Big Fat Facts Big Fat Index


According to this article, studying ten people for three days is enough to generalize about the behavior and activity level of an entire segment of the fat population.

While I appreciate that the researchers doing the study seem to have reached the same conclusion that every HAES proponent has known for years, it annoys me that Reuters is choosing to frame the results as "big fat fatties are totally lying when they say they have healthy habits!" instead of "habits are better indicators of health than weight or size". Arg.

They should call the article "Ten very obese adults almost completely sedentary." That's some news there.

Thoughts on Fat Camp? | United Airlines and the upside of anger

GiniLiz April 16th, 2009 | Link | Tap Dancing Fatties

Discussion of this study on the Showmethedata listserv group came with a great email subject line -

"Fat people tap dance like crazy for 8 minutes every day"

Seriously, just look at the numbers! The results showed "participants spent an average of 23 hours and 52 minutes sleeping, lying down or sitting each day. They typically took about 3,700 steps throughout the day."

The mind boggles.

vesta44's picture
April 16th, 2009 | Link | 10 people out of how many

10 people out of how many million? 60% of 300 million (roughly) are "overweight/obese" and of those 60% only 4.6% have a BMI over 40 (and of that 4.6%, how many have a BMI over 50?), so let's see now, that 60% is 18 million, and 4.6% of that is 828,000; therefore those 10 people do not a representative sample make, thus major fail. And the activities that don't count as exercise are housecleaning, laundry, yard work, cooking meals, doing dishes - in other words, daily living activities that most of us do every day of the week. I don't know about anyone else, but even as sedentary as I am, I get in more than 3,700 steps a day and I sure as hell spend more than 8 minutes a day doing shit around the house. This study also doesn't take into account that pedometers aren't always accurate when used by fat people (and I know because I used to wear one at work to keep track of how many steps I took during the day and compared what was on the pedometer to what I counted and wrote down every time I had to go to another department to get/deliver work, go to lunch/breaks, and head for the restroom). The pedometer was always on the low side of how many steps I actually took (I usually did 12,000 steps, or thereabouts, and it said I only did about 8,000, so that's a discrepancy of 4,000 steps, or 33%).
Yeah, this study was very poorly constructed and executed, and the reporting on it is even worse (and why does that not surprise me?).
WLS - Sorry, not my preferred way of dying. *glares at doctor recommending it*

spacedcowgirl April 16th, 2009 | Link | Not to mention they skewed

Yeah, as vesta says, they skewed even that tiny amount of data to a ridiculous degree, especially in terms of how it was reported in the media. Living400lbs has a couple of good posts. Absurd.

Viola's picture
April 16th, 2009 | Link | OK, I haven't read the

OK, I haven't read the article as I'm afraid I might just annoy myself even further, but another aspect to all of this is that many people, even if they believe in daily exercise, have periods of time where they are more sedentary than others. I might say that in general I exercise, but I know there are days where I am sedentary or eat things that aren't that healthy. For awhile I would log my exercise faithfully and never miss more than a day or two, but when things are stressful, I might end up only exercising 2 days a week, or not doing work out style exercise for a week or two before coming back and doing two weeks and so on. It's not only fat people this happens to, this happens to thin people as well. I've talked to a number of thin people who say they never exercise, and I've talked to plenty who admit to loving certain fast food places or things like Girl Scout cookies. Why would heavy people be singled out?

And I agree about the pedometer, I could never get an accurate reading with a pedometer clipped to the waistband of my jeans--I had to put it inside on my underwear.

rebelle April 16th, 2009 | Link | Did anyone notice, too, that

Did anyone notice, too, that the study's whopping 10 subjects did NOT have heart disease, serious arthritis or other disorders ("that would limit their mobility'). I know that's included to "prove" that fat people are lazy, lazy, lazy, haha, but it also has the effect of, as long as we're supposed to accept 10 people as conclusive proof of anything, of showing that fat people are NOT necessarily unhealthy! To me, it also "proves" (using the term loosely) that exercise, not weight, is the key to health.

But speaking of that, do these people *seriously* believe that we all lack "incentive" to exercise, or doctors are somehow unaware of the "need" for recommending exercise? Seriously?

As to the 3,700 steps vs. the 10,000 recommended for healthy many steps per day do people with BMIs under 40 log? Or did they bother to study that? Hard to tell from the brief article.

diane April 19th, 2009 | Link | hmm... so these 10 fat

hmm... so these 10 fat people have no medical issues that would impact mobility (thank god!), and I have to assume they work and function and live a full life.. so what's the problem? Oh..someone decided that they don't move enough to suite someone else's idea of what fat people should be doing. Well...let that someone go take care of themselves and leave those fat people alone. There's nothing wrong with them!!

