Fat Causes Cancer! Except when It Prevents It! Or Has Dick-all to Do with It! But Didn’t You Hear Us? FAT CAUSES CANCER!

So yesterday, Liss sent me the link to this story, courtesy of reader Tabitha, who astutely noted, “I feel the emphasis was on how fat people are liars.”

The deal is this: turns out eating a low-fat, high-veggie diet does not reduce the risk of breast cancer returning. A government study, which followed over 3,000 women for seven years, “found no benefit from a mega-veggies-and-fruit diet over the U.S.-recommended servings of five fruits and vegetables a day — more than most Americans get.”

Here’s where it gets interesting:

Researchers noted that none of the breast cancer survivors lost weight on either diet. That led some experts to suggest that weight loss and exercise should be the next frontier for cancer prevention research. The study appears in Wednesday’s Journal of the American Medical Association.

Emphasis mine. Here’s what the people in the mega-veggie group were eating:

A group of 1,537 women were randomly assigned to a daily diet that included five vegetable servings, three fruit servings, 16 ounces of vegetable juice and 30 grams of fiber. In most cases, a serving equaled a half-cup. French fries and iceberg lettuce couldn’t be counted as vegetables.

The women were allowed to eat meat, but were told to get no more than 15 percent to 20 percent of their calories from fat, a goal they ultimately were unable to achieve.

None of them lost weight.

Most of them “failed to meet the fat target,” we’re told — not surprising, considering even the FDA recommends we get 30% of our daily calories from fat (and the women in this group still ate about 13% less fat than those in the other) — and blood tests confirmed that these women were telling the truth about eating their mega-veggies.

But they may not have been so honest about the calories they ate. The super-veggie group gained 1.3 pounds and the comparison group gained 0.88 pound, on average.

“There’s no question they were underreporting on calories, especially the heavier women,” Pierce said, or they would have lost weight.

That’s the last line of the story, by the way. The story about how eating produce affects cancer. Which you might have forgotten, since the whole goddamned thing ended up being about weight loss.

Also, um, this study was seven years long. And women in both groups gained about a pound. In seven years. And somehow this means “There’s no question they were underreporting on calories, especially the heavier women”?

How is there no question about that again — considering people tend to gain weight as they age? And how the hell do we know it’s especially true that the heavier women were lying? Your evidence for this is what?

Also, since the women in the low-fat group gained more weight than those in the other, yet ate 13% less fat… uh, WTF? IT’S ALMOST LIKE DIETING WON’T CAUSE LONG-TERM THINNESS!

I love that what they take from this is, we need to study whether “weight loss and exercise” are the key to preventing cancer. First, those are two separate fucking things. It’s well established that exercise has health benefits out the wazoo, so maybe it does help with cancer — that would be awesome. But IT DOESN’T CAUSE LONG-TERM THINNESS. If you try to study exercise and weight loss simultaneously, you’re going to muddy the results regarding exercise alone, which might actually be useful. Second, if your own study just demonstrated that a low-fat, high-produce diet causes weight gain over seven years, how the fuck do you propose to make people lose weight so you can study it? Lipo? Starvation? One of the umpteen other diets with a 95% failure rate? Good luck with that.

Oh, wait, sorry — I forgot they were lying about their calorie intake, especially the fatties. Which you seem have absolutely no evidence for, save a 1-lb. weight gain over seven years. And you do have hard evidence that they were truthful in reporting other aspects of their food intake. But clearly, you can’t gain weight if you consume fewer calories than you burn! It’s thermodynamics, people! DUH!

Excuse me. I need a moment to bang my head against a wall for a bit before we continue.

Okay. I’m good now.

So. Reading this article inspired me to start Googling for info about obesity and cancer. I suspected I would find that some studies show fat can be protective against cancer. And lo, what’s this? Obese pre-menopausal women have a reduced chance of developing breast cancer!

