Fat, Media

Aussies, Beware the Fat Bomb!

Australian reader Kira writes:

Finally we beat the Americans at something. Australia is the world’s fattest nation.

I’m a general lurker on your blog, but I saw this on the telly tonight and just had to let you know that America can breathe a little easier tomorrow, knowing that they are no longer the fattest nation on earth.

We’re number two! We’re number two!

The report on this is called Australia’s Future Fat Bomb, and Kira says,

I saw the Professor being interviewed on the news tonight and he said (and I shit you not), “The fat bomb in Australia is about to go off!!”

Ish. That sounds messy.

Two thoughts about this. First, I would like to draw your attention to what seriously might be the single worst line I have ever seen in an article about obesity:

Experts are now calling for extreme measures like gym discounting and denial of surgery based on body mass index (BMI) to rectify the situation.

Yes, folks, gym discounts are an “extreme measure” on a par with fucking refusing people surgery. I don’t even know what to say about that.

Second, I wonder how much we’ll hear about this over here, and how it might change the widespread perception that our advancing hordes of fat people are a metaphor for gross American overconsumption. I mean, we’re still number two, and in every important respect, we do lead in gross overconsumption. But I don’t hear people talking about those fucking Aussies and their fucking SUVs and fucking huge houses and overflowing landfills and whatnot, let alone how all their fucking fat people are just another manifestation of the same problem. I can’t imagine we’re going to see alternative weeklies calling Australia “a rapacious, gluttonous, insatiable nation of swine… the fat neighbors who are fouling the whole neighborhood, consuming everything in sight, and strewing waste in your wake.” The U.S. not being the fattest nation in the world wrecks the whole story! And people really, really like that story!

What we are going to see, though, are even more Australian articles spewing shit like this, with no supporting evidence or critical thought:

An analysis of the data shows that there will be an extra 700,000 heart-related hospital admissions in the next 20 years due to obesity alone.

Almost 125,000 people will die as a result, many prematurely.

and this:

[surgery waiting lists prioritized by weight loss and, uh, discounted gym memberships] “are some of the controversial things we need to deal with because the healthcare system is going to be overwhelmed by weight-related hospitalisations from knee replacements through to heart attacks and strokes.”

Sorry about that, guys. Welcome to the club.

89 thoughts on “Aussies, Beware the Fat Bomb!”

  1. Oh the huge manatee!

    What I want to know is, why no one ever talks about the health burdens of say, Rugby. I’m sure that causes plenty of knee surgeries and heart attacks. I am sure that this will mean more crap in New Zealand too.

  2. I would laugh at the absurdity of those statements, except that it’s actually more scary than anything else. Surgery denied to fatties? Oh, wait! Not WLS! *That’s* A-Okay!

  3. Why would they deny fat people surgery? Is it to pressure them to stop being fat or what? I don’t understand.

  4. Maybe they are trying to make it so the bullshit statistics they’ve always spouted about ‘obesity related’ deaths are true. I mean, if they start refusing fat people the life saving surgeries and the medical treatment they need, they’ll have no choice but to continue living with their health problems and/or die.

  5. Why would they deny fat people surgery? Is it to pressure them to stop being fat or what? I don’t understand.

    Yeah, the idea is that if you can’t get surgery you need, you’ll be forced to lose weight. And that weight loss will totally be easy even if, say, you need joint surgery because you can’t walk. All you have to do is stop shoveling donuts into your mouth 24/7! See? It makes perfect sense!

  6. Yes, Summer. It’s our own fault we’re blowing out our knees and having teh heartattakz. Maybe that will wisen-us-up. It happens here already. I know a woman whose doctor told her to lose 50# before they would operate on her hernia, then he changed his mind and told her 100. Then the hernia strangulated and they had to do emergency surgery, which turned out fine and she feels better than she has in years. Imagine – her intestines are no longer popping through her abdominal cavity and she feels great! But she’s a fatty, so she should never feel good lest she forget to “fix” herself. And you know, NO thin people ever get hernias. Not my very physically active and fit husband… never.

  7. Denying fat people non-WLS surgery will lead to even more malpractice lawsuits. And it’s those lawsuits that is a major factor in rising healthcare costs, not someone’s waistline as the industry and fatphobes keep screaming.

    Obviously, the sight of fat folks is more detrimental to the world than war, rising gas and food prices, and terrorism. Who knew our extra body tissue could cause so much destructive power in the universe?

  8. And you know, NO thin people ever get hernias. Not my very physically active and fit husband… never.

    Not my tiny, workout fiend friend who’s the other person behind this video, either. Of course not.

  9. I’m an Aussie and if they start denying me operations due to my BMI then I’m going to be setting off fat bombs, foul language bombs, and any other bombs I need to get the treatment I deserve!

