Sunday, June 17, 2007

Why dieting is the ultimate health risk

Big kudos to Sandy Szwarc, whose most recent post looks at how the American Heart Association's "heart-healthy" diet recommendations don't actually add up to better health or longer lives for women.

Eating healthy, in other words, doesn't protect you from heart disease. (We're talking about women who aren't sick; the statistics are different for those who already have heart disease.) And eating "not-healthy" doesn't put you at higher risk--at least, no studies have been able to show a cause and effect relationship.

In fact, all "eating healthy" (read: dieting) does, as we know, is make you fatter by messing up your metabolism with the deprivation-and-binge cycle. So dieting itself is a risk factor for obesity.

Obesity, it turns out, is a risk factor for diabetes, but not much else. Fat people actually do better after heart attacks than thin people. Older people who are fat live longer than their skinny peers.

Another thing dieting does is trigger eating disorders in those who are susceptible. Once more, dieting itself is a risk factor for anorexia, a serious illness that kills up to 20% of those who suffer from it.

Oh yeah, it does one more thing: Make money for the multi-billion-dollar weight loss industry, for the bariatric surgeons, and for the obesity researchers. Cui bono, baby?

So forget the war on obesity, which is as ill-conceived and well-funded as the war in Iraq. I think we need a war on dieting.

**This post is dedicated to the memory of my dear friend Marilyn "Mimi" Orner, who founded the Anti-Anorexia/Bulimia/Dieting Project. She was an advocate of size acceptance, a survivor of anorexia, and a powerful inspiration to a generation of young women. She died of ovarian cancer in 2000 but has not been forgotten. You still rock, Mimi!


Katy said...

What I wonder, given all these studies that seem to turn popular "wisdom" (ha) on it's head, is what the actual RESEARCHERS who DO those studies think. There are all these health panels composed of various so-called experts, but are they really the ones doing the research? Are these the people in the trenches, looking at the data, evaluating it, making sense of it? Do the actual researchers report findings inconsistent with their data, or are the "health experts" (who seem often to be corporate or political pawns) the ones twisting reality? Is EVERYONE blinded by the cultural revulsion towards "fat?"

And if the researchers are coming to the conclusions that don't support widely held beliefs, why don't they speak up?

Anonymous said...

Money. Docs and researchers don't want to bite the hand that feeds them.

Anonymous said...

Cavalcade of Risk #28 is up!

And your post is in it: