Newsweek: Hating Fat People Is Bologna

      27 Comments on Newsweek: Hating Fat People Is Bologna

If you’ve read or heard some of my press interviews, you know that Fat Head didn’t actually begin as a response to Super Size Me. My intention was a shoot a demo for a TV show I wanted to produce: funny but thoughtful guy examines issues of the day.  The topic I planned to explore for the pilot episode was the ridiculous prejudice we have against fat people in modern society.  I watched Super Size Me as part of my initial research, became very annoyed, and decided to produce Fat Head instead.

Last week, Newsweek’s online edition ran a two-part article that’s related to my original idea. The Fat Wars: America’s Weight Rage is a good read, with one exception:  the author believes too much fatty food has made us fat.  The second part is titled Fat and Healthy: Why It’s Possible – another theme I touched on in Fat Head.  Here are some quotes, with my comments.

Cintra Wilson, style columnist for The New York Times, recently wrote a column so disdainful of JCPenney’s plus-size mannequins that the Times’ ombsbudman later wrote that he could read “a virtual sneer” coming through her prose.

I haven’t seen the plus-size mannequins, but I’m glad to know JCPenny’s has them. When I walk through a mall and see stick-figure mannequins in every store window, it annoys me. Most women will never look like that, even if they’re not fat, for the simple reason that most women don’t have bones the size of toothpicks. Sending the message to teenage girls and young women that they should all be this skinny is a prescription for bulimia.

Fatness has always been seen as a slight on the American character. Ours is a nation that values hard work and discipline, and it’s hard for us to accept that weight could be not just a struggle of will, even when the bulk of the research-and often our own personal experience-shows that the factors leading to weight gain are much more than just simple gluttony.

If being lean were simply a matter of being disciplined – usually defined as eating less – there would be very few obese people in America. People don’t eat because they’re gluttonous or compensating for a lousy childhood. They eat because their cells run out of fuel and they become hungry. Starving yourself may work temporarily, but it goes against your deepest, most primal instincts.  It can also depress your metabolism and make it more likely you’ll gain weight when you finally give in to the hunger and eat more.

The real problem, of course, is that we’ve been told to eat lots of high-carbohydrate foods that tell our bodies to store fuel as fat … which in turn makes us hungrier than we should be.

“There’s this general perception that weight can be controlled if you have enough willpower, that it’s just about calories in and calories out,” says Dr. Glen Gaesser, professor of exercise and wellness at Arizona State University and author of BigFat Lies: The Truth About Your Weight and Your Health, and that perception leads the nonfat to believe that the overweight are not just unhealthy, but weak and lazy.

The funny thing is, most of the lean people I know don’t count calories at all – because they don’t have to. At mealtimes, my naturally-thin wife does the same thing I do: she eats until she’s not hungry anymore. So does my son, who eats like a horse (that is, if horses liked potato chips and Coca-Cola) but literally can’t gain weight – he’s tried, both while playing high-school basketball and during boot camp.

“A lot of people struggle themselves with their weight, and the same people that tend to get very angry at themselves for not being able to manage their weight are more likely to be biased against the obese,” says Marlene Schwartz, director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University. “I think that some of this is that anger is confusion between the anger that we have at ourselves and projecting that out onto other people.”

Been there, done that. Before I understood that carbohydrates were making me fat, I’d try eating less, lose a few pounds, then stall, then give up. Then I’d look at myself in the mirror after my morning shower and think, “You fat @#$%!  Why don’t you just stick to a diet and get rid of this blubber?” This is what 40 years of bad dietary advice has done to millions of people.

What is it about fat people that makes us so mad? As it turns out, we kind of like it. “People actually enjoy feeling angry,” says Ryan Martin, associate professor of psychology at the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay, who cites studies done on people’s emotions. “It makes them feel powerful, it makes them feel greater control, and they appreciate it for that reason.”

I’ve said it more times than I count: some people aren’t happy unless they’re angry about something. You can usually spot those people by counting the number of bumper-stickers on their cars. If you count more than two, for Pete’s sake, don’t do anything the driver could construe as cutting him off in traffic – especially if you’re fat.

