101, Announcements, Miscellaneous

Friday Stuff: Please Help us out with the 101 Crap

Dearest Shapelings,

Because I am a Lazy Fat Person, I am asking for your help.

Since A) I’m still trying to put together an FAQ for this site (which has been temporarily back-burnered, but it’s coming), B) I’m going to be writing a book soon, and C) there’s a definite need for a Fat Acceptance 101 blog along the lines of Tigtog’s awesome feminism one, my life would be a hell of a lot easier if I had links to terrific articles, studies, and blog posts that answer the basic questions, all in one place.

For instance, here are some of my favorites.

Fat kids are just as likely to have eating disorders as thin kids, and shame doesn’t actually help them get thin — can you believe it?

HAES vs. dieting

The Fat Studies Bibliography

Is fat acceptance really what you think it is?

A classic (even if it’s not quite a year old) Gina Kolata piece about how hard it is to make fat people thin — or thin people fat

So, what are your go-to links when you’re trying to get the basic idea of fat acceptance across? What are the studies that stick in your memory? What online resources have you found most useful? Please let me know in comments.

In other news, my life is kinda fucking crazy (in a good way) right now, so I haven’t been posting as much as usual, and I’m sorry about that. I’m hoping to be a little more settled and ready to post more frequently and more interestingly by next month.

In other, other news, I’m going to be attempting my first video blog today — an interview with Stephanie Sack, owner of the Chicago plus-size boutique Vive la Femme, who is awesome. Keep your fingers crossed that I don’t fuck it up.

64 thoughts on “Friday Stuff: Please Help us out with the 101 Crap”

  1. Whoops, I just posted a Fluff… going to hold off on it until this post has been up for a while.

  2. Just wanted to say that I used to live a couple blocks away from Vive la Femme. The first time I walked in, the woman who was working informed me it was a plus-sized store (I’m not fat, but I have a serious rack of doom). I explained to her the problems I have finding clothes to fit my chest, and she was more than willing to help. I ended up with this beautiful silk shirt and cami that I paired with a cute black skirt and wore to a wedding. I went back and found another gorgeous top that the same woman recommended (there was also this killer leather jacket I couldn’t afford that I still kind of want).

    I’d like to thank Stephanie for her awesome store.

  3. I’ve been distributing lots of Junkfood Science (particularly the MN starvation study, because the fact that 1600 calories and 3 miles of walking per day provoked physiological starvation symptoms really makes an impact: http://junkfoodscience.blogspot.com/2008/02/how-weve-came-to-believe-that.html) and, of course, anything from Shapely Prose. I wonder if it would be possible to excerpt bits from some of the awesome debunking the obesity books…That fat bibliography is the shit, btw. I have a whole new reading list now.

    Good luck with your interview! :)

  4. Here’s a question. An honest-to-deity non-trolling question.

    Can you consider yourself a fat activist and do believe there are medical problems associated with being fat, and that it isn’t ALL correlation != causation?

    I believe that fat people should never be stigmatized by the medical community for any reason, but I do also believe, based on the medical studies I read in JAMA and the like, that as a fat person, I do need to be on the lookout for certain medical problems more than a thin person would.

    I don’t know though that the medical problem may be causing fatness, or that something is causing both fatness and the medical problem, but I do acknowledge fatness as a symptom, and I am more wary of certain problems after that acknowledgment.

    Does this make me a bad fat rights activist candidate?

  5. An addendum to that last post of mine: I don’t believe that losing the weight will all of a sudden make you no longer susceptible to the disease.

  6. Ok, so I am rather new to the idea of Fat acceptance. In fact, although I have been reading and lurking since January I have only commented once, so I am afraid on this I am barely down the driveway. All of these posts and resources and books are new to me, but the one statistic that catapulted me out the door was the idea the 95-98% of people who loose weight gain it back again within five years. And now I read this Gina Kolata piece and I am flabbergasted. How can it be that the public by and large ignores studies like these? I can’t believe I have spent this long berating myself for my inability to be thin, believing that any idea to the contrary was an excuse. And I am SO FUCKING PISSED. Is that normal? Maybe you should include something about the emotions you and others went through during this.

  7. there are medical problems associated with being fat, and that it isn’t ALL correlation != causation

    Um, do you understand what “correlation” means?

