Warning: the following post contains a rant/sermon. As many of you are aware, I’ve gotten serious about my weight and health the last four months or so, so I’m sure I’m suffering from the classic “ex-smoker” evangelical sickness. If you’re looking for my wontedly rational, lucid, and upbeat posts (heh), skip this one.
I would have thought better of NPR. But they recently published a piece that gave air to the idea that we’re applying bad terms and connotations to being overweight and that’s not fair. What’s next – articles supporting the idea that the earth is 10,000 years old?
Anyway, this article is about a book written by Abagail Saguy, “an associate professor of sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles” (which is the kind of person from whom I like to get my medical guidance). Here’s the kind of crap that passes for her argument:
One of her criticisms is the blunt tool with which doctors assess health and weight: body mass index, which doctors say is unhealthy when it hits 30 or higher. “It’s a very arbitrary threshold — there are plenty of people with BMI well over 30 who are perfectly healthy,” she says, “and plenty of people at ‘normal’ weight with metabolic issues.”
Wait. You mean that not everybody will experience identical health outcomes based on their BMI? Quelle surprise! I’m astonished she’s only an associate professor at UCLA.
To be fair, the NPR piece intersperses Saguy’s bullshit with the occasional touchstone to reality, such as a link to this article about the threat that obesity poses to America’s future. But this kind of denial of a national epidemic is all but criminally negligent, especially coming from somebody who is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of California at Los Angeles (dear god, can it actually be true?).
Oh, and Saguy doesn’t want us to use the word “obesity” – it makes people feel bad. She wants us to use “fatness” instead. Quoting Dave Barry: “I am not making this up”.
Now, I am not talking about the parallel fight that’s being fought for the minds of America’s young girls, some of whom think they have to be size zero (and no, I’m not making up the “size zero” either) to be attractive. I abhor the “heroin chic” look and the emaciated look of most models. But a friend of mine with pre-teen daughters quite correctly points out that (statistically speaking) their risk of being obese is orders of magnitude higher than their risk of anorexia or a similar eating disorder. In short, you fight the more imminent threat, and obesity (whoa, I said the word) is the imminent threat.
I would go on with this rant, but Dr. Saguy scuttled her own ship far more effectively than I could; I just had to save this gem for the end of the piece:
But [Saguy is] skeptical about the strength of the data proving causality, with the exception of Type 2 diabetes, which she concedes is tied to excess weight.
Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?