Saturday, July 15, 2006

The Light At The End Of The Tunnel

So I found some fear-of-fat stories posted in the "Health" section of the ABC News website today:

“Can Air-Conditioning Make You Fat?” Of course it can. Otherwise they wouldn't do an article about it. In fact, air conditioning

is just one of many potential factors that could be driving America's obesity epidemic, said David Allison, director of the Clinical Nutrition Research Center at the University of Alabama in Birmingham.

Damn that obesity epidemic for getting caused by everything good in life. But maybe there’s hope: KFC Sued For Fattening Menu because they fry their chicken in a type of fat that’s very very bad for you.

So how much Kentucky Fried Chicken do you suppose was consumed by people who eventually went on to get gastric bypass surgery? There’s a lot more people getting that surgery these days, by the way. Obesity Surgery Increases By 600 Percent, according to ABC. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing; turns out Gastric Bypass Might be A Smart Move For Teens:

while the surgery has its risks, its benefits (mainly reducing the risk of obesity-related diseases like heart attacks and diabetes) seem to outweigh the dangers, raising an important question: What about adolescents? Is teen obesity serious enough to warrant the surgery, too?
New research seems to suggest that the answer is yes.

It’s impossible to go to the “Health” section of any news website without seeing stories about how Americans are fat, and it’s dangerous and unattractive, and somebody ought to do something about it. Hell, it’s so damned commonplace and boring that I hardly know why I even bothered blogging the topic.

By the way, here’s another health story ABC currently has posted:

“Kids Getting Thinspiration From Dangerously Skinny Stars”
Research shows 80 percent of 10-year-olds are afraid of being fat, and many of them are getting "thinspiration" from the growing list of young Hollywood celebrities who seem to be shrinking before our eyes. . . . More than half of teenage girls and nearly one-third of teenage boys adopt unhealthy weight-control behaviors such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking cigarettes, vomiting, and taking laxatives.

Now why do you suppose kids today have such an obsessive fear of being fat? Beats me. Must be one of those mysteries mankind is destined never to solve.


Blogger Kitty said...

Does anyone know the point at which being overweight actually starts to be unhealthy? We have a pretty good idea of what constitutes being too thin (see Nicole Richie), and what constitutes morbid obesity, but does anyone know whether or not an extra twenty pounds on a 5'7" woman (that would be me) really matters?

I do have a couple of opinions, based on, well, not much of anything. One is that activity level matters more than weight. That is, a fat-appearing person who gets lots of exercise will be healthier than a size 4 chain smoker who never moves. (And while we're at it, smoking makes you thin. Does anyone know how much of the rise in American fatness can be attributed to people quitting smoking?) The second opinion is that a lot of the real problem comes from people not cooking for themselves. Home cooks use better ingredients and, since we can tailor our dishes to our own tastes, we don't have to use a lot of artificial or processed stuff to make crap taste better. So, instead of suing KFC, maybe the lawyers could establish cheap cooking schools in bad neighborhoods, or buy everyone a subscription to "Everyday with Rachael Ray" and "Cooks Illustrated."

11:31 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

I don't think the professional worriers care about when overweight becomes unhealthy. A blanket "overweight is bad" condemnation gives them more authority. And by making people paranoid enough to go to unhealthy extremes in pursuit of thinness, they get to meddle at both ends.

5:10 PM  
Anonymous A. Nonny Moose said...

(as he sits chowing down on a italian sandwitch on ciabatta bread....good stuff)

It's a matter of degrees of freedom. All else being equal, someone over their "optimal" weight will be more unhealthy than someone that isn't, according to the data. The problem is with the "all els being equal" part.

9:36 AM  
Anonymous Wild Pegasus said...

Carrying an extra twenty pounds is not good for your health, of course. Since you're a woman, you might carry it on your hips and thighs, which is not as dangerous as waist fat. It is, however, more stubborn to remove.

But really, staying lean is simple, inexpensive, and time-efficient:

1. Don't drink your calories, including fruit juice and milk.

2. Limit your salt intake (salt holds water under the skin and makes you retain weight).

3. Replace starches with leafy greens and vegetables that can be, but don't have to be, eaten raw. To illustrate the principle, replace a sandwich with a chef's salad. Double the broccoli helping and cut the mashed potatoes. Eat as much meat, eggs, fish as you like, and don't bother trimming the fat or looking for anything ultra-lean.

4. Don't eat at fast-food joints.

5. Get a few minutes of vigorous exercise 3 times a week. You don't need a gym membership, a barbell set, leotards, or infomercials. I'll give you an example: fill two one-gallon jugs with water. Press the jugs over your head, bring them down, then do a squat (holding the jugs). Repeat. If you can do ten minutes of that 3 times a week, you're beating 99% of the people alive. Chances are you'll look better, too. Everyone has 10 minutes three days a week.

5. Once you get within 5 pounds of your goal, use Saturday as a pig-out/party/booze day. You'll slow your losses and ease any psychological deprivation.

If all you need to lose is twenty pounds, work on #5 and follow #1, #2, and #4, and you'll be pretty close. #3 will just help you with the touch-up.

Really, this isn't hard.

- Josh

7:12 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

On the other hand, I'm not even convinced Kitty really is "20 pounds overweight." Granted I've never seen her, but here's why I say this:

A few years ago, there used to be two BMI charts, one for women and another for men. This makes sense, since a healthy woman will have much more body fat than a healthy man, so it's asinine to hold the sexes to the same fat standard. I am a very thin woman, but a man with my body-fat ratio would likely be a bit on the chubby side.

Now, though, there's only one BMI chart. And I think what they did was split the difference between the sexes, so that a man can get away with being fatter but a woman must be skinnier, compared to the old gender-segregated charts.

When I first got my Internet connection, I found a BMI chart and so, just for fun, I typed in my height and weight. Under the old woman-exclusive chart, I was at the very bottom of the "normal" zone--one pound less and I'd be officially underweight. But with the new charts, even though my height and weight are the same (and I'm a few years older, more's the pity), I am snugly within the middle of the "normal" zone.

So I went from 'borderline-underweight' to 'completely average' without gaining a pound.

6:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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5:37 PM  
Anonymous Wild Pegasus said...


Anyone connected with fitness or exercise can tell you that the BMI is 100% useless. I have a bodyfat percentage of 14% (less than average, about 4% from the "excellent fitness" range), and I'm considered overweight.

- Josh

3:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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7:22 PM  

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