Media and research, week of 1/31/2016

Here’s the second batch of media and research items; these are for the week that ended this past Saturday. (Some dates are earlier because they didn’t cross my radar until that week.)

June 26, 2015: Researchers find that weight loss interventions that target the physical environment and access as well as health behavior for the entire population (rather than just fat people) have the least potential for ethical concerns.

January 25, 2016: Patients with type 2 diabetes who intentionally lost weight had no associated reduction in all-cause mortality or cardiovascular morbidity/mortality. In fact, weight loss (regardless of intention) was an independent risk factor for increased all-cause mortality.

January 29, 2016: Our own Peggy Howell discusses how parents pass on their fat phobia and bias to their children, and urges parents to focus on their child’s health and character rather than size.

February 1, 2016: A study on how media coverage affects perceptions finds that simply reporting on studies that people can be fat and healthy is not enough to reduce prejudice; a more radical fat rights approach is needed.

February 4, 2016: Researchers at UCLA find that using BMI (body mass index) as the main indicator of health resulted in the misclassification of over 54,000,000 Americans who, despite having higher BMI, are metabolically healthy by more direct measures. The researchers also find that 30% of “normal” weight individuals are metabolically unhealthy.

Media and research items, week of 1/24/2016

To prime the pump for this new weekly (hopefully) feature, here are the news items from the week prior to the one that ends today. Enjoy! (or get angry, as appropriate)

January 24, 2016: Johnson & Johnson, Vitality Group, and some pharmaceutical companies are trying to use false data and shoddy studies to sell companies on a justification for even more job discrimination for fat people as a means to sell “wellness” programs.

January 24, 2016: Melissa A. Fabello and Linda Bacon thoroughly explain why concern-trolling fat people is not helpful and is essentially just another way to shame and perpetuate stereotypes about fat people.

January 28, 2016: A study of genetically identical mice and human twins finds that how a gene is expressed is related to whether a mouse or human twin is fat. Obese mice in the study have impaired expression of epigenetically regulated “imprinted” genes, which alter growth and body weight.

The Media and Research Roundup

Those of you who receive the NAAFA Newsletter are familiar with the Media and Research Roundup included at the end of each issue. You can look at past issues at

Since I haven’t posted in so long, and to get the ball rolling again, we’re going to be doing a roundup here. My next post will be the first of a weekly feature of short takes on research and media news items. I hope you like it.


not dead

“Total and annual percent change in age-standardized death rates and years of potential life lost before age 75 years for all causes combined and for heart disease, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), stroke, unintentional injuries, and diabetes mellitus.”


Between 1969 and 2013, for

All causes of death there was a 42.9% reduction.

Stroke – 77.0% reduction

Heart disease – 67.5% reduction

Cancer – 17.9% reduction

Diabetes – 16.5% reduction

So despite all the fat-death screaming of society, at least here in America (you know, the land of fatties), there is a lot less death.  Especially for deaths where fat is blamed such as stroke and heart disease.

The only increase was in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).  Something that is not considered fat-related.

And yet in an article in,

“However, the death rate from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease doubled over the study period, from 21 deaths per 100,000 people in 1969 to 42 deaths per 100,000 people in 2013, the researchers found. This increase might be a result of obesity, as well as continued smoking, lead author Jiemin Ma, a researcher at the American Cancer Society, and colleagues, said in the report.”

Except I couldn’t find anything in the published study that tried to link obesity and COPD.

The National Institute of Health states:

“Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of COPD. Most people who have COPD smoke or used to smoke. Long-term exposure to other lung irritants—such as air pollution, chemical fumes, or dust—also may contribute to COPD.”

Do you see weight, obesity, fat in that list?  I sure don’t.

Perhaps they mean that being fat increases the risk of death from COPD, but since COPD can prevent you from doing even basic activities (like walking, cooking, or taking care of yourself), it seems likely that people with COPD may be prone to weight gain because of resulting lack of mobility.  So the problem may be a lack of treatment that assists COPD patients with mobility.

The only thing I found in the study concerning obesity was blaming a slow down in the death rate reduction for stroke, heart disease and diabetes on obesity prevalence.  I guess because a 42.9% overall reduction, 77% reduction in stroke, 67.5% reduction for heart disease, and a 16.5% reduction for diabetes is just not good enough?  It couldn’t be that we’re starting to hit the wall for what our current medical skills can deal with – right?

It has to be because – fat.

And you have to cry FAT somewhere in a study.  Otherwise, how are you going to get funding for further research?

The article goes on to list some interesting statistics, taken from an accompanying editorial published in the same issue of JAMA, such as:

Alzheimer’s disease moved from the eighth-leading cause of death in 2000 to the sixth-leading cause in 2013, McGinnis wrote in the editorial.