Now, let’s look at the mainstream media version of the same story:

Obesity remains one of the strongest risk factors for postmenopausal breast cancer. Around 80 percent of breast cancers are diagnosed in women who are 50 and over.

Because of this, the slight protective effect of obesity against disease early in life should not be taken as license to pack on the pounds at any point in life, Michels warns.

What the article fails to note is that, even if obesity is a risk factor for post-menopausal women where breast cancer is concerned, it is also significantly correlated with longer life in general, with an increased ability to recover from cardiac events, and with higher bone density — all pretty big pluses for older women. (Though in any case, whether it supports my argument or not, correlation is still not freakin’ causation.)

As someone with no family history of breast cancer, I would absolutely take my chances on obesity prolonging my life, even in light of what they’re saying here. Don’t get me wrong — if you do have a family history of breast cancer, of course it’s worth following these studies more closely than I would. (Though I’m not sure what you can do about it if you’re post-menopausal and fat, since diets still don’t work in the long term, even if being fat is a genuine health problem.) But this article is telling us that no woman should think it’s okay to be fat, because being fat might mean a higher risk of breast cancer later in life — even though fat protects against numerous other diseases later in life (and breast cancer earlier in life!), and the list of risk factors for breast cancer is about a mile long; among all the others, obesity barely rates.

What else does Google have to tell us about obesity and cancer? Well, there are all the articles about how a low-fat diet will conquer cancer — which, uh, the study we started out with here has disproven. And then there are all the articles about how being fat gives you cancer, which mostly issue from this study, published in 2003.

A couple things about that study:

1. It only measured subjects’ BMIs at the outset of the 16-year-study. So if, over those 16 years, subjects lost weight — either from the cancer itself, the treatment, or dieting — it went unacknowledged. Meaning at least some of the correlation with “obesity” could actually be a correlation with weight loss or weight cycling. We’ll never know.

2. What he said. Paul Campos to the rescue of reason once again. (And thanks to NAAFA for archiving it.) The highlights of that response:

  • The study actually showed the lowest cancer rates among “overweight” people — those with a BMI of 25-29.9.
  • The only real increased risk was among those with a BMI above 40. That’s less than 5% of the population. (Yet all the MSM articles are quick to point out that 60-odd percent of the population is “overweight” or “obese,” so we should all be worried!)
  • Even among that group, the association was weak.
  • Studies by the American Cancer Society from 1995 and a 1999 showed a correlation between intentional weight loss and increased cancer mortality risk.

That last bit especially makes a small, selfish part of me want to say, “Go ahead, assholes. Study whether weight loss prevents cancer recurrence. ‘Cause you’ll probably find that it fucking increases it, and we’ll have yet more evidence that fat doesn’t kill, and dieting does.”

But the problem is, we’re talking about real people with real cancer here, not just statistics. I don’t want to see anyone die to prove a point. But that’s exactly what will happen if researchers willfully, insistently keep barking up the wrong goddamned tree, ignoring the mountain of evidence that the “overweight” BMI category has the lowest mortality rates when it comes to just about everything, the “healthy” weight category consistently has about the same risks as the “obese” one, and both extreme obesity and underweight are equally unhealthy — and equally rare. Not to mention if they keep insisting that calories in/calories out is the key to weight loss for everyone, despite that having been disproven about a gazillion times over, and if they keep insisting that anyone who fails to lose weight on a controlled diet must be lying about what they eat.

And lay people will continue to be woefully misinformed, as long as reporters keep framing the studies like this: Obesity Is Found to Make Ovarian Cancer Deadlier. From the middle of the article:

The researchers acknowledge that their study, published yesterday in the journal Cancer, has certain weaknesses.

They found that a slightly lower dose of chemotherapy relative to body surface was given to obese patients, and it is possible that this underdosing may have had a role.

In addition, fluid in the body cavity, a symptom of the disease, may have artificially increased the B.M.I. of some patients. And it is possible that other diseases like hypertension and diabetes, more prevalent among the obese, could have decreased survival among those patients.