    Certainly you can believe that there are medical problems ASSOCIATED with fat. That is an ASSOCIATION. If you believe that fat will make you get diseases, you’re assuming causation where none has been shown.

    You could have answered this question with a dictionary.

  8. Fillyjonk, thanks for putting me down, and treating me like an idiot. I really appreciate it.

  9. I first heard of some of these ideas through Paul Campos, and I’ve always found his explanations to be patient, thorough, comprehensible, and persuasively backed by scientific evidence.

    This interview with him is old, but I think it’s a great intro to the concept, and answers a lot of 101 questions.

  10. Question, if you have to preface your request with “I’m not a troll but,” and you put your email as “anonymous@anonymous.net,” guess what? You’ve given me no reason to trust you.

  11. Furthermore, I’m not an elementary school teacher and I do think there’s such thing as a dumb question. You basically said “I keep seeing these studies showing correlation, and I realize that there might not be causation there, but I still think it’s not a correlation/causation mixup.”

    And this is why we need a FAQ. Just so people at least have an appropriate thread to post their “I’m totally not a concern troll but don’t you think you should consider watering down your position or at least having divisive discussions about it” questions.

  12. I particularly like this slideshow from Time magazine, showing what the world eats. These are “average sized” people, eating things like chips and carbs and processed foods, as well as fruits and veg. You don’t have to eat perfectly to be healthy.

  13. Question,
    Again I am new to this, but I think that you have to remember there are certain illness that all sorts of groups are predisposed to, and they have to therefor be cautious of.
    Native Americans have a genetic predisposition for addiction, my husband is Native American and has struggled with it, and is therefor as you put “more wary of certain problems associated with it”. I have a family history of breast cancer, so I have to get mammograms often and am more cautious then someone might be without the same history. Many people, thin or fat have genetic predispositions that they have to be aware of. It doesn’t make you a bad fat activist to be aware of issues that are associated with obesity, it makes you conscience of your health. Just don’t make the mistake of assuming that only obese people have to be on the lookout for medical problems. Seacrest OUT!

  14. Thanks, Vivalafat… that’s more or less what I was intending to write when I approved the comment, only as I was answering it I realized that the question pissed me off.

  15. Also, a lot of illnesses that are blamed on fat should more properly be blamed (in part) on poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle. Many people who start exercising more and eating a balanced diet find their symptoms/risk factors (depending on the disease) lessened, regardless of whether they lose weight.

    Having said that, I completely support Fillyjonk’s right to be irritated with anonymous commenters who claim they’re not trolls, and then ask a question we went over less than 48 hours ago.

  16. I don’t know about y’all, but the “you don’t have any right to be angry even though I’m a condescending jerk” crowd seems to be at an all time high the past few days — both in the FA and feminist blogospheres.

    It makes me fucking tired… I can’t imagine how exhausted my favorite mods must be.

  17. Some stuff on the ‘Child Obesity Epidemic’ would be great- why most recommended interventions don’t do anything but mess with kids’ body images. I can’t find the links at the moment- a lot of them I read before I started paying real attention to this issue, although I think you have some of them on the fat is unhealthy page. The recent study that showed genetics had far more to do with weight and stature: http://children.webmd.com/news/20080211/nature-trumps-nurture-in-child-obesity is good.

    Also, since I promised I would tell my happy secret when I could on a previous Friday post. I proposed to my boyfriend according to old Leap Day tradition at a wedding reception last Friday. It had been in the works for a while. He, of course, said yes. Much tears and rejoicing commenced. And yet another fatty finds love and happiness, to the consternation of the haters out there. :)
    I think I will serve baby flavored donuts at the reception.

  18. Alright, here’s something I’ve been wondering. How come I never see anything in the fatosphere pushing fat activists especially to become doctors and medical researchers so that they can push the medical community’s opinions from the inside?

    That would be a pretty radical front though, wouldn’t it?

  19. And I am SO FUCKING PISSED. Is that normal?

    Yes. I get angry every day about the myriad ways in which I’m made to feel bad about myself for not having the “right” body. It is normal! I think that’s part of the reason so many people who discover FA end up starting their own blogs, so they have a way to channel that anger.

    As for resources, there’s a paper by Paul Campos and a few other people that had a lot of great information, but I can’t for the life of me remember where I found it! I think I sent it to a friend a while back, I’ll email him and see if he still has it.