Think of health care: when president Obama made reforming health care a priority, it led to an increased focus on obesity as a contributor to health-care costs. A recent article in Health Affairs, a public-policy journal, reported that obesity costs $147 billion a year, mainly in insurance premiums and taxes … So the overweight, some people argue, are costing all of us money while refusing to alter the behavior that has put them in their predicament in the first place.

Here’s a crazy idea: maybe the people who make that argument are attacking the wrong end of the equation. If we didn’t make everyone pay for every else’s health care, it wouldn’t be an issue.  And of course, it’s not obesity that drives up health-care costs – it’s high blood sugar. Obesity is a symptom, not the cause. Both of the type II diabetics in my family are lean as rails. They use a lot more medical resources than I do, and I’m considered overweight.

A study published last month in the Annals of Surgery supported this “obesity paradox.” The report, which looked at more than 100,000 patients who had undergone nonbariatric general surgery, found that overweight and moderately obese patients had mortality rates 15 and 27 percent lower, respectively, than normal-weight patients.

That’s it, then … the next time I run into a skinny person on the street, I’m going to grab him by the arm and scream, “Stop wasting my health-care tax dollars, you scrawny @#$%! Go grab a donut and a soda, then sit your skinny @## down and gain some weight! Discipline, Man! Discipline!”

The point is that not all fat people are unhealthy or out of shape, and not all thin people are healthy and in good shape. But it’s amazing how many people make those assumptions.

Years ago, I had a good friend in Chicago who’s one those naturally-lean types. One day he got a guest pass for the health club where I was a member and joined me for a workout. As we huffed and puffed our way around the Nautilus circuit, I could tell by his expression that he was frustrated to realize he couldn’t lift nearly as much weight as I could. (He more or less admitted as much later.) Until that day, he’d assumed my belly and love handles were a sign that I was in lousy shape.

But I wasn’t in lousy shape. I worked out regularly and walked 15 to 20 miles per week. I was actually in pretty good shape. I was also fat.

To close, I put together a sequence of clips from my interview with Dr. Eric Oliver, author of “Fat Politics,” who spoke about some of the same issues brought up in the Newsweek article. If you bought the Fat Head DVD (and bless you if you did), you’ll recognize some of this footage from the bonus tracks.

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27 thoughts on “Newsweek: Hating Fat People Is Bologna

  1. Natalie

    “I’d look at myself in the mirror after my morning shower and think, “You fat @#$%! Why don’t you just stick to a diet and get rid of this blubber?”

    Really? Gosh! I’m really surprised at a man expressing this kind of self-loathing because I have it totally fixed in my head that only women talk down to themselves this way. I guess I’ve always thought, and we’re always told, that fat is a feminine, if not feminist, issue – and men are pretty much mindless dolts when it comes to nutrition – they’ll happy scarf down bad-for-you food and never once feel affected by the social implications of their actions or excess body weight.

    I’ve actually been pretty lucky when I think about the vitriol spewed at fat people. Sure, I’ve had a little of it, every fat person has, but I have generally had nothing but positive reactions – even when I lived and worked on Manhattan – America’s skinniest location – for four months. I had more male attention that I knew what to do with, so I just assumed America was down with the fat. Turns out they’re really screaming “Down with the fat!” and men must have solely dated me out of pity 🙂

    I read an interesting article years ago about a big study on body image. Turns out that men who were fat kids (me, for example) have a much poorer body image than men who were lean kids, even if the men who were lean kids are just as fat or fatter as adults. The guys who were lean as kids also under-estimate how fat they are as adults.

    The same study showed that women tend to over-estimate how fat they are, and believe that men prefer women to be much thinner than most men actually do. Most men (no surprise to me) prefer women with some flesh and some curves.

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  2. Jason Sandeman

    Nice! I especially dig running up to a skinny person and telling him/her to shape up and gain weight for heaven’s sake!

