On the Relationship Between Genetics and Body Type

That is all.

Oh, and this.

Update: Submitting that link without comment was probably a bad call. For one thing, as Sweet Machine noticed, it’s written by a Freeper. I admit I didn’t even look at who wrote it, because I just thought, “Huh, that’s interesting,” and posted it. (Which is not, I assure you, how I generally evaluate sources around here.) I still think much of the argument is strong — and it’s sure as hell, uh, thorough — so I’m leaving the link up ’cause, well, sometimes the enemy of my enemy…

But I want to point out two things.

1) I don’t think every point there is equally valid, and didn’t even before I realized who wrote it. (I’m not convinced there’s any “characteristic WLS look,” for instance.) Nor do I think the post as a whole proves anything. I do think, however, that there are a lot of points worth considering there, and some investigative journalist really ought to consider them to the point of finding actual proof one way or another.

2) If Huckabee did have surgery, I wouldn’t really give a crap if he hadn’t then turned around and become a crusader against THE OBESITY CRISIS BOOGA BOOGA BOOGA. And, you know, written a diet book telling people how to be just like him. If he’d lost the weight and then shut the fuck up about it, I wouldn’t think the possibility that he had WLS says anything about his character. But if he’s lying about how he lost it, and profiting both financially and politically from that lie, he damn well deserves to be called out.

57 thoughts on “On the Relationship Between Genetics and Body Type

  1. Well looky that! What I love about his before and after (and Valerie Bertinell’s for whatever crap she’s shilling) is how they have OBVIOUSLY made the before picture larger. Just look at the heads, they are always about 1.5 sizes too big. I could look way smaller at my current weight than in a lower weight picture if I made the smaller one bigger to begin with.

  2. Before and after photos are almost always bogus. In most cases it is simply a matter of the subject changing their stance, standing up straighter and sucking in their gut. VOILA! Instant weight loss :P

  3. You know what I notice about before and after pics, especially those for facial cosmetic surgery, etc.? That the before is NEVER SMILING. The after is ALWAYS SMILING. Geez, do you think “happy” goes far in “pretty?”

    Although, recently, to me, “angry” is pretty pretty, too. ;)

  4. That picture is pure gold. I’m still laughing out loud about the fashion choices.This is a Christmas photo & they’re wearing jeans at the governor’s mansion? Classy.

  5. Now, c’mon, KH, you know the Huckabee (oh, far too many ways to mock that name, must resist) boys are eating two Big Mac, triple orders of fries, and triple shakes every day just like Daddy did before he Saw The Knife, er, Light, and that the daughter picks at salads just like Mommy, because that’s what girls are supposed to do. Genetics, schmenetics!

    But you know, I don’t even want to think about how ugly it could get if the Republicans nominate this guy. For multiple reasons. But ewww, talk about potential Fat Wars. By the time they’re done, I might be writing in Mo’Nique.

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  7. “just like Daddy did before he Saw The Knife, er, Light”

    Meowser, I just spit out my triple shake. Thanks. :)

  8. That’s some pretty damning evidence, all put together like that. But what strikes me the most is how much healthier he looks in the before pictures. Whether it was WLS or not, it looks like the weight loss has been a lot harder on his body than just staying fat would have been.

  9. Well, you know, SM, even a broken clock is right twice a day, so to speak. But yeah, I do wonder if the author is a backer of Mitt Romney.

  10. I don’t know how he lost it and I can’t say I really care. I am curious, though, how his wife and sons are faring in all this.

  11. Well, you know, SM, even a broken clock is right twice a day, so to speak.

    That’s pretty much what I’m thinking. It’s a well thought-out post, regardless of who’s behind it. (And no, I didn’t realize it was Freeper at the time. But the enemy of my enemy and all that.)

  12. But you know, I don’t even want to think about how ugly it could get if the Republicans nominate this guy. For multiple reasons.

    I’m holding to the hope that he’d be unelectable in the general election.

    Emphasis on hope.

  13. Wow, I almost couldn’t tell what you were talking about, because those vertical stripes are so effective at camouflaging teh fat .

    Also, blue elbow patches are my favorite.

