I was looking through last Monday’s LA Times and found an article in the Health section that boiled my blood. The opening paragraph reads like this:
CALL IT Fattergate. Americans are getting scandalously big for their britches (and shirts and skirts and dresses and suits). And scientists would like to know why, so they can make it stop. After all, this sharp trend toward a well-rounded population has some pretty hefty (and heinous) consequences for public health.
There’s a simple explanation for the weight gain, of course: People consume more calories than they burn. The favorite explanation: They eat bigger portions of less nutritional foods at easier-to-get-to fast food places, even as they hunker down more and more faithfully in front of their TV and computer screens. “Most of us say it is a combination of reduced energy expenditures plus dietary intake not declining enough,” says Barry Popkin, a nutrition professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
But why does that happen far more often now than 30 years ago? It’s not obvious, says Susan Roberts, a senior scientist at the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston: “There is definitely no definitive answer on ‘what went wrong.’ “
Some of the “Fat” theories include:
too much stress
too much high fructose corn syrup
a “fat” virus
an overpopulated world
not enough sleep
Can anyone say ludicrous!? First off, let me call your attention to the last line of the quote which flat out says that scientist are trying to figure out what “went wrong” and guess what? They haven’t got a clue how to make fat people thin (See Gina Kolata’s Re-thinking Thin) so good luck with that one.
Second of all, the language that is used in this article is appalling. “Fattergate?!” What in the world is that?! Like we need any more language to isolate, criticize and label fat people. Then she uses the words “scandalously” and “heinous” which I might remind you usually refer to some type of crime punishable by law!
And lastly, she proceeds to give “simple explanations” for weight gain with NO empirical proof. People insist that weight gain/loss is simple mathematics and yet no matter how hard some people try they will never be a size 4. Why is that?
I got into an interesting conversation with someone yesterday in which we clearly disagreed. He told me that he was pretty upset by the fact that he had gained 10 pounds and really wanted to diet to get it off, after all, it wasn’t healthy. I gave my opinions on dieting (since he asked) and asked him to challenge the mainstream’s notions of weight and health. He proceeded to say, “Well, come on, a 600 pound person needs to lose a few pounds!” At this I was pretty furious…why do they ALWAYS bring up the 600-pound person???!!!! They are ALWAYS the scapegoat for the obesity/ weight and health argument. In the end we agreed to disagree but I think I left him with a few things to think about. (Plus, he told me how much he admired the fact that I’m not easily swayed in my opinions:-)
How did my friend get to these conclusions in which at the end of the conversation, it became clear he had no proof for? Well, it just so happened that it was his LA times that I found in the recycling pile which is where I stumbled upon this article. Coincidence? I think not.
Language is a powerful thing. Don’t ever underestimate the power of words like “heinous” and “scandalous” in an article, the writer is clearly trying to tell us something. (It’s no wonder we think weight is such a public issue.) I think it’s important that we know why we believe what we believe, after all, we are living in a world where we are all walking around with pretty strong opinions about health. And articles like these, as we like to say, “ain’t doin a thing!”
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