Fat Pride World Wide

The growing movement for avoirdupois acceptance

According to fat pride activist Marilyn Waan, the American medical establishment has lost its head over the nationwide "obesity epidemic," and its prejudice is claiming victims. In one case, Waan says, a doctor told a fat woman complaining of shooting lights in her vision that the problem must be her weight. Her next doctor discovered a brain tumor.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with healthcare consortium Kaiser Permanente have found a great new way to fight childhood obesity: the Amazing Food Detective. The computer game, released last week, features ten "case files" of unhealthy children—click on each prisoner-style mug shot and you proceed to help a fat child make a healthy choice. The solution to chubby 12-year-old Emily's dilemma is to install a security camera to catch and stop her eating at home (After all, "Those large portions were quite suspicious!"); little Cole has to learn that he can only eat raw carrots and bananas because, "Healthy snacks are the way to go!" And the game comes complete with a time-out after 20 minutes: "You should take a break and do something active, like 100 pushups!" Gee whiz-that sounds fun!

And medical professionals are on the same bandwagon. "Our doctors have the same superstitions that everyone else has," Waan says. "They act on them in ways that are not scientific." It's not difficult to find serious grievances from fat patients. On one recently started blog, First, Do No Harm, a woman with Cushing's Syndrome, a muscle-wasting disease that turns muscle to fat, says she was told that she just needed to go on a diet.

In response, fat people are mobilizing. The "fat pride" or "fat acceptance" movement might provoke the scorn of skinnies, but it is growing in number and makes a compelling case. Much of the organizing takes place online, where fat people shares stories of abuse, gripe about prejudicial scientific studies and debate the finer points of weight discrimination. Some groups, like one started by Waan often delve directly into activism, with members urging one another to write complaints about discriminatory food advertisements or boycott insensitive organizations. Other groups are simply about offering mutual support. SeaFATtle, a group started by activist Mary McGhee, began simply as a way for fat women to swim together without fear of catcalls.

Admittedly, agitating through a fat women's swimming club might not be the best way to attract serious attention. But the claims fat pride puts forward aren't so unreasonable: The movement holds that the nation's "public health crisis" isn't really about health at all. It's about bad science and intolerance.

Listen to any public health official and you'd think obesity was a scientific slam dunk, but studies on the exact causes and effects of weight gain are highly ambiguous. One study of 25,000 men by The Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research, for example, found that a fit fatso is actually healthier than a sedentary skinny: over an eight year period even those technically classified as "obese" (a BMI of over 30) were less likely to die from heart attacks, strokes and cancer than inactive people of normal weight. And many of the studies released as "proof" of America's impending death by gristle fail to take into account confounding variables, like yo-yo dieting, a sedentary lifestyle and fat distribution on the body.

But even if the science were sound, public officials and anti-fat crusaders still confuse bad health with moral depravity. Paul Campos, a law professor at Colorado University and author of The Obesity Myth, claims that this "moral panic" sticks because it finds an "ideological resonance." On the right it appeals to an ascetic attitude; on the left it taps into anxieties about capitalist over-consumption and manipulative force-feeding by corporations.

Unfortunately, the "obesity crisis" has real victims. At 500 pounds, Gary Sticklaufer was judged too fat to make a good adoptive father to his own cousin—despite having adopted and raised several other children without problems. His cousin was forcibly taken from his care. Meanwhile, fat women are regularly told by their doctors that to become pregnant would be irresponsible, despite a lack of medical evidence demonstrating a higher risk for overweight women. And in the UK it's now commonplace to raise concerns over fat children with a view to placing them in foster care. In short, cutting a slim figure is now a moral imperative for responsible parenting, and those who refuse the "cure" to this aesthetic "disease" are summarily punished.

The anti-obesity campaign is waging war against the very people it purports to help and, in doing so, undermines the very medical authorities it relies on to perpetuate the crisis. Fat people are tired of being patronized by politicians, mistreated by doctors and barraged by crises and "cures." Many, like Big Fat Blog writer Paul Macaleer have simply concluded that, "A lot of people don't like fat people." And hard as it may be to accept, many fat people don't want to be "helped" by quack dieticians, misguided doctors, and opportunist politicians. Most, in fact, just want to be left alone.

Juliet Samuel was reason's 2007 Burton Gray memorial intern.

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  • ||

    Yeah, let's be proud of the grotesque obesity of our children! And all of that science is wrong anyway, being obese will have no adverse effects on your health, that's just a government conspiracy! And Intelligent Design, that's the way to go, too!

  • ||

    I was a regular on USENET news.newgroups back in the day and the soc.support.fat-acceptance RFD and CFV was a doozy. Megatrolls galore and some nasty, nasty politicking.

    It eventually passed, but I think there was a revote because of voter fraud IIRC.

  • Episiarch||

    I wonder how many fatties just hate that damn second-hand smoke and supported smoking bans? Suck it up, bitches, because now the nannies are coming for you.

  • ||

    I was a regular on USENET news.newgroups back in the day and the soc.support.fat-acceptance RFD and CFV was a doozy. Megatrolls galore and some nasty, nasty politicking.

    It eventually passed, but I think there was a revote because of voter fraud IIRC.



    I'm not sure what's worse, that you just said that, or that I understood what you were talking about.

  • Underzog||

    The late Roy Childs didn't fall into this fat pride movement. His end was tragic, but he did keep his integrity.