The study was also limited by its retrospective method and small sample population.

Emphasis mine. The article goes on to say that the researchers suspect fat somehow promotes tumor regrowth or “makes tumors less sensitive to chemotherapy.” You know what else might make chemotherapy less effective? NOT GETTING ENOUGH OF IT. Did you just miss that part in your own research, guys?

Oh, also? According to this doctor, being obese doesn’t increase your chances of getting ovarian cancer; just of dying from it (slightly) earlier if you already have it. So once again, if you don’t have other risk factors for ovarian cancer — like, off the top of my head, if you don’t have ovaries — being fat will probably not increase your risk of dying from it. But as always, the upshot is, JUST DON’T BE FAT, WHOEVER YOU ARE.

The article’s conclusion:

”Reducing obesity and maintaining an ideal body weight,” he said, ”is important for many reasons. This is just one more health problem in which obesity plays a role.”

Yeah. The problem is, when you look at the data, the “role” obesity plays usually seems to be “back row of the chorus,” but both the reporting and the research keep trying to force it into the lead.

35 thoughts on “Fat Causes Cancer! Except when It Prevents It! Or Has Dick-all to Do with It! But Didn’t You Hear Us? FAT CAUSES CANCER!

  1. The same page refresh that pulled this post into my feed reader is the one that also pulled down two articles from a news feed: Obesity Found To Be A Risk Factor For Multiple Myeloma – Science Daily and Obesity Not Associated with More Aggressive Prostate Cancer – Cancer Consultants.

    Haven’t read any of the above yet (and will probably read them and think of a dozen other things i wish i’d said instead, but ultimately feel like a doofus for making multiple comments), but am mildly overwhelmed by the preponderance of ZOMGFAT=CANCER. Cancer is no longer the death sentence it used to be, but still not a walk in the park, and still used to scare the bejeezus outta everyone. Back in the 80s and 90s, they couldn’t make up their minds about whether or not eggs caused or prevented cancer, ditto that for bran and half a dozen other foodstuffs.

    I’m just too damn tired of all of the scare tactics. It bothers me that so many people don’t see the patterns, that they still fall for it, still buy into every last drop of terror. It’s enough to make a girl want to find a nice cave somewhere out in the wilderness.

  2. Poking around, I was struck by the massaging of “fact” presentation at cancer.org’s “What Are the Risk Factors for Ovarian Cancer?”:

    Risk factor two: “A study from the American Cancer Society found a higher rate of death from ovarian cancer in obese women. The risk was increased by 50% in the heaviest women.”

    Right down the bottom of the page: “A recent study suggested that using estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) increases the risk of developing ovarian cancer, and that the risk increases with continued use. The risk among women who used ERT for longer than 10 years was almost double that of women who had never used it, and the risk among those who used it for 20 years or more was tripled. (Remember, however, that the average lifetime risk for ovarian cancer is only about 2%.) Most of these findings have been for women taking estrogen alone, not for those taking combined progesterone and estrogen. The increased risk is less certain for women taking both drugs. Because there have not been enough women studied, doctors are not sure that estrogens do increase the risk of ovarian cancer.”

  3. lauredhel, it’s always important to keep a sense of perspective about statistics, unless that sense of perspective would make you decide to get fat!

    That’s what always strikes me… the admonitions not to go around getting fat just because it turns out to be kinda good for you sometimes. Not to mention the obvious straw-grasping when they try to come up with reasons why you should continue to fight your body, despite mounting evidence that you shouldn’t.

  4. Cancer is no longer the death sentence it used to be, but still not a walk in the park, and still used to scare the bejeezus outta everyone.

    Lindsay, while I agree with you about the scare tactics, and suspect you’re right that on the whole, average mortality rates from all forms of cancer have dropped, there are still plenty of kinds of cancer that remain essentially a death sentence.

    Since I know I have readers who have lost loved ones to cancer, I just wanted to make that distinction clear.

