MeMe Roth: A Burden On Us All

      59 Comments on MeMe Roth: A Burden On Us All

My video post about the Food Cops sparked an online debate with someone who says he doesn’t want MeMe Roth policing our food, but still believes she made some valid points.  Specifically, he agrees that:

  • Obesity should not become socially acceptable because that does indeed make it socially contagious, and 60% of Americans are already overweight.
  • If you ruin your own health, it’s not just your business because everyone else pays the cost.

There’s so much wrong with those two little opinions, I hardly know where to begin.  But I must, so I will.

(NOTE:  We’re discussing public policy here, so this post is at least as much about politics and economics as it is about diet and health.  Those of you who don’t care for my libertarian politics … you’ve been warned.)

Let’s start with the easy one:  60% of Americans are overweight!  That figure is, of course, based on the Body Mass Index, which classifies pretty much everyone with thick bones or decent muscles as overweight, regardless of how fat they are.  To be considered “normal,” you must actually be thin, as opposed to merely not fat.

The usual comeback is something like “I don’t see a lot of people walking around who look like bodybuilders.”  Neither do I.  But I see plenty of men built like, say, George Clooney, who is on the lean side and not particularly muscular.  He’s also overweight according to the BMI standard.

Despite the artificially low threshold, as I noted in an earlier post, only 38% of American adults are more than 10 pounds above “normal.”  I don’t know what percentage of Americans are actually fat, but it’s not even close to 60%.

But waaaaaaaait … aren’t more people really and truly fat now than a generation ago?  Yes, obviously.  Which brings us to the second point:  social acceptability and social “contagion” have nothing to do with it.

MeMe Roth likes to point out that obesity tends to cluster around marriages and social groups.  Gee whiz, it must be socially contagious — they’re catching the “it’s okay to be fat” attitude from each other!  See, it’s not just a personal choice (as MeMe often says) … we have to shame you into losing weight to protect your innocent friends and family.

That’s utter hogwash.  Guess what?  Alcoholism clusters around families and social groups.  Nerdiness clusters around families and social groups.  Obama-worship clusters around families and social groups.  See, here’s the wacky alternate theory:  people tend to marry and hang around with people who share their values and like them for who they are.  I hung out with the nerds in high school.  Why?  Because I was one of them.  I fit in.  I didn’t catch nerdiness from one of them by borrowing a contaminated slide-rule.

Whether it’s becoming acceptable or not — and I don’t believe it is — most obese people hate being fat.  They’ve tried over and over to lose weight, but failed because of all the bad advice they’ve been given; they’ve failed because their hormones are screwed up, so they’re not in a state of energy balance unless they’re fat.  They’re not going to magically succeed at losing weight because naturally-skinny “I’ve never even been on a diet” MeMe Roth finally shames them into it.  They’ll just be fat and ashamed.  (You think being 20 pounds overweight is unhealthy?  Try developing an eating disorder … then tell me how healthy you feel.)

By the same token, they’re not going to become fatter just because we accept them for who they are — which is what anyone with an ounce of compassion would do in the first place.  And yet, here’s what my debate opponent believes:

Are big is beautiful magazines, clothes etc not a way of spreading acceptance for obesity? Obesity IS socially accepted in America. I mean for God sakes, the US is the 3rd fattest country in the world with more than 60% of its citizens being overweight, how can it be socially unacceptable when the majority is fat?

Oh, horrors!  We’ve got magazines and clothing manufacturers telling people who can’t become thin that they’re actually beautiful.  We mustn’t have that … they should go through life feeling ugly and unacceptable because they don’t meet MeMe Roth’s standards.  Good lord, that attitude is so callous and stupid, it’s beyond comprehension.  And by the way, a lot of big people are beautiful.  I thought Jordin Sparks, one of MeMe’s “bad role models,” was lovely.

Now, the truth is, there are people who could probably lose weight but don’t care to.  So what?  The United States is a melting pot, and some cultures have different attitudes about body size.  (As Eric Oliver pointed out in our interview, the “thin is beautiful” and “thin is virtuous” attitudes are somewhat of a holdover from our Puritan heritage.)

Some people also operate under a different value system.  I’d rather be healthy than eat french fries and ice cream and pizza, even though they’re delicious.  But other people would rather live large, suck up all the pleasure they can, and to hell with the consequences.  And guess what?  That’s okay, too.  How they live their lives is their business … not mine, or yours, or MeMe’s.

I’m guessing at this point at least a few of you are mentally protesting:  But then we all have to pay for it!  Or as my debate opponent put it:

It’s her business when she has to pay for the cost of obesity. So when Mr LardAss decides to buy another burger its his choice, but when he gets sick because of it, its no longer his choice IF his choice now affects other peoples economy. Or do you want to pay for treatment of lung cancer patients who smoked for 40 years despite the warnings?

(Burgers make you sick?  I’ll have to just let that one go.  This is already going to be a long post.)

So, do we really want to venture into “but we all pay the cost!” territory?  Fine, let’s go.  You bring the flashlight, I’ll bring the snacks.

First off, as Nick Gillespie pointed out on Stossel, the MeMe Roths of the world are attacking the wrong end of the problem.  If your bad habits impose costs on others because of socialized medicine, then the problem is with socialized medicine. Coercing us into all supporting each other is not actually a proper role for the federal government. But that’s where we’re at, so let’s take it from there:

If anything you do (or don’t do) that imposes a cost on society is my business, then pretty much your whole life is my business.  It’s my business if you don’t attend college — you’re more likely to be unemployed later in life, and that will cost me, by gosh. It’s my business if you play football — you could get badly hurt and run up some big bills.  It’s my business if you don’t exercise — people who exercise are healthier on average than people who don’t, regardless of body size.

It’s also my business if you drink, smoke, jet-ski, skateboard, surf, spelunk, hike in the wilderness, gamble in Vegas, piss off your boss and get fired, visit friends in dangerous neighborhoods, or have kids.  After all, if my neighbor has four kids and I have two, he’ll cost the public school system $216,000 more than I will, while also receiving two extra tax deductions.  Waaaaaaah!  He’s having a negative impact on my economy! It’s not just his business anymore; we’re all paying for those kids.

Uh … but no, we’re not all paying.  In the United States, the top 1% of income-earners pay 40% of the income taxes.  The top 10% of income-earners pay 70% of the income taxes.  But of course, incomes taxes aren’t the whole story — there are payroll taxes and Medicare taxes that are flatter, so let’s re-adjust:  for all federal taxes combined, the top 1% pay 28% of the taxes, the top 10% pay 55% of the taxes, and the top 20% pay 70% of the taxes.  (The bottom 50% pay close to nothing.)

In other words, if you’re not in the top 10% for income, it’s unlikely you’re subsidizing anyone’s life.  If you’re not in the top 20%, it’s far more likely that you’re being subsidized.

So, fat people cost “society” a lot of money?  If you’re not in the group Uncle Sam considers “rich,” then get over it.  You’re not the one paying.  (My best friend is paying, but he would never tell other people how to live.  That’s one of the many reasons we’re best friends … people with similar values hanging around together and all that.  Or it’s just socially contagious.)

But so far, we’re still assuming people with bad health habits are costing our beloved government extra money.  That’s not always the case, either.  Let’s take my debate opponent’s example of the guy who smoked for 40 years.  (I’m using today’s figures, but they would hold up over time … unless inflation-adjusted taxes and spending go down.  Yeah, right.)

So, Mr. Socially Irresponsible Stupid Smoker (a.k.a. Mr. Siss) puffs away on a pack and half per day for 40 years, then gets lung cancer, and we all pay for it through Medicare.  Let’s see how that works out:

The average cost to Medicare of treating a lung-cancer patient is just under $40,000.  (Wow, that is rather a lot.)  But in 40 years, Mr. Siss will pay $50,000 in cigarette taxes.  Then again, more than half of that is state tax, so he does cost the federal treasury a lot more than a non-smoker, right?

Wrong.  Because believe it not, everyone who doesn’t die in an accident will eventually get sick and die anyway.  Many of them rack up big Medicare bills on the way out.  My 95-year-old non-smoking, naturally thin grandmother has probably cost Medicare more than she and my grandfather ever paid in taxes in their entire lives.

So ultra-healthy MeMe Roth doesn’t smoke and therefore doesn’t get lung cancer at age 65.  Instead, she gets pancreatic cancer or colon cancer at age 85.  She’ll still receive Medicare treatment, at a cost of around $25,000.

Meanwhile, because Mr. Siss is a smoker, his lifespan will be (on average) 10 years shorter than a non-smoker’s.  That means he’ll collect about $140,000 less than average in Social Security payments.  If MeMe Roth lives 10 years longer than average because she’s so skinny and healthy and doesn’t eat at McDonald’s, she’ll collect $140,000 more than average in Social Security payments.  So here’s the final tally on the federal side of the ledger:

Mr. Socially Irresponsible Stupid Smoker:
Medicare:  (-$40,000)
Cigarette Taxes:  $22,000
Social Security vs. Average:  $140,000
Net:  $122,000

Mr. Socially Irresponsible Stupid Smoker saved the federal government $122,000 compared to someone who never smoked, had an average lifespan and never had a single Medicare procedure.

MeMe Roth:
Medicare:  (-$25,000)
Social Security vs. Average:  (-$140,000)
Net: (-$165,000)

MeMe Roth cost the federal government an extra $165,000 compared to someone who lived an average lifespan and never had a single Medicare procedure.  If MeMe doesn’t get cancer in her old age and never requires a Medicare procedure, she’ll cost the federal government an extra $140,000 … just by living ten years longer than average.

Since the cost to society makes it everyone’s problem, I think there’s only one possible conclusion we can reach here:  We must all demand that MeMe Roth take up smoking immediately.  I’m sick and tired of paying the bills for those selfish, skinny non-smokers.

See how stupid it gets when you decide other people’s lives are your business?

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59 thoughts on “MeMe Roth: A Burden On Us All

  1. Katy

    Exactly! And what about all of those people who are overexercising for health and will run up medical bills for future joint replacements? I know an elderly man who is on his second set of hips.

    Using the examples of Tim Russert and President Clinton, both of whom ate “correctly” and exercised (“did everything right”), I’d say those eating MeMe’s idea of a healthy diet will really cost us.

    Funny, the people who most negatively affect my food choices are my thin friends who never fail to encourage me to overeat in restaurants and goad me into ordering dessert. Usually I’m told that we’ll share it, but then they don’t ever eat their share. I’m on to this now, but it took awhile for me to realize what was up.

    Good point. I had a naturally-thin friend who could eat anything and never gain weight. He was always up for a big Mexican dinner and some beer whenever we went out.

  2. Melissa

    I guess we’re kind of like parasites! The longer we live the more we take from the planet, and apparently the gov’t too!!
    I’m just thinking about all the things we’ve built and resources we’ve wasted in the quest to be thin.
    Paper for diet products, advertising, diet food creations, exercise equipment.
    The list goes on. Forget global warming, just think of what the health and diet industry is doing lol!