  • ||

    More power to them! I'm one of those infuriating people who are incapable of getting fat. That doesn't make me more moral or health conscious than an obese person. It just makes me thinner. Big F'ing deal.

  • ||

    As a former chubby (husky, big-boned) child who hit puberty and converted weight to height, I can't say that I would have been any different if the State had taken me from my parents, who raised me on whole-grain everything, no refined sugars, and hours of play on acres of woodland. My childhood was probably the one that the Nannies want for every child, I was still packing some extra pounds and a jiggly tummy until I was 18. So FUCK OFF. I'm sure that a lifestyle that consists of bad food and no exercise is unhealthy, and may make you fat, but I know plenty of l33t HAXORS who subsist on Ramen and WOW, see no sunlight, and are svelte enough to be Vogue models. Are they healthy? Let the fat be fat. Let the smokers smoke. let the fuckers...wait..shit....

  • ||

    I agree. More power to them.
    I may get blasted for saying this: but let them be! Jesus. Everyone doesnt have to be thin or fit. Some people are naturally thin (lucky J sub D!). Some of us are exercise fanatics and other are just simply happy to be fat. Now, if they are not happy... well, then they do something about it.

  • ||

    Fat people are the new niggers.

  • ||

    One study of 25,000 men by The Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research, for example, found that a fit fatso is actually healthier than a sedentary skinny: over an eight year period even those technically classified as "obese" (a BMI of over 30) were less likely to die from heart attacks, strokes and cancer than inactive people of normal weight.

    The tendency to equate extra weight in the form of body fat with immediate, catastrophic loss of good health has always puzzled me. Now that the so-called "obesity epidemic" has become the pet issue of obnoxious people who think that being skinny is the only way to be both healthy and beautiful, fat people are fighting back. Good.

    Speaking aesthetically, and anecdotally, I am more disposed to dislike skinny assholes who never exercise and couldn't run a few miles with me (much less lift an appreciable amount of weight, like, I don't know, a couch) than people who have extra body fat but possess lots of muscle mass and are in good cardiovascular shape. And contrary to what the anorexic skeleton-women and hulking musclebound freaks everybody sees on TV want us to believe, being heavy and being in good shape aren't mutually exclusive states of being.

    It's being heavy and being out of shape that's bad. And it's very bad. But most of the time it's also a personal choice.

    The incidences of medical malpractice cited in the article are beyond belief. Any physician that lazy and uncaring should have his ass repeatedly kicked by irate patients.

  • ||

    rana, Some of us just don't have the egotistic desire to make others just like us. The obese ARE in more danger during surgery. Do we tell them, no bypass until you lose X pounds? There are posters at this site who think that's an appropriate medical ethic for smokers, (yeah, I'm going to look you all up), why not fatties?

  • nebby||

    Being overweight does not make you necessarily in bad shape. There are 300 pound NFL lineman in terrific cardiovascular shape, and there is a tiny sliver of fit obese people in the general population.

    For the other 99.999% of people, you are fat because you eat too much of the wrong things and you don't exercise enough. I don't think the government should get involved, but let's not live in fantasy land.

    For all those who desire universal health care, as soon as you have everyone footing the health bill, it will be impossible to stop measures aimed at improving general health, no matter how intrusive.

  • Edward||

    How about a stupid people's pride movement? It will give Ron Paul suporters soemthing to do after the election.

  • ||

    Here is the thread I was referring to.

    To Hit and Run management, Kudos for your search feature.

  • ||

    Contrary to the implications of some of these posts, no one is denying a person's "right" or "choice" to be fat. The more provocative thesis propounded by Ms. Samuel is that obesity has been falsely portrayed as a contributor to poor health.

    While I'm sure there are cases, as Ms. Samuels points out, of people with diseases that cause their muscles to turn to fat, how representative are these of obese people in general? Not very, is my guess.

    On the other hand, Ms. Samuels seems to want to cast into doubt the conventional medical consensus that obesity increases the risk for many diseases and health conditions. Does she reject the idea that obesity does not increase the risk of high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease? It's hard to tell from her piece, but it's difficult to rule out, given her view that scientific evidence of the dangers of obesity stem from biased, meanie researchers.

  • ||

    "And contrary to what the anorexic skeleton-women and hulking musclebound freaks everybody sees on TV want us to believe, being heavy and being in good shape aren't mutually exclusive states of being."

    Actually the "hulking musclebound freaks" aren't buying into the "obesity" scare either. At least I'm not. At 6'0, 235 I'm a sort of wannabe bodybuilder with a few extra pounds. I had a doctor tell me that I was obese after just weighing me - nevermind that my bodyfat was in the low twenties. Even big guys with low bodyfat get a knee-jerk "obesity" lecture.

    Body size and shape exist at the intersection of genetic predisposition, willpower, and understanding. Each individual is ultimately responsible for his or her own health (and his or her happiness insofar as it relates to their body).

    Political and social libertarians should recognize that another person's size and shape is neither their concern nor their responsibility.

    BUT each of us should also respect that our body type may not be found attractive by some or most people. It shouldn't go so far as that "Monique" show where big women parade around demanding treatment equal to the thin models. Sorry, but my understanding is that most straight guys do not find that hot. Anger, politics, loud dumb women, etc. are not going to change that.

  • ||

    The anti-obesity campaign is waging war against the very people it purports to help ...

    Gosh, (WOD) that (WOD) sounds (WOD) familiar (WOD)!