  5. it’s always important to keep a sense of perspective about statistics, unless that sense of perspective would make you decide to get fat!

    Statements like that always make me wish I had the technology to do rotating tag lines like BFD.

  6. What gets me so riled up is that these studies were done 50 years ago!

    There really is no excuse for a health professional to be ignorant of the real causes of obesity, yet the “conventional wisdom” is calories in-calories out=teh thinzz!11!!


  7. Kate, i realize that i was indeed overgeneralizing – i myself have lost loved ones to cancer. Recently, even. So i should know better… my head’s just a bit all over the map this morning. My bad.

  8. Kate, thanks so much for getting mad and swearing so I don’t feel as ‘crazy’ when I get mad and swear at these kind of articles.



    ARGH. You are a gem. Just stop posting about cute clothes because you are making me want to shop, and I hate shopping.*

    *but less so now that I am all loving my body and stuff.

  9. Kate, this is really brilliant. You did SO MUCH with this article, I’d have flagged from exhaustion after two or three mini-rants.

    But there’s one that gets me you didn’t address:

    Because of this, the slight protective effect of obesity against disease early in life should not be taken as license to pack on the pounds at any point in life, Michels warns.

    License to pack on the pounds? License to pack on the pounds? Fucking fuck! Does this douchehound actually believe that women reading the article might say “Bag this diet racket, I’m eating an Entemann’s chocolate ring right now!”? I mean, does he think the naturally thin will suddenly by an entire Stop & Shop’s supply of Dorrito’s and stuff ’em down in the hopes of avoiding the Big C?

    I don’t know which is uglier, the “pack on the pounds” which is so vulgar and demeaning and feederish, or the “license,” because clearly it’s all about getting permission, neither genetics nor free will are involved.

    He’s like, stressed there will be no thin women left for him to fuck if he doesn’t add the caveat.

  10. Deborah, right on. I already ranted about the “license” thing in a previous post, and I’m totally with you on the “pack on the pounds” bit. I was considering saying something about the inappropriateness of that phrasing in this context — and how often such phrasing appears in science reporting (see also: “rolls of blubber”), but I just got overwhelmed by the million other rants.

    And yeah, no kidding — who the hell do they think is going to run out and eat themselves sick because they hear that fat isn’t deadly? You mean it won’t kill me? Then what I’d really love is a horrible stomachache and maybe some violent runs! Get me a dozen butter burgers! And who’s going to try to become fat in a society where it stills makes you a pariah? And how are they gonna do it, since for the most part, you can’t make yourself fattter in the long term any more than you can make yourself thinner?


  11. My maternal grandmother, mother, sister and maternal aunt all had various forms of cancer. Somehow, I think genetics will play more of a role in if I ever develop it than how much lard graces my ass.

  12. One of the things which strikes me about the reporting of all of these studies is that the underlying assumption in the mainstream media appears to be that dying is not natural.


    Everything dies. Everything. So far the extremes of provable human longevity are about one hundred and twenty to one hundred and thirty years, and anything over that is probably exaggerated for marketing purposes. Our bodies wear out. They fall to pieces. Cancer is, typically, a disease associated with outliving the regenerative capability of the body (and yes, I do know some types of cancer tend to strike younger people rather than older – as far as I’m aware this just points to some people having a shorter regenerative capability than others). Even if you follow every single tip to increase your longevity, you cannot outlive your body’s capability to repair itself, which starts slowing down and becoming cranky in about your thirties. These days, the majority of cancers are eminently treatable, if found soon enough. A number of them aren’t even deadly. My grandfather, who died about four years ago, had a cancer of the prostate. However, what killed him was his lungs wearing out, which wasn’t linked to the cancer at all.

    Death is a natural part of life. The default state for human beings is *not* immortality, no matter how much the mainstream media would like to convince us otherwise. I’d rather learn how to avoid a long, slow, prolonged, miserable death, or how to hold on to my mind for the whole of my life rather than growing slowly more senile, like my two grandmothers. I doubt my weight is likely to affect the latter (must have a look at some stage – has anyone done any studies of the effect of weight on the likelihood of dementia in the aged?).

