September 2, 2011

Fat Terrorism!

Death by sausages...
come on!
There was a brilliant man who once described the obesity fears in the US as "the terror within, a threat that is every bit as real to America as the weapons of mass destruction." (Richard Cormona - ex surgeon general)That was before we were exposed to the real life kinda terrorism.

It was also once proclaimed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that over 400,000 Americans die of overweight and obesity every year......before they really understood the data. Turns out, after a more methodical review that it really is only 26,000.  I mean really, what's a 374,000 death difference...it's still really bad for you to be fat...right? The sick thing about this is after the CDC announced that 400k die every year they didn't go back to correct it. The result? Most (if not all) health and medical practitioners began the war against fat that continues to be fought today. 

This book lit the fire for me.
Paul Campos offers study
after study dispelling the
myths of obesity and health.
Does fat really kill? Turns out there are more studies to suggest otherwise. These studies are longitudinal (meaning not just a couple of weeks or months, but years) and the number of participants are high.  What they have found is overweight people live as long or longer than their "normal" weight counterparts.  Wanna taste of some of these studies? Check 'em out...

1. The Established Populations for the Epidemiological Studies of the Elderly - more than 8,000 seniors participated in this.
2. The Study of Osteoporotic Fractures - more than 8,000 women participated
3. The Cardiovascular Health Study - almost 5,000 individuals participated
4. Women's Health Initiative Observational Study - 90,000 women!
5. Body Weight and Mortality among Men and Women in China - 170,000 adults participated
6. Body Mass Index and Premature Mortality in Physically Heavily Working Men - a Ten -Year Follow-up of 20,000 Construction Workers
7. Body Size and Mortality in Women: A 29 Year Follow up of 12,000 Pregnant Women in Northern Finland
8. Height and Weight and Mortality: The Norwegian Experience - 1.7 million people !!!! This was the largest study done and found that those in the overweight category (measured by the fabulous Body Mass Index - BMI) had the highest life expectancy. Those in the underweight category had the lowest. Those that were determined as "normal" had a lower life expectancy than some in the obese range.

(Note:  the full references of these above studies are available upon request...but you could easily "Scholar Google" them to get the abstracts)

Simply outstanding read!
The current generation of children is the first generation in modern American history projected to have a shorter life span than their parents. (Olshansky, S., Passaro, D., Hershow, R., Layden, J., Carnes, B., Brody, J., Hayflick, L., Butler, R., Allison, D., & Ludwig, D. (2005). A Potential Decline in Life Expectancy in the United States in the 21st Century, New England Journal of Medicine, 352, 1138-45.)
I'm sure you have heard this statement over the years. This was an opinion piece noted in the New England Journal of Medicine and didn't offer any statistical support to back it up. In other words, someone just put it out there "as their opinion".  Nice. So here you have, yet again, health and medical professionals panicked over the growing rates of childhood obesity and diabetes (note: many medical professionals sitting on the boards that determine the measures for obesity and diabetes have their fingers in other ventures including pharmaceuticals for chronic disease management and weight loss clinics...the measures are then lowered to include more people).
Fat stigma is fueling our
desires and actions to
get thin...not science.

The truth is, through medical advances in care and better nutrition and living conditions, the majority of kids can look forward to living longer than their parents (and taller...evidently the human race is getting taller too).  So the next time you serve Johnny and warm, toasted, grilled cheese sandwich remember....you are not handing him a loaded gun...just a simple plate of love and joy.
Size is a sloppy and unscientific way to judge someone's health or character, and the social and medical imperative for a thin body is not only misguided, it has caused much damage. "Normal weight" is neither normal (most people exceed it) nor ideal in terms of health. All that can be determined by judging people based on their weight is one's own level of prejudice.          Bacon, L. (2008). Health at Every Size.

So if fat doesn't kill why are so many of us scrambling for the latest weight loss tool (or more scary...surgery). Why are we risking our life under the knife? Why are medical doctors (people who are trusted with the care of life) suggesting bariatric surgery?  Bariatric surgery is the umbrella term for surgeries that promote weight loss (lap band surgery, stomach stapling, gastric bypass, and the like). From celebrities to the guy next door, people are turning to this extreme measure "for their health"...but if their health really isn't at risk why are they putting themselves at risk for more complications than I have time to list? Did you know that once someone undergoes bariatric surgery they will never be able to eat normally again? They will face pain, vomiting, and something called "dumping" (inability to control their stool). Apparently 85% of patients will experience this (according to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery). In addition, their is a high rate of depression and suicide that accompany such a desperate measures.  Like money can't buy happiness, so would it appear that thinness doesn't either.
Again, fat isn't about health
or real science...there are
many other (more
disturbing) reasons behind
our fatty fears.

Of course, once the patient looses a few pounds and gets a few compliments, they rarely want to share the negatives they experience (hence we never hear about things like "dumping"). So even if they have to wear a diaper for the rest of their lives and always bring a second pair of pants with them, they will look really good in their jeans.

Jokes aside...it's a sad state of affairs when our doctors recommend this measure. They should be aware of the studies suggesting fat isn't the enemy. They should be urging patients to go in another direction. Some researchers suggest this is because surgeons get rich doing it or because pharmaceuticals will fill their pockets or other reasons beyond that of the care of their patient. I am sadly starting to realize that more often than not the doctor isn't on your side as much as she is on the side of big pharmaceutical. 

The motivation for my post today is two fold. Two days ago, as I was surfing through the USA Today news site, I came across a sickening article about everyone's favorite doc...Dr. Oz. It was because of this, and the book I'm reading at the moment, that I wrote this post today. The link to Dr. Oz's shameful proclamation that he wants to see more bariatric surgery performed is attached in the link below.

http://content.usatoday.com/communities/entertainment/post/2011/08/dr-oz-advocates-more-gastric-bypass-surgery-/1

Let's just say, I'm done with Dr. Oz. He has an opportunity to positively effect the world and he chooses to continue to exacerbate the myth that fat is bad and everyone needs to loose weight. Give me a frickin break.

Another motivation for posting is a book I highly recommend you read (if you are tired of dieting or trying to loose weight or if you are a health practitioner).  It is written by Linda Bacon, PhD. (ya I know the last name is pretty ironic) and entitled "Health at Every Size; The surprising truth about your weight".  In addition to this book, if you haven't read "The Obesity Myth", by Paul Campos, PhD. I highly recommend that one too. Both are below and they promise to change your perspective, belief, and life.

Something you can trust is the fact that a healthy diet and daily physical activity (along with adequate sleep) are the three biggies that can help you reduce your risk of chronic disease. Fat has nothing to do with it. Of course, the reality of all this, simply put, is we all want to look good naked. My next post will be all over that like butter on a hot piece of raisin / cinnamon toast on a cold rainy morning.

Have a great weekend.
K


PS. Other than the books I have recommended, I have also attached those that relate to fat stigma in North America. Again, great reads and will make you mad and relieved at the same time.

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