Thursday, February 26, 2015

The battle of obesity acceptance

I don't think there is any denying that we are in a paradigm shift as a society.  Here in America, anyways.

I can't get through most days anymore without seeing an article as to why it is, I should find obese women incredibly attractive.  One of those "you are all beautiful" type memes that is littered with various body types and shapes, from skinny to very obese with some woman packing a gut so enormous it would rival that of the most ardent of beer drinking red necks.

Yes, I get told that I have to look at that and find it beautiful.  Otherwise, I'm fat shaming.  And fat shaming is just as awful as being a racist, homophobe, or Nazi/terrorist sympathizer.

The difference between all of those things and obesity are, is that no one tells us we must accept racism, homophobes, and terrorist sympathizers as being something "beautiful."

"But Paul, that's the most ridiculous comparison I've ever seen."

Maybe.  But they all actually have something in common.

They are all choices.

Whether socially, physically, or ideologically they are all choices.

Is it not a choice to wake up and go to the gym?  Or eat six meals a day?  Sure.  Just choices.

Is it also not a choice to put back a large stuffed crust pizza five nights of the week?  I think so.

Yet there is this massive push by the media, and through social media by obese people and "obese sympathizers", that we both must accept that there is such a thing as "healthy at all sizes" and that "all sizes are beautiful."

There are issues with both of these agendas that bring forth bigger problems that some people don't want to admit.

Healthy at all sizes - 

This particular gem has been floating around for a while.

That you can have optimum health regardless of how much fat you are currently carrying.  That and, there are different "shapes and sizes" and that some men and women are just naturally fatter than others.

The latter, I believe, is true.  That some people are more inclined genetically to be leaner, more muscular, carry more bodyfat than others.  The degree to which that manifests itself however, largely depends on your lifestyle.  They become more prominent based on your dietary habits and activity levels.

So while genetics will ultimately determine the degree of what you have to work with, your own habits will determine the where you end up.

The push for a "healthy at all sizes" is nothing more than a social agenda to enable fat bodies to continue down their health declining path and feel good about it.

If anyone should be "shamed", it should be the people who keep pushing these agendas and ignore every relevant piece of medical data that shows, this really just is not possible.

University College London researchers tracked the health of 2,521 men and women between the ages of 39 and 62. They measured each participant’s body mass index (a calculation based on height and weight), cholesterol, blood pressure, fasting blood sugar and insulin resistance, and ranked them as either healthy or unhealthy and obese or non-obese.

About one-third of the obese people had no risk factors for chronic disease at the beginning of the study, and were ranked as healthy obese.

But over time, this group began to develop risk factors for chronic disease. After 10 years about 40 percent had become unhealthy obese, and by the 20-year mark 51 percent had fallen into the unhealthy category, the study found.

Healthy non-obese people also slipped into poor health over time, but at a slower rate. After two decades, 22 percent had become unhealthy but were still trim, and about 10 percent more had become either healthy or unhealthy obese.

Only 11 percent of the people who started out as healthy obese lost weight and become healthy and non-obese, the researchers found.

This study suggests that obese people will eventually develop risk factors such as high blood sugar and bad cholesterol that lead to chronic illness and death, Bell and Freeman said.

Oooooh, death.

That sounds serious.

Even more.......

The study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, included 3,086 people who were part of the Framingham Heart Study, with an average age of 50. Researchers followed the study participants for as many as seven years, where they took note of their heart disease and cancer statuses. They also used CT scans to analyze where in the bodies fat was accumulating.

At the end of the follow-up period, 71 people died, 90 people had a cardiovascular event and 141 people developed cancer. After taking into account other risk factors and obesity, researchers found an association between carrying fat in the abdomen and having higher risks of cancer and cardiovascular events.

This isn't the first time heart risks have been linked with belly fat. HealthDay reported on a study, published in the same journal earlier this year, showing that for heart patients of a normal weight, the risk of early death goes up if they have belly fat -- and their odds of survival are in fact worse than people who are obese, but who carry their fat elsewhere in their bodies.

So no, there's really no such thing as "healthy at all sizes".

If you are obese, even if your blood work shows up as being fine and dandy right now, it won't show that eventually.  The chance of you staying obese and living a long and productive life are slim and none.  Those are your options.  Slim, and none for being healthy if you are overweight.

So there's just no way around this.  If you're obese, you're headed for a world of shit in regards to your health.  You cannot be "healthy at any size".

The real root of the problem - inactivity

For years now I've read where people talked about things like fast food as being the root of our obesity problem.  Everything from gluten to high fat to high carb has been blamed as the root cause for people getting fatter.

But is that really the issue?

It doesn't look like it.

The American Journal of Medicine reported that over a 20 year span, that activity in the average person has declined while the average caloric intake hasn't changed that much.

You want some eye popping numbers?

Back in 1994 19% of women said they engaged in no physical activity.  Fast forward to 2010, and it's a whopping 51%.  For men in that same time span it was 11% to 43%.

Basically, most people have just become lazy mother fuckers.

The study looked at the escalation of obesity in terms of both exercise and caloric intake. While investigators did not examine what types of foods were consumed, they did observe that total daily calorie, fat, carbohydrate, and protein consumption have not changed significantly over the last 20 years, yet the obesity rate among Americans is continuing to rise.

I will repeat that.  It's not food consumption.  It's inactivity.  People don't walk their dog anymore, or play outside with their kids.  Which is another major problem all together.  People don't play with their kids because they are lazy, get fatter, then have less energy to play with their kids, then the kids get "baby sat" by the television or internet, and exercise less as well.  Then they too get fatter.  

I don't need a study to know that my kids don't have much activity time at school as I did growing up.  We had recess three times a day, where we played kick ball, swang on the monkey bars, and just "moved" in general.  Now, because of academic pressure, kids have less time doing those things, more homework (which means less time to play outside when they get home), and are fatter than kids were 20 years ago as well.  Which means more than likely, this obesity trend is going to continue, and worsen.

The future looks bright!

Smoke Shaming, anorexia, and the economy - 

Many years ago, they used to have these commercials on TV where they shamed the living fuck out of tobacco companies.  It talked about the most awful shit relating to smoking you can imagine.  Some grandmother that had black lungs, and had withered away into nothingness and couldn't get around without a wheelchair because her lungs were going to collapse any minute.  And it was all the fault of tobacco companies for making cigs highly addictive.

We had no problem shaming the tobacco industry, and no problem shaming smokers.  We banned that shit from airports, airplanes, restaurants, and now treat smokers like lepers.

"If you're going to smoke, you have to go outside.  And you can only smoke in the designated smoking area.  We don't want your second hand smoke getting on anyone that doesn't smoke."  

Can you imagine if upon getting a job, a fat person was told "well we're going to hire you, but uh, you're a fatty.  So you'll sit on the fifth floor with the rest of the fatties.  Because being fat is unacceptable, and other people find it disgusting."

I thought smoking was a choice?

But so is being inactive, and getting fat.  But now, we have this thing called "fat shaming" where, if you tell someone they are overweight, or speak out loud that morbidly obese people look disgusting, you get tarred and feathered, socially speaking.

This has undoubtedly been the driving force behind the "big is beautiful" movement.  It has played a major role in enabling it.

"This is another terrible parallel to draw.  Smoking stinks the place up.  Someone being fat doesn't affect your life in one bit."

Well, I don't have to smell their fatness, no.  But it does affect my life, and businesses.

Evidence on the considerable costs of obesity to individuals and society is rich. At the individual level, obesity is associated with health care costs that average about 40 percent above those for normal weight individuals. Overall, obesity-related direct and indirect economic costs exceed $100 billion annually, and the number is expected to grow. Despite these sobering statistics, the full effects of obesity trends since the 1980s are not yet fully apparent because health problems caused by weight gain take time to appear.

Given the significant financial burden imposed by obesity, employers have a stake in reducing obesity in the workforce. Obese workers miss more days of work and cost employers more in medical and disability claims as well as workers compensation claims. As a result, an average firm with 1,000 employees faces $285,000 per year in extra costs associated with obesity.

If this is beautiful....