    I hadn’t thought of that. CSPI, another cause of global warming.

  3. Byron

    Just a big Thank You!
    Anorectic fitness fanatics should shut up and start thinking. But exactly this is a problem: their brains starve fat.

  4. MikeC

    A number of years ago, shortly after I moved to New Hampshire, I heard a press conference with then-Governor Steven Merrill. The reporter asked him why he was against a mandatory motorcycle helmet law for NH. He said that it was personal choice and an issue of individual liberty. The reporter then made the famous argument about a motorcycle rider crashing and costing the taxpayers thousands of dollars in medical care. Gov. Merrill shot right back that the reporter’s example was a problem with our health care system, NOT the helmet law.

    It was probably the last time I was really proud of an elected official.


    Any chance we can get him to run for president?

  5. Bruce

    I’m not sure, but, I believe I had read back when air bags became mandatory on cars, at the insistence of insurers, that it was now costing the insurance companies more per accident. The insurers now had to pay for the medical costs of people that survived accidents, as opposed to a death benefit.

    I’m sure the insurance rates weren’t raised to cover that.

    I always wear my safety harness, but I don’t like air bags. A friend of mine was a minor fender-bender, his airbag hit him in the face (he described it as “a punch from Mike Tyson”) and he had headaches for days.

  6. darMA

    Allowing overweight people to have clothes that actually fit is promoting acceptance? Would these people rather have them costing taxpayers for pneumonia and frostbite treatment for walking around naked in winter or sun poisoning in the summer? Not to mention psychiatric treatment for the shame and embarassment….

    A funny thing – I used to work for a government agency that assisted the disabled. It was always the “do-gooders” who came in with them, demanding this and that, that screwed up the actual good work we were attempting to do….. Lord save us from the do-gooders.

    By the way, I keep making comments and forgetting to tell you how much I enjoyed and benefitted from Fat Head and also enjoy your blogs. Thank you!

    I guess they think when fat people run out of clothes, they’ll finally stop choosing to be fat.

  7. Bryce Lee

    Time and time again you out-do yourself Tom! Guys like you and Richard (FTA) have without question opened my eyes politically, and you continue to do so with posts like this.

    I just engaged in an argument the other day with a particularly ignorant practicing physician, who couldn’t tell me the difference between HDL and LDL lipoproteins. Sigh. Our discussion turned to socialized medicine, and she fielded the same arguments you deal with here on the ‘burden of society.’ Would that I had read this article before hand!

    Keep up the great work.

    Geez … I feel sorry for people who go to that doctor.

  8. Curtis


    Great post!

    @Katy: Do you know of evidence that people who exercise are more likely to get joint replacements? I suspect that the opposite is true.

    BTW, isn’t it also true that fat people live longer? MeMe may die at a younger age than a fatty and so save the gummint some dough.

    Moderately overweight people do live longer on average than thin people.

  9. Dr.A

    The health police over here are now targeting 5 year olds and classifying them as obese.. If they were giving us sensible advice, that would be one thing, but their advice is part of the reason we are getting fatter, their (wrong) obsession with everyone being fat-free (in both senses) is also part of the problem and leads to eating disorders. Effectively we are being blamed for their failures.
    Not many of these people who dictate to us have ever had a weight problem, not because of anything they did, but because they’ve been lucky.

    Oh my God, that’s just nuts. Love the poster, by the way.

  10. Cathryn

    If MeMe Roth and her ilk want to stop obesity, why aren’t they going after food corporations? They are the ones who make processed food so fattening and addictive, right? So how can she target the people when the people she targets eat that fattening and addictive food like hydrogenated oils? Modified food starches? High Fructose Corn Syrups?

    She won’t. Because it’s more fun to pick people apart than to tackle the source of the problem.

    Great job Tom. Thank you!

    She takes a shotgun approach: fast-food companies, fat people, the Girls Scouts, etc.

  11. Seadanes

    This is the best analysis of this issue I’ve seen. Thank you for your rational approach to this issue that is so fraught with emotion for so many who battle weight daily.

    That’s what MeMe doesn’t understand or doesn’t want to understand: most fat people have already tried to lose weight many times.

  12. Phyllis Mueller

    Well done, Tom. I quite agree with your comments and the comments in Fat Head by Eric Oliver and Jacob Sullum (I hope I’m spelling his name right) on personal choice. It’s not up to us to tell other people how to live. Or for them to tell us. Health and wellness are individual and complicated. There’s so much we don’t know.

    My mother, who always did everything her doctors told her, ate a low-fat diet with fruits and vegetables and fiber, exercised regularly and strenuously, and dieted constantly because she never wanted to get fat, died last Sunday of multiple organ failure due to myeloma at the age of 79. Even in hospice, her vital signs were normal until her last hours. Her second husband, who was sedentary, loved sweets and junk food, and survived colon cancer, died this morning of cardiac arrest after falling last Monday, breaking a hip, and having surgery yesterday, at the age of 81. No one ever thought he would outlive her because she was so much “healthier.” But he did.

    Yup, it’s hard to predict who’s going to live to a ripe old age. Sorry to hear about your mother.

  13. Paul B.

    I enjoyed that post a lot. You make some good points. I recall that back in the 90’s the Clinton administration funded a study intended to show how much smokers “cost” society due to health problems. The researchers found that smokers were actually cheaper to treat over their lifetimes because they died younger than non smokers and when they got sick they generally died pretty quickly. Of course the study was buried and never publicized.

    That happens all the time. Governments commission studies, and only publish the results they like.

