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The fat fraud

The May 1 issue of New Scientist contains an item ‘Why our fears about fat are misplaced’ written by Paul Campos, a Professor of Law from the University of Colorado. We have often stated our belief fat is the new job frontier for government bureaucracy and Professor Campos seems to agree with us. He states unequivocally that no research directly links fat to shorter lifespans. Sedentery lifestyles and other factors, yes. Fat alone? No. In his own words:

Ultimately the current panic over increasing body mass has little to do with science, and everything to do with cultural and political factors that distort scientific enquiry. Among those factors are greed (consensus panels put together by organizations such as WHO that have declared obesity a major health crisis are often made up entirely of doctors who run diet clinics), and cultural anxieties about social overconsumption in general.

He notes that in one recent study:

It added up to just one extra death per 10,000 “overweight” women per year. The authors still treated the findings as strong evidence of a causal relationship between weight and cancer

Professor Campos also has a book on the subject, The Obesity Myth.

14 comments to The fat fraud

  • steveo

    Great! I can stay a fat slob and not worry.

  • I understand fighting huge governmental efforts to control the direction of the medical system.

    I don’t understand any reason why fat would not be unhealthy.

    Clearly fatter people lead more sedentary life styles. Given equal motivation to release energy, it takes more to move, so fat people are inherently less active. In addition, mass alone might not cause problems, but I can’t imagine the diets required to gain that mass help prevent things like heart disease.

    Maybe I’ve just been convinced by the onslaught of the anti-fat brigade…

  • RDale

    It isn’t necessarily true that ‘fat’ people lead sedentary lifestyles. The prime driver is calorie intake vs calorie burn. You can be fairly active, have a moderate or slow metabolism, and eat more food, and therefore be ‘fat’.

    Alternatively, a high metabolism, low food intake ‘thin’ person could have a completely sedentary lifestyle and stay thin.

    It’s highly likely that the ‘fat’ person described above is more healthy than the ‘thin’ person.

    This is not to say that fat or the food habits that may contribute to it are necessarily harmless, but that they are far from being the only (or even prime) indicator of health and well being.

    The problem with the anti-fat brigade is the same as with most other ‘social’ programs. They promulgate a one size fits all solution to a perceived problem, with little or no consideration for the actual facts of the situation.

    As the author of the book tellingly argues, the most likely motivation for the whole anti-fat craze is that it is an attempt by the promoters to ameliorate their own feelings of discomfort and inadequacy (apart from the various profit driven motives of the ‘diet’ industry).

  • For at least the last thirty years we have been overwhelmed by masses of surefire diet programs, scaring us by saying fat is unhealthy. Luckily, they haven’t worked at all. We are fatter. But we are living longer. So as usual the scaremongers are wrong on all counts.

  • Theodopoulos Pherecydes

    All the people I *see* lauded for great age are normal to thin in bodyweight. Moderns have a problem with their appetites and self-control. They eat more than is good for them and exercise less. My father was right – he used to say, “You never see a fat old man.”

    It’s too bad the public has to pay the medical bills for self-inflicted health disasters like alcoholism, smoking and obesity.

    Anyone with another liver for George Best? No?

  • Theodopoulos Pherecydes

    Veering from the topic’s centre line, elsewhere on the Internet it is amusingly pointed out that, while various continental types enjoy criticising the girth and literacy of Americans, they are huggin’ on a growingly obese, poorly educated, white-man from America down there in Canne.

  • Dale Amon

    You have hit the proverbial nail straight on. The whole problem is Socialized Healthcare. Whether fat affects your health or does not; whether you believe it does it does not, is your own affair in a free society. You bear the costs. If you defray your healthcare by insurance, then your body weight may or may not be a factor in your premium rates. The PC crowd yell FOUL!!! Fattist!!! but if fat folk die younger or have more (or less) health problems, that is simply an acturial issue. You pay your own way.

    In Statist health care, we all pay ‘equally’. Thus a thin man will come to believe he is subsidizing a fat man; a non-smoker that she is subsidizing a smoker; a teetotaller the pubcrawler; a couch potato the extreme sport enthusiast. One after another they will use the political system to curtail the rights of others to be as the are and do as they wish, all in self interest.

    Socializing self-interest doesn’t make it go away. It just creates self interest in the destruction of everyone else’s Liberty but your own.

  • S. Weasel

    My father was right – he used to say, “You never see a fat old man.”

    No, but you see lots of skinny old men who were fat in their middle years. Loss of appetite, like loss of sleep quality, is one of the afflictions of age.

  • Jacob

    “The whole problem is Socialized Healthcare”

    Well, for once that’s not the problem (meaning: it is a problem but not in this context).

    Obesity is the problem.

    If you see those 300 or 400 or 500 lb persons, of which there awfully many – you can appreciate that obesity IS a problem.
    It is a horrible sight, like seeing people with deformities, hunchbacks or midgets, etc. It’s like a genetic mutation. It’s not normal. In the past obese people simply couldn’t survive.

    Of course, people have a perfect right to be obese, even if it shortens their lives, and even if I don’t like their sight.
    That does not make anyone who states that obesity is horrible a hateful socialist.
    Obesity is a result of lost self control, of stupidity, of negligence, not something inspiring admiration.

    It does not mean that obese people should be killed off, but it’s ok with me to have an anti obesity propaganda campaign.

  • Dale Amon

    Any kind of pro or anti campaign is fine with me, so long as it is done by private individuals or organizations and is funded 100% by funds that are earned or voluntarily donated.

    In other words, so long as the money wasn’t stolen (eg taxes), do what thou wilt.

  • S. Weasel

    I don’t know, Jacob. Lots of things are ugly to look at or physically dangerous. Hairy moles. Body piercing. Extreme sports. I don’t see that it’s any of my business.

    I’m in the States, so I’m bombarded with an astounding amount of advertising, including ‘public service’ notices. Hundreds of times a day, somebody is telling me to do something, or stop doing something, or think about doing something, or to admire somebody else who did something, usually while trying to hook a grubby hand into my pocket.

    Sure it’s worse when it’s funded with my tax dollars, but frankly I think everyone everywhere needs to do a whole lot more minding their own business.

    If grossly fat people don’t know they’re ugly and unhealthy, they’re too stupid to learn. If they do know, what point in telling them again? To get back at them for making you look?

  • Pete(Detroit)

    Right on, Dale.
    It really irks me that the two major health issues among the indigent in this country are morbid obesity and malnutrition, often concurrant.
    Man, that’s a LOT of welfare Twinkies…

  • Jacob

    S. Weasel,
    “I’m bombarded with an astounding amount of advertising”

    Why is the anti obesity advertising worse than any other ? Some of it is funded by tax money ? A lot of things are thus funded and I don’t like it. Why pick on anti obesity propaganda ?

    I do hate multi-culti or other PC propaganda that promotes lies. I don’t hate the anti obesity propaganda. And I don’t think that the statement that obesity harms your health is a lie.

  • S. Weasel

    Why is the anti obesity advertising worse than any other ?

    It isn’t. I would like them all to sit down, shut up and mind their own business.

    As for the health issue, saying obesity is unhealthy is like saying alcohol is unhealthy. Well, yes, after a point, certainly. Below that point, who knows? And where’s that point? And what other risk factors are present? We should lump the 200 lb man in with the 500 lb man?

    And what earthly point is there in a campaign that says “eat less and exercise more!” other than to add one more to the whiney chorus of nagging busybody voices? How effective is that sort of thing, really?

    No, we don’t belong in each other’s pantries any more than we belong in each other’s bedrooms. No matter who’s paying for it.