Saturday, July 28, 2007

Maybe the best commentary on the "obesity is contagious" study

And this commentary was published in Poland, where I have no idea what the popular stance is on issues of fat and thin.

Whoever this writer is, s/he gets it and has fun with it. So read up.

Time to spread the love!

My fabulous web designer, Gale Petersen, made a PDF of the I Love My Body! pledge. Yay! So now you, too, can download and disseminate the pledge. Post it at work. Email it to teachers and Girls Scout troop leaders and guidance counselors and parents. It's so easy for us to hate ourselves and our bodies--let's spread a little love instead!

And if you do send the pledge around, I'd love to hear about your experiences with it.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Coming soon: Big Brother is watching you--eat

You've no doubt read about the this article in the New York Times by Gina Kolata, in which she covers the "fat is contagious" study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

As a fellow journalist, I understand that Kolata had to cover the story. An obesity reporter's gotta cover what an obesity reporter's gotta cover (which is why I left the world of hard news long ago). But the tone of this article is a little too uncritical in my opinion, a little too quick to accept the study's dubious findings as valid research.

The quote that sent me reaching for my keyboard: When a close friend becomes obese, obesity may not look so bad. “You change your idea of what is an acceptable body type by looking at the people around you,” Dr. Christakis said.

In other words, size acceptance causes obesity.

I'm not even going to try to unpack all the assumptions here. Like, for instance,the fact that thin people can become fat, or that fat is always Bad with a capital B, or that it's better to be thin than to be comfortable with yourself, whatever your size is. And then of course there's the fact that these researchers don't seem to understand that--repeat after me, class--correlation does not equal causation.

Kolata certainly didn't try. She appears to have reported all this with a straight face, more or less, despite her considerable knowledge about obesity and scientific research and, well, bullshit.

Gina, Gina, Gina. I may have to take your book off my shelf.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Ellyn Satter's rules for eating

The incomparable Ellyn Satter has posted another newsletter to her website, this one (like the previous two) geared toward helping pregnant women figure out how to eat well despite the growing pressure to not gain much weight during pregnancy.

But these rules apply just as much to those of us who are not (and never will be again!) pregnant, so I'm taking the liberty of summing them up here. Then go read the whole thing yourself.

• Encourage each woman to be positive and reliable about taking care of herself with food
• Emphasize pleasure as a guiding principle in food selection
• Teach and support internal regulation of food intake
• Teach and model body trust

Great rules for mothers-to-be, both to help take care of themselves and to make sure that their attitudes toward food and body image are in good shape as they begin the process of raising the next generation.

If only more clinicians and researchers felt this way.

What is normal?

Not long ago, I had the privilege of being asked to do a radio commentary for a wonderful NPR show called To the Best of Our Knowledge. It aired on June 16 in a show called "What Is Normal?" which includes, among other things, a fascinating description of the Amish ritual of Rumspringa.

My piece was about the difficulty of knowing whether my 14-year-old daughter was going through the "normal" pangs of adolescence or something more serious. If I could figure out how to post the MP3 file here, you could listen to it. Or you can go to to the website and listen to it here. It's a cool show. My piece comes about 24 and a half minutes in.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Now it's women who work who cause obesity

At least according to this article from across the pond, which cites a correlation between between working mothers and obesity that is so specific, it's laughable. According to researchers at the UCL Institute of Child Health in Scotland,

children are more likely to be overweight for every ten hours a mother
worked. This risk increases in the highest-earning families.

They theorize that children of working mothers "have less access to healthy foods and physical activities."

You've gotta admire those obesity researchers--they can find a risk factor in just about anything.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

J.K. Rowling and fat acceptance

I love J.K. Rowling. Not just because she's an author of tremendous imagination, heart, and soul, but also for the fat rant that appears on her website. (Thanks to anonymous for the correct link.)