sarahmichigan: (Default)
I haven't seen the first three parts, but I watched the trailer for the series and all of part 4. I tortured myself by sitting through the whole thing just so I could report back to you guys! And also leave HAES-friendly literature behind for participants and organizers.

Here's a slightly modified version of what I just posted to Facebook:

Went to a showing of Part 4 of the "Weight of the Nation" (Obesity Epidemic Panic Oh My) documentary, followed by discussion, last night. It wasn't as bad as I expected, but I did write down at least 6 pieces of misleading to downright factually incorrect information, plus more subtle un-truths through graphics. And our tax money paid for this crap. I did like the discussion of food politics (farm subsidies, food marketing & advertisment, etc.) and the focus on shaping cities to be more friendly toward exercise.

Factually incorrect: The next generation of children will have shorter lives than us because of obesity. UNTRUE. We've been living longer and longer as we get fatter, and the next generation of children is projected to have a longer lifespan.

Factually incorrect: The people shown in the opening credits are typical of the average overweight or obese American. FALSE. The people pictured and quoted at the opening of each episode are well in excess of 35 BMI, some well over 50 BMI. Those people comprise 8 percent or less of all overweight or obese Americans. Most "overweight" Americans would have been in the normal range before the government changed the definition of "overweight" in 1998 from a cut-off of 27 to a cut-off of 25.

Factually incorrect: The number of calories consumed per person has skyrocked by hundreds from the 1960s to the present. FALSE. The numbers often cited by the anti-obesity crusaders refers NOT to calories consumed but calories PRODUCED and they rarely make it clear that many of the food calories produced are a) fed to livestock or b) diverted to industrial use (i.e. soybeans) and not consumed.

Factually incorrect: Most overweight and fat people are that way because they're out of control with food. FALSE. Many studies have shown that we have a set range of weight, and it's hard to eat ourselves much fatter or starve oursevles much thinner because our body clings to that set point/set range. Google "Ancel Keys" and do some reading.

Factually incorrect: Commentator points to all the fast food joints on a block and says "You could eat your way to obesity just on this block." FALSE. You cannot eat your way to obesity. Even the NIH's own info suggests that our genes account for anywere from 60 to 80 percent of the variation in body sizes and shapes.


Also, folks from the Association for Size Diversity and Health contacted the documentary makers, asking to include some information about "Health at Every Size" and were rebuffed. That's too bad, because an HAES approach has been showed to be effective in dealing with metabolic disorders regardless of how much weight is loss (even if it's none).

HAES letter

Nov. 9th, 2010 01:40 pm
sarahmichigan: (Default)

x-posted to [livejournal.com profile] haes and a couple other places

Locally, there's a "wellness foundation" that provides grants to communities and school districts to make nutritious food and exercise more accessible to all, especially kids. That's all and good, but I've been really irked by the level of "Obesity Crisis OMG!" rhetoric in their press releases and on their Facebook page.

For instance, they started off a press release about giving funds to schools to make communities more walkable with "our kids are getting more obeses every day!' bullshit, and their facebook page had a link to an article suggesting fat kids should be fitted with activity monitors that force them to move if they sit still for more than 30 minutes (I shit you not).

So, I wrote them this letter and thought I'd share:

I think the work that CWF does is great. However, I'd like to note that I really wish that your organization would include less "obesity OMG!" talk in press releases and the Facebook page. 

Exercise is of benefit to ALL people, fat or skinny. Making posts or sending out press releases that talk about the so-called obesity epidemic and talking about getting fat kids to move more perpetuates the myth that children and adults with ideal BMIs do not need to exercise and only fatties need to exercise.
 
You might also be surprised at how active many fat kids already are; it's pretty hard to fight genetics in many cases. I was very active as a kid and an adult, biking and rollerskating all over town as a kid and hitting the gym regularly as an adult. Activity has made me healthy but never made me skinny.
 
I think the message that activity always and necessarily leads to weight loss may actually *discourage* fat people from exercising; if they don't see the scale go down, they may wonder, "Why bother?" Well, they should bother because exercise brings benefits *regardless* of weight loss!
 
Please consider using more "Health at Every Size"-friendly language in your press releases, Facebook and blog posts, etc.
 
