Friday, January 11, 2008

Body Mass Confusion

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the average American male in 1960 was 5 feet, 8 inches, 168 pounds. By 2002, he had grown up and out to 5 feet, 9 ½ inches and 191 pounds. Women added 1 inch and 24 pounds during the same period.

But guess what? While nearly every story written about obesity says that 1980 was the moment when America began getting fatter, the average American male in 1960 was overweight according to the BMI. He just didn't know it.

We just didn't know we were fat 48 years ago? Or it just wasn't as big a deal back then? And were we any less healthy at those OMG TEH FATZ weights? I don't know how big a business the weight loss industry was back in 1960, I was only 7 years old at the time, but I'm betting it wasn't nearly the behemoth then that it is now (and I do mean behemoth, the weight loss industry could stand to lose some of its lying, thieving, hysterical verbiage when it comes to fat and health).
Pushing back are people such as Sandy Szwarc, a registered nurse and food writer, whose blog Junkfood Science attacks the mainstream view that obesity is a looming health crisis. Critics of Szwarc, and others such as Paul Campos and Jon Robison, an adjunct professor at Michigan State, point to ties to the food industry and the restaurant lobby. But they also have data supporting some of their claims that BMI standards have no medical validity and are arbitrarily assigned.

They were quick to pounce on the methodology of a highly publicized CDC report in 2004 that blamed more than 400,000 deaths each year on obesity, which meant that weight rivaled smoking as a killer.

*edited to add that the above claim that Sandy Szwarc, Paul Campos, and Jon Robison have ties to the food industry and restaurant lobby is a claim from the quoted article and does not reflect my beliefs at all, neither is proof of these supposed ties given. When no proof is given, I assume it's a smear campaign to impugn someone's reputation (since the article is saying that those 3 people do have data supporting the fact that BMI standards have no medical validity and are arbitrarily assigned, and heaven forbid that anyone promoting OMGOBESITYEPIDEMIC hysteria should be proved wrong, the world might come to an end if BMI is proved to be a big fat fallacy).
Oh yeah, that statistic of 400,000 deaths a year from obesity is still quoted, even though it's been retracted and corrected to less than 30,000 a year. But if TEHFATZ isn't killing us off in those huge numbers, then people may not buy into the THIN-AT-ANY-PRICE mentality, and the diet industry/pharmaceutical industry/medical establishment would lose tons of money (and that couldn't happen to anyone better, IMHO).
More recently, the CDC issued a report suggesting those with BMIs between 25-30, that is to say overweight people, had lower mortality rates than people in the normal weight category. People who were classified as overweight had lower risk of a variety of diseases including Parkinson's and lung disease that counteracted their increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and some cancers.

The CDC is saying this, and MSM is ignoring it. Could it be that those types of headlines don't create enough hysteria to sell enough papers/advertising? Gee, follow the fucking money, and it seems pretty damned obvious to me that this whole OBESITY EPIDIMIC is nothing more than a scare tactic to get money out of our pockets and into the pockets of liars and thieves who could care less about our health.
Despite the bitter battle lines between the two groups, they agree on one thing: If you are out there, feeling remorse for the egg nog binge you went on in December, do not go to the Internet, find a BMI calculator and begin a crash diet that will, both sides agree, lead to an inexorable binge and eventual weight gain.

"Yo-yo dieting doesn't work," Brownell says. "At the individual level the only thing that works is to eat less and exercise more."

Ummm, Kelly, eat less/exercise more doesn't work either if you are a naturally fat person. If it worked, there would be a lot of formerly fat people who are now thin because they have eaten less and exercised more. You really need to pull your head out of your ass and get a fucking clue. Perpetuating myths like calories in/calories out makes most fat people fatter than if they had just not dieted at all (and I'm sorry, eat less/exercise more is a fucking diet, just like Weight Watchers, NutriSystem, Jenny Craig, and all the other liars out there). Not to mention all the doctors pushing WLS as a panacea. WLS should have to have "RESULTS NOT TYPICAL" branded across every ad for it in 1000 point type, because I can vouch for the fact that the very little bit of good it may possibly do is vastly out-weighed by the all of the complications it gives patients who are browbeaten/brainwashed into having it.


  1. That wasn't overweight back then, they changed the numbers about 10 years ago and made more people fat overnight.

  2. That's my whole problem with this damned article. They are saying that according to BMI, people were overweight back then, we were just too stupid to know it (and I know they lowered the standards for overweight and obesity 10 years ago, and that pisses me off too). As far as I am concerned, BMI is nothing but a big fat fallacy and has no place at all in determining whether someone is healthy or not.

  3. I agree...we fatties DO need to exercise more. As we know, the more "interesting" the exercise program, the better the long-term compliance. So, my suggestions for
    the "new improved" exercise program for us "fatties" include:

    a.) Stomping up and down on our critics who just won't "get it" otherwise (great aerobic exercise ;) );

    b.) Ripping up/smashing to e-bits every.darned.lying.piece.of.crap that passes as "health advice" of general application--including every "data dredge" and "fudged" clinical study--foisted on the public AND the medical profession alike in the name of obscene profits and political power...excuse me!..."public health";

    Including the B-M-{censored}-I...