  • ||

    I wonder how many fatties just hate that damn second-hand smoke and supported smoking bans? Suck it up, bitches, because now the nannies are coming for you.

    Episiarch, Those who predicted that the nannies have a successful model in smokers and fat people are next, were loudly pooh poohed by the deep nuanced thinkers. I feel like Cassandra sometimes.

  • ||

    Contrary to the implications of some of these posts, no one is denying a person's "right" or "choice" to be fat.

    Somehow that sounds familiar. Hmmm.

  • ||

    Putting on fat is an evolutionary safeguard that protects mammalian species from starvation during periods when food is scarce.

    In India, where being thin is associated with poverty, the men actually like fatter women. Also, in some Scandanavian countries, some men like fatter women. It is mostly a problem here, the social thing, due to Hollywood.

  • ||

    Well, I am fat, and I'm getting a real kick out of all your comments.

    Thanks!

  • Fluffy||

    I absolutely favor the right of fat people to be fat.

    You don't have to prove to me that you're healthy. You don't have to prove to me that your weight is not a function of your own overindulgence. I don't give a damn either way. Want to be fat? Knock yourselves out.

    My only problem with the "fat pride" movement is that Juliet is not telling you what it's really about. It's not about educating doctors in providing better care for fat people and it's not about making sure that bizarre incidents like that adoption case don't occur. It's about trying to get "anti-fat discrimination" prevented by law, and I'm just not down with that, sorry.

    If I don't want to hire a bunch of fat slobs to work with me, just because they aren't pleasant to be around, that should be MY right. You have the right to be fat; I have the right to think fat people are gross. And I shouldn't have to worry that some fat a-hole is going to initiate litigation because my good or service isn't scaled up to their obesity: don't like the size of the seats on my airline? GFY.

    If I can be assured that "fat guy lawsuits" won't be the wave of the future, I promise to assist you fat dudes in making sure you can't be banned from adopting your cousin. Deal?

  • ||

    Sorry, I'm not buying. First go sit in coach on a 5 hour flight next to a 400 pound woman, and then preach to me about tolerance. And I'm too much of a New Hampshire Yankee to have much sympathy for self-indulgent types who stuff their faces all day with crap. I agree that people go overboard - a 5'6 170 pound woman who is in good shape can be very attractive, but I still find the recent American trend towards 300 and 400 pounders disturbing. Generally these are not happy people, usually massive obesity is often a sign that something is wrong in these people's lives.

  • Caseworker Alice Pitney||

    From the article: And hard as it may be to accept, many fat people don't want to be "helped" by quack dieticians, misguided doctors, and opportunist politicians. Most, in fact, just want to be left alone.

    Just want to be left alone, huh? This reminds me of someone I know. And I didn't buy it when he was selling it, either.

    Remember my motto:

    "Not wanting help is the clearest possible indication that in fact you need it."

  • ||

    Yea Doug, when civilization ends, and we all know that it is ending as soon as president Paul pulls the plug on the fed, I will be able to kick back and live for months on what I got stored. I call it my "larder".

    "Not so healthy now, are we all you skeletal fashion models and athletes?" All you skinny types will be begging for a piece of me then, won't you? Ha!

    That will be some sweet, sweet irony. I can't wait…

  • ||

    i kinda agree with vanya. I am very libertarian but the airlines need to offer tickets for a premium that insures you won't have to sit next to a behemeth that makes unbearable noises the whole flight due to their sleep apnea.

  • Rene||

    The Food Detective wasn't released last week, but more than a month ago.

    The story was first broke last week at:
    http://junkfoodscience.blogspot.com/2007/10/this-is-scholastic-achievement.html

  • Bigot||

    Javier: I was thinking that you sound like an old man who had a problem sitting next to a nigger back in the 60's. I mean after all, they should have thier own place to sit right? Or maybe I could buy a premium ticket that garauntees that I don't have to sit next to some Dirty Nigger that might steal from me while I am asleep or listen to some Jazz music that I don't want to hear.

    Intollerance: sound familiar? Well I hope that it isn't something that you want the law to solve, because the airlines just don't care.

  • ||

    "The incidences of medical malpractice cited in the article are beyond belief. Any physician that lazy and uncaring should have his ass repeatedly kicked by irate patients."

    Q: What do they call the guy who graduates at the bottom of his medical school class?

    A: Doctor.

  • ||

    "Not wanting help is the clearest possible indication that in fact you need it."

    Yeah, right. What kind of you're-just-a-helpless-victim-who-needs-to-submit-to-therapy crap is that?

    "You're defensive." "No I'm not"

  • Caseworker Alice Pitney||

    Shirt, there's no reason for such profanity. That's quite an anti-social attitude you have there. It might be something we can work on...

  • dr_dog||

    YHBT
    YHL

  • ||

    "Shirt, there's no reason for such profanity. That's quite an anti-social attitude you have there. It might be something we can work on..."

    What!? Who do you think you're talking to!? I'm ... I'm ... oh dear God, I need help. I've been hiding it for so long. Won't somebody please help me? Where are the caring, supportive, non-judgemental liberals when you NEED them?

  • Mean Martin Manning||

    I've got your help right here. Pitney's a dirty whore. She'll get what's coming to her...

  • ||

    vanya, I'm 5'7" and 165, and I get a lecture about my weight at every doctor's visit. If this movement would cause doctors to lay off the lectures to us of the merely non-ideal size, I'd be thrilled.

    I read the Campos book, and the best point he made was that the studies on weight and illness often don't exclude ex-smokers in the overweight catagory, meaning people who have actually improved their health get lumped in with some slob who lives on Cheetos and who's only exercise involves pressing buttons on the remote. I think this is a significant point; I did some very small-market catalog modelling in my teens, and I was the one and only non-smoker on all of the assignments. That's the way the skeleton-women stay that thin. (FWIW, I was frequently lectured for being too fat, as a 125 lb. size 6.)

    I still think the key problem is that we don't have a good definition of the weight level at which the weight itself causes problems. Certainly being a sofa spud at any size is a bad idea, but I don't know and can't seem to find anyone who confidently asserts that bad things start to happen to normal people at XXX lbs. Wasn't there a study recently that said that moderately heavy people, at the highest part of "normal" and the lower levels of "obese" actually lived the longest?

  • d||

    No problem letting fatties be fat...if they didn't turn around and suck money out of the welfare system. No wonder "Leeburtee Meeehducuhl" will deliver "dyuhbeetis" supplies directly to your door; there's big money in it (read: there is a lot of taxpayer money being flushed down the toilet that is the practice of keeping fatties who don't take care of themselves alive). Here are the facts: smokers save the system money by dying early. Fatties COST the system loads more money (compared to smokers), because inevitably, sooner or later, fat people become diabetic..and they DO die of heart attacks more than "skinny" (read: normal, healthy, as-nature-intended) people.

  • ||

    J sub D: In the prior smoking/surgery thread you referenced, there were compelling medical reasons why the specific surgery being mentioned was medically inadvisable. That's rarely the case with obesity -- it can make for a more complicated surgery, but the patient will usually still be better off.

    Also, in some Scandanavian countries, some men like fatter women.

    Actually, in every country in the world, some men like fatter women, or women who are a bit plump -- I mean, what straight guy wouldn't find this heavy woman sexy? (WARNING -- this link is not for the timid!)

  • ||

    J sub D: In the prior smoking/surgery thread you referenced, there were compelling medical reasons why the specific surgery being mentioned was medically inadvisable. That's rarely the case with obesity -- it can make for a more complicated surgery, but the patient will usually still be better off.

    Really? Go here for a different opinion.

    ANN ARBOR, MI - Obese patients have a significantly higher risk of complications following surgery, including heart attack, wound infection, nerve injury and urinary tract infection, according to a new study from researchers at the University of Michigan Health System.

    Sorry, try again.

  • BakedPenguin||

    If anyone still reading this thread - I mentioned on the last porky post that at least one study showed almost all the obesity-related health issues to be tied directly to diabetes.

    If this is true, then you can be fat & healthy, so long as you have normal blood sugar.

  • Fat Bastard||

    5'6" at 275 lbs. Normal blood pressure, Normal blood work including sugar levels and cholesterol, work-out three times a week. I could carry your butt out of a burning building if I needed to.

    But what they hey; I'm a far greater burden on society that a 3-pack a day smoker.

  • ||

    "I've got your help right here. Pitney's a dirty whore. She'll get what's coming to her..."

    Huh ... I feel better already. Apparently, knowing that a disembodied stranger cares about me has improved my mood. Plus, our bonding against that bitch Pitney can only propel me to heights of wellness that would be unachievable without a common source of hatred. God bless pseudotherapy!

  • ||

    J sub D -- I share your concern about socialized medicine going after smokers, then fat people, then ...

    If you're saying the inevitable result of socializing medicine is that government doctors and bureaucrats would insist on, and be given the power, to make decisions that could not be appealed to not treat smokers / obese people, etc. -- well, no argument here, either. That's why SCHIP and other moves toward incremental socialized medicine should be opposed, because it leads to creeping nanny-statism over our health.

    That being said, freedom cuts both ways -- patients shouldn't be able to force physicians to perform medically contraindicated procedures. I agree that obesity can significantly raise the risk of complications of surgery, and in some cases make the risks so high that they outweigh the benefits of surgery -- which is why I used the qualifier "rarely the case with obesity" instead of "never the case with obesity". That was also one of the points of contention with the smoking / surgery thread -- how often the risk from smoking would cause an orthopedic surgery to fail due to the paralyzing effect of nicotine on the new bone growth needed to make new hips / knees etc. attach to existing bone.

    So, yeah, certain specific health factors in certain contemplated surgeries can, for some specific patients, make the risks exceed the expected rewards -- that's hardly breaking science.

    Insert standard libertarian boilerplate here that the patients should be free to make their medical choices, and private physicians should be free to decline to treat patients, and let's get the government to butt out of this private negotiation.

  • ||

    "On one recently started blog, First, Do No Harm, a woman with Cushing's Syndrome, a muscle-wasting disease that turns muscle to fat, says she was told that she just needed to go on a diet."

    Somebody alert Dr. House, there's a person that actually has Cushing's!

  • ||

    "On one recently started blog, First, Do No Harm, a woman with Cushing's Syndrome, a muscle-wasting disease that turns muscle to fat, says she was told that she just needed to go on a diet."

    I suppose this should go without saying, but muscle and fat are two separate types of tissue and niether ever turns into the other.

  • ||

    Or, perhaps neither.

  • ||

    Karen, why is there a need for a political movement to solve your problem?