  13. “But that’s exactly what will happen if researchers willfully, insistently keep barking up the wrong goddamned tree, ignoring the mountain of evidence that the “overweight” BMI category has the lowest mortality rates when it comes to just about everything, the “healthy” weight category consistently has about the same risks as the “obese” one, and both extreme obesity and underweight are equally unhealthy — and equally rare.”

    I love you for saying that/. Its exactly what ive been thinking lately. oh, another study about fat relating to disease! oh wait, the people overweight have the lowest mortality rates? nice. OH BUT STILL KEEP THIN BECAUSE FAT IS DANGEROUS OMGZ.

    Its like they ignore the statistics they just lovingly gathered anyway, because they cant seem to grasp that some body fat is actually good for you.

    I also find it interesting that the body aesthetic the greeks had would be considered ‘overweight’ in today’s society.. yet they made their gods and godesses look like that because they were powerful, strong and healthy figures.

    It makes sense they would choose the figures of people that had the best chance of living long. Besides the fact that they looked darned good and scrummy too.

  14. Deborah, E-FUCKING-XACTLY. (I couldn’t figure out how to break up the word so it didn’t look ridiculous, but felt compelled to add the “fucking” to indicate how right you are. FUCKING right.)

    Laura, yeah, talk about weight inflation! I was just talking to a (fat!) seamstress about making a dress, and she said something like “if it’s fitted, you have to be sure you’re not going to gain or lose five pounds before you wear it.” I was like uh, I gain or lose five pounds on a weekly basis depending on how much water I’m drinking and whether I’ve been lifting weights. (The fact that I know that is a problem — it’s an artifact of my being unable to resist the scale at the gym — but the gain and loss is just normal human body behavior.)

  15. Far be it for me to defend my mother on anything, but she is 80, obese, with osteoporosis, a 20-year lung cancer survivor, still smoking, and diabetic. Did I mention that she is 80 years old? Imagine what I can do with a healthy diet, daily exercise, and no smoking. Even IN a size 16.

  16. Excellent reporting, Kate. If more journalists were as thorough and open-minded as you, perhaps some of these sort of news stories would decline.

  17. Deborah and Kate:

    Who the hell do they think is going to run out and eat themselves sick because they hear that fat isn’t deadly?

    The answer is, crazy diet-y thin women who buy into all of it.

    I worked with a woman who was perpetually dieting. Always starving. Always obsessing over food. If things were not perfectly planned, she would panic. She could never go out to lunch without several days notice because it took her that long to figure out what she could eat and how to adjust the rest of her intake to accommodate.

    She was an absolutely drop dead gorgeous woman. (Still is, I believe.) An amazon. Around 6′ tall and big bones and just fucking stunning. Through the years I worked with her I watched her as she got engaged and finally married.

    And one day, maybe a year before her wedding, she said to me, I can’t wait until this is over and then I can eat again.

    And I was like, What??

    She started gaining weight right after her wedding. Packed on the pounds. Where they fucking belonged. I would never describe her as fat, she never really gets round, just… meaty. Still gorgeous, of course. And relieved to eat. But full of self-loathing. More than full of it… it spills out of her.

    And three years later her desktop photo is her in her wedding dress. She made it. She was perfect that day. So what else counts?

    If the patriarchs had somehow given her permission, license, if you will, a little sooner, she could have come out to lunch with us a little more frequently.

  18. Roberta, a woman like that, I mean it’s not enough to say She Got Issues. The 3 days of planning? That will come out some other way.

    Like my friend who had gastric bypass, and all of a sudden her alcoholism spun out of control. Can’t blame the fat anymore, y’know? Part of it is that the cultural attitude towards fat makes us crazy, but part of it (for some people) is that we pack our crazies into our weight issues.