  10. Are they planning to start denying hip and knee replacement surgery to 1200 mile a year runners? Because you know, that’s a good way to wear out your knees fast.

    Of course, try telling that to the one 1200 miler I know. His knees are still fine, but he had to have a triple angioplasty at 48 because he’d inherited coronary artery disease from both of his parents. But of course, only fat people who eat cheeseburgers all day and never ever exercise get atherosclerosis.

    If we were REALLY serious about preventing an increase in future medical costs, we’d prevent everyone who has any sort of medical condition that might be passed along to their children from having kids. That should prevent most of these future costs, shouldn’t it?

  11. So if someone dies when they refuse to do a life-saving surgery on them because they are fat, is that death going to be one that they’ll attribute to “obesity”?

  12. Maybe they’ll be denying all surgeries… but one. Or perhaps you can get the surgery you actually need, but only if you agree to get a lap-band at the same time?

    I blogged about Allergan’s Aussie hard sell in my mailbag last week. Local surgeon lectures with his laparoscopic photos: “In here you can see the stomach that’s surrounded by a sea of fat!”. And “This is an example of the sort of people we’re having to treat!“, with a headless stripped fattie laid out on an operating table. In another part of the lecture, he – gleefully? Revoltedly? Both? describes the heavily reinforced operating tables they’ve had to invest in in order to provide bariatric operations.

  13. Really, the gym discounts are a really extreme measure. I think I’m going to go to my gym and demand a discount. Do you suppose I can also get one for the public pool?

    Um, I hate to be Captain Obvious, but if they start denying surgery to fat people, won’t that just increase “obesity-related deaths”?

  14. It’s touching to see how much these people care about us, that they’d deny us healthcare to help us become healthier.

    I’m glad the era of stigmatizing fat people is not only over, but that we are now held in such esteem.

  15. Um, I hate to be Captain Obvious, but if they start denying surgery to fat people, won’t that just increase “obesity-related deaths”?

    I am just shy of cynical enough to say that’s the whole point.

  16. This whole thing makes me sick. So sick that I can’t even think of anything else to say.

  17. Denying Surgery? Can they do that? I just, I have no words. I read a short story by Mary Gordon the other day called Elenor’s Music, and it had this in it, “Health is the new Orthodoxy. The new criterion by which we are judged of the fold or outside it. In the old days, they just tested people by trying to drown them, and if they survived they were allowed back in the community. But that’s too good for the health nags.”
    Can they really deny life saving surgery, and get away with it?

  18. I think fat Americans are actually DIRECTLY RESPONSIBLE for Australians’ fatness.

    I call it the “counterweight” theory.

    Australians are on the bottom of the globe, because South is Down, as every intelligent person knows. That means that Australians have to make their continent weigh MORE to balance the US fatties. And since there are fewer of them — what? No, I haven’t checked the population numbers, but that needs to be for the sake of my THEORY, don’t you see? *eyeroll* — Australians need to be FATTER, per person, or THE EARTH WILL LEAVE ITS ORBIT AND SPIN OFF INTO SPACE!!!!1!!1111

    Don’t ask me how it works. Some supposedly-liberal dude on DailyKos said that fat was emblematic of moral badness, and that was a good enough starting point for me.

  19. Last night, on Toronto’s CityTV, they ran a story talking about how ‘10% of Torontonians are obsese, and 40% are overweight’ and blah blah standard fear mongering blah blah. They even had the headless fatties and everything!

    It was almost… textbook. Like a primer for how to make fat-phobic newscasts.

  20. On a side note, Ryan might have my favorite monster. It’s all tough and khaki and looks like it’s smoking. It reminds me of Hunter Thompson. Cracks me up every time, especially that one of our few regular obviously-male-identified (as far as name) commenters has the tough smoking guy.

  21. Dammit, and Australia was where I was going to run away to in order to escape all my life’s problems (a la “Alexander and the Terrible Horrible Rotten No-Good Very Bad Day”).

    Maybe I will go to Hawaii instead. It’s still the US, but any place where they embraced IZ for his extreme talent has to be a little bit better for fatties. Plus I’ll get to wear flower leis and walk on the beach all the time! There’s nothing quite like the feeling of walking on sand… *purrs a little*

  22. On a side note, Ryan might have my favorite monster. It’s all tough and khaki and looks like it’s smoking. It reminds me of Hunter Thompson. Cracks me up every time, especially that one of our few regular obviously-male-identified (as far as name) commenters has the tough smoking guy.

    Oh cruddo, really?! I didn’t even realize which monster it was…. bah, heterosexist archetypes…. I know. I’ll just pretend it’s one of the Dykes on Bikes.

    Now I’m imagine Hunter Thompson as a Dyke on a Bike. It’s a grand image, so thanks FIllyJonk. :D

  23. Why do knee replacements always have to be weight-related in these articles?

    Every knee replacement I’ve ever known about, from one of my extended family uncles to one of my best friends from college, has been a borderline-underweight, Olympic-trial-level athlete.