    I'm about 20 pounds overweight and I have no problem when my doctor tell me I should lose weight. If she didn't think I should lose the weight, then I would find another doctor. On the other hand, she doesn't "lecture" me; she just tells me. I have a tolerance of about 2 lectures from any professional I'm paying before I find one with a little more respect.

    That is the beauty of being the customer.

  • anon.||

    "In response, fat people are mobilizing. . . . Much of the organizing takes place online . . . ."

    Least mobile mobilizing ever.

  • ||

    I can't help but feel that the people who are currently in hysterics over obesity in children are probably the same people who have either banned every possible childhood activity as "unsafe" or politically incorrect, or encumbered them with official rules (on badly photocopied handouts), Adult supervision, and uncomfortable and dorky-looking safety equipment.

    If playing video games is the only activity that escapes the pestering of do-goding swine, then the do-gooding swine have no grounds for surprise if most children are turning into little couch potato-butterballs.

  • ||

    I can't believe I'm saying this, but I think there is a responsibility to raise your kids to be non fat. Overeating and lethargy are habit forming, and you are causing a lot of harm over the life of the child by instilling those habits. If you can't make that call as a parent, on what basis do you tell your kid not to do anything else?

    Plus, heavy people drive up the price of air travel and they make economy seats unuseable. If you can't fit in one seat, pay for two.

    Other than that, do what you feel.

  • ||

    I personally feel the definition of "obese" is just too far out there to really be taken seriously. Straight height-weight charts really just don't work as an answer to tell people how healthy they are or what they "should" weigh.

    I'm not particularly on the large side, but large enough to be considered obese (6'2", 240 pounds). On the same hand, I'm quite healthy at this weight; other than a recent sinus infection, I rarely get sick, I have a low resting heart rate (a sign of cardiovascular efficiency), I exercise regularly, and do what I can to eat well (which, as a college student, is far from easy).

    Yet I'm considered to be of an unhealthy weight by a table that doesn't factor in the fact that, well, my physical frame is nearly off-the-charts large. I'm broader across the shoulders than most of the linebackers on my college's football team (and a couple of the linemen). My wrists are nearly eight and a half inches around (which, from what I've read, is noticeably larger than average, although they don't seem that way to me). I have significant muscle mass in my torso and legs. But none of that matters to those that think that I should drop between 60 and 80 pounds to be at a "healthy" weight (never been that light, but I once weighed 185, and I could see my lower ribs at that weight).

    We should encourage, as individuals, a culture of healthy, active living, regardless of what the scale says. Sadly, that seems like too much common sense for bureaucrats anymore.

  • Robert||

    Oh. When I read the subtitle, "The growing movement for avoirdupois acceptance", I thought it was going to be about a comeback for the English system of weights, which paradoxically has a French name.

  • ||

    "I can't believe I'm saying this, but I think there is a responsibility to raise your kids to be non fat. Overeating and lethargy are habit forming, and you are causing a lot of harm over the life of the child by instilling those habits. If you can't make that call as a parent, on what basis do you tell your kid not to do anything else?"
    I agree. While there are medical reasons for some people to be overweight, for the most part its people's own behavior that has caused them to be fat, and to pass on these bad behaviors to their children is highly irresponsible.
    That being said, I still think American society is too hung up on being "thin" and yet, the US may be the world's fattest country.(I live abroad and most Americans are viewed as fat slobs).

  • ed||

    Fat people are the new niggers

    So would that make them the "F-word" or the "N-N-word"?

  • Joshua Holmes||

    Actually the "hulking musclebound freaks" aren't buying into the "obesity" scare either. At least I'm not. At 6'0, 235 I'm a sort of wannabe bodybuilder with a few extra pounds. I had a doctor tell me that I was obese after just weighing me - nevermind that my bodyfat was in the low twenties. Even big guys with low bodyfat get a knee-jerk "obesity" lecture.

    The low twenties is not low bodyfat. Anything over 20% is definitely overweight. Young men should be carrying somewhere between 8-12% bf, young women about 8-10% points higher.

    As mammals age, they acquire more fat around the organs, but this is normal and doesn't harm them or affect their appearance: a 20 year-old with 6% bodyfat has about the same cuts as a 50 year-old with 10% bodyfat.

    re: topic

    You know, all the time and effort put in to fighting fat discrimination could be put into, you know, exercise and nutrition education.

  • ||

    To the people who seem to think it would be ok to bully the parents of fat kids: Consider,

    What will do the kids more damage? Being overweight, or being in foster care?

    Which is likelier to actually be healthy? A lifestyle that leads to excess weight, or a lifestyle dictated by bean counters obsessed with political correctness and protecting their regulatory turf?

    Governments are - historically - ham handed, clumsy, unsubtle, and stubborn. This makes them uniquely bad at any task that requires finesse. They therefore should stay the hell out of issues involving healthcare or raising children.

  • ||

    [F]at women are regularly told by their doctors that to become pregnant would be irresponsible, despite a lack of medical evidence demonstrating a higher risk for overweight women.

    I don't think that's much of a problem... depending on where you define "fat", I don't think many fat women are in a position to become pregnant...

  • ||

    If you're saying the inevitable result of socializing medicine is that government doctors and bureaucrats would insist on, and be given the power, to make decisions that could not be appealed to not treat smokers / obese people, etc. -- well, no argument here, either. ...
    Insert standard libertarian boilerplate here that the patients should be free to make their medical choices, and private physicians should be free to decline to treat patients, and let's get the government to butt out of this private negotiation.


