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November 16, 2005 12:43 PM   Subscribe

Obesity: Epidemic or Myth?
posted by Gyan (54 comments total)

 
Sweet. This topic should be phat.
posted by dios at 12:44 PM on November 16, 2005


I'll take Epidemic for $500, Alex.

Oh, and Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal? WTF? Fat ghosts?
posted by cavalier at 12:45 PM on November 16, 2005


The Center for Consumer Freedom, a coalition supported mostly by anonymous restaurants and food companies, says obesity is a myth? Really? Wow.
posted by driveler at 12:51 PM on November 16, 2005


FAT GHOSTS!
posted by rxrfrx at 12:52 PM on November 16, 2005


I'll take Epidemic for $500, Alex.

My damn button was stuck. I'll get you in the Double Jeopardy round.
posted by dobie at 12:52 PM on November 16, 2005


MetaFilter: This topic should be phat.
posted by IronLizard at 12:53 PM on November 16, 2005


OK, the crux of the article seems to be this: There is little argument about the fact that, as a nation, more of us are fatter than ever before; the disagreement lies in the effect that this has on our health.

CSICOP ...also promotes science and scientific inquiry, critical thinking, science education, and the use of reason in examining important issues.

So, while this isn't the usual ghosts-and-UFOs fodder, it's not all that far out line for them.
posted by alumshubby at 12:54 PM on November 16, 2005


So an obviously damaging condition (obesity) might be less damaging than previously thought. But still damaging. COOL! Then it's not really a problem, just a myth cooked up by the CDC! Yes, I will have fries with that, thank you.
posted by selfmedicating at 12:56 PM on November 16, 2005


Now also playing here and here.
posted by fandango_matt at 1:02 PM on November 16, 2005


Total myth! Come on, America's not fat, we're big-boned! Or are we festively plump?

Nah, we are, as a nation, a bunch of fatty fatty boombalatty's.
posted by fenriq at 1:03 PM on November 16, 2005


I see fat people. All the time, walking around like regular people. Some of them don't realize they're fat.
posted by iron chef morimoto at 1:06 PM on November 16, 2005


This reminds me of the study on Ghosts, the Afterlife, and Zombie Posessions I read in Autoweek...I just can't find the link.
posted by tpl1212 at 1:06 PM on November 16, 2005


BEEFCAKE!!!!
posted by JeffK at 1:11 PM on November 16, 2005


Actualy, they seem to be saying that overweight people (as opposed to obese) are less likely then people with 'normal' body weight to have health problems.

So much less likely, in fact, that when you combine overweight and obese people, they are only a little worse off then normal weight people.

Well, that's intresting.
posted by delmoi at 1:15 PM on November 16, 2005


“It is time to focus our attention on the key behaviors of eating a healthful diet (plenty of fruits and veggies, a lot of whole grains, and not too much fat and alcohol) and being physically active every day.”

What? No quick fix? Awww. If only there were some diet plan or pill or exercise equipment of some sort for sale some where that could make all that easier.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:16 PM on November 16, 2005


Don't blame the epidemic on me, I'm doing my part. Down 75 lbs in the past 2 years. Woo-hoo! The secret is to get really, really fat to start with, then it's easy to lose weight.
posted by Bort at 1:18 PM on November 16, 2005


I would argue that this FPP is mis-punctuated. I think:

Obesity Epidemic: Myth?

would more accurately reflect the linked article.

As others have indirectly pointed out, choosing "Myth" in the original question results in the rather illogical conclusion that obesity itself is a myth, which isn't true.
posted by GuyZero at 1:19 PM on November 16, 2005


Don't blame the epidemic on me, I'm doing my part. Down 75 lbs in the past 2 years. Woo-hoo! The secret is to get really, really fat to start with, then it's easy to lose weight.

I've actually lost 65 pounds in 4.5 months. The secret: elipticals. And eating 1500 calories a day. Not to mention the time to actualy go to the gym every day.
posted by delmoi at 1:26 PM on November 16, 2005


Obesity: Epidemic or Myth?

Menace!
posted by you just lost the game at 1:27 PM on November 16, 2005


When a fat girl talks to me at a bar, I begin weeping uncontrollably.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 1:27 PM on November 16, 2005


Don't weep, I'll take 'em off your hands.
posted by jonmc at 1:30 PM on November 16, 2005


She just wants a sandwitch, The Jesse Helms.
posted by cleverusername at 1:32 PM on November 16, 2005


AHH WATCH OUT JESSE SHE WILL EAT YOU
posted by fandango_matt at 1:34 PM on November 16, 2005


The Center for Consumer Freedom? The Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal?

What? And nothing about Elvis?

actually, they seem to be saying that overweight people (as opposed to obese) are less likely then people with 'normal' body weight to have health problems.

In a word? Muscle mass. Using the idiotic BMI table I am considered very overweight. However, I have a wider frame and I have more muscle mass that the average guy my height and I am considered in great shape over all for my age.

