Everywhere you go, there are references to how obesity and overweight cause cancer, heart disease, etc.
I call bullshit and it’s time to start talking about this anywhere and everywhere we can. In the US, all these lies are being used to target “fat” employees for firings or fine them for supposedly costing the company money.
None of this is true. Please read that link: JunkfoodScience is a blog by a registered nurse with a biological science degree dedicated to breaking down the myth that being thin is being healthy, and being other than thin is being other than healthy. This is perhaps her most thorough, simple article yet. For those who haven’t the time to read the link, I’ll sum up:
The latest study, a follow-up to Tommy Thompson’s bullshit that started all this, was very careful to err on the side of finding links from obesity and overweight to disease and instead found:
- BMI’s under 18.5 (Hollywood thin) are linked to noticeably higher deaths from all the diseases included in the study (plus injuries).
- BMI’s of 25-30 (“overweight”) are linked to fewer deaths from all of those diseases and injuries, excelt for slightly higher deaths from diabetes and kidney disease. “No way around it, being overweight was associated with a total of 138,281 fewer deaths from all causes.”
- And BMI’s over 30 were associated with fewer deaths in general. “Yes, obesity was beneficial for all of these causes of death.”
They found that for all of the other 4 subgroups, obesity was associated with reduced mortality. So, while obesity was associated with higher risks for diabetes/kidney disease-related mortality, it was associated with lower deaths from all of the non-cancer/non-CVD causes.
But doesn’t fat give you cancer? Isn’t that the new thing caring researchers concerned only with
their bottom line our health and well-being are telling us? From the study:
“Our results showed little or no association of excess all-cancer mortality with any of the BMI categories. None of the estimates of excess deaths was statistically significantly different [from null].”
The media’s attempt to recover its anti-fat bias (so lovely to have science to ground your prejudice in) works like this:
generally the reporting of this study has told us that it found that being a few pounds overweight or being “pleasantly plump” is beneficial, but cross that line into ‘obesity’ and you’re a goner.
When we read that this study reported that an estimated total of 95,442 deaths were associated with those in the obese category and 46,198 among the underweight, at first glance it might appear that obesity is associated with the greatest risks. But to make sense of those numbers, we have to put them in the context of how many people are fall into each of those categories: only 2.2% of the population is underweight compared to 23.3% obese. In other words, overall, an obese person has one-fifth the risks for premature death compared to someone who is Hollywood thin.
In the 80’s, when I was a kid, you were supposed to want to be superthin. There were markers, like how you should be able to see your chest ribs and collarbones, how there should be a hollow at the thigh above the knee, into which your calves neatly tuck – or else you’re not thin enough. I learned to my disappointment I would never be “thin” because I have muscles in my legs and ass that prevent the calf-thigh tuck even when I’m really fit (which I never, ever thought I was, until now in hindsight). But at least then I knew it was all fashion.
Until doctors (yes, more than one) told me to lose a few pounds. I was 14 years old, weighed 114, was 5’2″ and full of muscle from jogging. I had polycystic ovaries, and they’d heard fat cells fueled that disorder (nope, it’s really just genes and it’s not that big a deal). For 20 years, I suffered with the I’d caused my own PCD by not weighing 108 pounds. Now they’re saying PCD causes women to gain weight no matter what they do because of insulin resistance. (I should’ve known: they also said PCD made you almost perfectly infertile, and yet my mom had it and here I am. Now they acknowledge that whoopsie, they made a widdle mistake telling me at 16 I would never have children.)
Now everyone is getting this message that caused me significant damage for years – that your health is dependent on slimness, you fat, disgusting, lazy, slob – and this is so dangerous I want to jail the people behind this fraud. And yes, I am claiming that a generation of researchers influenced from childhood by the appearance of skinny models and actresses has unconsciously applied their biases to their own research. That’s what human beings do. It doesn’t matter if they’re religious fundamentalists, film executives or scientists. It’s a continuous journey, seeing past your own assumptions. Even when people mean to, they often fail.
If I was a vindictive person, then for all the times my fat’s been pointed out and laughed at or used to guilt or shame me, I might now go about laughing at slim people my age who are already suffering disorders no one in my family has, and looking forward to difficulties in their senior years that are unlikely to befall me at all. In my mother’s fat family, we consider 87 a slightly premature death; we die of old age; the vast majority of us are healthy and able-bodied to the end. I spent the first 34 years of my life regretting my fat genes and the bad health they were sure to cause me because I paid attention to supposedly valid research instead of looking around and noticing: my whole family is fat, healthy and long-lived.
Where were researchers looking when they got the idea I needed to weigh less than 114 pounds?