I still feel too much like ass to write anything new, so if you’re looking for something to read, try Sandy Szwarc’s fantastic Junk Food Science.
I’m especially fond of her “Obesity Paradox” series, found here, here, and here. In it, she discusses increasing evidence that fat not only doesn‘t kill, but can in fact protect against numerous diseases, including some it’s widely assumed to cause. And, as she notes, this is not a true “paradox,” because it actually supports what scientists have been finding about fat, in study after study, for decades–it’s just that all we ever hear is the opposite. Data is manipulated, huge swaths of subjects are excluded to make the results match the hypotheses, and if all else fails, they just flat-out lie.
As my boyfriend Paul Campos points out, very little obesity research is funded by the government. Who funds it? The people who have a reason to: diet and drug corporations. When the data shows what it always has–that except for extremes of fat and thin, weight in itself has nothing to do with health, and that mortality rates are usually slightly lower among people considered “overweight” and even “obese” than among those who have a “healthy” BMI (let alone the underweight)–scientists have to scramble to undercut their own findings, or they won’t be funded again. It’s not a conspiracy theory; it’s the reality of the market.
I’m reading The Obesity Myth for the third time now, and I’m still shocked and outraged on practically every page, even when I read passages I’ve already underlined and returned to more than once. The enormity of the lie we’ve been sold is so mind-boggling, it’s hard to hold on to all the facts he presents–I put down the book, spend another 15 minutes living in this culture, and all I can remember of Campos’s argument is, “Something something fat maybe not so bad… Wait, that can’t be right, can it?” If the details really stuck with me, I’d probably go batshit from the cognitive dissonance.
But I want them to stick. Next, I’m even going to branch out and read some of the other authors he recommends. And then probably revisit the first book that woke me up to the relationship between big business and diet insanity. (I was 22 when I read it, at the tail end of my first Jenny Craig stint, and the two things I still remember learning from that book are that 1] Weight Watchers was owned by H.J. Heinz [it's not anymore], and 2] not just clothing companies, but jewelry, shoe, and cosmetic manufacturers will pull their advertising from women’s magazines if they accept plus-size clothing ads or publish articles saying it’s not so bad to be fat. That was the first time I ever thought about the relationship between advertising and editorial content at all, so it blew my fucking mind.)
Get ready for ranting when I’m recovered.