If you're not familiar with HAES, please check these links out:
 
 
 
 

-Sarah

sarahmichigan: (Default)
Food politics really can get me riled up. I totally am down with eating local, supporting people using organic practices, etc. but I hate seeing people use these movements- which should be positive- to beat themselves up for not doing enough. Especially women, who already have a lot of pressure on them to "eat right" in a society where there are so many different definitions of that phrase.

First, my creds:

My parents grew gardens that I helped out in as a kid, and my dad taught me a bit about wildcrafting, though I didn't know it was a word for it then and just thought of it as "eating wild things that scare other people who only eat food from a supermarket." I'm a mostly vegetarian- I eat a bit of fish a few times a month, but otherwise eat lacto-ovo vegetarian. We buy free-range eggs and organic produce as much as possible. I purchase from local farmers markets and local produce stands as much as I can. I pick produce at local U-Pick farms. I got a CSA farm share last year and am doing it again this summer. I've grown pots of herbs or a small (organic) garden nearly every year I've owned my own house (since 2000).

So, believe me, I'm not some reactionary that doesn't believe in eating local, organic gardening, etc.

However, I also don't deify the celebrities of the local foods/food politics movements. I like Michael Pollan, but I think he's overhyped. I never got why people were so hysterical about gentically-modified foods. After all, we've been modifying plants and animals for centuries (one of my commenters notes it's milennia, really)  with selective breeding/planting. But, Pollan explains in "The Botany of Desire" that the new GM foods aren't anything that could happen by natural or human selection- these GM plants often include genes from bacteria or animals, crosses that wouldn't happen in a traditional farmyard or garden. So, I can see why we should be cautious.

Still, he's kind of a hypocrite to fear offering a potato salad made of GM potatoes at a potluck when he's totally OK with smoking pot- we know for a fact that human intervention has changed the marijuana plant DRASTICALLY from its ancient form.

And Barbara Kingsolver?

I listened to "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" as a book on CD over the last week. As per usual with much of this sort of writing about food and food politics, I LOVE the specifics but get cranky with the more philosophical/political passages. I like her food experiment of eating mosty local (with a few exceptions) for a year, and I'm making plans to eat more locally, especially in the summer when that's easier and less expensive.

However, I had -- let's say 'issues'-- with several parts of that book. 

1. I didn't buy her rationalization for why we should speak of 'harvesting' animals rather than use "slaughter" or "kill." Please understand that I'm totally OK with her eating chickens she raised herself, but 'harvesting' is still a euphemism.

2. She repeats, not just once but TWICE, the now-debunked assertion that the "childhood-obesity-crisis-OMG" means that this generation of children will have shorter lives than their parents. This is, to put it plainly, bullshit nonsense.

3. Her husband, who co-authored, also references the "obesity crisis" once too often for my taste.

4. Her daughter contributes sidebars about nutrition and made an error in referring to LDL as the "good cholesterol." It's not. The "good" cholesterol is "HDL" and that is an embarrassing mistake.

ETA: 5. Kingsolver uses embarrassingly sloppy shortcuts for some ideas. For instance, she refers to an organic farmer as "not wanting to put chemicals" on his land. Uh, Barbara, as someone with a degree in evolutionary biology, you should know that all life, including organic cow manure, is made up of "chemicals." That was an ignorant thing to write, and should have been phrased something more like "synthetic herbicides and pesticides."

Don't get me wrong- I'm glad I read the book, and I really do believe in eating local and many of the other greater goods that progressives preach about. But I'm not always crazy about some of the bullshit that seems to come along with food politics discussions.
sarahmichigan: (Default)
About Michelle Obama picking childhood obesity as her Big Issue: Encouraging people of ALL sizes to move and get active and eat their fruits & veggies is good. Making it a war against childhood obesity - not so great.

Here is a great essay that explains why. Honestly, I didn't read the whole thing because it was too painful. I, too, have diaries from when I was young and also thought I was a huge cow. I know for sure I was dieting by age 11 (if not earlier) because I wrote about it in my journals.

Also, despite what you may have heard, childhood obesity rates have been standing still for many years, and in an overview study, there was no major change in child obesity rates between 2001 and 2006. But that doesn't make for a very compelling story or cause.
sarahmichigan: (cooking)
Sandy again has a great post about how programs to fight the so-called "obesity epidemic" through getting kids to eat more fruits and veggies tend to be dismal failures. On the whole, children already know that they should be eating 5 fruits and veggies a day, and the most rigorous studies show that these interventions -at best- get kids eating a whole whopping half a fruit or veggie more per day after months of propaganda. As the article notes, the kids hear this propaganda over and over and eventually just tune it out.

As I was reading, I couldn't help wonder if  hammering home health lessons was the wrong approach. What if they actually taught ways to make cooking and baking with fruits and veggies more fun and flavorful and emphasized how good these foods can taste?

Oh no, we couldn't have kids thinking you ever eat food because it tastes good. You should ONLY eat food that makes you healthy, no matter what it tastes like.

sarahmichigan: (Default)
I've been posting a lot about fitness and a lot less posts that would fit under my size acceptance or obesity propaganda tags, but I'm still thinking about these things. Mainly, I'm posting any thoughts I have on the comments of the Fat Acceptance/Size Acceptance blogs I read regularly, because it feels like a safer space to do that.

I just have to mention, though, one thing that infuriated me deeply when I was reading, "Pretty Good for a Girl," by Leslie Heywood. To recap, in high school, she was a track star who had to really fight to be taken seriously, as this was just barely post Title IX. In college, she developed an eating disorder to keep her weight down, and over trained to the point of collapse. She had to give up her track career, but couldn't give up athletics and competing altogether so she became an amateur body-builder later in life.

She mentions, just casually in passing, that her doctor looked at her weight as recorded on her medical records (she was 5 foot 2-ish inches and 148 pounds at the time) and said, "You weight too much for your height." Then she looked at Leslie's biceps and said, "Oh, you're a bodybuilder. These charts don't apply to you."

Do we need any more proof that too many people-- including medical professionals-- look at their patients as numbers instead of as individuals? I think most people are coming to the conclusion that BMI is limited in its usefulness, but then you get an incredibly insensitive (hello, history of eating disorders!?!) and one-size-fits-all kind of comment like this, and it makes me despair. 

In the rush to solve the so-called "Obesity Epidemic" in this country, we have turned EVERYONE into a number instead of into an individual, and this is a mania that is really bad for our health, collectively, even if it's just stress about worrying about those "five extra pounds" we're carrying. 

This also makes it really damn hard to practics Health at Every Size as well. If I was caught up in obesity hysteria and was obsessed with BMI, I would be despairing that after three months of dedicated gym-going, I had barely budged my BMI and my body weight at all, instead of being happy that I improved my hip-to-waist ratio, cardio fitness, upper body strength, and upper and lower body flexibility noticeably in that time. I could conclude that exercise was worthless instead of seeing all the positive benefits I've gained in just over 3 months.

Despite the CDC's own recent report that BMIs have barely budged in the last few years, I still heard a lead in about how we're all getting fatter every year as a promo for an NPR segment just this morning. WTF?! The promoters of the War on Obesity seriously need to calm the fuck down and get a grip.
sarahmichigan: (Default)
More good sense from Paul Campos (author of "The Obesity Myth"), though it's not like the most fat-phobic out there are going to read it and take it to heart.

Don't feed the humans!

Excerpt:


The reaction of America's leading "obesity" experts to the latest study on the issue demonstrates yet again that our current definition of the word "overweight" makes no sense. Walter Willett of the Harvard School of Public Health's fumed that the new findings were "rubbish." His colleague JoAnn Manson found the study, authored by Katherine Flegal and others, and published in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association, "very puzzling." After all, for "overweight" people to be healthier than "healthy weight" people just doesn't seem logically or linguistically possible.

How did we get into this mess? First, the relevant definitions: According to public health authorities in America and around the world, people are "overweight" if they have a body mass index between 25 and 30 (for a 5'4" woman this is between 145 and 173 pounds; a 5'10" man fits the category if he weighs between 174 and 208 pounds).

A decade ago, when I began to study the relationship between weight and health, I was struck by the almost total lack of medical justification for labeling people in this weight range "overweight." Since then, the situation has become considerably more absurd...

...

Still, when the entire public health establishment has put its stamp of approval on a definition, those who have staked their professional reputations on the accuracy of that definition aren't going to be deterred by something like, well, evidence. Predictably, Willett, who has been perhaps the most prominent proponent of the idea that people ought to try to maintain very low weights, was outraged by the latest refutation of his theories: "It's just ludicrous to say there is no increased risk of mortality from being overweight," he told The Washington Post.

What's actually ludicrous is that Occam's razor has yet to be employed to explain the "very puzzling" result that, once again, "overweight" people have been found to enjoy better health than "healthy weight" people. The definition of "overweight" promulgated by Willett, Manson, and their colleagues makes no sense. Many "puzzling" results cease to puzzle when one stops abusing the English language.
sarahmichigan: (Default)
Since most of my on-line debates about the overblown dangers of overweight and the idiocy of the War on Obesity have tended not to change any minds, it's nice to see a health and medical blogger examining the evidence and changing his mind about the "Fat is bad, fat kills, weight loss is always desireable" conventional wisdom:

http://medjournalwatch.blogspot.com/2007/08/day-when-i-stopped-to-believe-in-weight.html

Excerpt:
"I do not claim to have found the last truth about weight and health. I'll continue to watch journals for new studies on the subject and I'll continue to deal with the results whatever they may be. But what I know for sure is August 2nd, 2007 being the date when I have stopped to take excess body weight for a disease that must be treated by diets and other weight loss attempts."
sarahmichigan: (Default)
http://medjournalwatch.blogspot.com/2007/08/interview-with-linda-bacon-on-weight.html

excerpt:
CB: You disagree with the majority of weight experts. They tell us that overweight is one of the leading causes of premature death, for instance from heart attacks, but also from diabetes and other diseases. Why do you disagree?

LB: I disagree because I have looked at the evidence. Reputable studies, published in well-respected, peer-reviewed journals, actually show that people in the "overweight" category live longer than those in the "normal" weight category.

CB: And what makes you sure that you are right and they are wrong?

LB: My experience from having worked closely with many obesity researchers who are more conventionally-minded than me is that they are so strongly mired in their assumptions, that they don't look at the evidence. Those that willingly engage, change their beliefs. The evidence is quite convincing.


x-posted all over the damn place
sarahmichigan: (Default)
I don't usually do this, because I assume that interesting links and articles are viral, and you'll end up seeing them passed around your FL anyway, but I've run across a lot of good stuff (some serious, some cool, some silly) the last few weeks I wanted to share in case you hadn't:

-Fat Positive artistic nudes (Not Safe for Work, obviously). I really like the set with the mesh dress, especially:
http://www.adipositivity.com/

-Eddie Izzard imagines Darth Vader at the Death Star Canteen:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hp69rg6Hdlo
(If the link doesn't work, just google Eddie Izzard and "death star canteen")

-Fat patients do better after heart attacks than normal weight patients, but health "experts" still keep pushing weight loss. BFB's critique:
http://www.bigfatblog.com/fat-helps-heart-attack-dont-be-fat

-The link between being fat and having high blood pressure gets weaker, but health "experts" still keep pushing the idea that fat equals death!
http://junkfoodscience.blogspot.com/2007/07/truth-comes-hard.html

-Super cool article about why individual bugs aren't too bright, but swarms are smart:
http://www7.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0707/feature5/

-The New "Seven Wonders of the World":
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/07/photogalleries/seven-wonders/index.html

-Kate Harding does a great job articulating some things I've thought for a long time about why not all fat people are compulsive and/or binge eaters but why fat compulsive/binge eaters often have trouble getting appropriate help:
http://kateharding.net/2007/07/10/so-close-and-yet-so-far/
sarahmichigan: (Default)
In my last post, I swapped one innaccurate metaphor (carrying "extra" body weight being like hauling around a backpack with X pounds in it) for another (athletes wearing arm and ankle bands). Of course, as it was pointed out, athletes don't carry around their ankle bands and wrist bands or weighted vests 24/7.

However, very fat people don't get very fat instantly, either. They've often been heavy for a long time and have put on their mass quite slowly, giving their muscles, joints, tendons, and bones plenty of time to get strong enough to move that mass around. Some thin celebrities have been getting into the whole "fat suit" craze in Hollywood lately, and some have remarked on how limited they feel their movement is in the fat suit. Well, if someone gave me a fat suit that doubled MY body weight instantaneously, I'd also take some time to adjust to my new dimensions. But someone who has been that size for a long time could probably move with considerable grace and efficiency.

I think that someone who is naturally meant to be around 130 lbs. pounds but, because of a serious medical condition, balloons up to 200 pounds in one year could very possible feel uncomfortable and even immobilized in a way that I definitely do NOT feel at 208 pounds, a weight I have hovered around for five years or so. I think some people who are meant to be thin but temporarily gain a lot of weight quickly are definitely going to feel it in a different way than say Jennifer Portnick, a 240-pound Jazzercize instructor who stood up to Jazzercize and won, and who was, last I checked, teaching aerobics classes six days a week. Or Kelly Bliss , an aerobics instructor whose BMI is squarely within the "obese" range and who teaches aerobics classes five days a week and estimates that she walks an additional 10 hours a week because she doesn't own a car.

Do I think that some people who are heavy feel better when they're smaller? Absolutely! I'm not discounting anyone else's personal experience of feeling better or worse at different weights. But I don't think it's a universal at all that larger people feel burdened or immobilized by their size.
sarahmichigan: (Default)
I think it's interesting that this idea has popped up in LJ or in real life several times in just the past couple of days. It's mentioned on the "Fat Hate Bingo Cards" that are going around on my size-acceptance communities, I mentioned it to J. while we were out walking, and then it popped up in the context of a weight-loss post by an LJ friend.

(Note: I'm not picking on the person who made the weight-loss post; if you're happy, I'm happy for you. You just reminded me that I'd been meaning to post about this issue).

The friend who has lost weight compared her former higher weight to lugging around a grade-schooler every day. The Fat Hate Bingo Card compares "extra" weight to lugging around a backpack (and the author of "The Rotund" blog has snappy comebacks to several items on the bingo card).


I have a problem with these comparisons and was mentioning this to J. while we were out walking on Saturday. We'd walked to Dairy Mart to get a half gallon of skim milk, and I was carrying it in a backpack. I told him that people talk about carrying X amount of pounds as if it were like carrying a backpack or a weight around. But, it's really not like that at all. The approxmiately four-pounds of milk weighed me down in a completely different way than, say, four pounds I might gain around my menstrual period in water-weight gain. That weight would be distributed equally around my body, and I'd barely notice it, except maybe in a slightly pinched waistline. The four pounds of milk hanging in the small of my back felt completely different.

If anything, carrying around "extra" weight is just helping you get a better workout. What do athletes do when they want a more challenging program than just lugging around their own body weight? They add wrist bands or ankle weights. Nobody tells them they're destroying their health or harming their heart by doing this (although doing it poorly can certainly strain the joints).

The medical evidence for extra body weight being any kind of burden on your heart health is extremely weak (the biggest risk factor for cardiovascular diseases is family history, not body fat percentage), and having some extra body fat actually confers some health benefits, such as lower incidences of broken hips and osteoporosis as you grow older.

Just another one of those piece of conventional "wisdom" about weight and health that doesn't stand up to scrutiny very well.
sarahmichigan: (Default)
http://www.nature.com/ijo/journal/v21/n9/pdf/0800473a.pdf

Being heavier and having extra fat (NOT just extra muscle) seems to be protective against osteoporosis. The extra padding from extra fat also lessens the likelihood of hip fractures in the elderly, and hip fractures are known to be highly associated with poor health and mortality outcomes for seniors.
sarahmichigan: (Default)
This is one of Sandy Szwarc's older articles, but a good one. I think there's a growing awareness that judging someone's health risks based on BMI is flawed, but even many who are aware that BMI is an imperfect measure will argue that the only reason being at a slightly-higher BMI than is "ideal" isn't necessarily unhealthy is that people with higher BMIs might have more muscle, which weighs more than fat. In other words, it's OK to be a little heavy if it's from muscle and not from body fat. But many studies don't bear that out; having some extra fat, even up into BMIs in the mid-30s seems to be perfectly healthy, especially for women.

http://www.tcsdaily.com/article.aspx?id=080403E

x-posted to [livejournal.com profile] haes
sarahmichigan: (Default)
Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] stacycat69 for the links.

Link between "overweight" and "obesity" and early mortality not so straight-forward.

http://www.theheart.org/article/732559.do
http://www.annals.org/cgi/content/abstract/119/7_Part_2/737
sarahmichigan: (Default)
Link mostly for my own reference. Out of the many lifestyle issues studied, smoking seemed to be the only one with a strong link to early mortality. Storing fat around the middle (the whole "apple shape" vs. "pear shape") appeared to be associated with early mortality, but in general, obese older women had a 30 percent LOWER risk of premature death than the non-obese.

http://junkfoodscience.blogspot.com/2007/02/study-media-overlooked-being-fat-lowers.html
sarahmichigan: (Default)
The classic example of this is "When ice cream sales are high, so are murder rates. So ice cream consumption must cause murders." Of course, there's no causation there; ice cream sales and murder rates just both happen to go up when the weather is hot. Other examples can be found here:

http://www.don-lindsay-archive.org/skeptic/arguments.html#correlation

There are a lot of arguments about the dangers of obesity that rely on this fallacy. People assume that because there's some (but not as much as we're lead to believe by the popular media) correlation between increasing weight and increasing incidents of certain diseases and premature death that obesity causes these diseases and premature death. But when you factor out certain lifestyle elements, such as activity, consumption of fruit and vegetables, and smoking, the picture becomes more complicated. It's more likely that lack of activity and poor eating habits both contribute to obesity and to ill health, not that obesity causes ill health in and of itself, since people who are obese but who exercise regularly have virtually the same life expectancy as thinner, active people.

This fallacy has also mislead some people to be anti-vaccination because of the supposed correlation between exposure to mercury in vaccines and the rising rates of autism. As more children have been vaccinated, the argument goes, more cases of autism have occurred. Therefore, the mercury in vaccines must be causing autism. There are no well done studies that show any link between the mercury in vaccines and autism. What is more likely going on is that over the years, screening is catching more cases of autism in children AND the criteria for diagnosing mild forms of autism have broadened, resulting in larger numbers of children being diagnosed as autistic, not necessarily that there are many, many more causes of autism occurring than in previous years.

On the other hand, you can't entirely ignore strong correlations in medical studies; this is exactly how we found out that tobacco smoking causes cancer. The strong correlative evidence between cigarette smoking an rates of cancer is something like *900 times stronger thank the link between obesity and most diseases it supposedly contributes to. And, we also understand something more about the mechanism of how tobacco smoking causes cancer, which lends additional evidence besides the correlative evidence to the smoking/cancer link.

* I remember the numbers being something close to that according to Glenn Gaesser in "Big Fat Lies" but I don't have the actual number in front of me. Post to be updated with exact number when I can track it down.
sarahmichigan: (Default)
A letter I plan to send to my doctor(s) in the next day or two:

12/11/2006

Dear Drs. X and/or Y:

I understand that you are concerned about my elevated TSH and borderline triglyceride readings from my last blood test. I plan to get the follow-up tests and have already scheduled a follow-up appointment. I wanted to give you a few pieces of information about me before my next appointment that might help you work with me to make sure I’m healthy and stay healthy.

First, it’s my understanding that stress levels can affect one’s thyroid function, and a few weeks before I got my blood tests, I was going through particularly stressful time in my life. I had just gotten in a car wreck that totaled my car and left me and my husband with bruises, aches, and pains. At the same time, our second car broke down. We had to scramble to find a new car and get the second car fixed, all during a very stressful period at work when I was trying to put in overtime while also car-shopping. Also, during that time, my husband and I were so busy and so sore from the crash that we fell out of our usual exercise routine for several weeks. I strongly suspect all these events had an impact on my blood tests and that you may very well find my readings closer to normal by the time I go back for the follow-up.

