Saturday, April 24, 2010

One more reason NOT to get bariatric surgery

Bariatric surgery--the practice of deliberately mutiliating the gastric anatomy in order to lose weight--is being pushed harder than ever these days. The latest claim: it cures Type II diabetes instantly.

Not so fast. Apparently the issue is more nuanced than that. Researchers at the University of Washington recently found that people whose fasting blood glucose levels came down after having the surgery were still spiking diabetes-level glucose levels after meals.

The money quote:

"I don't think the procedure cures whatever it is that's causing diabetes in the first place," said Arthur Chernoff, MD, chair of endocrinology at Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia, who wasn't involved in the study.

SHocking, isn't it? Fat may not be the only cause of diabetes.

In fact, the weight-diabetes link is one of doctors' strongest arguments against fat acceptance and health at every size. Bariatric surgery is very serious business--and I mean that in both senses of the word. It's a multimillion-dollar industry based on the premise that it's a good idea to take out part of your guts--forever. Once you've had the surgery, your body is unable to process nutrients the way it used to. You may or may not become thin (some people lose weight only to regain it after); you may or may not experience some of the serious complications of the surgery; you will be permanently malnourished.

And now you may not have an instant cure for Type II diabetes after all. Because the equation may be a bit more complex than fat = bad, thin = good.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Bravo to Gawker

That sound you hear? It's me clapping for this tell-it-like-it-is piece from Gawker, which deftly skewers the mainstream media's not-so-hidden obsession with thinness.

My favorite quote:
The purpose of working out is get in shape. Not to get "thin." To be in shape, for the average person, connotes being healthy, and improving on the basic elements of one's own fitness: muscular strength, endurance, cardiovascular, flexibility, etc. . . . designing a workout and nutrition program with the goal of being thin will almost certainly ensure that you cannot achieve a high level of fitness; you would eat a low-calorie diet, thereby robbing yourself of muscular gains.

Note that I deleted a sentence or two in here. Even Gawker falls prey to the knee-jerk obesity-is-bad syndrome. (We really have to have a chat about that, Nick Denton.) But it's not so easy calling out the Gray Lady herself on the assumptions and obsession with thinness. So kudos to Gawker, and Hamilton Nolan, who wrote this post. Let 'em know what you think.