  20. the fact that 1600 calories and 3 miles of walking per day provoked physiological starvation symptoms

    Oddly, redblossom, before I realized your JFS link was about the Ancel Keys (absolutely classic, necessary and should not be forgotten, of course) study, those figures rang a bell. Then I realized it was because I’d read numerous press articles a few weeks back saying that ‘a low calorie diet and a marathon a week’ were what was required to lose, and keep off, large amounts of weight. Some abstracts of the original studies are here:
    I’m not advocating these links for FA purposes because they’re entirely the opposite, but they do point out that the behavior being touted as ‘healthy’ and presented entirely in a positive light is exactly what Keys found to be harmful.

  21. “Um, do you understand what “correlation” means?

    Certainly you can believe that there are medical problems ASSOCIATED with fat. That is an ASSOCIATION. If you believe that fat will make you get diseases, you’re assuming causation where none has been shown.”

    Umm filly. . . . I think a huge point is that people *don’t* understand statistics. The don’t understand chi-squared fitting and measures of correlation which you can get through things such as the K-S test. Unfortunately in health related stuff it’s even muddier- in part because humans are complex systems and too many assumptions or screw ups are made in control groups. I could point to the whole HPV = cervical cancer studies and rip them a new one for all the bias they add.

    One could have a study that initially shows a correlation between say fat and heart disease. But once you start narrowing it down to fat and family history of heart disease, is there a correlation? or if you try to deal with completeness (ie you know we have more mid range weights than high range weights so we need to figure out a way to scale that end to be representative of the population as a whole), then you get accused of jerry rigging numbers or people glom onto one result for a small subset and think it applies to the whole, in part because journalists don’t understand science or statistics either and do a crap job of communicating them.

  22. Umm filly. . . . I think a huge point is that people *don’t* understand statistics.

    No, I know, and I originally approved the comment with the intention of answering it for others who might stop by, even though I suspect this person of being a concern troll. But my irritation with being asked “I know correlation doesn’t show causation, but I see all these correlations, so there must be causation” just really got the better of me.

    The truth is we can almost NEVER prove causation definitively, at least in the slightly softer sciences. For some reason the media (and even sometimes the scientists themselves) respond to that by overblowing the conclusions of every fucking study that comes down the pike. But that’s actually a reason to be more skeptical, not more credulous! (And I know you didn’t say otherwise… just expounding to the public at large.)

    Also, just because I’m in the mood to assert myself: for the record, I don’t really like being called “Filly.”

  23. Sorry fillyjonk. I was busy typing angry-ness about the daylight savings time study that came out today as well (saying daylight savings last year cost Indiana more money in electric. . .but as far as I can tell not taking into account deviations in that one year from the mean high and low temps in the comparison years).

    I just get annoyed with the way people learn science. Christ almightly people the whole reason for the scientific method and people exploring the same stuff is because there isn’t always a concrete answer like 1+1 = 2!

  24. No no no don’t apologize for something like that. I fully support keeping people honest about science (you may notice I’ve done several posts on it!). In fact I used to have a blog pretty much just to complain about misunderstandings of how science works. (But other people were doing it way better than me.)

    If I sounded irritated it was just residual irritation, nothing to do with you.

  25. Flores, who says you don’t?

    And also, how are people not understanding that this thread is not for ASKING 101-level questions?

  26. Fat Liberation Archives

    Big Fat Facts

    Losing Weight — An Ill-Fated New Year’s Resolution (from the NEJM, 1998.)

    Linda Bacon’s HAES Manifesto (warning, pdf)

    I’m also trying to help shore up the citations on the Wikipedia article, but there are a few online sources linked there at present.

    Ellyn Satter’s article on normal eating

    These PSAs from NEDIC are truly wonderful — and there are more articles on the NEDIC site, written from a size-positive, eating disorders orientation.

  27. Krista, congratulations! I did the same thing on Leap Day 2004. We just celebrated our “first” anniversary of our engagement even though we’ve been married for over 3 years! It was a good time tweaking the engagement conventions- I asked him while I was moderating a round of a pub quiz. He knew that I was going to ask at some point that day, but the public aspect of it was a surprise.