Secondly, I have some concerns about the advice I am getting about calorie and food restricting, weight loss, and exercise. As for exercise, the nurse told me that I was being advised to increase my activity level. I wanted you to know that I don’t feel I can increase my activity level greatly without also causing damage to my joints and tendons. I’m already doing 25 to 40 minutes of cardio exercise (walking, stationary bike, elliptical trainer, or cardio row machine) four or more times a week, along with weight training twice a week, as well as several sessions of yoga and/or other stretching in any given week. I had fallen out of the habit of regular exercise earlier this autumn, but in general, I am an extremely active person. I do at least a little activity, including walks or yoga sessions nearly every day and try to get in vigorous sweat-producing workouts 3-4 times a week at minimum.

The next area I want to address is the matter of food and weight loss. I have a history of dieting and then regaining the weight. I was on a variety of diets between age 11 and age 29 and always gained the weight back. It’s only been in the last 5 years or so that I have held a relatively steady, if somewhat high, body weight.

I no longer diet or restrict calories, and I cannot and will not be talked into doing something so destructive again. It’s my belief (backed by scientific studies that I would be happy to share with you) that anyone of any size can increase his or her health merely by eating healthy and exercising regularly. It’s also my belief, backed by scientific studies, that permanent weight loss of more than 10 percent of body weight is nearly impossible for most people, since most dieters regain the weight they’ve lost. Also, many studies indicate that weight cycling—losing weight and then regaining it repeatedly—is extremely bad for a person’s mental and physical health. People who are heavy but do NOT weight cycle have better blood pressure and other indications of health than yo-yo dieters. Also, several studies indicate that overweight and even obese people who are physically active have about the same health risks and mortality as thinner people.

Since my history of weight cycling already puts me at risk of heart problems later in life, I do NOT feel that calorie restrictions or deliberate weight loss are viable options for me. I would be happy to share an extensive list of resources about a movement called “Health at Every Size” if you’d like. I’d also be happy to discuss ways that I can improve my health that do NOT involve dieting, calorie restriction, or a strong focus on my weight.

Thank you for your consideration,

Sarah
sarahmichigan: (Default)
Even those who are squarely within the BMI range for "obesity" can become fitter, less stressed, and improve their blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and other health meaures without major weight loss (average weight loss was less than 6 pounds):

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16038345/from/RS.2/
sarahmichigan: (Default)
So, I hate changing doctors because unless I only go to doctor's on the "Fat Friendly Professional" list (great resource, but there aren't that many in this area on that list), I never know what the doctor's ideas about fat and food and dieting are going to be like.

I lucked out with my last doctor (who, maybe unrelatedly, was pudgy herself) who mentioned that I had gained a few pounds since my last visit the year before, but never made a big deal of my weight.

I switched docs, mainly because I didn't care for the clinic I was at before, and I needed a check-up to get refills on my birth control prescription. Other than the fact that my visit started nearly an hour after the time it was scheduled for, things went mostly swimmingly. My blood pressure was 122/80 at the start, but the doc re-took it later in the visit, and it was down to 118/70-something.

Then, in the last 5 minutes, she suggests I cut calories and make it a goal to lose 50 pounds. I had a "Health At Every Size" speech sort of planned out in case this came up, but my heart started pounding, and I wasn't too coherent. I mostly managed to get out that I followed a health at every size philosophy, and didn't care about losing weight. When she tried to tell me that I just needed to "cut a few calories," I told her that yo-yo dieting (and since 90+ percent of diets fail, most dieters are yo-yo dieters, aka "weight cyclers") was bad for your health, and that U of M had done a study that showed that women who weight cycled just a few pounds just a few times in their life had worse heart health than never-dieters. She kept pushing the issue, so I told her, "I will never, ever, ever, ever go on another diet again."

I feel bad that I wasn't more coherent and that I came off a little vehemently. She's not a bad person, just buying into the ubiquitous obesity propaganda out there.

But, come on-- I've been fat my whole life. Does she really think no one has ever suggested a diet before? Does she really think I haven't lost weight before? I tend to get crazy and compulsive about food when I restrict in any way. The last 5 years have been the only time in my life where I had a steady weight (up a few pounds, down a few, but essentially in the same 7 or 8 pound range) since I started dieting at age 11, and I'm not going to fuck that up by trying to reach a size I'm not intended to be.

I think I should follow the advice I've heard before of writing out a letter about my health philosophy and my no-dieting stance and asking for it to be included in my health records each time I change doctors.

September 2017

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