  4. observer - I like the way you think, and your ideas for exercise sound great to me......roflol

  5. The ties of Sandy S. are not directly to the food industry that I know of, but to the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a pro-business, libertarian group that is against government regulation. She has written against several types of regulations:

  6. Linda, as far as I can see, from looking at the link and checking out CEI and the IACP, Sandy doesn't have ties to the food industry like the article implies (they are implying that she is in their pocket and advocates for them so they can continue to supposedly advance obesity in the good old US of A). As far as I'm concerned, without hard proof, it's a crock of shit (and no one has come up with that proof yet, just more insinuations and innuendos) and designed primarily to discredit Sandy and impugn her reputation. I will not be a part of that, since I happen to admire her tremendously and appreciate how hard she works to get the straight dope out there instead of the media's hysterical spin on all the so-called studies telling us we're all going to die of TEH FATZ!!!11!!!
    If I had the knowledge that Sandy does, you can bet your sweet ass I would also be advocating for less government regulation in a lot of areas. It's none of the government's business what I eat, how much I eat, or how much I do or do not exercise. My health or lack of it is none of their business, and if I die at 55, or 65, or 75, or 105, it won't be because of what I ate or how I exercised or didn't exercise. Trying to legislate health is impossible, since what is healthy for one may not necessarily be healthy for another (and no one can tell how healthy or unhealthy a person is just by looking at them). And I can guarantee you that it isn't going to matter a hill of beans what we do in our lives, we're all going to die sooner or later (when your time is up, it's up and there's not a damned thing you can do to avoid death).
    So, I don't know what your point was in listing the link you did, since you didn't elaborate. I don't know if you're saying Sandy is doing a good job with her Junkfood Science, or if you're saying you think she has indirect ties to the food industry, but without more solid evidence than that link, I'm going to believe Sandy over what some reporter has to say, since Sandy isn't trying to sell newspapers and isn't advancing hysteria.

  7. vesta, you were mentioning whether or not weight loss was the behemoth in 1960 that it is now. I don't think anything really was (except maybe Ma Bell ;) ) but it was definitely always a moneymaker. (Same as baldness cures have always been moneymakers, but are probably much larger corporate businesses now.) My grandmother spent thousands of dollars in the 60s on crackpot weight loss garbage. She had expensive Jack LaLanne junk, she had the big machines with the shaking belts on them, she had an insane machine that was a cylinder made up of about 15 - how do I explain this - they were like wooden stairway railings - like a dowel but getting narrower then fatter along its length. These were arranged into a cylinder and each one could spin on its axis as well. You turned the machine on and the whole cylinder would start rotating like a wheel, and you sat on it, so the railing things would roll and vibrate your ass. Now don't get me wrong, it could be a lot of fun to sit on, but it was *supposed* to get rid of ass and leg fat. It didn't. She had a large and powerful vibrating machine with various heads that you strapped on your forearm to attack the fat on your body. She bought hundreds of fad diet books. She went to a doctor and was given amphetamines to take - fortunately she didn't like feeling like she was climbing the walls, so she stopped after a couple days. A fortune spent on expensive machines and equipment, all of which was utterly worthless. You wouldn't have believed the Jack LaLanne thing - some big giant nylon cot-shaped thing on steel tubing with a hinged middle - you lay on it, put your hands over your head and grabbed the tubing, braced your feet on the bottom the same way, and started doing big giant crunches. I never got strong enough to make the hinge fold in.

    Also, I can't find the one that I want (it was an ad for diet pills that said something about fat girls and parties) but here are some newspaper ads from the 1900s through the '50s advertising diet quackery that might be interesting:

    Behemoth, no. Money-making business? Hell yeah. Always was.

    All this mention of junkfoodscience reminds me I've been seeing ads only now for Alli. They aren't telling people about the foul-smelling, permanent-staining anal leakage (that stains even your porcelain toilet requiring bleach.) Or the fact that people with the pills only lost 3 more pounds in a year than those without them.

    As far as ties to the food industry, I don't even know what that's supposed to mean or imply. What food industry? McDonald's or grocery stores? Restaurants or stock in pork bellies and grain? There are a billion ways you can be involved in the "food industry" and I don't even know what's supposed to be wrong with food...and anyway, since *diet food* (WW dinners, "Healthy Choice" dinners and desserts, Lean Cuisine, Jenny Craig, Nutri-System, et al are billion dollar propositions, what's the point of "accusing" someone of having financial ties to food without knowing what kind of food you're even talking about? I know it's probably nonsense regardless, but I'm just saying. Having an interest in a food industry doesn't remotely equal lying to fat people so that they'll eat more - that's patently absurd. And if she's libertarian, what's wrong with that? That means a person doesn't want to try and shut down any business (including the weight loss industry) and that a person does not think the government should tell people how to live or what to think. Nothing wrong with that.


  8. Annie - you sound like a woman after my own heart. I agree with you totes. My mom was into the weight loss thing for a while, I remember finding the amphetamines in the bathroom medicine chest when I was a teenager (mini-whites, my friend called them, what a I also remember that canvas/tubing/bend in the middle contraption, Mom had one of those too. I could work it, but it made me dizzy, so I never used it, and she quit using after the first week or so, if I remember rightly.
    I just don't think the hysteria that we're seeing today was there in the 60's, or even the 70's (I remember Twiggy becoming famous, and a lot of the people I knew thought she was ugly and too thin and needed to be force-fed so she'd look "normal"). I don't remember what other models of that time looked like, but if Twiggy was a sensation, they must have been bigger than she was (and bigger than they are now).
    Maybe that means there's going to be a turn-around coming along. Models can't get much thinner without becoming walking skeletons, so maybe eventually the fashion industry will get back to using more realistic models (I know, what dream world am I living in). I can only hope.
    As far as Sandy and ties to the food industry, I think it's a lie, as I said earlier. If they really want to get technical, we all have ties to the food industry. We all eat food, no matter where it comes from, McDonald's or the grocery store. Can't get away from that.

  9. Exactly vesta! Hammer, nail, head, bam! And I can't believe you remember the Jack LaLane thing and tried it yourself lol. I just wish you'd seen the cylinder fat-beater for yourself heh. Diets were really horribly draconian then, actually, as I'm sure you remember.

    Finally set up my blog so I'm not anonymous :)


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