  14. Chris

    Thanks for being angry enough and talented enough to tear apart the assertions of MeMe and the Fat Guy (Nice arrow work and sfx). Convincing people that fat doesn’t make you fat is harder than talking a vegan into a T-Bone steak. Beliefs about calorie balance and “artery clogging fat” have been repeated for so long that someone who stand up and says, “It’s the carbohydrates” is seen as the foolish one. Stossel and his ilk let these “experts” on and encourage them to argue and debate to keep the audience in a state of excitement. I remember learning in a political science class about “cognitive dissonance.” A person who likes a candidate will think his candidate won the debate. A person who doesn’t like the candidate will think his opponent won. The independent voter will call the debate a tie. People who don’t eat at McDonald’s and are thin believe that they are thin because they don’t eat at McDonalds. Joggers who are thin will argue that they are thin because they jog. And they will gladly accept the knee replacement so they can jog some more. Because jogging is healthy. Yes, it’s insane. “It is easier to beleive a lie that one has heard a thousand times than to believe a fact that no one has heard before.” The problem is that the media have told us a million times that fat makes you fat and that eating fewer calories than you take is the way to lose weight. It is nearly impossible to believe that this isn’t true. I totally believe it now. But boy did it hurt my head to get that new information through my thick skull. But I have a thinner body now that you’ve helped me get “my mind right.” I think I’ll go eat 50 hard boiled eggs. I ordered my third copy of Fat Head from Amazon yesterday and sent it to a buddy of mine who exercises constantly but is starting to look like he needs a man bra.

    “My man Luke can eat 50 eggs!” (You younger folks probably won’t get the reference.)

    I have to admit, Dr. Eades had to work at it to convince me walking and jogging don’t lead to weight loss. But he supplied the evidence and I came around.

  15. Dave B.

    One has to wonder why the wrong dietary advice gets all the attention. Why low fat and whole grains? Is the ag lobby that strong?
    I gets frustrating as a healthcare professional to see bad advice spewed by the “experts”.
    I have an acquaintance that lost some weight on Jenny Craig (although I coudlnt’ tell) Of course it’s all back now, because you can’t eat Jenny Craig forever. For one thinf, it’s too expensive. I saw a cost comparison of the different diet programs. To be on Jenny Craig long enough to lose 40 lbs cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $3500. Wow! I had no idea. That’ll buy a lot of grassfed beef and chicken. He did ask about how I eat etc, but mostly just ribs me about it. Oddley enough, he mentioned that “I guess it’s time to go back on Jenny Craig again”…

    I’m afraid the ag lobby is indeed that strong.

  16. Curtis

    ‘Overexercise’ is the term I used, not simply exercise. Here’s a post about the subject that was on Fred Hahn’s blog:

    Thanks for the link. It is profoundly unconvincing. I remind you that the plural of anecdote is not data.

  17. Randy


    Now we know why the government continues to support the lipid hypothesis. If kids follow a ketogenic diet and continue to do so as adults, they may live too long, and we can’t afford that!

    All this time, I thought they were stupid. Turns out they may be sneaky brilliant.

  18. Katy

    Curtis, I didn’t expect you to be convinced or impressed, and I am aware that anecdotes are not data. I am also aware that people such as yourself who always demand “evidence” usually expect to be provided with volumes of conclusive oscientific studies while having no intention of entertaining anything that would challenge their beliefs. I am certain that you are perfectly capable of investigating the notion that excessive exercise causes joint damage, if you were so inclined. And again, I was speaking of excessive exercising.

  19. Curtis

    Katy, I don’t recall demanding evidence, but you did supply some (anecdotal evidence is still evidence). It just was not good evidence. There is also much evidence that overexercising does NOT lead to joint replacement. I am certain that you are perfectly capable of investigating the notion that excessive exercise does not lead to joint replacement, if you were so inclined.

    BTW I have no “beliefs” on the subject.

  20. Jeanie Campbell

    I get the reference! But, I’m older than you…

    If you didn’t, I guess I’d have to say what we have here is a failure to communicate.

  21. Brian

    The picture of Meme is awesome. The only fix, I suspect, is to dismantle the USDA and references to the food guide pyramid. Put someone in charge that has no agenda, omit the vegetarians and make one based on science. They can start with GCBC. And, unfortunately, I too got the reference. Maybe I can hang on and drain the system.

    The even easier fix would be to announce that from this point forward, the federal government has no role in telling us what we should eat. But it’s a rare politician who sees a problem and doesn’t assume it’s government’s job to fix it.

  22. djinn

    Damn it Tom, you’re preempting me again.
    Now every time I’m provoked to say something cogent or
    biting on the subject I’ll be uncomfortably aware that I’m
    quoting instead of being original. Shame on you, you young
    whipper snapper!

    I apologize for pre-empting, and age 51 I’m grateful to be considered a young whipper snapper by anyone.

  23. Aaron M Fraser

    As Brian said, the Food Pyramid, which is criminal in its misinformation, is killing our kids. It took me 24 years to shake the brain-washing, and I still receive criticism about it despite having gone from, at 5’6″, 210 lbs. of pure lardass to 160lbs of near solid muscle (up and down over time, trying various diets and settling on a Real Food WAPF/Paleo/Primal/WTFever lifestyle).

    Conventional Wisdom is strong here, an institution that was raised by the agriculture lobby, bad science and the blood of people who think they know better.

    I have no problem with someone that is overweight and unhealthy and knows it continuing to be so. 100% agree that it is a problem with our system that we are paying for obesity (though if you had asked me this a few months ago, I would said the opposite.. sigh).

    What I DO have a problem with is people, like me, who have tried ‘everything’ and think that they are honestly Doing The Right Thing. Of course they are – for Monsanto’s stock holders.

