagnosed much later in life.

richie79's picture
July 31st, 2009 | Link | "The current stigmitization

"The current stigmitization of fat kids is essentially child abuse as government policy, and the people behind it are, as far as I'm concerned, either incredibly stupid or very evil or in some cases both"

THIS is why I love Paul Campos.

I would certainly agree about the level of discourse being superior to that on more mainstream sites, though it continues to annoy me that the same people who constantly attack Campos, Sandy Szwarc, Basham and Luik and others questioning the obesity panic would never consider testing the claims of the thousands of anti-obesity researchers and organisations with anyhting approaching the same rigour.

Similarly, crisicisms of Campos' extremist, apocalyptic prose and emotive style could just as readily be leveled at Tam Fry, MeMe Roth, Michael Karolchyk or any of the numerous others who've allied themselves to the fat panic industry.

Guess we must be doing something right...

"The reward for conformity is that everybody likes you except yourself" - Rita Mae Brown

vesta44's picture
July 31st, 2009 | Link | Another problem with type 2

Another problem with type 2 diabetes is that when part of the treatment is insulin, weight gain can be one of the side effects, so an already fat person can end up getting fatter. And insulin treatment seems to be an inevitable part of type 2, since type 2 diabetes is one of those things that, while it can be controlled, does get worse with time and needs progressively stronger/more medications to control it adequately.
So it's going to be one of those diseases that is genetically passed on (not caused by what you ate/how you lived your life) and gets progressively more expensive to treat. Also because doctors insist on adding statins to lower cholesterol, and medications to lower blood pressure, and aspirin to thin blood, whether the patient with diabetes actually needs them or not (because if you have type 2 diabetes, you're automatically more at risk for heart attacks and strokes than the general population, according to them). And who gets the blame for the added expense? Not the doctor, who prescribes the added medications, but the patient, who did nothing to deserve the disease in the first place, other than be born to parents with the type 2 gene.

WLS - Sorry, not my preferred way of dying. *glares at doctor recommending it*

chondros July 31st, 2009 | Link | Megan McArdle deserves a lot

Megan McArdle deserves a lot of credit for wading into this topic: she's a prominent blogger, she's not fat herself, and she seems to be getting a LOT of flak from commenters and other bloggers (including a snarky dimissal by Ezra Klein at the Washington Post. I wasn't as encouraged by the comments as CarrieP: most strongly disagreed with McArdle, and their criticisms tended to deliberately miss the point. (Admittedly, there wasn't very much in the way of nasty name-calling, but that only shows how low we have to set the bar for fat-related discourse.)

To her credit, McArdle hasn't backed down and followed up her Campos interview with a series of further posts attacking the myths that surround "obesity."

pani113's picture
July 31st, 2009 | Link | I completely agree that

I completely agree that antifat hysteria is a moral panic. I did my master's project on this issue in 91, but I called it a deviance scare. Sociologists believe norms hold a society together. When society starts to break down, society rallies around the persecution of a "deviant" to achieve temporary unity. Much like you can be fighting like cats and dogs with your loved one, but if an outsider steps in to criticize them, the outsider becomes the new enemy as you go to defend your loved one. Social breakdown, or anomie as the famous sociologist Emile Durkheim referred to it, is an extremely dangerous phenomena. When we look at many atrocities in history where people turned against each other, it is usually present. We are experiencing unprecedented social breakdown right now. A government sanctioned scapegoat is as dangerous as a match in dry timber. And the worst part of it is that it is deliberately being stoked just for pharma's profit.

"Fat can be beautiful. Intolerance is ALWAYS ugly!"

pani113's picture
July 31st, 2009 | Link | p.s. Are we sharing this by

p.s. Are we sharing this by posting a link to the interview where ever we can. I just posted a link on Care to Care. Pharma has paid bloggers to generate anti fat hysteria, we need to get our rears in gear and not waste any opportunity. I am going to post the link to Kate's interview too.

"Fat can be beautiful. Intolerance is ALWAYS ugly!"

worrier August 3rd, 2009 | Link | "We are experiencing

"We are experiencing unprecedented social breakdown right now. A government sanctioned scapegoat is as dangerous as a match in dry timber."

I so agree with you. I also think fat people have become the premier scapegoat of the times. I'm sure there are other scapegoats around, but fat people are very high up on the scapegoat list. A poster on this site once said that one day, somewhere, there will be camps for fat people. I agreed with him, there will be camps.

Hasta la vista, baby!

JennyLinsky August 18th, 2009 | Link | Worrier: If they have


If they have "camps," they'll have to round up 66% of the American population. Last time I heard, that's the percentage of Americans defined as "overweight."

Alyssa August 12th, 2009 | Link | Obamas and Obesity

Thanks for posting this interview. I want to add that President and First Lady Obama also stoke this moral panic of fat-hatred by their public anti-obesity pronouncements.

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