  14. Becky, I totally agree – fat Huckabee looks to be in the pink of health, and I don’t just say that because I like fat guys, either. In his “after” pictures, he looks really ill, like he had cancer or some wasting disease.

  15. Dr. Paul Ernsberger has commented repeatedly on the look of post-bariatric patients and the accelerated aging visible. And you see it all the time. Many exhibit exactly what their body is undergoing: wasting and starvation. I have to confess, I found the case compelling. If it’s true, it makes his war on obesity especially henious.

  16. Thank you for spelling it out so clearly, because as you say – at the core of it, I don’t really care how Huckabee lost all that weight. However, since HE has made it an issue, and since HE has exploited the media’s unquenchable thirst for a good Ex-Fatty Redemption Story and since HE has parlayed our culture’s ridiculous belief that “thin = morally superior” into an actual bid for the role of President of the U.S….. NOW I care how he lost all that weight.

  17. I totally agree with your addenda, Kate — I didn’t mean to imply that it was a total wash or anything, just that I was surprised by the source. Because yeah, if this is true, then we’ve got some Larry Craig-style hypocrisy here, only with personal profit attached. Awesome!

    Wow, I almost couldn’t tell what you were talking about, because those vertical stripes are so effective at camouflaging teh fat .

    KSJ, this killed me dead.

  18. I have to confess, I found the case compelling. If it’s true, it makes his war on obesity especially henious.

    Sandy, I completely agree with you on both counts.

  19. As a scientist, I have to say, that article is incredibly well presented. I would like to see some other sources and frankly, I would like to hear a firm denial from him before moving forward but I hope Gina Kolata picks up on this piece. That would be outstanding.

  20. Some of the previous comments, while meant in jest, hit me wrong. If people were talking about a picture of a fat woman and making disparaging observations about her, no one would think it was funny. But to make fun of someone’s clothes is okay? Just trying to figure out where the line is in terms of not judging people based on their physical appearance; this seems like a bit of a double standard. Or maybe it’s just human nature to mock others who don’t look the way we think they should, be it because of fat or clothes or bad hair. I don’t know.

  21. If people were talking about a picture of a fat woman and making disparaging observations about her, no one would think it was funny. But to make fun of someone’s clothes is okay?

    In a word? Yes.

  22. You don’t think Huckabee allows his wife and daughter to eat the same things as he does, D? Hmm, now that you mention it that does seem to line up with the typical fundie attitude towards women’s autonomy.

    Anyway, you’re right, this is just anecdotal evidence. If only there were some kind of twin study on the heritability of weight.

  23. I was so amazed with the family resemblance and hip-mo-tized by the stripes, I didn’t even notice the dog in the Mom’s lap. Let’s hope it never gets mange …

  24. Oops, sorry, FJ. I just deleted D’s comment without realizing you’d approved it and responded.

    The comment was, “On the relationship between people who eat the same meals and body type.”

    I had the exact same response to that as FJ in my head, but I didn’t want to approve the comment, lest D. come back here to discuss it further.

  25. Didn’t one of you link to a Flicker photo stream of an identical twin gathering of some sort on an old thread? That was some stunning evidence on genetics and body type …

  26. I was visiting my parents for Christmas and picked up a Christmas card they had lying around from one of my dad’s co-workers – one of those cards that has a picture of the whole family on vacation on the front. There were three daughters – two looked exactly like their father, write down to the dark curly hair, and the tall and solid build (probably borderline fat by most cultural standards today). The third looked exactly like her mother, right down to the straight blond hair and the much slighter build.

    But I’m sure it’s just that the father is responsible for feeding the two girls with his hair type and making sure they don’t exercise, and the mother is responsible for feeding the girl with her hair and making sure she does, you know?

  27. But to make fun of someone’s clothes is okay?

    Let’s put it this way. If it were some poor, anonymous person who could only afford what was at the Goodwill or in a donation bag, then no, making fun of their clothes would not be okay with me. (Although if I knew they did come from a donation bag and were really awful, I could see giving a ration of shit to the person who donated them.) But this is the governor of Arkansas we’re talking about (the office he held at the time this photo was taken). A guy with enough money and power to make a Presidential run. We’re not kicking a man when he’s down, here. Far from it.