    What I DO have a problem with is that I don’t know how to change this. It feels Cyclopean in nature, like I’m trying to tear down the doors to Lovecraft’s R’lyeh and confront the madness that lurks inside. There is a lot of talk about the problems and not a lot being done, at least that I can see. Then again, I am pretty new to this whole discontentment thing.

    It fills my throat with bile that would be far better used digesting all the guacamole I just made and devoured.

    TL;DR – Screw big agra and screw the USDA and screw the Food Pyramid and HALP what do we do about it.

    That’s the shame of it: even if MeMe Roth inspires some fat people to try losing weight, most of them will fail because of the bad advice they’ve received on how to do it.

  24. Richard

    Sorry for going off-topic, but I noticed that the movie fat head became unavailable on my netflix queue and was moved into my saved movies. I checked around the web, but couldn’t find any word, so I’m wondering if anyone on this site knows more about this.

  25. Shayne

    MeMe’s at it again. She’s all over the news talking about Kevin Smith being kicked off a Southwest Airlines flight for being too large. Tom, what’s your take on the Southwest/Kevin Smith brouhaha?

    I have mixed feelings on that one. Smith apparently buys two seats most of the time, but took this flight as a standby passenger and couldn’t get two side-by-side seats. Maybe Southwest was justified in not allowing him to squeeze into one seat for safety reasons or the comfort of other passengers, but it wasn’t a great P.R. move on their part.

  26. DrBillDean

    Hi Tom well done thoughtful post I have a different slant on MeMe She represents a controversial point that needs to be discussed AND she did it (see you and I are discussing) Further this issue is not about blame anger and retaliation but trying to understand the obesity problem
    Your point about who is really obese is an important one From an energy view strong Kapha’s such as George Clooney will naturally have higher BMI’s
    By understanding the energy pattern of Kapha we will begin to understand the obesity problem
    By understanding the energy pattern of Vata we will begin to understand MeMe
    To health as a skill DrBill

    What’s a kapha?

  27. SA

    What I DO have a problem with is people, like me, who have tried ‘everything’ and think that they are honestly Doing The Right Thing. Of course they are – for Monsanto’s stock holders.

    What I DO have a problem with is that I don’t know how to change this.

    Aaron –

    What you can change is the dieting mindset, the “thin = better” mindset, and the endless search for the “right” thing to eat/do/be. Size Acceptance, Health at Every Size, intuitive eating/Ellyn Satter’s “eating competence,” etc. can all be helpful. Good luck.

  28. HJ

    This is the best, clearly-written and financial-evidence-citing (albeit in a delightfully snarky way) argument against MeMe Roth I’ve ever seen. Excellent work!

    MeMe definitely brings out the snark in me.

  29. PJ

    I love your stuff!

    Once upon a time I weighed about 150# more than my still fat self. It was great for the social environment how I was not ‘accepted and encouraged’ by, for example, having clothing or shoes to fit.

    So in the snow in wintertime, I wore 4 homemade skirts and slippers or flip-flops. And when I tried to mow the high grass in spring, with all the great bugs and twigs and so on, half of nature could be crawling and flying up my legs and I’d be trying to keep my skirt out of the weedeater. Hard to understand why I didn’t really want to go anywhere… or do yard work.

    Not that this had anything to do with an entire society of people who, when I was thin and a performing artist thought I was cool and witty, but when I got hugely fat decided that I was morally depraved and disgusting. (Ironically I ate like crap when thin, and ate vastly less when fat. People unfamiliar with real science don’t believe it, but it’s true. One assumes I wrecked my metabolism with the first behavior. Still, why was I cool when thin, despite my eating, and not cool no matter what when fat, despite my eating, if ‘eating’ is allegedly the reason people are biased about weight?)

    I lost some weight and over time, some online stores have actually started to cater to 6x reasonable pants, and I found some (men’s) tennis shoes, and WOW. You wouldn’t believe how much more inspired I am to get out and DO something physical when I have clothes that fit me, and that don’t make me feel humiliated, and that are appropriate for the weather or the activity!

    Now, I can wear my pants and go sit on the bleachers at a sports game. When my kid was little, I couldn’t climb the bleachers, they always had the bottom one full, and it’s windy and my skirts were a problem, and no portable chair would fit me (and I couldn’t sit on the wet grass as it’d take me a long time to get up, with my legs asleep etc.). I couldn’t stand for 1-2 hours (nor could the thin people who brought chairs). Nor could I fit in some of the bathroom stalls and actually move around as necessary in them, eeek. So I watched my kids’ sports from a distance in the car. (“I saw you baby!” yeah sure.)

    Yet they wonder why a lot of really big people “sit around the house in their pajamas.” Huh, go figure right?

    I avoided public things that would have gotten me out of the house and ACTIVE and engaged in life, because nothing fit me, chairs wouldn’t fit me, and a surprisingly high number of people were occasionally so openly hostile, rude or insulting I didn’t want to go to the grocery store, never mind public/social events. I’ve had perfect strangers at banks, DMVs, etc. take one look at me, apparently project all their personal fears upon me as the Representative of Fat or something, and be so bizarrely, surreally hostile that a line of strangers behind me were gasping and commenting. Suuuuuuure it’s “acceptable” to be fat. Please, let’s put Me Me in a fat suit and send her out into the world, shall we? I would be more than happy to share reality from my perspective.

