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Thread: Obesity myth

  1. #111
    Intriguing.... Quinlan's Avatar
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    The fundamental premise of "the obesity crisis" and all size based discrimination and prejudice is the deeply ingrained belief that body size is the result of personal choices.

    This axiom seems so intuitively true and is beaten into us every day of our lives that it is hard to consider any other alternative, it is as self evident as it comes, it's something that everyone "just knows".

    But is there any scientific basis for the axiom that body size is a choice?

    We owe it to ourselves both intellectually and morally to explore the alternative hypothesis fully, what we must remember is that almost all of the information we receive through the media comes from a vested interest, the sheer volume on the anti-size side of the argument is so great that we have to take it upon ourselves to explore the alternative hypothesis.

    What would you say if I said that your average body weight over your lifetime was as predetermined by your genes as your height?

    Dr. Jeffrey M. Friedman, M.D., Ph.D., head of the Laboratory of Molecular Genetics at Rockefeller University:

    The commonly held belief that obese people can simply decide to eat less and exercise more to control their weight is at odds with substantial scientific evidence illuminating a precise and powerful biological system that maintains body weight within a relatively narrow range (10-20 pounds),

    "The heritability of obesity is equivalent to that of height and greater than that of almost every other condition that has been studied,
    In other words your body size is almost entirely based on your genes.

    Equivalent to that of height? Do you know that it's a FACT that tall people are statistically happier, healthier, smarter and earn more than short people? Don't you realise that your child's failure to grow tall means they will live a life of sadness, disease, stupidity and poverty? Why aren't you pushing your kid harder to gain more height! You must be a bad parent or your child is just lazy and lacking willpower, if you really cared about their life you would insist that they gain height!

    Enough facetiousness but still, the point remains that if millions and millions of people consistently tried and failed to change their eye colour or height we would be right in assuming that it's pretty much impossible and we wouldn't see it as some moral or mental failing.

    But how can that be true? We all see fatties stuffing their face all the time! Surely they're overeating to get that big?

    Not so:

    This is just one study of a profusion of others, both clinical and epidemiological, over the past fifty years demonstrating that fat children (and adults) as a group normally eat exactly the same as thin people. Multiple researchers, using a variety of methodologies, have failed to find any meaningful or replicable differences in the caloric intake or eating patterns of the obese compared to the non-obese to explain obesity, concluded David Garner, Ph.D. and Susan Wooley, Ph.D., for example, in their review of some 500 studies on weight in Clinical Psychology Review.
    and

    Why you see fat people stuffing their faces is due to confirmation bias when you see a skinny person eating a cupcake your brain won't register it as a meaningful event but when you see a fat person eating a cupcake, you can't help but think "they shouldn't be eating that!" and you will remember it.

    Canadian researchers looked at the diets of more than 130,000 kids in 34 countries and reported in a recent issue of Obesity Reviews that fat kids even eat the least sweets, and that kids body weights had nothing to do with how many fruits, vegetables or soft drinks they consumed.
    Overeating is actually incredibly hard for the human body to maintain in the long term and is similar to starvation in many ways (Almost everyone's willpower will fail to maintain it for any meaningful length of time).

    Ultimately I thought of this analogy; Greyhounds may be at lower risk for certain diseases than St Bernard's but that doesn't mean you should try and turn a St Bernard's into the size of a greyhound through calorie restriction and exercise, by doing so you'll cause more health problems than you'll fix. Of course St Bernards need exercise and to be at a healthy weight but that healthy size is specific to St Bernard's. (if you say a St Bernard's weight is in proportion to it's height then just replace the greyhound with an afghan hound, their "BMIs" would be very different).

    It would be ludicrous to recommend a single "ideal" weight for "dog", just as it is ludicrous to recommend a single "ideal" weight for "human".
    Act your age not your enneagram number.

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  2. #112
    Don't Judge Me! Haphazard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quinlan View Post
    Overeating is actually incredibly hard for the human body to maintain in the long term and is similar to starvation in many ways (Almost everyone's willpower will fail to maintain it for any meaningful length of time).
    What about emotional overeating? Can this be thought of as consistent enough to cause obesity? Is it prevalent enough?
    -Carefully taking sips from the Fire Hose of Knowledge

  3. #113
    Don't Judge Me! Haphazard's Avatar
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    Well, Quinlan, if you have or are at risk for certain diseases (like diabetes) 7-10 pounds can make managing it a lot easier. So it's not an insignificant amount, but it's not as much as everyone's making it out to be.