What if the person's schedule is this:
5am: wake
6am: leave to catch train
9am: in Office
5pm: leave Office
5:30: take train home
8pm: home
8:30pm dinner
11pm: sleep

So we have 6hrs of sleep a night, 8hrs at the Office, 5hrs commuting (driving/train/walking to work) and 5hrs at home (including getting ready for work, having dinner etc.) for a total of 24hrs. It is not inconceivable with such a schedule to be taking less than 5,000 steps a day. With escalators and elevators and depending how close to the office the train was etc... but the real point is that if this is that person's schedule then that's it!?! What's the problem with these authoritative morons??!?!?!

You know what would give these healthy fat people medical problems? Listening to these "health-fascists" whose goal is to line their own pockets with that person's hard earned salary. Their advice?... move closer to work, never ride or take the escalator/elevator, go to bed at midnight or get up at 4am so you can do an hour workout... never mind the kids, spouse, hobby, reading, socializing.... just lose weight and then those things are allowed. And if the person did that--they'd wind up with sleep deprevation, irritablility, stress increase which would then be declared to increase their bood pressure, which would be blamed on their weight and they'd be given blood pressure meds they didn't need, which will give them a bunch of side effects they didn't have before which will also be blamed on their weight... So if they'd get up at 3am or went to bed at 1am then they could work out 2hours to lose weight faster.. Hey do both and work out 4!! And here's some speed to help the metabolism, Uh oh...the speed caused the heart to race so it's heart's some more meds with more side effects.. all because of being fat. If only they would stay up until 2am or maybe get up at 2am then they've be able to work out that much more!! And when they drop dead--- well, what can you expect from an obese person who couldn't find time to take care of themseves. Don't they know they could've had a healthy life if only they tried??...

scruffmcgruff April 19th, 2009 | Link | How many people

How many people realistically commute for 5 hours/day?!

I'm confused by this survey. It seems to be suggesting these people were specifically monitored in a "home environment." Does that mean they were disallowed from their normal activities and confined to their homes? Did they pick only unemployed people? People on disability? The results don't seem reasonable to me if these people weren't specifically chosen b/c they were more or less home bound.

diane April 20th, 2009 | Link | "How many people

"How many people realistically commute for 5 hours/day?!"

If they live on Eastern LI and work in Manhattan then they do it everyday. 21/2hours by car during rush hour each way or on the train just to get into Penn 1 1/2hrs and that doesn not include the drive to the station and finding a place to park. So 5hours total commute is not only realistic it's reality.

scruffmcgruff April 23rd, 2009 | Link | I don't think this study

I don't think this study consisted of people who lived in Eastern LI and worked in Manhattan.

Viola's picture
April 24th, 2009 | Link | You can have 2 hour commutes

You can have 2 hour commutes each way in NoVa. It's not that uncommon.

Wanderer's picture
May 14th, 2009 | Link | Wait a Minute...

Okay, if the average is that people are active for only 8 minutes a day, something is wrong somewhere...



The entire experiment was conducted over a three-day period, yes... and two of the participants were engaged in "sedentary activity" for that entire period! Gee, that couldn't skew the figures at all, right? Just because 20% of the sample was engaged in "sedentary activity" for the entire study duration?

Now, what is "sedentary activity"? Well, let's check the paper itself, or at least the summary of methods:

Okay, "sedentary activity" is less than 3 METs, "Metabolic Equvalent of Task", per minute. Funny thing is, this is what the standard tables classify as LIGHT activity... not "sedentary". In the "under 3" category, we have:

Sex: 1.3 MET
Walking at speeds of less than 2 mph on level ground: 2.0 MET
Writing, Desk Jobs, Typing: 1.8 MET

In fact, sleeping clocks in at 0.9 MET, and watching TV at 1.0 MET.

Even better: One participant clocked in at 28 minutes of moderate activity in a single day! What's "moderate activity"? Here's an example list:

Stationary bike, very light effort: 3.0 MET
Calisthenics, home exercise, light or moderate effort, general activity: 3.5 MET
Bicycling at speeds less than 10 mph: 4.0 MET
Stationary bike, light effort: 5.5 MET

Guess what? If that person performed their "moderate activity" for roughly that period on four other days that week, they were living... a healthy lifestyle! The recommendation is for 500-1,000 METs/week, and that would qualify.

Prejudice cloaked in bad science and lies... "there is nothing new beneath the sun".

(Side note: For fun, please notice that the requirement could be satisfied with 250 minutes of slow walking during the week... a little more than 35 minutes a day during a 7-day week, totaling 500 METs.)

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

© 2000-2020 Big Fat Blog and its authors, all rights reserved. Big Fat Blog, Big Fat Facts, and Big Fat Index are our trademarks.