    Then we have nothing to argue about. Damn!

    BTW, That was standard Libertarian Disclaimer #17. Refer to your manual.

  • ||

    "To the people who seem to think it would be ok to bully the parents of fat kids: Consider,

    What will do the kids more damage? Being overweight, or being in foster care?"

    I dont think anyone in this thread has mentioned "bullying" the parents of overweight kids, much less taking the kids to foster care. But it IS irresponsible parenting- FAR WORSE than letting your kid ride a bike around the block without a helmet. Give me a break!
    And yet I agree that government should stay out of this issue.
    And just to be clear, "overweight" not being a few pounds over the ideal weight but obese.

  • ||

    This sounds like the gradual development in attitude that the smokers experienced. First considered to be a health problem then treated with contempt. In 15 years time it will probably be normal to tell fat people how irresponsible they are at social occasions. "Please do not eat that fat in front of my kifds"

  • dbust1||

    Robert,

    I admit that this is the first time I've heard of "avoirdupois". Maybe I'm stupid but it's French for "to have a pea" as in "J'ai du pois" (I have a pea). I dunno, I suppose there's a connection somehow……

  • ||

    Next thing you know, grades in school will be considered descrimination against stupid people, and there will be a stupid pride movement. We're rapidly becoming a whole planet of "victims." Looking forward to the next big die-off. The human race needs it. I personally don't care if people are fat (been there myself but took action) but just as smokers get the "I don't want to pay more for health care because of your habit," I'd prefer not to pay their healthcare costs if they are unwilling to try and be healthy.

  • ||

    My sister-in-jaw gave her four kids appetite stimulants when they were young (they were "skinny kids" by Latin American standards, where being a skinny kid is a sign of malnutrition and poor parenting). All grew up to be overweight teenagers. She had to put them on a diet. All four are now overweight adults. ;)

  • ||

    We already have a "stupid pride movement", it's called "the American public".

  • ||

    As a fat person, let me just tell you what I'm sick of, especially coming from all the supposed libertarians here. I'm sick of the way in which non-fatties and former fatties have to give their two cents about what fat people need to do, think, and feel.

    I don't see anyone preaching traditional religious values on sex on any of the sex posts here at reason, so why should these other aspects of our personal lives- exercise and what we eat- be treated any differently by libertarians? The fact is that every single one of us is different in how our bodies react to food, exercise, stress, and every thing else in our daily lives.

    And as a libertarian, I have no problem with discrimination against fat people in the private sphere- I'd just like some legal consistency. If a business can not hire me for being fat, I'd like to know that I can keep out Jews, Ugly people, Atheists, Christians, Blacks, Hippies, and anyone else I wouldn't want to hire.

  • Salvius||

    If playing video games is the only activity that escapes the pestering of do-gooding swine, then the do-gooding swine have no grounds for surprise if most children are turning into little couch potato-butterballs.


    I hate to break it to you, but "playing video games" hasn't escaped the pestering of do-gooding swine, either.

  • ||

    Well, that was interesting. I don't know about other people, or their genetic makeup, so I can't say a damned disparaging work about laziness or lack of activity or self control except to say that those myths are perhaps bullshit. I'm 5'4", somewhere around 150 or so (dunno, refuse to own a scale), I walk everywhere and eat less portion-wise and healthier that my skinny little veggie eschewing, 140 lb, 5' 10" husband - who rarely exercises, save for snow/wakeboarding and sex. I'm thicker, but can whomp his ass on an endurance hike.
    He comes from scrawny, malnourished lithuanian stock, I come from the land of husky vikings and pudgy beer maids in lederhosen. I'm built like a peasant, I'm not ever going to be a size two or zero or even a six, but I don't think that means I'm unhealthy.
    It means my genes gave me awesome knockers and an innate ability to survive wretched winter, drought, and famine. Booyah.
    Obesity? Meh. Have fun. I'm not into "fat skirts" and specialty clothing prices freak me out. I'll just try and stay healthy whilst "overweight", thanks. Mazel tov to everyone else - anorexic, twiggy, chunky, average, super-thick. Just be happy, and mind your own damned business.

  • stuartl||

    But it IS irresponsible parenting- FAR WORSE than letting your kid ride a bike around the block without a helmet.

    Huh? Kids are people too, they (especially teenagers) have their own ideas of how they should live their lives. My son is an athlete, in great shape (although probably in the unsafe zone on the low end of BMI). My daughter is a bookish type who decided at she wasn't much interested in most physical activity. We encouraged it, but she invariably gave it up. She decided that although being physically fit would be nice, getting there wasn't very important to her. She is overweight (not hugely), but apparently I am an irresponsible parent for letting her follow her own interests and make her own decisions?

  • ||

    "She is overweight (not hugely), but apparently I am an irresponsible parent for letting her follow her own interests and make her own decisions?"
    Sturatl,
    I believe teenagers can make many decisions for themselves. When I sadi irresponsible parenting I was referring to very young kids, who are not capable of making decisions for themselves, and I also mentioned obese, not a little overweight. I am sure you can appreciate the difference.
    BTW, my brother and I were chubby growing up, and were very happy. And NO, my parents were NOT irresponsible.

  • pistoffnick||

    "'ello. I'd like to buy a fat license."