  28. There has to be one about the fact that thin people eat basically the same as fat people – that while there are some people who pound down 10K calories a day and get very fat, the normal everyday fat reality is that we all eat basically the same. Including kids. I know there are studies proving this, but I keep not being able to find them when I need them. But I’d say that’s an important part of a FAQ.

    I think Flores needs to meet Phledge.

  29. I’ve read several times on the web that there are 20 studies that show fat people and thin people eat the same. Anecdotally, I’ve seen many thin people eating the world and many fat people eating a small salad but I’ve never found any links to the actual studies.
    Where are some published?

  30. Becky, I wonder if this (http://ije.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/35/1/55) is the article by Paul Campos you were talking about. If not, that’s another one for the 101.
    I think I have more that I’ve printed out from the internet, but I need to find them. That’s what I get for stuffing papers willy-nilly in my desk.
    Also, I would like to add these two:
    The first one is about how fitness has more of an effect on cancer rates in men than a person’s amount of adiposity does, and the second one is about how fitness is a better mortality predictor than a person’s amount of adiposity. They’re only abstracts though so I don’t know if you want to add them in or not.

  31. I’m so excited you are doing this, Kate. I have been meaning for about a month now to make a copy of the bingo card where every line links to a study contradicting the bingo square (because I’m a big fan of assuming that when you point someone to the bingo card, they honestly don’t realize they are asking a bingo question, and many of them would like education). But I haven’t done that, partially because collecting all of the links (or data from print materials such as Kolata’s and Campos’ books) is such a pain.

    When my politics blog started collecting fat politics links we gathered a lot of our favorites together. Of course that was two years ago; there have been many great studies since then.

  32. Becky, is this the paper you are looking for: Campos, Paul F., et al. “The Epidemiology of Overweight and Obesity: Public Health Crisis or Moral Panic? .” International Journal of Epidemiology 35.1 (2006): 55-60?

    I use Linda Bacon’s HAES manifesto and Big Fat Facts pretty often.

    Also, those of us academics in Fat Studies are trying to put together the fat facts wiki with all of this stuff in it. It’s still in its infancy, but one day it will hopefully be a decent resource.

  33. I meant to note that yall might find some of the studies you are looking for already listed on the wiki.

  34. Um, do you understand what “correlation” means?

    Certainly you can believe that there are medical problems ASSOCIATED with fat. That is an ASSOCIATION. If you believe that fat will make you get diseases, you’re assuming causation where none has been shown.

    Too true. The “losing weight to be healthy” has seemed to me to be like-

    Hey! We just found out that people with red hair are more likely to get sunburns, which can sometimes increase your risk or skin cancer! So all you redheads should go dye your hair brown for your health!

    And you should totally be ashamed of yourself when it keeps coming in red. You obviously weren’t trying hard enough.

  35. I think Flores needs to meet Phledge.

    I think my new tagline will be “I’m a pretty radical front.” Also, it’s fucking insane to suggest that anyone should be “pushing fat activists especially to become doctors.” It’s bad enough to want to do it on your own terms; to have someone else demand that your opinion based on thorough research is not sufficient and that you, too, should go $200K in debt and turn your back on your family and forgo a physical, mental, and emotional gauntlet that only 1% of the population can endure is pathological in its own right.

  36. Re: Correlation != Causation

    I think it might be helpful to cite some articles on that. There was a really hilarious study done a while ago that looked at the relationship between kids sleeping with a nightlight and needing glasses. They concluded that sleeping with a nightlight caused poorer eyesight based on a survey.

    That’s the original study results. Note that they mention the “Not causal” link at the bottom.

    However, likely cause of the correlation they saw was genetics. Parents who couldn’t see as well kept a light on in the childs room, and they passed on their poor eyesight to their children. That is mentioned in the below cnn article.


    I just think sometimes people need to be bashed over the head with a thing. It may be covered enough elsewhere.

    Though I really can’t tell you how many times I wrote the phrase “Correlation IS NOT causation” on students papers when I was a stats TA. It was often enough that I almost had a stamp made.

  37. Lonnie, yes, thank you! Kate, here’s the link to it, if you’re looking for it: Epidemiology of Overweight and Obesity: Public Health Crisis or Moral Panic? One useful fact it points out is that the average person has only gained 5-15 pounds in the last 30 years or so, and the increase in overweight and obese is the result of people crossing from BMIs in the 23-25 range to over 25, and in the 27-30 range to over 30. Lots of other stuff too.