    Also, consider: there's this thing called the Freshman 15, where supposedly Freshmen in college gain about fifteen pounds by suddenly engaging in a very unhealthy lifestyle -- sudden access to unlimited amounts of junkfood and caffeine, lots of stress, and very little sleep, because no one is monitoring it.

    But it's only the Freshman 15, not the "I went to college and now I'm morbidly obese". Also, the fact that now people are only recording gaining on average 7-8 pounds during their Freshman year, and considering kids are going into college a bit fatter than they used to, well, wouldn't that suggest that there's some kind of cap, either behavioral or metabolic, on how fat someone is going to get?

    I mean, yeah, take care of yourself, but it suggests that people who actually ARE very obese probably have other factors involved besides just a poor lifestyle.
    -Carefully taking sips from the Fire Hose of Knowledge

  4. #114
    Protocol Droid Athenian200's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Haphazard View Post
    Also, consider: there's this thing called the Freshman 15, where supposedly Freshmen in college gain about fifteen pounds by suddenly engaging in a very unhealthy lifestyle -- sudden access to unlimited amounts of junkfood and caffeine, lots of stress, and very little sleep, because no one is monitoring it.
    Wow. Most people's parents must be a lot stricter than mine. I've grown up with access to unlimited amounts of junk food and caffeine, and no requirement to sleep, but I curbed it (at least the junk food) because I realized it made me feel like crap.

    You know, the more I think about it, the more I realize that my mother and I have been living like college students for most of my life...

  5. #115
    . Blank's Avatar
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    I'm going to call bullshit/shenanigans on the article Quinland found.

    If what you're asserting is true and there are no other factors taken into account, then the proportion of obese people to non-obese people in America should have stayed roughly the same over the past fifty years, but it most definitely hasn't. There's more to it than just genetics.

    I would argue between different types of being overweight: natural and unnatural

    Examples:
    Natural - Rosie O'Donnel

    Most people would agree that Rosie O'Donnel is overweight (I don't know about obese though.) You can tell that she would normally be considered a large woman.

    Unnatural - The guy on the left

    You can clearly tell that this man is much heavier than he should be due to lifestyle choices.
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    Se = 11[][][][][][][][][][][]
    Fe = 0

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  6. #116
    Intriguing.... Quinlan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Haphazard View Post
    What about emotional overeating? Can this be thought of as consistent enough to cause obesity? Is it prevalent enough?
    I would say that if your natural metabolic range sits around "overweight" then you could push up into the obese range through emotional overeating, but to maintain that throughout your life would involve very disordered eating that should be treated in the same way as other eating disorders. What we often discount is the influence of stress on our body, we often think of stress as occuring in the mind but stress actually is very strongly related to physical illness and early death, these relationships are stronger than the relationships with obesity our income.

    When we create an "obesity crisis" and generate this mass hysteria and outright obsession regarding eating and weight, we don't stop to consider what the cumulative effects of all of this social pressure might do physiologically to an obese person growing up and living in a fat-phobic and obsessive culture might be.

    When we push someone harder and harder to lose weight through things like social pressure, what we are attempting to do is induce stress in that person in order to achieve a "flight or fight" response in the individual, specifically we expect that the harder we push the more stress the individual will feel and therefore the harder their "fight" response will be against their weight problem. We never stop to think what damage this extra stress alone might be causing to their bodies in the long term. Stress has been shown to cause many health problems many of which could have been mistakenly attributed to the adipose tissue itself rather than the stress induced by carrying such a stigma throughout your life.

    Everyone will tell you obsession is a bad thing in the long term but we (in the west) are collective obsessed about fat.

    Quote Originally Posted by Haphazard View Post
    Well, Quinlan, if you have or are at risk for certain diseases (like diabetes) 7-10 pounds can make managing it a lot easier. So it's not an insignificant amount, but it's not as much as everyone's making it out to be.
    Appropriate weight loss is perfectly fine, their are times when it has benefits but long-term weight loss and maintenance (well outside of your natural metabolic range) and the inevitable weight gain that comes with it over a lifetime for most people is much more damaging to their health than having never lost it at all.

    Also, consider: there's this thing called the Freshman 15, where supposedly Freshmen in college gain about fifteen pounds by suddenly engaging in a very unhealthy lifestyle -- sudden access to unlimited amounts of junkfood and caffeine, lots of stress, and very little sleep, because no one is monitoring it.

