Thursday, August 14, 2008

Denialism? Crankery? Them's fightin' words!

I've been looking over some of the critiques of the fat acceptance movement.

Denialism Blog starts out good: Apparently a post at Junkfood Science quote-mined an article to a certain degree. She had said, and I quote:
The article, “Do current body mass index criteria for obesity surgery reflect cardiovascular risk?” was “work presented at the 2005 American Society for Bariatric Surgery Meeting in poster form.” The authors, led by Edward H. Livingston M.D. at the University of Texas Southwestern School of Medicine, reported that many of the conventional risk factors for cardiovascular disease “decreased with increasing degrees of obesity.”
Emphasis and links all hers.

Denialism Blog went straight to the source and found that it was only partially true.
Of the conventional CVD risk factors, blood pressure, serum glucose, and waist circumference increased linearly with adiposity. The reverse was observed for high-density lipoprotein. Insulin, C-peptide, apolipoprotein B, non-high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein, and serum triglycerides all peaked in the body mass index range of 30-40 kg/m2 and then decreased with increasing degrees of obesity.
Emphasis was added by Denialism Blog, I don't think it was in the original.

So there's three factors that increase as you get fatter, and seven that decrease. Junkfood Science could have let us know about that, and it makes sense for Denialism Blog to point that out.

Denialism Blog goes on to say, basically, that obesity correlates with a handful of things like high blood pressure and high blood sugar, which can contribute to things like heart disease and diabetes. This is undeniable (except to denialists, of course).

Denialism Blog also seems to think that it's a good idea for obese people to treat their high blood pressure and high blood sugar medically, instead of just trying to stop being fatty moo cows. He also seems to think that treating fat people as fatty moo cows is a bad thing. In fact, he agrees that there is no empirically proven long-term weight loss technique.

"If you eat more than your baseline metabolic requirement plus your daily caloric output, you will gain weight. If you eat less than your baseline metabolic requirements plus your daily caloric output, you will lose weight. Anything else, and you're suggesting energy is being created or destroyed, and I just don't have time for such nonsense."
Calories In/Calories Out!

Ok, so I know I'm just a wee kiddo, merely a student. But I remember something in physiology about trying to maintain certain parameters in homeostasis. One of those parameters is (gasp!) energy stores in the body - better known as subcutaneous fat. Your body likes to have a certain amount of fat on it. Each body may have a different preferred level, of course, just like your baseline body temperature might be a little higher than 98 degrees, and mine might be a little lower.

If you take in more calories than you burn, you may gain weight. Or your metabolism might spike, and you'll feel full sooner, and if you follow your body's signals you'll return to your normal caloric intake and your normal weight range.

If you take in fewer calories than you burn, you may lose weight. Or your baseline metabolism may drop, and you may become sluggish, and you'll definitely feel hungry, and if you follow your body's signals you'll return to your normal caloric intake and your normal weight range.

And if you follow your body's signals, you'll probably find that fresh fruit is yummier than gummy fruit snacks, and that you actually crave broccoli when it's cooked right, and that you don't actually want to snarf down six plates at the all-you-can-eat because you're "taking a holiday" from your latest diet and no one's watching you (and eating only grapefruit/lettuce/cheerios/"what you should eat" is killing you).

For those of you who really, really think that if you follow demand-feeding -- that is, eating what you are hungry for and then stopping when you are full -- that means you'll just eat burger after burger, day in and day out, until your fat makes you explode like a bad Monty Python sketch, well then, Kate Harding and I have a message for you:
How about the assumption that without the aid of 100-calorie packs, people will be helpless in the face of the dreaded (but oh-so-desired) Girl Scout Cookie, and just eat BOX AFTER BOX? Children, even. Children with their child-sized stomachs. There’s certainly no way they would naturally figure out when to stop, based on cues like, oh, I don’t know… feeling satisfied? Or, failing that, eventually feeling like they’re gonna barf — which, for the vast majority of kids, will happen well before they get through one box? (And also might just teach them a valuable life lesson like, “Don’t eat so damn many cookies,” without parents, educators, or MeMe Roth ever having to say a word?)

For the gazillionth fucking time, eating “box after box” of cookies is called Binge Eating Disorder, not “What every human being would naturally do if we weren’t all bugfuck crazy about calorie-counting.” But if you don’t have BED, and instead you just have some insane fucking nightmare/fantasy about how you TOTALLY WOULD eat box after box of cookies if you ever stopped rigidly controlling your diet for ten seconds — and accordingly, you assume that that is how all fat people eat, all the time, so not only do you have to rigidly control your own diet, you’re morally obligated to make sure everyone else is equally vigilant? Well, you might have an eating disorder, too, come to think of it. But you also might just be a giant douche. In which case, please eat 10 whole boxes of STFU and call me in the morning.

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