    So industry starts to make a few (a FEW) clothing lines that fit supersized people. Hey guess what, I can pay $120 for a dress a size 9 person would pay $14.99 for (it ain’t just the extra fabric). But at least I can leave the house. At least I can FUNCTION in proper clothing. Industry starts to make a few (a FEW) options in the commercial world for big folks — so I can get an armless chair at a restaurant and attend grandfather’s 80th birthday party. (And should I eat 1/5 what half the thin people there do, nobody will notice this, of course; if you inhale more than air when fat, people look at you like well! That explains everything!)

    In one side of my family, all the women are gigantic. In the other side, they’re not — but they’re all sick. At a recent family gathering I realized that only me and a cousin (a mostly lowcarb natural bodybuilder) actually were seemingly healthy. Not a single person in the big packed house was NOT on one or more medications, hadn’t had major organs removed, etc. Yet they’re all giving me advice on how not eating a “balanced” diet with whole grains and potatoes and fruits will harm me. (“Since when is sugar a food group I need to balance?” I say.) Yet aside from my size I’m very healthy and getting moreso all the time. Oh, but THEY are the ones advising — since, not being fat (or not as much as me), they obviously are the experts on all things health, oh brother!

    Meanwhile skinny bitches like Me Me Roth make a career out of having different genetics and metabolism than ‘some other people’, like this is some god-given evidence of moral superiority. In a different time she’d be the dude petitioning against letting the ‘indians’ or blacks into public places. It’s just her own -ism and this is the only one left ‘allowed’.

    She’s too stupid to be embarrassed for herself. But while annoying it can sometimes be, in a very dark way, sort of entertaining.

    Well said. I remember making clothing decisions based solely on how well they hid my belly and (especially) my boy-boobs. I actually hated to see warm weather return in spring because I couldn’t wear thick sweaters anymore.

    MeMe has never had to lose weight and has no idea what she’s talking about.

  30. Ramona Denton

    I am only recently learning about the libertarian point of view, and I really agree with a lot of the ideas I have identified as libertarian.

    Your numbers make quite an impression…

    Really loved this post, Tom. Thanks!

    The Founders were pretty much all libertarians. What’s considered libertarian now — and fairly radical to boot — used to be known as upholding the Constitution.

  31. Roger Calhoon

    I Notice that MeMe Roth who says I am lucky she is sticking her nose into what my kids eat wears a lot of make up and hair dye and provocative clothing. Coming from law enforcement I can tell you that if she toned all of that down she would greatly reduce her risk of sexual assault. Would she be lucky if I made it my passion to scrub all that make up off and put her in a burka?

    Sure, just explain to her that it’s for her own good.

  32. Allison

    I’m just now going back and reading some of your older posts. This is by far my favorite! I literally wanted to stand up and cheer in parts! I wish my liberal, pro-carb friends could read it with an open mind. But, they’re so brainwashed … I’ve learned over the years that we just have to steer-clear of politics in conversation.

    I really, really hope I get a chance to debate MeMe someday. You can imagine why.

  33. RG

    The numbers issue is interesting. Of course the “cost to society” is a mixed bag – 95 year old grandma is getting a (teeny tiny) social security check but she might also be babysitting her grandkids and providing volunteer help in the church. We could try to ascertain when old people become less valuable than their SS payments – or we could not. Second, it’s not a given that everyone will get some kind of expensive cancer eventually. There is this vision that in Japan people continue to stay active, gardening and socializing and being part of the community until one day they die quietly in their sleep. Obviously that seems like the ideal situation especially if you think old people have valuable wisdom and perspective on the universe. And most of us who are health-obsessed have that goal in mind. What I’ve seen in my obese family is disease, pills, surgeries, pain and inability to sustain work – of the paid or unpaid kind – starting at age 40. Even if you don’t believe in non-paid work by retirees, surely you believe that it’s better to get 40 years of post-high-school work out of people than only 22 or 30, in terms of the ROI of the effort to get a baby to be a productive member of society in the first place.

    “Alcoholism runs in families and social groups” – yes it does. Obviously if you compare drinking in the US with drinking in Germany, you’ll find huge disparities based on the cultural acceptance of drinking. I’d argue that Germans have a more healthy approach, drinking more under 18 but without the college-age binge-drinking phenomena. Still, the point is that people aren’t moving to Germany to be allowed to give their 5 year olds a beer, nor are they moving to the US to prevent other people from serving beers to their underage kids. Your social/ cultural society helps determine your choices. Or think about premarital sex – as cultural mores have changed, this has become far more prevalent. IMO, sex is actually more prevalent, not simply less hidden, and not because the genetic makeup of the population has changed. We could argue that it’s more acceptable because it’s more prevalent, and the reason it’s more prevalent is technology – the pill, cheap cars, going away to college, adolescents are under much looser reins. But the point remains, you take the same person who was 90% likely in 1930 to wait until marriage, and you put her in 2000, and we get more like 10% likely. Not because she can’t wait, not because someone is raping her, not even because she’s having sex at the same time but delaying marriage. There’s been an acceptance of casual sex.

    I don’t know how many fat people you know, it sounds like not very many. Because most of the fat people I know, are not on a diet. and they don’t want to be. They say the same things you do – about George Clooney (sorry, he looks chunky to me) and “it’s really muscle” and “thin people die young” (if they are heavy smokers or have a wasting illlness, it’s true). The rare person who loses 40, 50, 60 pounds says – I had no idea I was that fat. Everyone else is on their “last 10 pounds”, the ones that aren’t a big deal health-wise. obese people are on their last 10 pounds, and that woman with a bmi of 23 is on her last pounds too. Nobody wants to be called fat, and most of them resent being called fat, because they don’t think they are.

    George Clooney looks chunky to you? Seriously?

  34. Dana

    Personally I’m tired of everybody making healthcare their favorite whipping-boy. Every single day, those of us who don’t get our taxes refunded have to pay for idiots who speed, idiots who beat their wives, idiots who fall asleep with cigarettes in their mouths and idiots who don’t keep their wiring updated.

    Why? Because those of us who don’t get our taxes refunded wind up paying for cops and firefighters.

    I NEVER hear libertarians complaining about this. Why complain about healthcare, then?

    And why only make it a federal issue? There’s no reason states can’t have socialized medicine. THEY ALREADY HAVE SOCIALIZED COPS AND FIREFIGHTERS. This is apparently okie-dokie in Libertarian Land. And we do have a public health system, and that’s fine too. What about the rest of it, then? The medically necessary stuff, I mean, not the cosmetic surgery for vanity.

    Anyway. My two cents, I’m sure it’ll be taken into account, whatever.

    Also, I just wanted to say that not only don’t I like being fat (though I’ve lost around fifty pounds in the past two years), I am not looking forward to Not Being Fat anymore. See, I didn’t just get fat. I also stretched out my skin, and whatever malnutrition I was suffering (and trust me, nearly all obesity cases are cases of malnutrition) led to other parts of my body breaking down as well. For instance, my skin is scary-looking now. I have always had keratosis pilaris, but it worsened as I got fatter, and since I have a bad picking habit, now I also have scars everywhere.

    I’m also 38. By the time I get this weight thing squared away I will be left with bat wings, saggy ab skin and the aforementioned skin scars and, on top of that, I’m old and on my way to infertile. No man will touch me with a ten-foot pole. (In a manner of speaking.) Unless he’s psycho and figures I’ll date him since I am clearly desperate for adult fun and affection. Which was the type of guy I was attracting *anyway,* only now it will be worse.

    I’m fed up with @%^holes who think this is a *picnic.* Come live in my world for ten freaking years and get back to me on how fun it is. Try turning invisible, your whole life over before it really began. (I started getting fat when I was 21.) Good luck with that.

    The reason libertarians don’t object to cops and firefighters is 1) they’re local, not federal, and the Constitution places strict limits on what the feds can do, whereas states and localities were supposed to be left to make their own decisions. I can leave an onerous state (and did, in fact), but I can’t escape the federal government. 2) It’s a legitimate function of government to protect us from the violence and stupidity of other people. That isn’t the same as demanding I pay for your checkups and birth-control pills through a mandated federal program.

  35. Dana

    Clarification on the “type of guy who’d date me” thing I said back there: The sane guys get their pick of women because, well, they’re sane. (It’s a myth that nice guys finish last, believe me. The nice guys get married early and stay married a long time.) The nutty guys keep having relationship failure after relationship failure and eventually, if not early on, they learn to go for the perceived “loser” women because nobody is dating those. It sucks to be lonely, and a lot of us will snap up the first guy who looks interested in us because we don’t know when one will acknowledge our existence again.

    I’m getting old enough that I’m quite disinclined to fall for this; I’m fed up with being left to clean up the mess afterward. But I have to be very, very careful from here on out. I was already getting caught on these guys’ radar for whatever other reasons, but the fact I used to be huge and my body’s now destroyed because of it will make me an even bigger target.

    If fat people WERE socially acceptable, if all men actually wanted women for reasons of substance (and the sane ones do, which is why they get picked up early and kept!), I wouldn’t have to worry about this.

    Yes, I know too many women want men for their money. I wish that were my only problem. It’s all a matter of perspective, see.

    Well, I didn’t get married get early (42 when I married Chareva), but I will stay married for a long time.

  36. anon

    You bring up valid points that I have no argument against, but for the most part, I like her and pretty much agree with what she has to say. When she speaks of the need for over all healthier eating and less fat in our society, she is more right then wrong. I think most fat people, women particularly, are jealous of her, and hate her because she is calling a spade a spade. Also, just because she will likely live an extra ten years doesn’t mean she is necessarily going to COST us more money. She might not require any more medical treatment at 95 then she does NOW.

    That being said, I think you also have a point about her needing to back off on other people’s lives. Even though the higher cost of medicine affects EVERYONE, regardless of whether or not they pay income taxes. (Even the fat folks who WON’T pay for the procedure still are more likely to have to come in to GET the treatment due to their fatness, and foot the bill onto the next guy in the form of higher prices). STILL, she should lay off of things like girl scout cookies, and cutting gym short to celebrate a birthday with cupcakes. This is going over board on her part. These activities have been going on for years and obesity has only recently become a problem. Therefore, these activities are NOT the problem. She’s pushing for govt. fat regulation, which is intrusive and ridiculous.

    Meme thinks people just need to stop eating so much. It’s the “gluttony and sloth” theory of why people are fat, and it’s wrong. That theory is the reason most diets fail. The key to weight loss isn’t to go through life feeling half-starved all the time, which almost no one can do.

    Yes, if she lives an extra 10 years, she’ll draw 10 extra years of Social Security checks.

  37. anon

    In all fairness to meme, when she made the comment about Jordin Sparks weight, miss sparks was considerably heavier then what is shown in the photo you posted. The photo HERE is of a jordin sparks from a few years ago. She had since gained a bit of weight and was indeed not too healthy as far as fat mass goes.

    I’m not sure, but I think she has since died from some sort of health related condition. I’ll look that up.

    That post is 2 1/2 years old. So is the photo, and it shows Jordin Sparks at the time I wrote the post.

  38. meme was right

    I’m sorry. Correction; Jordin sparks did NOT die. She admitted her health was bad, she never exercised, suffered from walking pneumonia and her diet was a mess. She lost fifty pounds and looks fantastic; WAY better looking then before.