  • ||

    Aren't you really just saying that the particular circumstances matter? Yes, some people truly do have a genetic or physiological problem with obesity, some have a psychological problem with food and eating, and some people are just fat slobs. It's hard to tell, simply by looking at a fat person, which category they fall in. The medical community in particular should be aware of their bias and make allowances for it, since health is supposedly their concern.

  • d||

    dbust1:

    No, "Avoir du pois" means "To have weight". "Avoir des pois" means to have peas.

    Sorry, that was the pedant in me talking...

  • d||

    Ad the comments about parenting and childhood obesity:

    I agree with 'rana'; it is irresponsible to feed your (young) kids crap and make them (or let them be) fat. This is no different than Munchausen by Proxy where people poison their kids a little at a time to make them sick (although there ARE differences, viz. that Munchausen perpetrators are mentally f-ed up and that candy bars taste better than thiomersal).

    Sturatl: yes, teenagers are proto-adults, but they're still not adults. Their interests and habits didn't spring from the mystical genetic void; they are primarily learned behaviors. Either YOU taught them, or YOU let SOMEONE ELSE teach them. C'mon take some responsibility for your actions (or lack thereof).
    (By the bye, who buys the groceries in your house?)

    Anyhow, bottom line: if you make your young kids obese, you are a border-line child abuser. If your kid is just a little chubby, then, well, the government should butt out. Libertarian principles only apply fully to legal adults. I'll nominate anyone who can argue to the contrary for the Nobel Prize in Flawed Logic.

  • ||

    Even "normal" is fat. Weight is not the problem. It's the crap people eat. Fatties tend to eat more crap, but they may just eat more food that's actually not bad for you. There's plenty of skinny people that eat crap (sugary foods, heavily processed crap). And if those skinny people get cancer, the crappy eating may be the reason why. (A deficiency of vitamin D doesn't help either.)

  • dbust1||

    d

    phew, thanks I was sweating that one. I guess I've forgotten most of my highschool French. Though they're our friends now. So maybe I should brush up.

  • ||

    "...suck it up bitches the nanny's coming for you" I hear this kind of refrain a lot from smokers, even over here in Blighty. Earlier this year England went smoke-free, and in the lead up to the ban, in 2006, I noticed that they started, for the first time really attack smokers like they usually attack us. The response at first from smokers was often a non-plussed cry of 'Hey, isn't this what we do to the fatties?!' in a matter of months, possibly weeks they went from being normal, to acquiesing(sp!), just like fat people. It was genuniely fascinating and upsetting, joining in fat hatred has trained us to bow to power plays dressed up as 'health' concern. I have been under attack for 30 years since I was a child, it is the same in the US, others may not have noticed this, but if you bother to talk to us, you'd find out, it is smokers etc., that have buried themselves through their enjoyment of fat hate, in a similar way, those who are thinnest are now being accused of having ED's. Healthism, corrupts.

  • ||

    A lot of interesting comments. The simple fact is that humans were generally not made, created or evolved to weigh 400 lbs and have 50 inch waists. It's not natural. It's also not a discussion, it's just the way it is. Don't believe me? Look around. Hundreds of years ago when most people physically worked every day, very few people were mobidly obese. Most people now are not morbidly obese. We weren't made to be that fat. If we were, we all would be. But there is no natural advantage to being that fat.

    If you want to be morbidly obese, fine, accept the consequenses without complaint. After all, it is your choice. If you want socialized medicine, fine, accept the consequences. Same for all the other choices we make. Make your choice and live with it, or make a different choice.

  • Kroneborge||

    I definitely think people have a right to be obese, smoke, do drugs, or pretty much any other harmful activity that they want to do (to themselves). But let's not kid ourselves that being fat and out of shape (the two normally go together) are bad for you. Which does seem to be the point of this article. On the flip side though, people that make poor lifestyle choices should have to pay more for health insurance. Just cause I support your right to do whatever you want, doesn't mean I think I should have to pay for your medical bills after you make poor decisions.

  • ||

    Poor lifestyle choices cause health problems in people of all sizes, just as good lifestyle choices cause benefits in people of all sizes.

    My 250 lb friend can give me a decent run in a sparring match, even though I'm 100 pounds lighter with more experience.

    Sitting around, and eating crap shortens life, and science has proven that thin people that live like that are in much more trouble.

    The movement adovcates healthy living for all. That's why some of these comments are baseless assumptions.
    The parallel with smoking might not be a good one as well: Smoking is a behavior after all.

    Besides that:
    http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/D/DIET_OVERWEIGHT_TEENS?SITE=NDBIS&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT

    Is negative feedback practical?

    Heart disease and stroke risk may not be a problem here:

    http://junkfoodscience.blogspot.com/2007/10/obesity-paradox-13-take-heart.html

    http://bp0.blogger.com/_DjrlSOJqAn0/RwlBlZTsmWI/AAAAAAAACcI/4tj7el7RvKM/s1600-h/bmimortality.jpg

    I'm glad I am within the 20 range.... sheesh.

    The American Journal of Medicine is the original source.

    There's more I could post, but it would take me ages. Don't always believe the hype folks: There's two sides to this. You seldomnly see the other side in the mainstream due to a lot reasons, however. There's people of all sizes that are healthy and unhealthy: To impose morality based on that is never a good thing, especially when you assume something about someone.

    It wouldn't be any different than trying to make conclusions about the way I am based on my characteristics as well: These include my age (20), height (5'11"), weight (155), ethnic background (Puerto Rican, African American, and Algonquin), and more. Change has nothing to do with it: An assumption is an assumption.

    I was 15, 5'4" and 160 when I ran 1.5 miles in eight minutes, and 49 seconds. I did my first side split around that time as well. I haven't changed my habits in nearly eight years, and the biggest factor in my new state is puberty.

    How accurate are we again? *Rolls Eyes*

  • wellroundedtype2||

    RE: "In response, fat people are mobilizing. . . . Much of the organizing takes place online . . . ."

    "Least mobile mobilizing ever."

    This made me laugh, but also cringe -- I think that it is harder to organize around "fat" than other discriminations.

    re: topic

    "You know, all the time and effort put in to fighting fat discrimination could be put into, you know, exercise and nutrition education."

    Some of us do both

    RE: "I don't think that's much of a problem... depending on where you define "fat", I don't think many fat women are in a position to become pregnant..."

    Really? What position is that? Missionary? 'Cause I know more than a few fat women who are have children, and were fat first. Many fat women are gettin' plenty.

  • REASONableOne||

    Unfortunately, the diseases associated with morbid obesity to wit: diabetes, cerebrovascular accidents, psoriasis, and joint disease to name but a few, have significant impact on the cost of health care in this country. We all pay for that in the way of insurance premiums and perhaps ultimately the imposition of HillaryCare. And whether they like it or not, the vast majority of obese people are that way due to bad nutrition and the lack of physical exertion not misdiagnosis on the part of physicians. I am not for food police from the "Ministry of Love" but sending a proud to be paunchy message is not the healthy way to go.

  • ||

    Those defending the "postoperative complications" report by Bamgbade, et al, don't seem to have read it.

    Their method: Take four years' statistics from a tertiary care facility

    (tertiary care: specialized consultive medicine)

    and calculate each patient's BMI. Then check for any post-op complications arising within one month (30 days) of the operation. After throwing out all cardiac cases, the results were then tabulated, with no further influences from case histories.

    Compare this to the Schwandner study of laparoscopic colorectal surgery: They looked at the entire case history, rather than stopping at the height and weight. Their conclusions?

    No significant differences.

    That's right: No real difference between a patient with BMI 30 and one with BMI 20. While there was a small increase in complications, it was deemed "statistically insignificant"; statistically, it was within the margin of error by chance.

    Oh, and REASONable One? The American Diabetes Association and American Arthritis Foundation disagree with you on obesity's relationship to those diseases. Likewise, strokes are related to blood pressure, not just fat. (Smoking is more of an indicator, due to nicotine's producing an increase in blood pressure.)

    Oh, and the psoriasis theory was disproven at UT Southwestern Medical Center; seems psoriasis comes first, obesity after, when you don't want people looking at your scaly, flaking skin. Next time, please do your homework.

  • ||

    Just a thought for everyone: According to a recent study by the American Heart Association, fat people are actually *more* likely to survive a heart attack than skinny people!

    Likewise, the American Cancer Society's studies show that a higher body weight equals better chances of survival.

    Fat has a use, folks...

  • ||

    Round and round they go! Same old arguments, same old crap. Lets see if we can handle them separately shall we?

    For all those concerned about raised health care rates: Got Kids? I don't. Why should I have to pay extra for yours? Ski, snowboard, ride a motorcycle? Why should I risk having to pay for medical expenses you MIGHT incur with this rampant irresponsibility? It's easy just stop eating so much. . . Oops, I mean, doing them so much.

    Done the whole, tiny Airplane seat thing. One time sat next to a woman who actually realized I was MORE uncomfortable than she was because I was trying to give HER as much room as I could. Made some good conversation and had a pretty good flight despite the leg cramps. Few times I sat next to intolerant assholes who huffed, moaned, bitched and actually attempted to PROD me. They all came to realize two things: 1) How much MORE uncomfortable they could be when I finally just said, F*ck it, and made MYSELF comfortable. 2) I'm BIGGER than you are Asshat. WHAT?! WHAT?!. . . Yeah, that's what I thought.

    Obese children = Child Abuse? Right. This stinks of Holier-than-tho' elitism. You know, the kind that insist women should have no right over their own reproduction yet when it comes to what to do with all those surplus babes we get a profound silence. Just take those fat kids and stick um in foster care where they'll have a better chance of being sexually abused, chained to a radiator or, if their lucky, starved/beaten/scalded to death. Yeah that'll work.

    "And just to be clear, "overweight" not being a few pounds over the ideal weight but obese"

    Over who's weight? Which 'IDEAL' are we talking about? What weight is 'unacceptable'? Not just a general estimation for the General Public, Hon but a specific study FOR EVERY, SINGLE, PERSON ALIVE. Your gonna have to handle this on a case by case bases, Dear because, matter how much you want to believe it, everybody's metabolism IS NOT THE SAME. For that matter, define 'Obese'.
    Better yet, why not just go here
    "http://flickr.com/photos/77367764@N00/sets/72157602199008819/" and pick out the ones you think are 'normal', 'overweight', 'obese' or 'Morbidly Obese' then read the notes and discover why BMI is such a complete load of crap.

    Ya know what? Screw this whole thing. Ya'll can just head on over here "http://red3.blogspot.com/2007/06/fat-hate-bingo.html" and drop tokens on all your favorites 'till you get BINGO. Maybe along the way you'll figure out that we've heard it ALL before.

  • Jesus||

    FUCK YOU

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