Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Don't Feed The Humans!

This is all over the internet and blogosphere today. Paul Campos is the author of my very-own-first Fat Positive book (The Obesity Myth/The Diet Myth) Which the lovely Tante' Terri was so good as to send me in the mail one day. It really was my first first jump into the "maybe I'm not broken!" head space, from where I ran quickly through the steps of, "wait, does that mean I don't have to dump all this money, time and stress into "fixing" myself?" to "How dare those Ass-Hats out there in the world make me think I'm broken!" and all the way around to, "Poor self-hating, fatphobic, have a brownie..."

In his new article, he examines the results of a recent study where the data showed one thing:

"Flegal and her colleagues found that, for a whole range of diseases, from Alzheimer's and Parkinson's to infectious illness and most of the major respiratory ailments, "overweight" people face a lower mortality risk than "healthy weight" persons. In addition, they found no difference between the two groups in mortality risk from heart disease or cancer (the nation's two biggest killers, and ones that many people tend to associate with being overweight). Thus, the relative mortality risk, and by extension the overall health, of "overweight" Americans appears to be better than that of "healthy weight" people."

But the conclusions of the researchers said something very, very different. First that somehow the overweight woman is closer to "obesity"

danger Will Robinson!
What is it, Robot, giant talking carrots again?
No Will Robinson, it's much much worse...its FAT!

As if the study even touched on the haphazard methodology behind the "risks" of "obesity". Campos points out that the average woman in the overweight range is closer to the danger of being underweight, which this study finds doubles her chances of various health troubles, than the other end of the scale.

"Second, researchers talk about "quality of life." After all, life expectancy isn't everything. As Manson says, "health extends far beyond mortality rates." According to a New York Times story, Manson is concerned that excess weight makes it difficult for people to move around, and therefore impairs their quality of life. That's part of "the big picture in terms of health outcomes," Manson says. The notion that an average-height woman who weighs between 146 and 175 pounds is going to find it difficult to move about is as good an example as one could hope to find of what eating disorder experts call "anorexic ideation." Here again, we see how an argument which may make sense when talking about extremely fat people is transferred onto people who are "fat" only in the sense that they don't conform to a radical preference for extreme thinness--a preference which is one of the key explanations for why we're saddled with a scientifically bogus definition of what constitutes a "healthy weight.""

And then, once again, we're reminded that science has evolved to take on the earmarks of religion. Or, was it ever very far off? After all the Alchemists were early scientists, and devoted to their beliefs as fervently as any nun kneeling in her cell and giving up the material world for the peace of conviction.

"Still, when the entire public health establishment has put its stamp of approval on a definition, those who have staked their professional reputations on the accuracy of that definition aren't going to be deterred by something like, well, evidence. Predictably, Willett, who has been perhaps the most prominent proponent of the idea that people ought to try to maintain very low weights, was outraged by the latest refutation of his theories: "It's just ludicrous to say there is no increased risk of mortality from being overweight," he told The Washington Post."

If they were alchemists, or investigators into the chemical structure of some weird African Frog or portugeuse reef crab, I'd say let them quarrel peacefully in their own delusions. Unfortunately, we are the African Frogs. I am the Portugeuse reef crab. The fact that they are having so difficult a time accepting the evidence of their own methods says something about the uphil battle for Fat Acceptance. On the other hand, the fact that their evidence contradicts their own beliefs says something about It's accuracy, for how many scientists find only exactly what they're looking for, no matter how hard they have to mine the data to get it? Which means that whether or not they cling to their beliefs, they have given us a tool to educate others. So we should thank them.

Poor self-loathing fat-phobic, have a brownie.

No comments: