First, concerning studies in general, they are supposed to be science, and I think a part of good science is questioning. No matter how carefully science is done, there are always more questions – either questions about the methods used or questions about the results and where they take us.
If a study is published in a peer reviewed journal, I assume there is a certain level of quality. However, bogus studies have been known to slip through. So no study is sacrosanct as far as I am concerned.
I am not a scientist. I am not a medical professional. I am a lay person with questions. I am not qualified to render a professional opinion on studies. Everyone, however, including yours truly, is qualified to ask questions and to suggest concerns regarding a study, its outcomes, the interpretation of the data made by the researchers, and how those interpretations will be used.
I am interested in two things – clarification and learning.
My focus, not surprisingly, is on studies about fat people. That is my personal interest because I am a fat person and have spent most of my life as a fat person.
Fat people, in general, have heard over and over again all the things about being fat that “everybody knows” – i.e, fat is bad, fat is unhealthy, fat people are unlovable, fat people can’t/shouldn’t have babies, fat people are not as productive, being fat is a choice, etc.
For many years, fat people just accepted all those statements. But now a growing number of fat people are calling bullshit; they are saying, “Prove it.”
There are many studies that show that healthcare professionals have a bias against fat people. Also studies have shown how the diet industry lies to us. Society, as a whole, does not accept fat people and provides the constant message that we are unworthy. Even our government tells us that a goal of eliminating obesity (read – fat people) is worthwhile. And there is so much money available for research that confirms that fat is bad, and even more money for anyone who assists the diet industry in promulgating the message that fat is so bad, that anything is justified if it means the slightest possibility of getting rid of fat.
And what is so frustrating is that so many of these studies recommend that fat people somehow become not fat. Even though there is no known way for most fat people to achieve this in the long term.
Another reason I’m skeptical is because it seems lots of results either don’t match real life experience of fat people and/or doesn’t take into consideration the stresses (physical and mental) of being a fat person in a world that hates fat people.
Over and over again, fat people are told they will die young; and yet fat people persist in getting old. We can’t help it when we die from some cause that a healthcare professional often puts as the cause of death or as a contributing cause of death “fat”. It seems there is no point where a fat person can die of “natural causes” or “old age” – we die because we are fat, no matter how old we are or that we died from the same age-related causes that take down thin people.
Over and over again, we are told our fat is will cause or are causing diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and the only answer is to lose weight. Not all fat people develop those conditions; and those conditions can be improved without weight loss. Also, thin people have those conditions as well.
Over and over again, we are told that fat makes us unhealthy. Yet, now that more and more studies are focusing on fat people (because that’s where the big bucks are), we are finding more and more protective qualities in being fat – and for once, the scientists are willing to admit that correlation does not equal causation. Too bad they won’t apply that premise to the idea that being fat is a choice; an unhealthy choice.
I am skeptical because so many studies start with the “we all know” premise, such as “we all know the obesity epidemic is [fill in your doomsday prediction here]”. That tells me that the researchers are starting from a biased-point of view. They have an anti-fat agenda they are trying to prove.
I also have issues with conclusions that suggest the answer is (long term and significant) weight loss. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t report what your data shows; I’m saying that, since we DO NOT KNOW HOW TO ACHIEVE LONG-TERM, SIGNIFICANT WEIGHT LOSS, at this time, your conclusion is not very helpful because the media is going to report that science says we could solve all these problems if only fat people would stop being fat. And here comes another load of fat bigotry.
It’s like the old cartoon with the scientist and chalk board – and in the middle of his equations he has written “and then a miracle happens”.
If your recommendation is long term, significant weight loss, sorry, but you can’t get there from here; and personally, I’m tired of people saying that we need to get “there” at all.
I am compelled to fear that science will be used to promote the power of dominant groups rather than to make men happy. ~Bertrand Russell, Icarus, or the Future of Science, 1925