Saturday, July 14, 2007


Yet another star (in this case, Valerie Bertinelli) is writing a memoir about, among other things, her "lifelong battle with weight and self-esteem."

She's talking about overweight, in this case, and it all sounds so damn familiar: Low self-esteem makes people get fat. It's the same rhetoric that floats around anorexia, which is so often said to be linked to issues of self-esteem. Apparently it works both ways, or both weighs.

Inquiring minds know the truth: Starvation causes all kinds of psychological phenomenona, including depression, anxiety, and, yes, low self-esteem. And being fat in America is an invitation to feelings of worthlessness, inadequacy, and low self-esteem. All you have to do is walk down the street and it flies right at you. Or go to your mother's funeral. Or try to adopt a child.

For once I wish people would get it right. I wish they'd lay the blame squarely where it belongs. In the case of anorexia, that's on biology. And in the case of fat--that's called prejudice.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

At risk for what?

This just in: Experts are now urging women to watch their weight before pregnancy and get back to their pre-pregnancy weight quickly after giving birth. Their new recommendations include:

* Body mass index should be measured as part of vital signs at routine annual check-ups and all women of child bearing age should be counseled to achieve and maintain optimal BMI.
* Preconception counseling programs should include education regarding the poor maternal and perinatal outcomes among the obese and overweight.
* Women with high BMI planning a pregnancy should be counseled to participate in intensive nutrition programs aimed to achieve optimum BMI prior to conception.
* Encouraging breastfeeding can partially help to decrease childhood obesity and also help mother to return quickly to pre-pregnancy weight.

Why the panic? Because, say these researchers, "maternal obesity" leads to all kinds of terrible things for babies, including higher C-section rates, "less chance" of being breastfed, obesity later in life, and--I kid you not--"high birth weight."

And here I thought low birth weight was the big risk when it comes to babies and weight. After all, low birth weight can contribute to respiratory problems, cardiovascular problems, infections, neurological problems, SIDS, cerebral palsy, and other medical issues.

But never mind all that. As we should all know by now, it's much worse to be fat than any of those.

I guess they never heard of genetics, and have never read the dismal statistics on weight loss, or followed the studies that show that losing weight if you're fat actually increases your health risks on many levels.

As Sandy Szwarc pointed out in a recent post, there are people who think you can be too fat to love a child. I guess you can be too fat to have a child too.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Tornadoes on NPR

Want to hear a funny story? This radio commentary—on surviving my first tornado—ran on All Things Considered today. Let me know what you think.