    She may over reach and encourage govt. intrusion, but more often then not Meme is right.

    Suggestion: Update your photo.

    Meme is a naturally-skinny woman who doesn’t know a friggin’ thing about the biology of what drives fat accumulation. People who’ve never been fat are clueless, yet assume because they were born to be thin, they’ve got it all figured out. They were born on the finish line and assume they won a race.

  39. anon

    Sorry to take so long coming back to comment on the responses of my last three posts:

    Meme is right about one thing: It most certainly IS the gluttony that is causing people to be fat. Not only THAT, but it is also not just the gluttony of eating TOO MUCH, but the gluttony of eating too much of the wrong things. No body HAS to go hungry ALL the time to lose weight and stay healthy. That is just another extremist argument meant to deflect from common sense. Anyone been to restaurants and seen the “average” sized portions? Or how about even in our horrible economy where folks supposedly can’t afford healthy foods, we find yet MORE restaurants being built from the ground up? You go down any street in any city and you will see wall to wall fast food places. If people didn’t go to these places to eat, then they would go out of business, plain and simple.

    [No, gluttony isn’t the reason people are fat. People like to assume it’s gluttony because then they can blame obesity on a character flaw. It isn’t about character, it’s about biochemistry. We didn’t suddenly produce a generation of gluttonous people with weak character after 225 years as a nation. We had a major change in the food supply and the dietary recommendations, both of which produced biochemical changes that trigger the accumulation of body fat. The vast majority of fat people have tried — and failed — to lose weight. They fail because the theories behind those diets are wrong.]

    Jordin sparks; You’re right, the photo was at the time of this article, so my fault there. Jordin Sparks DID however, since then realize the error of her ways (or weighs?) and decided she needed to lose weight for her health. She had a pretty face then, yes, but she is a stunner knockout in every aspect NOW, and no doubt sounds like a parrot mimicking meme on the REAL reason for the vast majority of obesity. Like it or not, I’m afraid she only proved meme right. Again.

    Meme is NOT naturally thin. She has posted pictures with her family members who have severe weight problems. It is not something that just comes to her. She has to work at it constantly.

    [Oh, I see .. she has fat family members, so this proves she’s thin only by willpower, does it? Hardly. My son has several fat family members, grandparents who were clinically obese, a father (me) who was once labeled obese, and yet he can’t gain weight even if he tries. Same goes for my wife. The difference is that they both have the intelligence to avoid believing that if they’re thin, it must mean they have superior discipline and understanding of how to lose weight. Show me the pictures of Meme as a fat child or teenager, then you can tell me she has to work at it constantly.]

    No she will not necessarily cost the nation more money just by drawing more social security when she hits ninety. For one thing, we have serious doubts on whether or not social security will be in existence by then. For another, if she is drawing a paycheck now, and not considered poor, then she is paying much more in taxes then what she will ever draw out, and what she DOES draw out, will be the hard earned money she PUT IN. The REST of what she paid in, will go to disability payments for a relatively young, and fat person who could never work because of what they chose to stuff into their mouths.

    [Lots of people draw paychecks and pay taxes, pal, including fat people. If Meme lives to be old, then yes, she will draw more in social security than someone who doesn’t — someone who also paid into the system all his working life. When Meme finally gets sick in her old age (we all die of something), she will be given expensive Medicare treatments, just like everyone else. The vast majority of Medicare expenditures are on people in their last two years of life, whether they die at 65 or 90.]

    If you want to complain about someone sucking off society, once again, meme has a much more valid point on overweight, unemployed on social security who don’t draw on their paychecks and haven’t had a paycheck because of their “condition” for years. Heck, even most smokers take up to 40 yrs or so of working and contributing before many are forced to draw off of what they earned. The obese now can claim disability barely out of high school.

    [Are you seriously suggesting all those fat people Meme despises are living on disability or unemployment? Get real. There are plenty of big, fat people where I work. They’re drawing paychecks and paying taxes just like everyone else. But I can see why you’re defending Meme. You have the same snotty attitude.]

  40. anon

    I’m sorry if I sound harsh, because I don’t mean to be. Obesity IS hard to battle, but choosing NOT to battle it and just go along with the flow is a horrible path. I’ve been overweight and allowed myself to go downhill after the birth of my last one. The body reacts differently after surgeries, yes, but it is ultimately on me for letting the pounds come on. It’s MY fault and MINE alone for allowing the pounds to come on. I ate the wrong things, and just got downright lazy. Proper nutrition, and exercise. It really is that simple.

    It’s not just me, but alot of others I know are simply getting tired of the excuses, and the twisted and irrational arguments so many people make for not accepting and taking hold of responsibiltiy for their lives. It’s not just obesity, but almost every argument in society has that basic theme behind it: Excuses, excuses, excuses. If anyone reads this and is trying to lose weight, then God bless you and keep at it. It will eventually pay off and it is SO worth the effort. What MAY help (it did me) is if from the moment you get out of bed in the morning, constantly chant through the day: “No more excuses”. Or something similar. It seems to be a motivator.

  41. aha

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who has a problem with the food pyramid construction. I always felt that fruits and vegetables should be at the very base, with meat and dairy right above it. At the very top, with the least amount of consumption should be the breads and pastas. I’m speaking of the old pyramid. The newest ones have the different food groups going perpindicular up the pyramid.

  42. anon

    Hmm, I don’t think Clooney looks fat in that picture at all. I DO think he looks spindily, scrawny and pathetic.

    I wish I looked so pathetic.

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