    The only time I think of people who are obese as being lazy is when you see the people with the automated wheelchair/shopping cart in Walmart, only to walk to their car when they leave the store.

    I personally believe it is HFCS that is making Americans obese. I have dropped my Coca-cola addiction for Ice water(tm) and have the side benefit of dropping 12 pounds in 3 weeks with no extra effort. Let the people work their a$$es off for little payback when one small change has an impact.

    I also decided to “treat” myself to said coca-cola recently when we went out for dinner, and found after a quarter of the glass, I really just wanted a nice glass of ice water.

    HFCS is in a lot of stuff, conveniently pre-processed stuff. Funny how those companies can cut their costs using HFCS instead of sugar, then charge a hefty price tag for something that tastes like cardboard.

    We have an addiction in North America that surpasses tobacco, and the war on drugs. Cut the sugar America!

    You will probably find, as I did, that the more sugar you cut from your diet, the less you can tolerate the stuff. HFCS could indeed be the prime mover behind the rise in obesity and diabetes.

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  3. Josh Goguen

    One of the things that has changed along with my views on what is healthy eating is how I view overweight people.

    Even though I was overweight myself, I knew it was a lack of willpower that made them bigger than me.

    Now, I feel bad.
    I feel bad that the information isn’t as readily there.
    I feel bad that even when the information is there, it goes against the mainstream so is difficult to believe in.
    I feel bad people are judging their character for failing to lose the weight.
    I feel even worse when they are trying so hard and still fail.

    I had exactly the same reaction once I understood what drives weight gain. If I was 30 pounds overweight, and the guy next to me was 130 pounds overweight, it’s only because his body was accumulating fat more aggresively than mine. We were both eating until we had enough fuel. But that’s not what I thought back in the day.

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  4. Ms. X

    I disagree with the idea that looking at skinny people is a recipe for bulimia. Maybe I’m biased, as a naturally thin (and out of shape) person, but I think the constant bombardment of media messages that everybody is fat and horribly unhealthy and it is an Epidemic-God-Help-Us-All is much more likely to spark eating disorders.

    Take the standard womens’ magazine, that will have some ads selling cute clothes or accessories with skinny models, and then several pages (including the cover) screaming about weight loss and dieting tips and exercise this and that. Seriously? It’s the models in the shoe ads that cause the problems?

    Those seem like two sides of the same coin to me. Skinny models, followed by articles telling everyone how to lose weight — so they can look like skinny models. My concern is that young women receive the message that you can’t be fasionable without being stick-thin.

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  5. April

    I apologize if this shows up twice, I realized I had submitted my comment before finishing a thought!

    I recall from my psychology classes that the traits we hate in others are actually what we (subconsciously) hate in ourselves. Personally, I think that’s why a lot of people, both thin and overweight alike, have such hatred for overweight people. I think women in particular are like this and that’s why women bond so much via gossiping about other women’s weight.

    I read that whole Newsweek series of articles last week on this topic, and it was quite amazing and heartbreaking how cruel some of the comments were, especially from women.

    I wish that the government would just do a complete overhaul of the advice they put out regarding nutrition and weight. I mean what the heck is up with the BMI numbers? There are so many different body types, you can’t say that just because a person is a certain height they should be a certain weight. It sets too high of standards! I mean government intervention was what caused this whole obesity crisis in the first place, with them recommending low-fat/high-carb diets and all. Different people have different dietary needs and body types- why must we all be grouped together in the government’s eyes?

    BMI is a stupid measurement. To get my BMI down to the top of the “normal” range, I’d have to lose 25 pounds. To reach the middle of the “normal” range, I’d have to lose 45 pounds. That’s not possible, unless my muscles begin to waste away.

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  6. Dave, RN

    The reason that overweight people have a lower mortality rate related to surgery is that many people that are being operated on are elderly, thin and not thriving. In other words, they’re not healthy, and have less of a chance of doing well after surgery. The heavier ones are younger. The heavier ones also don’t make it to that more elderly stage where they incur more surgery and risk death related to that. When I worked in surgery, that’s what I saw.