Beeeef Caaaake!

It's sad. When I was a kid in the 1960's and 70's obese kids were really rare - chubby was somewhat rare. In highschool we had only one fat kid (who was also fairly athletic leading me to believe that his weight may have been more related to genes) - such an exception that I still remember his name to this day.

Go to a PTA conference today. Jeebus. 30-40% of the kids are seriously obese and a significant portion are chubby. How many have health problems I never even heard of when I was a kid? From Diabetes to crazy food allergies.

There is no doubt things have drastically changed in a few decades.
posted by tkchrist at 1:35 PM on November 16, 2005


I see fat people. All the time, walking around like regular people. Some of them don't realize they're fat.
posted by iron chef morimoto at 1:06 PM PST on November 16 [!]


the iron chef wins!
posted by cavalier at 1:43 PM on November 16, 2005


what's your take on cassavetes?
posted by shoepal at 1:44 PM on November 16, 2005


misogynist!
posted by argybarg at 1:51 PM on November 16, 2005


as far as overweight folks appearing healthier than thin folks, it's an artifact of illness. morbidly sick people have a funny tendency to be skinny. when good statisticians analyze data concerning weight and health, they "control" for that confounder.
posted by 1-2punch at 1:58 PM on November 16, 2005


just look around you
posted by chuckforthought.com at 2:14 PM on November 16, 2005


Myth? Ok Milwaukee, you've been granted a reprieve. But you might want to go easy on the fried cheese curds, all the same.
posted by Gamblor at 2:27 PM on November 16, 2005


Fried cheese curds?
posted by nonmerci at 2:31 PM on November 16, 2005


Anything that could make Tyra Banks cry on the teevee HAS to be important.
posted by weirdoactor at 2:39 PM on November 16, 2005


Yep, deep-fried.


posted by Gamblor at 2:39 PM on November 16, 2005


We're so fucking fat that fat people no longer look fat unless they can blot the sun from shining on a midwestern wheat field. I can't count the times I've called for an emergent surgical consult and the surgeon asks if the patient is fat (because of the inherent increased surgical risks) and I say no, no I don't think so...they're [checks chart]...oh, they're 195 pounds. So they're fat, but not fat fat.
posted by docpops at 2:53 PM on November 16, 2005


Docpops I don't know how long you've been a physician but if you can't approximately guage your patient's BMI when looking at them, you need a lot more practise! I mean Fat, Fat as a description coming from a medic just shows how ignorant most medics are about the origins, prevalence, and treatments for obesity.

Let's repeat folks, if it were as easy as saying it's just about diet and excercise the diet industry wouldn't be worth billions, just millions.
posted by Wilder at 3:04 PM on November 16, 2005


BMI is not really that helpful. Hip-to-waist ratio is the new predictor of health problems, and it appears to be a very good one.

I vote for epidemic.

And as we all already know, it's all about exercise, no matter your size.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:12 PM on November 16, 2005


Actualy, they seem to be saying that overweight people (as opposed to obese) are less likely then people with 'normal' body weight to have health problems.

Are we counting people or are we going by volume?
posted by srboisvert at 3:40 PM on November 16, 2005


Wilder - it is about diet and exercise. It's just that lots of people don't do one correctly and don't do the other at all.
posted by PurplePorpoise at 4:00 PM on November 16, 2005


Gamblor writes "Yep, deep-fried."

Gamblor, that looks delicious. I can't believe I'm now going to be forced to visit Wisconsin just for the curds.
posted by Deathalicious at 4:36 PM on November 16, 2005


If I was a really bad statistician I think it would be easy to "prove" that overweight people live longer than normal weight people. People are more likely to become overweight as they age (up to a point) so by including people who died young in the study they could be taking a case where the causation clearly runs one way, people are not overweight because the people died when they were still young, and attributing it to the reverse causation, people die sooner when they are not overweight. For all I know they could have included infant mortality figures into the mix.

I'm not saying that they did these things, but the findings are counter intuitive and they seemed to have a horse in the game so I wouldn't put this kinda stuff past them.
posted by I Foody at 4:51 PM on November 16, 2005



One of my old law school professors has written what looks like a pretty good book about this.

Full disclosure-- When I knew him, he was clearly brilliant, but definitely a bit round.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 5:27 PM on November 16, 2005


well, my new orginization is just going to make some shit up about how smoking cures being overweight, then apply for a bunch of money from altria...seems like a good way to make a quick buck.
posted by stilgar at 5:37 PM on November 16, 2005


i suspect the food police are involved. we know how controlling they can be. plus, there's a buck in it for them too. maybe even a job.
posted by brandz at 6:27 PM on November 16, 2005


I'm not a metabolic person at all, but I believe that the general prevailing thought about the overweight-is-more-healthy-than-normal thing is that it's a little bit of a canard, but there actually is a point to be made. It looks like "normal" BMI was defined a little too low -- 18.5 is probably too low for most people, and 25-26 is probably healthy for a large number of people. Therefore, the "normal" category includes a number of people who are underweight, which is unhealthy, and a whole lot of healthy people got thrown into the "overweight" category. In other words, the thing to take away from the studies is not that overweight is healthier that normal -- it's pretty conclusively not -- but rather that the BMI ranges may need to be slightly retooled.