  19. Thank you, Kate, for your Benihanan slice-and-dice of this horseshit which requires a special horseshit knife so as not to contaminate all the other foodstuffs. I was in full-on “WTP?” mode when I read this thing, too. “Permission to pack on the pounds”? GAAAAH. Like Roberta said, that only happens when you’ve been frigging making yourself starve for years and frigging years and then finally let yourself eat. Slowed metabolism + bingeing = sumo wrestler diet in miniature.

    Even if you came out with a study that said the healthiest possible weight was 400 pounds and that that’s what everyone should be aiming for (hey, you never know), there’s no way in the world I could forsee being able to double my weight, or even gain 50 pounds, solely because of how I ate, even if I ate myself silly and drank tons of sugar water at every available opportunity. My individual biology simply won’t allow it. People don’t get this. There’s an upper limit for everyone on how much they can weigh, and with rare exceptions it won’t change much as a result of eating habits. If you haven’t been dieting your whole life, that is.

  20. …the “overweight” BMI category has the lowest mortality rates when it comes to just about everything, the “healthy” weight category consistently has about the same risks as the “obese” one, and both extreme obesity and underweight are equally unhealthy — and equally rare.

    Kate, I noticed the lack of quotation marks around unhealthy there and was wondering if that was intentional. At first I figured you were just making reference to what BMI studies say, but I want to make sure. A blanket statement about how “morbidly obese” or “underweight” people are unhealthy seems contradictory to what I have percieved your views to be.

    Otherwise, amazing post. Your rants read and make sense and you reference sources. Thanks for putting so much effort into your posts and sharing with us in frustration and anger. I get so tired of this pseudo science mixed with cultural bias my head nearly explodes.

  21. Kate, I noticed the lack of quotation marks around unhealthy there and was wondering if that was intentional.

    Withoutscene, it was intentional, but perhaps poorly phrased. My point was that both categories seem to have about equal health risks, which are indeed greater than those in the other categories — though neither being “morbidly obese” nor underweight automatically means one is unhealthy.

    Thanks for keeping me honest.

  22. Paul Ernsberger, one of the few obesity researchers that takes HAES and fat acceptance seriously (he seems to mostly research possible neurological causes for diabetes, and why some people are predisposed to being fat along with that), has postulated that even the noted higher risk associated with the 40+ BMI category can be mostly explained through the known health risks of weight cycling – the fatter you are, the more likely you are to have had larger weight loss and regain, and it’s a bigger stress on your body for a 400lb person to lose 100lbs and regain 110 than it is for a 150lb person to lose 20lbs and regain 25. Even if you’re really, really fat, if you maintain a stable weight, your associated risks are greatly lowered.

