Saturday, July 21, 2007

What we know about fat and thin

In response to an anonymous comment made on my last post--don't you love people who attack behind an "anonymous" handle?--I want to clarify a few things about fat and thin.

The biggest cause of fatness is genetics. Heritability for obesity is .7, according to this article in the Proceedings of the Nutrition Society published by Cambridge University Press.

Upward of 90% of people who diet to lose weight gain the weight back and then some. So . . .
Diets don't work.
And . . . when diets don't work, they make people fatter.
Calories in do not equal calories out. (Contrary to anonymous' assertion, this concept does not defy the laws of physics; it's a function of metabolism, which is not uniform from person to person, and which is affected by a wide variety of factors. This not something that I "somehow think"; it's been observed over and over by scientists far more knowledgeable than I.)
Fat people tend to stay fat. (See Kolata.)
Thin people tend to stay thin. (See Kolata, Sims, Minnesota Starvation Study.)
Obesity appears to put people at risk for diabetes.
The relationship between fat/obesity and mortality is much more complicated than fat = bad, thin = good.
The current "moral panic" over fat hangs on a "health and wellness" peg but actually derives more from aesthetics than true health.
Even if we all agreed that fat was bad, we don't know how to make people thinner. See point #1.

And finally:
Fat haters have a lot in common with racists. They may cloak their arguments in other terms, but the bottom line is that they see fat people as ugly second-class citizens who don't deserve to be happy, healthy, or whole.

Now, that's ugly.


RioIriri said...

I love this. Very concise, in short, simple sentences. It should be easy for the haters to digest, and easy for someone to cut and paste for the linkophobic trolls we seem to get :)

Lindley said...

Thank you so much for posting this! This is wonderful material for helping people understand how much they've been lied to.

Anonymous said...

I agree with most of what you said. Genetics plays a large role.

For example, I know skinny people who've been thin forever and still have high cholesterol. I'm a 130 pounds overweight and my cholesterol is perfect!

observer said...

Yes, fat bigotry is real and puts a lot of pressure on those who do not meet the "standard" to lose the fat just to fit in. The more I read, the more I get totally pissed at the whole thing..and, yes, I am fat!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful job!

It's probably worth mentioning that part of the reason calories in-calories out doesn't work is because most of the cells in our bodies aren't human. Our guts are full of bacteria, and their metabolism matters as much as ours. Researchers have found that some fat people's gut biomes differ from those of average people. We're not the only ones doing the digesting, and that matters.

Unknown said...

Unfortunately it's also true that many people that are overweight hate themselves to. Often times being overweight can be an eating disorder, such as BED, COE, etc. I envy those that can eat normally, or excessively, and still be happy with themselves. It's something I've never experienced or seen in my own family.

I love your blog, and I'll be posting a link to it on my own. Thank you for writing what you do.

Unknown said...


Maybe we need a March on Washington. A Be Civil Rights Bill. A Pledge of Allegiance to Our Genes.

Rachel said...

Very interesting observation Fillyjonk. I never considered that before.

And, as always, pearls of wisdom from Harriet.