    I believe the statistics were also similar for premature death rates, however.

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  7. Dave, RN

    If you look at “weight at death” and then extrapolate that into a study, you will get a higher death rate for less weight, because if yo get cancer and die, you’re not overweight at the end. You’re thin. But… A study published in JAMA followed 19,000 men for 25 years and found no evidence of excessive deaths related to leanness in normally healthy men. What they did find, after taking smoking and weight loss due to illness in to consideration, the lowest death rate was among was among men weighing 20% below the average for their age and height. So, they took the average of those 19,000 men and found that 20% below that has the best survival rate. Unfortunately what they didn’t break that down, but the thinner ones did have a lower mortality rate.
    of course the bottom line in all of this is don’t eat garbage, eliminate grains, and not only will you live longer, you probably feel better doing it to.
    As an aside, my 10th grade daughter had to do an agree or disagree report on either the dawn of agriculture being a good thing, or a more hunter gatherer diet being the better option. I resisted the temptation to wither write the report myself or “help” her. I can’t wait to read it…

    Interesting. Lies, damned lies and statistics, as Twain said.

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  8. Dr.LaTino

    I really do hate that about women in society too: they’re too thin. You know, I’d rather see meat on a women’s bone when I grab it. Otherwise it feels like she’s frail and sick.

    I’m sixteen and have taken the daring, “sinful” act of eating more than half my diet off fats (saturated or not). I’ve also felt better than I’ve ever felt before in my life.

    Wish I’d known what you know when I was sixteen.

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  9. TonyNZ

    Labeliser Storm in a Teacup (or PET bottle)

    Not really on topic, but given that my fiance has the same allergies and I’ve learned to cope with it (I actually think I’m much better off because it means I seldom consume pre-packaged, chemical laden rubbish). I think the mother is a flaming idiot.

    I fear 1984, nobody can think for themselves.

    I’m worried about that thinking part myself. We have toilets that flush themselves, sinks that turn the water on and off, GPS systems to tell people where to turn, cash registers that tell the clerk how much change to give back … one of these days the computers will crash and we’ll be a nation of child-like creatures, walking around aimlessly, with dirty hands, unable to read a map, and trying to find a clean toilet.

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  10. agnostic

    Since a good fraction of the population isn’t overweight but is still getting dinged by high blood sugar — probably a majority of “health-conscious” people — we should talk less about body weight and more about the whole array of ill effects of high blood sugar, insulin, etc. I know you do, but most health media focus on weight loss.

    So, when the skinny vegan sneers at overweight McDonalds customers, just go up to him and point out — “Yeah, but you’re no prize pig either. Your skin and hair look like hell, you need to take slothful naps every day, and you’re an irritable and neurotic mess. How’s that working out for you?” (Delivered with a beaming smile, of course.)

    The trouble is that those things are considered superficial, driven by vanity rather than “basic health concerns.” Well, if that’s what it is to have my body look and work the way it’s supposed to, then shallow me up!

    Bingo. My point exactly.

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  11. Kyle

    Okay, a few things:
    First regarding models: I think plus size models don’t send any better messages than thin ones. Should society be accepting any level of overweight and/or promoting it? How about a middle of the road? How about models that aren’t overweight and aren’t drug-addict skinny?

    I wonder of the effect on society if overweight were revered/envied as mentioned in the video clip? Thin body models cause eating disorders in folks and low self esteem, no doubt. But they also cause folks to seek out weight loss solutions who, in so doing, might try Atkins, or come across the Eades’ work or maybe even your movie. Regardless of what folks might say about health issues, I would bet that 95% of those who got into low carb first looked into for weight loss then through exposure and additional research learned of the myriad associated health benefits.

    Take, for example, my brother who has been overweight most of his life. He’s tried every name brand diet out there with varied success (none of it long term). He’s frustrated, he has a bad body image, but he keeps looking for a solution. Now what if all of the models were overweight? What if all of society was overweight like in the movie Wall-E? He’d keep happily eating his refined carbohydrates and keep having all of the attendant health issues. You can argue that we would win all such people over to low carb just on the health benefits, but if that were true there would be no smoking. People seem to care much less about their health (especially their long term health) than their appearance. It seems that people start to care about heart disease, diabetes, hypertension etc., generally when they are well on in years and are thinking about sticking around long enough to play with their grandkids.