Suicide rates also increased by one-third from 2000 to 2013, “highlighting the importance of mental health and depression as prominent health challenges,” McGinnis said.

What’s more, death rates among black people were about double those for white people in infant mortality, heart disease, diabetes and prostate cancer in 2013, he said.

The editorial’s take away from the study is

“Ultimately, the most fundamental national challenge is bringing the best health possible to its entire population, regardless of race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status,” McGinnis wrote in the editorial.

I agree generally with that statement; however, I feel like McGinnis is missing the point.  While the ultimate problem may be “bringing the best health possible to its entire population,” the cause is lack of affordable healthcare options.

Until the United States makes healthcare accessible to its entire population, regardless of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and size, we won’t be able to tell what we can achieve in reducing our death rates in this nation.



Well, actually, I did just throw up in my mouth a little bit when I saw this article.

Oh boy, we now have a whole group of “Fat Concern Trolls,” getting together to help fatties like me to live with our chronic “disease” of obesity.

Let me make this clear – FUCK YOU!!!!!!!!

Is obesity a chronic disease?  I don’t think so, but I’d actually be okay with this categorization if it meant that discrimination against fat people could be ended.  Unfortunately, it mostly adds credence to the folks who want to “cure” fatness.  That’s like trying to “cure” tallness, or shortness, or having brown eyes.

This group claims that their National Obesity Care Week (“NOCW”) is a campaign to advance a

[C]omprehensive, compassionate and personalized approach to treating obesity as a disease.

Uh uh.

Since, there is NO KNOWN METHOD for long term significant weight reduction for MOST people, I assume this treatment must be not weight focused but health focused.

That would make me very happy.  There is a lot of science out there that tells us that there are ways to improve your health without achieving weight loss.  In fact, focusing on weight loss is actually detrimental to the process – because once the weight loss stops (and it ALWAYS stops) the participants tend to stop participating in the otherwise healthful actions.

You see, healthy behavior is GOOD FOR EVERY BODY.  It doesn’t matter what you weigh when you start; and it doesn’t matter what you weigh while you’re doing it, and healthy behavior doesn’t have an end goal.


And I want to be clear here.  Nobody has a duty to do anything with their own body.  If you choose not to engage in any given behavior – no problem.  You do not have a “duty” to be (or be perceived as) healthy, good looking, or anything else.  As Regan Chastain puts it, “You are the boss of your own underpants,” and I’ll add – you are the boss of what those underpants contain.  I am saying that if you choose to engage in behavior that will enhance your own health, the outcomes will be better if health is your focus, not weight.

The article also claims:

Nearly half of people affected by obesity say they have not been advised by a physician about maintaining a healthy weight, according to the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

I read this and my first reaction was to call BULLSHIT.  Turns out I was right.

The study they are referring to does not say that.

First, the study is a small (1,100 participants) phone survey; and the data can be found here: and

The question, it seems, is what do you mean by “affected” by obesity?

I would say, that would be someone who is obese.  The study’s chart shows that almost 70% of the obese participants (25% of the study participants) were advised on maintaining a healthy weight, and 80% of those participants were advised about the “risks” of being overweight/obese.

Apparently, this group believes that people “affected by obesity” means everyone.

And in case, you weren’t sure that these people don’t get it :

[A]ccording to patient advocate Michelle Vicari, “Many individuals living with obesity may avoid seeking medical care because they feel alienated and uncomfortable. Finding a doctor who is engaging, compassionate and committed to working with patients to develop a comprehensive weight-loss plan can be life-changing.”

Yes, fat people do feel alienated and uncomfortable seeking medical care.  That’s because they are they are often treated with disrespect and sometimes outright cruelty.  And a comprehensive weight-loss plan would be life-changing – IF IT EXISTED!!!!

Basically, what this group is really concerned with is trying to funnel more money into methods of “dealing” with fat people that are not helpful – things that are focused on weight loss rather than health.

Also, NAAFA (National Association for the Advancement of Fat Acceptance) has said


This is a perfect example.  All these people going to “help” us poor, helpless fatties, without asking us what would help.  You know, like Microsoft programs “help” you do what you want to do, without having a concept of what you actually are doing.

Please, for the love of whatever you hold holy,


Questions about NAAFA

If you didn’t know, NAAFA is the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance, and was the first fat rights group. It was a truly important force in the fat acceptance movement in the 1970s and the 1980s, through part of the 1990s. To put it kindly, it is less so today. Its website is; take a look if you like.

But rather than tell you about NAAFA, I’d rather ask you.

  • Had you heard of NAAFA before?
  • What’s your impression of NAAFA?
  • Is NAAFA relevant? Why or why not?
  • Should NAAFA be doing something that it isn’t?
  • Anything else you’d like to say?

Let’s discuss!