Lastly, I find it terribly hypocritical that, we have no problem shaming the fuck out of women who are anorexic.  Often reading about them, "feed her a fucking cheeseburger." or something of that nature, but then get ridiculed for saying ANYTHING negative about fat people.  Or let's just be honest here about all of this, obese WOMEN.  No one gets up in arms about a dude being fat, but we are constantly told that fat women are "just as beautiful too."

...then this is too.

So let's get this out of the way.  If it's not beautiful for a woman to be 76 pounds because her anorexic lifestyle makes her look like that way, then it's not fucking beautiful for a woman to be 100 pounds over her ideal weight.  Beauty is not really in the eye of the beholder.  There's a reason why some women are models, and make millions for their beauty, and why I'd rather be a power bottom for Colin Farrell than accept that I had to find morbidly obese women attractive.  

I don't care if you hate me for that.  If you do, maybe you're fat.  And need to take a long look in a really wide mirror.  

Both anorexia and obesity are the manifestations of an unhealthy lifestyle.  If it's perfectly ok to say "feed that anorexic girl a cheeseburger!" then it should be perfect ok to say "take the cheeseburger away from fatty!"  

You can't have it both ways.

Weight training and getting "too bulky" to the rescue - 

Luckily, there is a "cure".

It's muscle mass.  And someone acquires that via weight training.

Muscle mass in people who don't train, tends to decrease in age.  Because this lowers their basal metabolic rate, and as shown caloric intake doesn't tend to change, fat storage climbs.

In men, testosterone levels tend to drop and estrogen levels tend to rise.  This also plays a role in storing more fat, and of course, leads to the health problems mentioned above.

That's right kids, steroids, in proper doses, are actually good for you.  Especially if you're an older male who wakes up each day to find the wood a little less stiff, and the gut a little more prominent.

Obtaining muscle mass comes via the way of an activity called "weight training".  So of course, this kills two birds with one stone.  Unfortunately, I think there were even less people signing up for the gym than usual this year.  At least, that's how it looked to me after the first of the year when the gym is usually flooded with noobies.  The data above supports my own observation in that every year that goes by, people are being less and less active.

Conclusion - 

Despite more education and information, obesity rates continue to rise and activity rates continue to fall.

Until there is a major incentive for people to lose weight, this will probably continue.  There won't be a major reason for people to lose weight until the workforce puts policies in place that reward people for not being obese, and punishes their employees for missing so much time from work from obesity related problems.

There won't be a change until the school systems realize that our kids need more play time, and less time spent on school work.  A healthy body is a healthy mind.  There needs to be a better balance there.

Also, stop letting fat people ride those motorcarts in stores.  That's for old handicapped people.  Not your fat ass.  You need to walk more, and sit less.

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    1. As she keeps getting fatter we will see how "happy" she remains when the doctor tells her she's got heart disease or on her way to having the beetus.

    2. I actually find that article interesting and don't see it as a "fat acceptance" piece.

      The lady in the article has bipolar disorder. She's gone through serious personal tragedies. She seems to have always had an unhealthy approach to eating and exercising. Letting go of her diet and exercise psychosis has helped her get to a better place mentally.

      Getting rid of one's inferiority complexes, obsessions and issues is generally a good thing IMO. I don't think being fat is the best thing for her, but I think she's way better off than the carrot-colored old dudes on TRT I see in the gym from time to time.

  2. The data doesn't lie. I agree that employers need to get involved and push internal policies that enable people to be more active. Fitness related reimbursements, onsite gyms, longer lunch hours to allow for gym time, etc...

  3. "...I'd rather be a power bottom for Colin Farrell..."

  4. This article is bang-on. Yes, bodies come in all shapes and sizes, but 100lbs overweight ain't one of 'em. That's a reflection of pure, willful laziness. And no amount of fit-shaming (it's a new thing: be ashamed of looking good) will change our natural tendency to prefer Sophia Vergara and reject Melissa McCarthy.

  5. The new trend of not just pudgy, but downright morbidly obese, actors in television commercials these days interesting, too.
    It definitely seems to fit in with the "It's OK to be fat" theme.

  6. Whole Foods (where I work) actually offers all employees a base discount, and then your discount can increase based on how well you do on a yearly health screening. Pretty cool stuff.

  7. I'm a nurse and my hospital now has us do Obesity Sensitivity training which highlights how obesity is a DISEASE (they put the word disease in bigger font and change the color from black to red) and that these people are afflicted, and we are not really suppose to bring their weight up in any regard.