  23. Hi Kate, Love your blog! Love your rant about this new study, it’s right on the money!
    What I found intruiging myself, while reading the entire report on CNN, was what one of the researchers said: “This should really lift some of the guilt if women are feeling, ‘I’m just not doing enough’.” In itself, I found this a very compassionate and wise remark. So many people, through the constant hammering of propaganda stating YOU WILL BE HEALTHY/THIN/GET OLD, ALL YOU NEED TO DO IS LIVE RIGHT!!!, (the capitals and exclamation marks don’t even begin to resemble the loudness of the hammering) seem to forget that *not* every illness you get is your own fault – or, better put: *most* illnesses are *not* your own fault. Unfortunately, that of course is what the researcher didn’t stress, and, more unfortunately, the rest of the researchers didn’t pick up on that to make it the conclusion of their study: that one simply cannot control one’s health entirely.
    As for the eating and not losing weight part because of underreporting: according to a science journalist I know (whom I don’t trust entirely, but he’s very well informed), most *diet* studies *do* show an underreporting of calorie intake. (I’m talking about diet studies here, my reasoning takes some time to come to the cancer-veggie study, please keep reading). Apparently, the fatter a person in a diet study is, the higher the underreporting. Now to me, as a chronic and trying-to-kick-that-habit dieter, this behaviour is totally understandable. Usually, the fatter you are, the more deeply maddening, insatiable, undeniable hunger you develop when on a calorie restricted diet. [That’s what I would like to yell at all those diet/obesity researchers: it’s not just hunger, it’s hunger *caused by dieting*, stupid!] So eating more than you’re ‘allowed’ in the study and then – oh God the shame: I’m in a diet study and can’t even stick to a diet now! – ‘lying’ about that, is so human! But I think, these kind of diet studies have probably led to and certainly fed the popular myth that *all* fat people lie about what they eat (whether on an inhumane/calorie restricted diet or not) and would lose weight ‘if only’ they stuck to eating right/less. Hence the conclusion in this new cancer-veggie study – which by the way shows that researchers have come to believe that *all people period* lie about what they eat when they don’t lose weight on ‘eating right’, although the researcher (and reporter, by ending his story with it) stresses that ‘of course’ the “heavier women” lie *more*.
    What I think is totally sloppy journalism though – apart from the obviously ridiculously not stressing that ‘gaining’ so little weight in so much time is not really gaining at all – is that the reporter should have asked about the *second* control group in this study (which obviously turned from a cancer study into a diet study!) Because the story reads: “That’s a tough diet,” said [researcher] Pierce, who ate that way himself along with his staff and the women in the study.
    No. Wait. This guy is said to have eaten the same way as the women in the study. So why didn’t this CNN-reporter ask *him* if he had lost weight with the diet? Because, uhm, I dunno, just going out on a lim here, he *hadn’t*? But probably would never admit to that? Or maybe even – oh God the shame – hadn’t been able to stick to his own diet? Just guessing

  24. Today MSNBC has an article titled “No Love Handles Now: Just Wait” explaining that people gain weight as they age and that just because almost all of us do it, it’s completely unnatural. Oh, and you’ll get diabetes, heart disease, cancer, I dunno, what else, what other horrible terrible fate could befall those unnatural people who gain weight as they age – maybe hairy toes!

    And how do they suggest that we lose weight? EAT LOTS OF VEGETABLES! Which will take weight off of you, except when it doesn’t (as the idotic article you cites says) and then the problem is that you haven’t starved yourself silly enough!

    Arrrrgh! The stupid, it buuuurns!!!!

  25. Dutchy, you might want to ask your journalist friend if he has any actual evidence to back up the assertion that fat people under report calories. I’ve heard this over and over again, but I have never seen anything to back it up, only the assumption that “they must be under reporting because they’re not losing weight.”

    My “Uncle” Russ was frequently accused of “under reporting” his calorie intake even though he measured every fucking gram that went into his body. Given that he didn’t always finish everything on his plate, he was more likely over-reporting his calorie intake. When he ended up in the hospital for heart problems (his heart valves were malformed), they had him on a strict low-calorie diet. When he gained weight, they accused his family of sneaking food in to him because they just couldn’t accept that his calories in/calories out mileage wasn’t what they wanted it to be. I’ve known his family since I was three. I believe them when they say they didn’t.

  26. I think it’s been actually found that people of all weights tend to underestimate calorie intake when self-reporting, by about the same amounts. But agreed that this isn’t supposed to be a frigging healthist dictatorship where you have to prove you “deserve” proper health care by eating “perfectly.” And accusing fat people of lying and sneaking food is just beyond the frigging pale — “of course they couldn’t possibly be telling the truth, they’re fatties! That makes them fundamentally more dishonest!” Bleah.

  27. I have no idea whether or not these women underreported their calorie intake. But I am pretty sure that their cancer ridden bodies would process food different than a healthy 21 year old with thin genes. The idea of suggesting hellishly low-calorie, low-fat diets to people who probably need nutrients in ways that more healthy people don’t strikes me as potentially deadly advice.