    I don’t know what the answer is, but accepting obesity is not it.

    As a few minor asides: the guy in the video makes one of the classic thrifty gene arguments that I just can’t seem to grasp. If you reduce calories, your body thinks it’s starving so it slows your metabolism, makes you lethargic, irritable, and god knows what. So in times of food scarcity the evolutionary advantage went to those hunter/gatherers that were the most lethargic, irritable, whatever? Not those that could still function well enough to hunt or maybe gather? Don’t make no good sense to me. Secondly, I’d been interested to hear your alternative to paying for everyone else’s health care. Maybe that’s been addressed on you other blog?

    If we put the emphasis where it belongs, on warning people about the dangers of elevated blood sugar and insulin, the obesity issue would largely take care of itself. By telling everyone thin = healthy, you end up with people like those in my family who are lean but developed type II diabetes. Since they were lean, they assumed their diets were just fine.

    I believe the body depresses your metabolism during what it perceives as a food shortage for survival reasons. If your metabolism revved along at its normal high rate during a food shortage, you’d starve to death sooner. That’s the evolutionary advantage of a variable metabolism. The tired and depressed part of it assures that you don’t waste precious calories with unnecessary movement.

    Yes, I’ve written about health care issues on the other blog.

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  12. crock

    Sorry, but this is a crock. Yeah, if someone has a thyroid problem or something, sure, cut ’em some slack. But otherwise, all the evidence shows that being overweight increases chance for stroke, heart attack, diabetes, cancer, joint problems, arthritis…. across the board! Go to http://www.cbass.com and see for yourselves some great science, or go to http://www.sciencedaily.com for more updates. No need to ‘celebrate’ fatness. Get rid of it, and lengthen your lives (and your money).

    The real health problem is high blood sugar, not excess adipose tissue. Because high blood sugar makes many people fat, there is an association. That doesn’t mean being fat causes the diseases associated with it. The problem with focusing on losing weight is that most people are told to go on low-fat diets, which doesn’t address the blood-sugar issue and can potentially make it worse.

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  13. Paul B.

    He makes some good points in the video. I think this relates to the neo-Puritanism we are seeing so much of these days. It seems like if something tastes good (high fat foods) or feels good (like drinking) or makes you look good (like having a tan) it is automatically bad for you. What drives some people to try to take all the pleasure out of others’ lives?

    It’s the same control-freak mentality that led to Prohibition. Jacob Sullum wrote about it here.

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  14. Bill Fabrey

    I loved your video (have watched it twice–just can’t seem to mail it back to Netflix! ) Will buy my own copy shortly.

    The Newsweek online series was wonderful, too–hard to look at without a new computer and a FIOS high speed connection, there are so many ads (including diet ads!)

    Yes, the focus should be shifted back to health and cardiovascular fitness, and away from obesity per se. Body fat is not our enemy. Lack of physical movement, and too much sugar intake in all forms probably is. But meanwhile, nobody should be judged based on how they look or how healthy they are. A lot of the flak taken by larger people is just discrimination, pure and simple. Everyone, it seems, wants to feel superior to some group of people, and these days, fat people somewhere near the top of the list!

    I believe in the Health at Every Size principles–anyone can be healthier, regardless of their size, but your size and your health should be a personal, not a public issue, and is certainly not a moral issue.

    Keep it up, Tom!

    Bill Fabrey
    Council on Size & Weight Discrimination
    Mt Marion, NY

    I’m with you. It’s about health. I’ve had more than couple of checkups that went like this: “Mr. Naughton, your resting pulse is excellent, blood pressure is great, your HDL is outstanding, your triglycerides are terrific … now, we need to talk about your weight.”

    Always delighted to know when a rental led to a sale.

