Tuesday, July 31, 2007


I've found a few interesting (not perfect, but interesting) and moderately empowering things promoting size acceptance lately. Let me tell you, this is no easy feat in a world flooded with the likes of Fat March, Shaq's Big Challenge, The Biggest Loser, Big Medicine, Inside Brookhaven Obesity Clinic, and on and on and on.

Here's an article about teaching children not to be rude to large people. Who'da thunk? Not elaborate or detailed, but it gets the general idea across.

Kate Harding is a wonderful blogger who addresses fat hatred with a vengeance in her Shapely Prose blog. A recent post written by a guest blogger drives home the point that the misguided comments of doctors can often lead to terrible consequences for fat people. Incredibly sad, but unfortunately, not difficult to believe.

PBS aired a show called "Fat: What No One is Telling You." I had high hopes for this show, but discovered that PBS too falls victim to the same unfortunate groupspeak on most aspects of fat. That is, everyone is telling us about weight loss surgery. And everyone is praising the hard work of current weight loss successes. And everyone is making the sole assumption that the only cause of larger body size is the combination of overeating and underexercising.

There were a few choice quotes that I found close to liberating, although I was so frustrated that they were wrapped in the standard fat-is-bad propaganda.

"This isn't simple. This is not a simple balance of energy in and energy out. If it were, we would have solved the problem a long time ago. We have a very, very rich and accurate physiological system that keeps our energy in balance. And all that system has to do is get disrupted by a tiny percent -- just a 1% mismatch in that system -- can lead to a 130-140 pound weight gain over your adult life.

"...The subtleties of what's going on (with obesity) in the brain that can lead to massive obesity are such that it's going to take a lot of very, very careful analysis to figure out what's going on. We know that there are 20 or 30 thousand genes in the human genome. At least 400 of them are involved in energy regulation and weight regulation. So right there, you've got 400 genes, and that doesn't even take into account all of the environmental factors. So, when you put all those things together, you have a very complex system."

- Lee Kaplan, MD, PhD; Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School

At one point, the narrator reminds us of this important fact:

"A study of people who entered weight loss programs done in 1958 concluded:

* Of those who enter obesity treatment, most will drop out.
* Of those who stay in treatment, most will not lose weight.
* Of those who do lose weight, most will regain it.

"Fifty years later, the picture remains the same. Despite the millions and millions of dollars in scientific research, fifty years of hard work, thousands of failed weight loss schemes, no one has been able to improve those odds."

I would contend that it's because our bodies are hardwired to be what they are. Tall people are hardwired to be tall. Blue-eyed people are hardwired to have blue eyes. Thin people are hardwired to be thin. In my opinion, the defining factor in fat prejudice is the fact that bodies can be temporarily changed by altering food intake and physical activity (I can't overemphasize temporarily... 95% of people who lose weight gain all of it back plus a little more within five years). That gets blended with the confusion of correlation and causation, and people become convinced that the only possible way to be fat is to eat too much and exercise too little. Plus, "millions of dollars" in research over fifty years is no match for U.S. diet industry's $50 BILLION dollars per year.

Dr. Kaplan returns with even more compelling information.

"When the brain wants to control weight, which it wants to do almost all the time, it exerts extraordinarily powerful influences. It decides that we ought to have a certain amount of body fat so we have energy in reserve. And if we don't have that much body fat, it will do everything in its power to cause us to behave to get more energy.

"At the same time, it will put into place a program that conserves energy, so that we don't waste a lot of energy, so we don't burn off our calories, so that our body cools down just a little bit, so that everything is done to conserve energy on the output side and to get more energy on the input side. And of course, then we gain a little bit of weight.

"And so our typical response is to 'well, ok, if that's the case, we'll just eat less.' And we exercise more and our body loses some weight because that's what naturally is going to occur. But what ends up happening is that you create, in that situation, a fight between your willful brain and your subconscious brain. And when you create that kind of battle between willpower and your subconscious brain, what you end up doing is you end up creating an unwinnable situation. It's an unwinnable situation. If you have that conflict, your subconscious brain will always win.

"And an example of that is, try running up six flights of stairs and breathing slow. You can do it for a few seconds. You can force yourself to breathe at whatever rate you want to breathe at. But when your body decides it needs more oxygen, within a few seconds, it will force you to breathe faster. And there's no amount of willpower that anyone has that will slow that process down."

Emphasis mine

I contend that even this doctor (who seems to be less of a fatphobe) undermines his explanation of the subconscious brain being in total control by calling fat both a "problem" and a "disease." Harumph. I don't consider my fat a problem, and it certainly is not a disease.

It's also incredibly sad that -- even on the supposedly objective PBS -- the show is sponsored by Glaxo Smith Klein. That would be the pharmaceutical company that has a vested interested in selling its hot new over-the-counter fat-blocking/pants-pooping drug, Alli.

I have to get going. It's late. I need sleep. And there are too many things to do in preparation for our massive life change for me to be blogging. Regular posts should resume sometime in September. That's my guess. Until then, l'chaim!


BigMedicine said...

Premieres January 9th 10pm EST/10pm PST/9pm CST

TLC’s hit show is back for its second season! Big Medicine returns with bigger and better stories than ever as individuals undertake drastic measures to take a bite out of their obesity. From a previously 1000lb man looking to take his first step in 7 years, to a devastated mother looking to complete her weight loss transformation after losing her daughter to suicide, the stories captivate, and inspire. We’ll see how obesity affects people’s sex lives, relationships and changes marriages forever. Tears will be shed, smiles will be shared, and hope will be instilled as Big Medicine proves there is light at the end of everyone’s tunnel!

kellycoxsemple said...

Stay off my blog, you twits. I didn't write this post as an endorsement of your ridiculous show. I've watched many shows on TLC for years, but this kind of prank merits a complete boycott. BUG OFF!