  28. Yes it’s so hard to believe fat people except when we parrot the lies shouted at us, like a bunch of ventriloquists dummies. Then we are ‘believed’ as long as we follow their script, could they be any more pathetic?
    If we are such liars, why are we not filling up the prisons? If we are so deluded, why aren’t we filling up mental asylums? Are we even filling up hospitals, whenever I visit people their I don’t notice any preponderance of fatties, where are they hiding us?

  29. For some reason this article isn’t online, but the paper Onion had an article “New Eco-Friendly Packaging Triggers Boom in Guilt-Free Littering,” which reminded me of the “license to get fat” thing. The idea is that now that people know their waste is biodegradable, they just throw it around willy-nilly. Because of course everyone’s just been dying to litter constantly, but forcing themselves not to because of concern for the environment! See, when you write it like that, it seems absurd.

  30. “They found that a slightly lower dose of chemotherapy relative to body surface was given to obese patients, and it is possible that this underdosing may have had a role.”

    Outta control…

  31. I’ve been thinking about weight a little differently since I’ve been visiting this blog, and yesterday I was listening to a radio talk show in which the participants were talking about (of course) how people can lose weight. As part of the chat, they acknowledged that people tend to gain weight as they age. Then they proceeded to yammer on about all the ways we should fight that fat. For the first time ever, the ludicrousness of this hit me. PEOPLE GAIN WEIGHT AS THEY AGE. That means it’s NATURAL. And we should FIGHT nature??

    I come here and see that Meg Thornton is making much the same point about death (death is unnatural??) and Rose has made the same observation as I have (if everyone does it, what part of it is unnatural?).

    Wow. Our culture is quite the mess, yes?

  32. Hi everyone and especially Kate217,
    Sorry for the late response, I’m not usually online in weekends and am in a different time zone (hence ‘Dutchy’). First of all, this journalist is not my friend, but he talked about a study with labeled water to check all calorie in and out traffic, proving his point I’m afraid … [If you really want to know the specifics, I can ask which exact study he was referring to.]
    I know about your “uncle’s” problem, I’ve tried to convince people over the years it’s the same with me. I think that’s the trouble with findings of studies like that, people generalize and think it applies to *all* fat people (even when they’re not on a diet). That was the point I was trying to make – but evidently I didn’t succeed, sorry.
    What I still find odd is why no researcher bothers to find out *why* people under report *if* they do. Why – if this society is so desperately trying to find a ‘cure’ for this ‘problem’ – not accept that most people don’t have enough willpower (everyone – especially researchers! – *still* think that’s the key, even a lot of fat people do), get over that and find out why they don’t. MRI’s could help, perhaps to confirm and elaborate Hirsch’s findings in the late fifties – maybe your uncle Russ (or me, for that matter) would be a great test subject? But wait, then researchers might find out that it’s not about calories in and out and willpower at all, that fat people maybe have a high natural setpoint weight and a very clever brain that’s wired to survive plus a set of evenly clever genes and a very efficient digestive system (and all those other factors forming the whole complexity of the human body) and the world would have to acknowledge that it’s not as simple as eating-too-much and not-enough-willpower and that being fat is something you cannot ‘just’ control and be accountable/hated/ostracized for. What would the world come to then?
    And by the way, this cancer-veggie diet was not about losing weight to begin with, was it? I thought it was supposed to be about healthy eating. I couldn’t find any reference in the CNN-story that it was calorie restricted. But apparently, researchers nowadays have such twisted brains (I think Paul Campos refers to this as an ‘anorexic mindset’) that they *automatically* assume eating lots of fruits and vegetables means cutting calories and *therefore* losing weight when you’re fat.
    I think, where we are right now, is comparable to the time when Galileo said the Earth revolves around the Sun – the scientific world just couldn’t believe he was right, because, well, it was a written religious law that the Sun revolved around the Earth, so he just couldn’t be. And therefore the scientists of Galileo’s age twisted their own findings to prove he wasn’t. As today dieting and (aspiring to) being thin is like a religion, the world (scientific and otherwise) is desperately trying to hold on to that, even by twisting findings.

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