Reliable Sources

A few minutes ago, a friend sent me a short article on “metabolic syndrome” by Nicholas Bakalar (as, I believe, it appeared in the New York Times) asking “what do you think?” Being familiar with Sandy’s take on it, I shot back “I think it’s a load of crap.” My friend replied “If you Google “metabolic syndrome” + “diet soda” you find thousands of hits. Most discuss this “finding” or earlier reports. Disbelieve what you will, but NIH, while calling for further research, does not dismiss the findings out-of-hand” and provided a link to the NIH article about it.

I pointed out that he had asked for my opinion and that I wasn’t going to debate the issue, but I was really taken aback by the number of Google hits’ being used as support for the argument. Google “jews greedy” (a completely offensive stereotype) and you get just shy of a million hits. Google “cell phone cancer” and you get almost 2 million hits, that doesn’t actually mean that cell phones cause cancer. (“EMF cancer” garners thousands as well, even though that has been fairly thoroughly debinked.) “Weight loss diet exercise” gets over a million hits, but if all it took to lose weight were diet and exercise, most of us would be slender.

As for it’s being touted by NIH, so is bariatric surgery for teens. They also buy into the whole “childhood obesity” mania. That pretty much loses them any credibility as far as I’m concerned.

Teaspoon Fat Activism

I absolutely adore everybody over at Shakesville, especially its founder, Melissa McEwan, who is a goddess. She talks about feminism being achieved a teaspoon at a time. I love the concept and feel that those of us in the Fat Acceptance movement (I originally wrote “Fact Acceptance.” I suspect a Freudian slip there.) are armed with snuff spoons. I’m not one of those who believe that fat is the “last acceptable prejudice;” however, I do believe that western society (and more and more non-western societies) have almost completely bought into the thin == health concept. Tell that to the Ramos Family. Tell that to 300-lb triathlete Sarah.

Everybody remembers that the CDC claimed that obesity is the second leading cause of preventable death (after smoking) and is responsible for 400,000 deaths a year. Almost no one outside of the FA movement knows that the method used to calculate that number was to attribute every death of anyone with a BMI greater than 25 to “overweight or obesity.” That includes those who died at 95 and those hit by busses. None of the “obeeeeeeesity is eeeeeevil” crowd remembers that the CDC recanted that number, reducing it to 25,000. Even that number is suspect, as there is no way to prove that weight was causative in a single one of those deaths, rather than merely correlative. The CDC site also lists several death statistics that are definitely causative:


  • All unintentional injury deaths: 112,012
  • Unintentional fall deaths: 18,807
  • Unintentional poisoning deaths: 20,950
  • Motor vehicle traffic deaths: 44,933

I doubt that those raising a hue and cry about the Obeeeeeeesity Epidemic would sit quietly by while cars were outlawed, even though auto accidents are provably the cause for almost twice as many deaths as are attributed (without proof of causation) to fat. Even if one assumes that “all unintentional injury deaths” include “all unintentional fall/poisoning/motor vehicle deaths” there are still four and a half times the number of unintentional injury deaths than deaths attributed to obesity. If those categories are not inclusive, they account for for almost eight times the number of deaths attributed to obesity. Even if some of those deaths were suicides and erroneously called accidents and all the deaths attributed to obesity are actually causative, an American is still several times more likely to die in an accident than of complications of his/her weight.

What actually triggered this post is a co-worker of mine. He doesn’t really have enough to do to keep him busy, so he tends to wander over to our area to chat. He has a degree in nutrition and reads most of what comes out about it. He’s a big believer in vitamin supplements and seems borderline orthorexic to me. He noticed the bag on my desk, which had mango, a salad consisting of cucumber, tomato, and avocado, two pints of orange juice and a quart of half and half in it. I also have a container of dried apricots on my desk. He commented that the half and half ruined my having only “healthy” things on my desk. (I guess he didn’t notice the sugar that I keep for my tea.) I did comment that the reason I buy the quart is that it’s the only size my gas station sells, but it kind of irritated me that he was assessing the halthfulness of my food choices. (Healthfulness of food choices being a topic that he frequently waxes on about ad nauseum.)

He commented that he’s reading a book about “super metabolism,” advocating it’s take on life. I commented that I don’t believe any study unless I can see the raw data. We chatted for a bit, and I mentioned that weight is almost as inheritable as height. He refused to believe this saying something to the effect of “it’s got to be more complicated than that.” (Don’t you love how it’s always “complicated” if it supports genetic causes of fatness, but calories in/calories out is simple personified?) At this point, I told him that I didn’t want to talk about it because I was never going to convince him and he was never going to convince me, so it’s better if we just drop it. He replied that there are people who are fat because “it’s their own fault.” I repeated that I didn’t want to talk about it. He made another “but…” statement, and I (in a really pissy tone) repeated that I didn’t want to talk about it. He looked all hurt and offended and just walked away.

I thank Kate and Paul and Mo Pie & Weetabix and Joy and Marianne (I hope that I spelled that right) and Fat Fu & Meowser and Rachel and Sandy and Paul Campos and Gina Kolata and many, many more for my being able to do that. I still hate it that I am deemed defective by society but, with their help and inspiration, I’ve come a long way toward being able to tell society to bite me in the past couple of years.

Off the Reservation

I was watching The McLaughlin Group yesterday and one of the group commented that one of the candidates tended to “go off the reservation.” I don’t know about you, but I find that phrase highly offensive on many levels. Primarily, it implies that people have defined places in which they must remain. I find that very concept objectionable, but when one adds the historical reality of “reservations,” it’s not only unconscionably racist framing, it’s also classist.

In this context, the commenter was talking about veering from the political party’s platform and saying stupid crap while on the campaign trail. Now, I’m no happier than anyone when a politician opens his/her mouth before engaging his/her brain, but surely she could have found a less vile term with which to make her point.