    It's not like it's a big secret... It took 6 people to roll your ass over, ain't no hiding That fact

    I agree there are multiple contributing factors, but as you said at the end of the day ITS YOUR CHOICE

  8. What about men? Nobody tells us we are beautiful :(

  9. 1. Big fan, love your articles, respect your intelligence, sincerity, and the hard work you put into writing what you do.

    2. This article reads like a physician who found himself at the auto mechanics conference. I think you've missed a couple critical context points by a couple of miles.

    "Yes, I get told that I have to look at that and find it beautiful. Otherwise, I'm fat shaming."

    This idea that you, personally, are asked to find an obese person attractive (and are a terrible person if you don't) is a figment of your imagination. The aliens aren't talking to you, there is no message in the radio, and the FBI isn't secretly recording your phone calls.

    From what I've seen, most people who engage, positively, with the fat acceptance movement aren't the type that would disagree with anything you've written here (other than your tone and lack of contextualization).

    Aside for the handful of nutjobs you can find in any movement, this isn't about erasing health from our social mores, but undermining the drive to treat unhealthy people inhumanely, without basic human decency or the compassions that the healthy regularly enjoy.

    It is one thing to judge people for their choices, and to think less of them. It is another to pass from humane to inhumane treatment. It is a question of minimum standards.

    " If it's perfectly ok to say "feed that anorexic girl a cheeseburger!" then it should be perfect ok to say "take the cheeseburger away from fatty!" "

    In my self-education about these things, the circles where people are 'anti-fat shaming', reject shaming the thin as well as the fat- in agreement with your premise that you can't have one without the other.

    I think it is another figment of your imagination that there is a horde of people, fat acceptance activists or the merely sympathetic, that would agree with the one line and not the other. Yes, if you look, you will find some. But if you look for all the people that agree with you AND don't like fat shaming, I think you will find many, many more.

    If you ultimately decided to embark on a more thorough investigation of this question, I think you would realize that the reason for this:

    "There's a reason why some women are models, and make millions for their beauty"

    isn't an expression of the natural world or biology, but propaganda, habituation, marketing, and market competition dynamics.

    I put forth the hypothesis that if you were subjected to the same targeted marketing and propaganda as the average female (without the safe-haven of lifting to insulate and protect you), you wouldn't feel that the fat acceptance marketing and propaganda are as unbalanced or over the top as you currently do. They wouldn't enrage or annoy you so.

    Just because you feel targeted does not mean you are the target. If you take issue with experiencing collateral damage, fair enough...but chase the real source issues instead of windmills.

    1. None of that is a figment of my imagination at all. I could link to you dozens and dozens of articles that pretty much tell me that "all shapes and sizes are beautiful" and declare people who disagree with that notion "fat shaming" or even associate it with bigotry.

      I'm not "Chasing windmills." The fact that this article was shared so widely confirms my suspicions about that.

    2. I have to agree with Paul. Many people in the "fat acceptance " movement claim that preferring a Sophia Vergara or Scarlett Johansson is social/cultural/capitalist/mass media brainwashing. Unfortunately, certain ratios and body types were held up as "ideal" long before mass media. The women of Sparta were considered by many to be the most desirable in all of ancient Greece. Any idea why? They were the only women who were encouraged to train. Is it possible that they don't fitter and less pudgy than Athenian women? Preferring a certain hip-waist ratio is biology, not sociology.

  10. "Preferring a certain hip-waist ratio is biology, not sociology."

    Certainly, but if you think that that is the ratio you are seeing in ads and magazines, or that the women depicted have them, you would not necessarily be correct.

    Moreover, while fat deposition can skew that ratio, someone can be still hold it at underfatted, normal fatted, and over fatted percentages. So really, I think the ratio concept is distinct from what we talking about.

    1. He is correct. I already wrote an article on this before. You see to be taking up for fatties a lot here.

  11. This is late but I agree with you. These people somehow think they can dictate what is beautiful and what isn't, to the extent of redrawing Disney princesses as plus-sized.

    I won't be mean to fat people but find their delusional lies harmful to the younger generation.