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  15. pjnoir

    I must say, as an ex-fatso. I find the article to be closer to the truth than not. Unless you are a non- threatening, Jolly fat person, the skinny world hardly gives you the time of day. You are seen as a failure, on the every level starting with self control and self esteem and as a person unreliable in a society “when push comes to shove” – as someone that has taken more than they ever ‘gave back.’ Fat people are not tolerated by their smaller counter-parts as a rule.

    Unfortunately, lack of understanding about what drives fat accumulation has a lot to do with that. Most people think fat people can just eat less and lose weight. That rarely works.

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  16. TonyNZ

    “I think plus size models don’t send any better messages than thin ones. ”

    Most ‘plus size models’ are still of average weight.

    I haven’t seen the JCPenny’s mannequins. But I’ve seen the models in ads at a store for larger women — I believe it’s called Lane Bryant, something like that — and I think they look pretty attractive.

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  17. Wanda

    Dr. Oliver makes some interesting points. Being fat does’nt automatically make you unhealthy. Maybe unfashionable, unless you lilve in the 15th century (check out any portrait from that era!) but certainly not unhealthy.

    Tom, you mentioned before that you had to up your fat intake to really start the fat burning mode… any suggestions on how to do that? My Hubby is having a bit of difficulty losing at a rate that would seem adequate. He has lost 20 lbs in about 6 months, as compared to my 60. He carries mainly in the abdomen, so I think that is mainly why the difference… Just curious to your food choices et.c.

    Thanks!

    I eat a lot of eggs and fatty meats. When I eat a steak, I eat the fat (unless my daughter steals it). Lots of butter on the green vegetables.

    Tonight we had sausage and creamy alfredo/pesto sauce on top of spaghetti squash. Very fatty. Very good, too.

    Some people also have to give up artificial sweeteners, even stevia, because sweet tastes provoke an insulin spike.

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  18. Dave, RN

    Wanda, get rid of the veg oils and switch to organic, virgin coconut oil. I get it by the gallon from nutiva online. You can add fat that way. I put 2-3 tablespoons in my smoothy in the morning. Those medium chain fatty acids it has a very good for you. And lets face it, where coconut oil comes from, they don’t have the heart disease like we do. Back in the 80’s the soy industry conspired to demonize coconut oil. Do a quick web search on it. It’s an interesting story.

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  19. Dave

    The Newsweek article says, “Fatness has always been seen as a slight on the American character. Ours is a nation that values hard work and discipline…”
    Really, I can’t believe no one said anything about that line!
    Our nation values investment not hard work. Hard work gets rewarded by sending your job overseas. Investment is protected by the government.
    And discipline…?! Forget about it.

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  20. KD

    Anti-discrimination laws and that “How much is your fat-ass employee costing you?” LEAN Works link seem be at odds with each other. I suppose the government would just argue that they’re only providing the info to help people get healthier, but really, it’s only going to make employers less inclined to hire overweight people than they already do.

    The LEAN Works link also scares me, not because I don’t think employers have the right to know more about their expenses… but because it’s wrong and the advice for improvement is surely wrong. My employer made me take a health survey before benefits re-enrollment (supposedly anonymous and only group results would be reported, but why would I believe that), and in order to get a “healthy” result, I flat out lied and said I ate very low fat and very little meat, though the opposite is true. The health survey then said I was doing an excellent job and since I know that I’ll pass the true health survey of life, my employer will be none the wiser and won’t think I’m costing them more money when I’m not (though I’m getting quite the carnivore reputation around here, hard to hide the fact that I’m on a virtually all meat diet when people see that I bring steak for lunch nearly every day for 9 months. I’m not sure what they’d be saying if they haven’t all noticed I’ve lost weight, though I’m sure they still think my heart is going to give out at any second).

    Finally, where’s the calculator for how many more sick days on average thin, “healthy” vegetarians are costing your company? I rarely get sick (usually just if I’ve been stuck sleep-deprived on an airplane for 15 hours next to someone sick) but the vegetarians around me are always coughing and/or have colds.

