Adipositivity

AdiposivityIn Manhattan, there is always something to see. In front of Public Library on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street last Friday, a small crowd watched as three morbidly obese women had their naked bodies painted. The women were part of The Adipositivity Project, which promotes acceptance of variations in human size. Passers by were generally supportive.

“Fat shaming”, the practice of openly criticizing people for being too fat, is all too common. We wouldn’t shame people for other afflictions, but it’s okay to shame the fat.

Morbid obesity has a genetic component. But “genes load the gun; the environment pulls the trigger.” It’s complicated, and society is to blame in many ways.

Your thoughts: Do you support fat acceptance?

Have a Complicated Halloween

Halloween Letter Fargo MomDid you see the Halloween letter from Anonymous Mom? She is handing it out instead of candy to overweight kids. Her stand against childhood obesity made the media outlets. Too bad she doesn’t know that shaming doesn’t work. Weight prejudice seems to be socially acceptable now and will become more so when healthcare costs are transparent. But back to today and the conflicts Americans have about Halloween candy. Check out yesterday’s Tweets:

  • How to talk to your kids about Halloween candy.
  • Watch out for these common (and gross!) ingredients in Halloween candy.
  • Don’t get caught giving petroleum, GMOs, and trans fat to little children.
  • Artificial dyes linked to M+Ms.
  • What it takes to burn off your Halloween treats.
  • Food Allergies: Could Halloween Kill My Child?
  • 7 Terrifying Facts About Halloween Candy!

Danger! Danger! And still, the kids return with their sacks full.

A few years ago, I was asked to write about the “healthiest” Halloween candy. What could I say? “Give out candy that won’t get eaten.” Dum Dum Lollipops, wax lips, and candy buttons stuck on paper tape. Nobody eats those. Pencils, stickers, and temporary tattoos, All good. As you can image, my Dietitian’s Guide to Halloween Candy wasn’t well received. The comments tell all.

Realistically, Halloween night is a free-for all. Everybody eats candy. That goes on for another day or two, but sooner rather than later, candy is rationed to one piece at lunch and another after school. Some is shared with grown-ups or relegated to the freezer or traded with a friendly dentist for cash. (Just don’t dump candy on the Food Bank because needy people need real food!)

I’ve stated my feelings about junk before in Eat Only the Junk Food That You Make. But homemade doesn’t fly on Halloween because of hidden razor blades. Oy! Razor blades, artificial dyes, barbs from Anonymous Mom. Halloween is complicated.

Your thoughts: What is your Halloween candy plan?

A “Healthy Weight Week” Reality Check

Baby on ScaleTake out your compass. I am celebrating Healthy Weight Week – the 20th Annual – and that means it’s time to focus on eating problems that originate from our media-fed perceptions of “healthy” weight. The images of women in the media are much too thin. They feed into our confusion about reference points and what is weight normal.

We have a Skinny Girl Fetish

Our society is primitive when it comes to  objectifying our idols. We expect them to attain and maintain unattainable slimness, and we settle for nothing less. Consider the unfortunate  Jennifer Lawrence, a 22-year old actress, nominated for Jennifer-Lawrence-Bikini-1Best Actress in a Leading Role, Silver Linings Playbook (trailer) Jennifer recently told ELLE Magazine, “I’m considered a fat actress.” “I’m Val Kilmer in that one picture on the beach.”  A Google search runs five pages deep into the topic of of Ms Lawrence’s weight. The real problem is our notion of a healthy body. Jennifer is perfect, but our view of women’s bodies is f—ked up.

Why Are the Natives Fat?

Do you ever wonder why the well-fed, native people we see in National Geographic Magazine are kind of chubby by modern Western standards? The natives don’t have mirrors or scales, or junk food, or cars; yet, they are not thin. In fact, the natives are like Jennifer Lawrence. Note: nature prefers a little meat on the bones for a rainy day. That meat is muscle and fat, not too little, not too much, just right. Reality check: Photographs of healthy native women.

The Next Step?

In South Korea, notions about perfection have led to the highest rate of plastic surgery in the world. Eyelid surgery, nose reshaping, facial contouring – Asians want a westernized face. See this article from Jezebel, I Can’t Stop Looking at These South Korean Women Who’ve Had Plastic Surgery. Reality check: celebrities have plastic surgery all the time. The shock is in the trickle down to the masses.

Korean_1

Your thoughts: How will you celebrate healthy weight week? Everything counts.

Gut Bacteria, Obesity, and HAES

Link

I love reading about gut bacteria. I really do. We have ten times more bacteria living in us than we have human cells, yet we had been unaware. (What else don’t we know?) This month, I wrote about the research exploring the relationship between gut bacteria and obesity for Diets In Review for Vidazorb  in Altering Gut Bacteria to Manipulate Weight Could be the Next Big Thing in Obesity Management.

I’ll always remember my first time.
The first time I read about gut bacteria and obesity was in 2006. It was August at Wildwood on the Jersey Shore and I had time to leisurely read a New York Times Magazine article about the microbial theory of obesity. Fat Factors by Robin Marantz Henigmind will blow your mind. It was so far ahead of its time that it is still au courant.

HAES
This is a good time to bring up “Health At Every Size“, a movement to accept and respect the natural diversity of body sizes and shapes. HAES acknowledges that “good health can best be realized independently from considerations of size. It supports people—of all sizes—in addressing health directly by adopting healthy behaviors.”

Every case of obesity is not so easily explained. In clinical practice, I’ve seen people who couldn’t lose weight despite their best intentions. (Believe me, I’m not easily duped by patients.) Individuals vary in the way they store and burn body fat and in how they adapt metabolically to weight change. The studies of microbes and obesity show how little we know. Meanwhile, everyone, regardless of size, should focus on health and not  only on weight.

A penny for your thoughts….

Susie Orbach Tells It Like It is About Women and Beauty

Woman Is the Nigger of the World~John Lennon & Yoko Ono

Weren’t they the best at getting our attention?  The words are appropriate because today is March 8th, International Women’s Day, a day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future. In China, Russia, Vietnam and Bulgaria, they get the day off.

In honor of the celebration, Susie Orbach, psychoanalyst, author and feminist (mentioned in my blog, My Intuitive Eating “Aha” Moment) delivered a speech, “Body Image in the Media: Using Education to Challenge Stereotypes,” to the UN Commission on the Status of Women in New York City last week. Susie compared the self-starvation, surgical cosmetic procedures and the use of appetite suppressing pharmacological agents to all forms of violence practiced against girls and women in the rest of the world. You can read the transcript of her speech at Any-Body.org, Susie Orbach Speaks at the UN Commission on the Status of Women. She explains that beauty’s tyrannical hold zaps females of their energy, dollars, and sense of self.  In her speech, Susie Orbach says,

“The beauty companies, the fashion houses, the diet companies, the food conglomerates who also of course own the diet companies, the exercise and fitness industry, the pharmaceutical industry and the cosmetic surgery industry combine together, perhaps not purposefully or conspiratorially, to create a climate in which girls and women come to feel that their bodies are not ok. They do this through the promotion of celebrity culture, through advertising on every possible outlet from billboards to magazines to our electronic screens, through the funding of media outlets which can only exist because of their economic support.”

Don’t you love it?  All people, women and men, have a responsibility to rally against using the female body as a profit center. It’s especially important this year as basic rights like birth control are being challenged. We need the energy spent on beauty to protect our rights!

Your thoughts: How much beauty-time is too much? Do you share Susie views?

Newspaper Ad Mocks Obese Women

This is one of those vulgar things that you see only in the big city. When I saw a similar ad last week, I expected it to quietly die, but now that it’s back again, I’ll take it as an opportunity  to call it as I see it.

This full page ad ran today on the back of Metro New York, a free daily newspaper available throughout the city near commuter trains. The company behind the ad, AshleyMadison.com, is an online dating service for cheaters – espoused adulterers – you read it right. I first saw this ad’s companion that showed the fat lady by herself on the day after Halloween. The caption said, “Did your wife scare you last night?”  But, honestly, I couldn’t figure it out.  Was the fat lady supposed to be the wife or the tart?  I mean wives rarely wear Fredrick’s of Hollywood lingerie, and so she must be the tart, and then I know guys (and girls) who prefer lots of soft flesh. Their moms were usually very loving and very fat too.

But, the creators of these ads should thank their lucky stars that they were not born fat. They don’t realize that very fat people may be impaired, like anyone with a genetic condition. They don’t know that genes contribute to obesity and to body weight in general, and that scientists have identified 20+ gene sites associated with obesity and fat distribution. Stankard’s 1980s studies of identical twins – reared apart and together – showed that height, weight and BMI are so closely correlated across time, that their path suggests a co-variation that has everything to do with genetics and very little relation to childhood environment.

Individuals vary greatly in the way they store and burn body fat, and weight changes lead to metabolic adaptations designed to promote maintenance.  When very fat people lose weight, their metabolic rates drops severely in order to promote the return of unwanted pounds, but in studies where normal weight people intentionally gained weight, their bodies fought it by revving up metabolism to the point where the new weight couldn’t be maintained. I’m not talking about middle age spread that comes from overeating and a sedentary lifestyle. I’m talking about people who have to try very hard just to keep from getting even bigger. God forbid that Ashley Madison or Metro NY would have to walk a mile in their shoes.

Your thoughts: What should we do about these despicable ads?