  28. If people were talking about a picture of a fat woman and making disparaging observations about her, no one would think it was funny.

    I don’t think it’s because he’s a man, Renee. Looking at the specific comments in this thread, along with Kate’s contrition over having linked to a blogger who also posts at FreeRepublic, I think it’s because people don’t mind mocking someone whose politics they disagree with. (And I have to say I’m disappointed by that.)

  29. Honestly — and I don’t usually subscribe to essentialist statements (as most Shapelings know) — but I think it’s not because of politics or gender, but because matching outfits are, categorically, hilarious.

  30. My only real problem with Huckabee is that I don’t want him to be president.

    It’s interesting to me how that article refers to bariatric surgery patients as “bariatrics”. Shades of talking about “the obese”. These are adjectives, people (and more to the point, these are adjectives *for* people…the people don’t stop being people because these adjectives happen to apply).

    The complaint I have about Huckabee’s surgical status is that if it turns out he did in fact have bariatric surgery that’s a health risk on the order of Paul Tsongas’ cancer, and I do think voters have the right to know if they’re electing someone with a greater than average chance of dying in office. (I know WLS supporters will argue with me on that one, but the statistics for grave complications, even years later, are quite grim, even if some individual outcomes are relatively trouble free.)

  31. FJ, there’s another study somewhere out there (don’t know exactly where, sorry!) that followed twins adopted into separate families, and found them not only similar in weight to each other, but closer in weight to their natural parents than to their adoptive families. Which tends to bear out your link.

    Really, as a Brit I don’t quite understand your whole US presidential process, but I do smell a distinct lack of the truth here, and the figures look pretty convincing. Now, over here we just have a PM who’s not lying about his weight loss, because he appears to be staying fat. But, so he can be seen to ‘care’ about health, he’s happy to restrict NHS treatment to those fat folks who unlike him, can’t afford private health insurance. I’m really not sure which is worse.

  32. FJ, there’s another study somewhere out there (don’t know exactly where, sorry!) that followed twins adopted into separate families, and found them not only similar in weight to each other, but closer in weight to their natural parents than to their adoptive families.

    Not a surprise! Those studies show basically the same thing as identical twin vs. fraternal twin studies, but are much easier for most people to understand what’s going on (though they tend to be tough to perform and have a small sample size, because, well, shit), so if I want to get my point across I should probably hunt it down.

    And yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s where Huckabee is leading with his “I lost weight through diet and exercise and YOU CAN TOO” rhetoric. The Republicans have to find some way of stemming our insane health care spending while continuing to insist that competition is the way to lower costs and the free market will prevail. So even though the Congressional Budget Office has found that overuse of expensive and unproven technologies is responsible for the vast majority of overspending, they’re likely to go for common health cost scapegoats like fatties.

  33. This got me thinking about that other Gov of Arkansas, and how he recently lost some weight. From this article, though, Bill Clinton seems much more realistic about his weight loss (compared to, “I lost 105 pounds and will never be a fatty-fatty again!!!”).

    After his bypass surgery he lost 25 pounds and has probably put 10 back on, he said.

    Asked if he was happy with his current weight, he said: “No,” the shortest answer of the interview, and said he wants to lose five pounds. “I weigh myself every day,” he said, “ and it’s a painful thing to do.”

    The other thing that struck me about this article was that it wasn’t magic – he didn’t suddenly and easily lose weight, it has been a struggle his whole life and he tried many different approaches.

    Please understand that I don’t agree with dieting and all of the “facts” he states nor with the “we must protect the childrenz!” crusade, just that this article shows a political figure struggling with his weight in a far more realistic way than, “boom! weight gone! fat = evil” that Huckabee peddles.

  34. Too bad he lost all that weight. He was hot as a fattie (that dimple!). Until he spoke that is. (Evangelicals, like children, should be neither seen nor heard.)

  35. p.s: don’t worry. Huckabee’s not getting the nomination. The only reason he won Iowa is because Obama not only won the Dems but also managed to split the Republican vote. The hardcore conservatives caucused Republican but the moderate Reps and fence sitters caucused for Obama. I am still amazed.

  36. OK, because I’m a science geek, and I’ve got a cold so have nothing better to do on a Saturday night (and this is so much more fun than writting that proposal I should be working on!), I did some quick sleuthing. I searched PubMed for twin studies of obesity and/or BMI, and came up with 5 papers – just in the last year, in a very brief scan – citing high heritability of obesity. In fact, most of these papers – as well as others I glanced at – started out their abstracts with statements such as “It is well known that BMI is strongly influenced by genetics”. So this fact is well-known among “real” scientists in the field, if not those that appear in the media.

    Here’s a quick summary of main points and citations:

    Landt et al 2007 (Acta Psychiatr. Scand. Dec. 11): BMI was highly heritable in both men (76%) and women (80%)
    Goode et al 2007 (Twin Res Hum Genet. 10(5):703-11): studied changes in genetic vs. environmental influences over time in males. The heritability of BMI increased from 48% at mean age 48 to 61% at mean age 63 (side note: it’s interesting that the heritability tracks the age, though surely coincidental)
    Silventoinen et al 2007 (Int J Obes (Lond). 31(4):615-21): Studied Swedish male twins from age 1-18. 81-95% of the variation in BMI was attributable to genetics, and BMI at each year of age was increasingly correlated with BMI at age 1, with an r of 0.91 at age 17 (i.e., BMI at age 1 explained 91% of the variation in BMI at age 17).
    Watson et al. 2006 (Sleep. 29(5):645-9): based on a twin study in WA state of obesity, insomnia, and sleepiness (interesting combination!). They found 73% heritability for obesity, versus only 57% for insomnia and 38% for sleepiness.
    Klump et al 2007 (Arch Gen Psychiatry. 64(12):1409-15): This study actually looked at disordered eating rather than obesity or BMI per se. They found that this is also highly heritable, with genetics explaining 46% of the variance in disordered eating amongst teenage females in Minnesota.

    I currently have a PDF of the Silventoinen study, and can probably get PDFs of most of the others when I return to campus. If anyone would like a copy of any of the above, email me at viajera06 at gmail dot com.

  37. Nice work, kira!

    And I’ve always been struck by the fact that the heritability of BMI is well-known in the media, but only when they think it’s funny. Jokes about how your thin girlfriend is going to turn into her fat mama: hilarious! A fat person legitimately claiming that fat has a genetic component: pathetic excuses and lies!

  38. Of course they wear jeans at the governor’s mansion, it is Arkansas.
    Many years ago Jay Leno interviewed the governor and his wife in front of the triple wide trailer (manufactured home) they lived in while the mansion was being renovated. When they saw a large black dog emerge from underneath the porch the studio audience completely lost it.

  39. Clothing=choice (particularly when you’re the GOVERNER. it’s not as if you can’t afford anything else).

    Body size=not.

    That’s my personal distinction with judgements. Behavior deserves judgement — that’s what our judicial system is built on, anyway. People dress in a particular way trying to make a particular statement to the world (even if that statement is “don’t look at me” or “I don’t give a rat’s ass about fashion/what you think”). I do not feel bad about judging that.

    That said, matching outfits are bad enough when they are acceptable outifts…but those?!?! JEEEEEZUS.

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  41. Matching clothes = hilarious?

    I think there might have even been a Danny DeVito skit on Saturday Night Live about that very thing (Just CINCH it!”)

    But then I’m the rude asshat who chuckles under my breath when I see men wearing long skirts in the college town where I live. Lots of dude wear long skirts here.

    And hey, I think it’s safe to say we’ve all laughed at our fashion choices — caught gloriously in yearbook and family photos — over the years.

  42. My boyfriend lives in a VERY hipster college town. (You know, the kind where everyone pretends to be all bohemian hippie mother-earth loving gothic emo whatever just because it’s “cool”? but vehemently and vocally opposes anything “cool”?) I probably don’t need to say it, but I do a lot of laughing when we’re out in public.

  43. Clothing = choice, especially if you have the money to buy clothing (i.e. Huckabee). If I see someone getting out of a brand new BMW wearing utter mismatched crap, I think its OK to make fun of them.

    My only opinion on Huckabee is that he should not be President, ever. And it has nothing to do with weight loss (I have nothing against said other Gov. of Arkansas who lost loads of weight). We just butt heads too much.

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