    Oh, and this study: Excess Deaths Associated With Underweight, Overweight, and Obesity “ showing that the “overweight” category is actually the one showing the lowest mortality. Particularily this chart showing that underweight is associated with a higher risk than mild obesity, particularily in the elderly.

  38. I’d go further than the red-hair analogy. Since dieting raises set-points, their advice is more along the lines of “People with pale skin get more sunburns and that leads to skin cancer. So you should tan as much as possible. And if you get skin cancer, that just means you weren’t tan enough!”

  39. here’s one about how calorie intake and physical activity aren’t always associated with fat.


    On a similar thread, I’ve always wanted to get together a big link hub for all of these studies/articles. I keep a whole file of bookmarks for ones that I find.


    If you’re still reading… I think other people have answered your question well,but I thought I’d add that sometimes these correlations aren’t meaningless to science, but they’re just about always meaningless to individuals. I don’t think it’s a problem if scientists want to look more into the corellation between weight and diabetes, for example, but if they don’t actually have a definitive idea of how/why these things are corellated, then I think it’s silly to worry about it too much. If you have a family history of certain diseases or come from an ethnic group with a propensity towards something, that’s a helluva lot more predictive than weight.

    Even then, though, science is starting to show how even in identical twins genes can get ‘flipped’ on/off and (look up epigenetics) so family history isn’t even full proof. Nothing is, really, which you wouldn’t know by looking at how these health stories/studies are generally reported.

  40. Oh dear god. . .attrice, I hope you appreciate that’s people my field (okay I’ve fled to the planetary dark side, but still. . .) I’ll tell you though, i bet you could even get some professor types to believe that crap.

  41. Time-Machine, I fixed yr shit. :)

    Thank you!

    And Kua, that analogy was definitely brilliant. Kudos.

    But, fillyjoink, the lack of pirates causing global warming is scientific fact. We have a prefectly legitimate causation – the FSM made it so. There’s proof in our holy texts.

  42. On a similar thread, I’ve always wanted to get together a big link hub for all of these studies/articles. I keep a whole file of bookmarks for ones that I find.

    Why not start a del.ico.us account to organize your bookmarks? The tagging makes it easy to categorize & find the links, and there are built in tools for sharing.

  43. This paper, while not exactly pro-fat-aceptance, makes a pretty good attack on the effects of promoting anti-childhood-obesity programs, how anti-fat bias results in poorer health for fat people, the problems of medicalizing obesity, and suggests ‘health at every size’ might be the way to go, and so on:


    There are also links to other similar articles in the references and cited-by list.

  44. I’d like to see something about body size in history. It seems to me that the obesity panic is predicated on the idea that we’re getting fatter now, that this is some effect of modern life, and that back in the good ol days (1800s?) everyone was skinny.

    So, something to debunk that idea would be grand.

  45. Ashley, I’ll see if I can dig it up: it’s the CDC numbers that shocked me when backward adjusted with the new BMI catagories show that in the 60s 42% were overweight/obese compared to 60% now: so if we are heavier on average (more of us urban maybe?) then 2/3 of us may well have been fat before the obesity epidemic.

    Frankly, I know with my body, sedentary and not-cooking-at-home leads to about a 15 pound weight gain, above my body’s happiest (fat) weight. So I find it plausable that there are some more genetically thin people who, if living a 60s lifestyle, would be about 15 pounds lighter – people whose parents worked in fields and factories but who work in offices today.

    But the *majority* of us fat folks would have been fat back then, and those of us to whom 15 pounds is laughable (putting nowhere near what BMI deems acceptable) seem likely to be in that category — which makes all the obesity epidemic screaming really fucking unfair.

  46. I found another article, the Reuter’s article called “Dieters put on weight int the long run: study” at
    http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSN3036700020070402. The failure rate of dieting that stated in this article is less than what’s usually said here (this said that two-thirds people gain all the weight back and more), but it might be something to add.

  47. This might be better suited for a “201” than a “101”, but I for one would dearly love to see a “You know you’ve been reading Fatosphere blogs for too long when…” page. And, to kick things off, here’s one for the list:

    …when the spam you get makes you wonder why they’re hawking Viagra to deal with Eating Disorders.

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