The problem with the study, of course, is that people don't so much need more of an excuse to go for the deep-fried cheese curdles. Most people who don't consciously keep an eye on their weight significantly underestimate their BMI.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 6:42 PM on November 16, 2005


Are we going to get to hear everyone's weight loss methods and in this thread? 'Cuz that's FASCINATING!
posted by Kloryne at 8:19 PM on November 16, 2005


Wow... who's a cranky lil' bitch?
posted by Kloryne at 8:24 PM on November 16, 2005


"Chicken Little Scare of 2004"

..and this year it's H5N1.
posted by 517 at 8:41 PM on November 16, 2005


Wilder, please explain the difference between BMI and the old height-weight charts it's supposed to replace. Yeah, BMI is more complicated and it uses the metric scale -- but it's still measuring height against weight without any compensation for body composition. What makes BMI authoritative?

I've marked this day on my calendar as the one and only time I've agreed with anything I've read by tkchrist. Yes, Americans are fatter than they used to be. Worse, they're getting fatter earlier, which means the health effects kick in earlier--e.g., "Type II diabetes," the non-insulin-dependent variety caused mainly be long-term obesity, is a new label for what used to be called "adult onset diabetes." The name was changed because it's become a common pediatric condition.
posted by vetiver at 10:23 PM on November 16, 2005


tkchrist has the right idea. The BMI is flawed. Until second year of Uni, I was overweight, because I was really out of shape. No muscle mass, just fat. Then I dedicated myself to getting in shape. First, I lost a lot of weight, got down to the low end of the normal range. Now I'm once again overweight, because I have a lot of new muscle mass. My body fat content is still very low, but I'm now "overweight".

What the article says is pretty much accurate, although I think the revised numbers now probably lowball the estimate. The real problem is not obesity. Obesity is just the most visible symptom of the increasing prevelace of poor diet and a lack of exercise. You can be overweight or even obese and be healthy, but unless most of that weight is muscle mass, I'm sorry, that ain't fucking healthy. There is a problem here. It's right to point out that obesity isn't a cause, but it gets attention because it is a very visible symptom.

As for the chorus of out of shape people who insist that they are comfortable with their bodies, it's not true, they aren't. I know because I was one. Not obese by any means, and only moderately overweight, if you were to use the BMI as a guide. But I wasn't healthy; I wasn't in shape. It was uncomfortable. I couldn't run very far and I got winded climbing stairs. I've been an avid skiier since I was very young, but I couldn't ski aggressively because I simply didn't have the strength to weight ratio. I didn't like walking anywhere because I would get tired.

Now, everything is different. I hike and climb, mountain bike and ski, and I love all these activites like I was never able to before, because I'm fit enough to. This isn't the only benefit, I feel the benefits of being in shape every single day, no matter what I'm doing. Movement feels effortless now, like a huge weight was lifted of my back (or was replaced with weight that pulls its own and then some).

In short, weight loss isn't the goal. My net weight loss is almost nothing, but I feel great. This leads me to another benefit. I found my mental health improves markedly with regular exercise. The difference is literally night and day. What causes that I don't know, I just know that it's there, and I'm not alone.

Can you be overweight and healthy? Sure. But if you live in North America, you probably aren't.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 9:52 AM on November 17, 2005


From the article: "Paul Ernsberger, a professor of nutrition at Case Western Reserve University, has been doing research since the 1980s that led him to assert that obesity is not the cause of ill health but rather the effect of sedentary living and poor nutrition, which are the actual causes."

Gunshot wounds don't kill people; it's the bullet going through organs that does it.
posted by klangklangston at 1:07 PM on November 17, 2005


And hold on... Case Western Reserve? That sounds Tier 1...
posted by klangklangston at 1:07 PM on November 17, 2005


AT THE PARTY, MS FATTY IS WONDERING IF YOU ARE MADE OF HAM!

(Ah, fat chicks in party hats dot com - what a great site that was. Probably still is but I'm too scared to look at work)
posted by Sparx at 2:03 PM on November 17, 2005


I've marked this day on my calendar as the one and only time I've agreed with anything I've read by tkchrist.

Don't put it away it's likely you will again. If you are an intelligent, attractive and right thinking person that is.

And you would have to be, wouldn't you?
posted by tkchrist at 3:33 PM on November 17, 2005


Fat buttocks need longer needles.

I still vote "epidemic"
posted by mrgrimm at 11:46 AM on November 30, 2005


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