    Pretty scary to have to lie on a survey to be considered healthy. But that’s where we’re at.

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  21. fiona

    i understand what you were saying about modles these days, but, call me controversial, i think that alot more women out there should be a bit more realistic when they see those images.

    i’m only human, and there have been times when i’ve seen an advert for shoes, clothers, make-up ect, but been put of by the modle wearing them. i would think something like, “oh i can get that, it would never suit me” or “no thats really for skinny girls isn’t it” but i have to remember that the only way anyone could look like that is if they were an anorexic crack head, who was permently airbrushed.

    plus-sized modles are better, but still airbrushed to infinity, and, honestly, i don’t consider a size 10 (amer. 6) to be “plus-sized)

    I don’t consider size 6 plus-sized either. Marilyn Monroe was a size 12, from what I’ve read.

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  22. Heather

    Re: so many things brought up here! Ha!

    to start, wth, people who are still harping on overweight people? Modern medical science has failed to show overweight and obesity are risk factors for ill health. They *can* be symptoms, nothing more. In fact, evidence is emerging that being too thin is riskier. Educate yourself.

    also, models, weight loss ads, etc…having recently subscribed to satellite tv for the first time I was shocked at how often…lord, probably 1 in 3…commercials are for some sort of weight loss product. I thought we screened our children fairly well until the other day when my 7 year old, who is as thin as a rail and eats like a horse, said she was fat and wanted to work on ‘getting that nice “V” shape’. =:O

    aaand for all you guys who keep saying you want ‘meat on a woman’s bones’ — hush! It’s no more your business if we weigh ‘enough’ than it is if we weigh too much. I get that you are trying to relieve women (who worry you want stick-thin Victoria’s Secret models) but what about ladies who have a hard time gaining weight? Now we have to worry about that? How about just supporting us in being *healthy*?

    I enjoyed your article as always Mr. Naughton and appreciate the comments sections!

    I believe that’s the best attitude of all; let’s focus on health, not being any particular body size.

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  23. Katy

    I still remember very clearly the misery that ensued when Twiggy was a top model. I was slightly overweight then, at age 11, but am certain now in retrospect that my subsequent obsession to become thin ultimately backfired. And the government’s involvement in determining what constitutes healthful eating is simply frightening. Just as I think we’re making headway, along comes articles such as this:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/05/business/05smart.html?hp

    How can we fight this sort of hype?

    So they’re labeling Fruit Loops as a healthy choice now? You’re right, that’s awful.

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  24. Grant

    Tom, you might find this article interesting: http://www.bodybyscience.net/home.html/?page_id=57

    It’s by an MD who also is involved with promoting a high-intensity form of weight-lifting. His basic point is that while obese people are frequently weaker than the non-obese, it’s not because they have to lift extra body weight in addition to the external weight being measured, but primarily because their (high-carb) diets partition nutrients away from helping with muscle growth/maintenace and into the storage of fat. He does, in my opinion correctly, also attritbute it to incorrect exercise techniques, but he understands that that’s only half of the solution.

    Basically, the article is a really interesting explosion of the common refrain “get in the gym fatso” beautifually integrated with an equally interesting explosion of “go on a diet fatso.”

    Very interesting article. Thanks for the link. I certainly wasn’t strong when I was a fat kid.

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  25. Kristin

    I can’t decide whether to laugh or cry. The same line of research that got me on a low carb diet and resulted in normalizing my weight and reducing my cholesterol has now revealed to me that those goals probably didn’t have an effect on my health. Other than too many carbs (I feel better now that I eat less starch) I already ate healthy and exercised regularly.

    Well, I think triglycerides and blood pressure are still relevant and those are also under control. And I really like having a BMI or 25 instead of 30. I do notice a weight off my shoulders (no pun intended) that I can quit worrying about my cholesterol and only be concerned about weight in relation to fitting into my clothes. Now if I can just let go of my anger against the medical establishment, drug companies, agricultural industry and the government for exposing me to 30 years of neurosis as well as a tasteless low fat diet.

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