    But it's only the Freshman 15, not the "I went to college and now I'm morbidly obese". Also, the fact that now people are only recording gaining on average 7-8 pounds during their Freshman year, and considering kids are going into college a bit fatter than they used to, well, wouldn't that suggest that there's some kind of cap, either behavioral or metabolic, on how fat someone is going to get?
    I think there is a (long term) cap, most people losing weight find that it starts off fairly easy but eventually you hit a wall that you have to fight harder and harder to progress past, the same goes the other way, if you are naturally skinny and try desperately to gain weight, you will to a certain extent but then you will hit the same kind of wall where you have to push harder and harder to gain more than that. I think our natural weight lies somewhere between those two points.

    I mean, yeah, take care of yourself, but it suggests that people who actually ARE very obese probably have other factors involved besides just a poor lifestyle.
    In some ways our lifestyle is unhealthy compared to 50 years ago but there are a lot of benefits that come from that lifestyle also and we are living longer than ever (even Americans the poster nation for the obesity epidemic sit at the very top of life expectancy once you account for non-health issues like car accidents and shootings etc.).

    Ultimately you don't have to be skinny to starve, an obese person on a starvation diet will exhibit the same psychological and physiological issues that all starving people experience.
    Act your age not your enneagram number.

    Quinlan's Creations

  7. #117

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    Quin, are you saying that certain people have a predisposition to weight gain and naturally carry more weight so shouldn't be negatively judged by society.
    Or are you saying that the body will not adapt to exercise and diet? That people have no control over their body composition?

  8. #118
    Intriguing.... Quinlan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blank View Post
    I'm going to call bullshit/shenanigans on the article Quinland found.
    Which article specifically? I have linked a lot.

    If what you're asserting is true and there are no other factors taken into account, then the proportion of obese people to non-obese people in America should have stayed roughly the same over the past fifty years, but it most definitely hasn't. There's more to it than just genetics.
    Actually proportionally we are very much similar to 50 years ago, there has been an increase of average weights right across the board, the population is as normally distributed as it's ever been (as you would expect with genetic differences such as height). Of course there is more to it than genetics:

    -Aging population
    -Better nourishment
    -Less disease
    -Improved treatments for the very skinny and very fat

    I would argue between different types of being overweight: natural and unnatural
    BMI, the very root of the obesity epidemic does not account for this.

    Examples:
    Natural - Rosie O'Donnel

    Most people would agree that Rosie O'Donnel is overweight (I don't know about obese though.) You can tell that she would normally be considered a large woman.
    Rosie O'Donnel is very much obese, she has the "disease" of obesity as her BMI would be greater than 30.

    Unnatural - The guy on the left

    You can clearly tell that this man is much heavier than he should be due to lifestyle choices.
    This kind of guy would be considered morbidly (very/super) obese, statistically they are still very rare (2.5%). Most of the "epidemic" comes from (aside from the arbitrary changes to it's definition) millions and millions of people who are quite a bit smaller than Rosie gaining a few pounds and crossing an arbitrary line.

    Statistically most "obese" people look more like Rosie (or smaller than her) than the second guy.

    I wouldn't consider myself huge but at the start of the year I was a few Kgs away from being "obese", I'm now half way through the overweight range, so technically fat.

    Instead of focusing on the tails of the normal distribution (where most health problems come from) we are obsessing over a chunk of people pretty damn close to the middle.
    Act your age not your enneagram number.

    Quinlan's Creations

  9. #119
    Intriguing.... Quinlan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wolfy View Post
    Quin, are you saying that certain people have a predisposition to weight gain and naturally carry more weight so shouldn't be negatively judged by society.
    Yes.

    Or are you saying that the body will not adapt to exercise and diet?
    I'm saying that all most all measures of health will respond positively to exercise and (a not too restrictive) diet except for BMI in the long term (but that's ok because BMI is a poor measurement of health anyway).

    That people have no control over their body composition?
    I think people can probably replace much fat with muscle but they are still likely to be of a heavier build and therefore considered obese.
    Act your age not your enneagram number.

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  10. #120
    Don't Judge Me! Haphazard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wolfy View Post
    Quin, are you saying that certain people have a predisposition to weight gain and naturally carry more weight so shouldn't be negatively judged by society.
    Or are you saying that the body will not adapt to exercise and diet? That people have no control over their body composition?
    I think what Quinlan is saying is that the body's composition can be controlled but only to a certain extent, and that the amount of control one has is less than the media wants you to believe, so if you cannot change your body composition to their stringent standards and it would probably be unhealthy for you to do so you should not be negatively judged by society.
    -Carefully taking sips from the Fire Hose of Knowledge

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