Ugh that post has gotten me thinking about fat acceptance in a way I haven’t in years. I’ve read more studies about weight and health than probably any other topic I’ve ever researched. And every time I see someone wail about health I am just like
Did you know that in post-mortem examinations there is zero correlation between weight and levels of arteriosclerosis and related diseases found?
Did you know that people with an overweight BMI have the longest life expectancy, that those with an “ideal” and an “obese” have about the same life expectancy, and that being “underweight” raises mortality rates more than being “morbidly obese”?
Did you know that losing weight and then gaining it back is worse for your heart than remaining at the weight you started consistently?
Did you know that 95% of people who lose weight do gain it back, and there has never been a single documented weight loss program that has been demonstrated to keep the weight off for five years or more in the majority or even a significant minority of people? Like, telling people to lose weight isn’t much use if we don’t know HOW to make that happen.
Like I have read The Obesity Myth by Paul Campos and Rethinking Thin by Gina Kolata and Big Fat Lies by Glenn A Gaesser (Ph.D!) And Fat!So? and several other books that I don’t own and so don’t remember all of their names I spent like four years reading every single study coming out and looking at the methodology and noting which ones had huge holes or terrible methods and which didn’t (the holes were almost always in the pro-weight-loss studies) and like
Big Fat Lies has 27 pages of bibliography. 27 pages worth of scientific citation. The book content itself is only 197 pages. That’s a page of references for every 7 pages of book. Reading the book is just reference after reference and study after study. Most of these doctors (like Linda Bacon, author of Health at Every Size) started out the same way. They wanted to use the scientific method to find a real weight loss program or health solution that worked and could be proven to work, and so studied everything they could about weight and fitness only to find out that we didn’t need weight loss in the first place. That all the studies calling for it were lacking or nonexistent. That weight and underlying metabolic health have very little relation. That the history of our relationship with health and obesity has little basis in fact and a LOT of basis in capitalism, politics, and fashion. No, really, the association between weight and health was first proposed by insurance companies looking for ways to charge people more by claiming risk. They also charged tall and short people more. And people with different skin colors. When they got in trouble for charging people for things they had no control over and had no bearing on their health, they set out to prove that weight was controllable and that fat was unhealthy to make money.
These are also a lot of the same people who went on to invent the President’s fitness program, so if you went to public school you probably already hate them.
Anyway, if you want a place to start reading about the issue, this article is a pretty good launching pad.
This casual rant is like a primer on weight science. Amazing. I second their book recommendations, and would add to the list Body Respect by Drs Bacon & Aphramor, Body of Truth by journalist Harriet Brown, and What’s Wrong with Fat? by UCLA professor of sociology Abigail Saguy.