  24. “They can deny you some surgeries here until you lose weight, notably breast reduction.”

    That has to be one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard.

    Is it that you can only go to regular medical school (not, say, DO school or Andrew Weil’s post-college) if you’re a moron, now?

  25. littlem, I guess the idea is that if you lost weight, your breasts would probably magically get smaller all by themselves, as that is how all weight loss always works for all people. ::eyeroll::

  26. “Almost 125,000 people will die as a result, many prematurely”

    What about the ones that don’t die prematurely?

    “he lived a long , full life , dying peacefully in his bed OF OBESITY OMG at 90 years old , surrounded by his many great-grandchildren.”

  27. Baby is crying so I can’t read the other comments, but does anybody know if it’s true that Aussie food and drink does not contain HFCS…?

  28. First up, it might help anyone who isn’t aware of the Australian health system to go and have a look at the Medicare Australia website. We don’t have the same system as the US (thanks be to all the gods). Our system is closer to the British or European models of socialised health care.

    Now for an interesting little demographic tidbit: our healthcare system is about to be hit by a massive onslaught of age-related problems from the Baby Boomers. Yup, that’s right, the baby boomers, that wonderful cohort of people born between about the mid-1940s and the early 1960s, is coming up to sixty. They’re starting to need things like hearing aids, hip replacements, pacemakers, heart surgery, geriatric care, etc. This particular demographic bulge also expects these things to be paid for by the government – just like their university educations were. And here in Australia, they will be, make no bones about *that* – the boomers are still an important voting bloc, and they’re the ones who are most heavily represented in parliaments, both state and federal, at present.

    I have no doubt that when I come to be the same age, I’ll be expected to pay the full fee, and that this will be blamed on my size. After all, they can’t very well come out and say it’s my fault for having been born twenty years too late, can they?

    I find myself wondering whether so much of this so-called “obesity crisis” is actually a shield for the inevitable cost of the aging baby boomers, and whether there’s going to be another, similar “crisis” in another thirty years, when the children of the eighties (generation Y) come through the system.

  29. Nicole, the majority of sugar sold in Australia is cane sugar, and the Australian sugar industry does it damnedest to ensure it remains that way.

  30. “he lived a long , full life , dying peacefully in his bed OF OBESITY OMG at 90 years old , surrounded by his many great-grandchildren.”


    Meg, for whatever it’s worth, over here the costs of health care do sometimes get blamed on an “aging population” — but that turns out not to be the biggest contributor to overspending. No, that’d be the fact that doctors are all gung-ho to use the latest medical technology, even when it costs a lot and has similar or even worse outcomes. And also they fuck up a lot. Blaming old people and fat people for costs incurred by your own incompetence? Unattractive!

  31. does anybody know if it’s true that Aussie food and drink does not contain HFCS…?

    As far as I know. Australia grows more sugar cane and less corn than the US (and probably doesn’t have massive corn subsidies as the US does) so it’s cheaper for them just to use sugar. Does this mean we can stop blaming the “obesity epidemic” on HFCS now?

  32. “After all, they can’t very well come out and say it’s my fault for having been born twenty years too late, can they?”

    Meg, be careful not to hurt yourself when your jaw hits the floor when it happens.

    FJ, thanks for the heads up. It seems like all things work the same for all people when you go to the doctor these days. ::solidarity eyeroll::

    When is phledge getting out of school again? Can we accelerate her program somehow?

    Thank Dog for my grandcester herbalists who taught me stuff. Otherwise I would be a hopeless drooling mess.

  33. And “This is an example of the sort of people we’re having to treat!“, with a headless stripped fattie laid out on an operating table.

    OK, lauredhel, I just looked and I’m thinking, that has got to be against some kind of healthcare confidentiality regulations, right? I want to know, was this person conscious at the time, and had they given permission for their image to be used in this way? I supposed that as with other ‘headless fatty’ shots they could wriggle out of it on the grounds that the person in the photo can’t be identified, but the mere fact that this is happening at all in a medical context is…creepy.

  34. Becky – we don’t have corn subsidies, wheat subsidies, lamb subsidies, beef subsidies or indeed any kind of farm subsidisation program except drought relief. There’s even a joke about it:

    “Two men in a small country town win a substantial lottery prize. A reporter from the local paper asks them the obvious question – “What will you do with the money?”

    The first man, a businessman, says, “I’ll get myself and the wife a new car each, and we’re going to take a holiday overseas, and then anything left over is going to be invested.”

    The second man, a cocky (farmer), just pushes back his hat, scratches his head, and says, “Well, I was just gonna keep farmin’ till it all runs out.”

    This may help to explain why us Aussies get so darn annoyed with folks from the US and the EEC muscling in on our agricultural markets.

  35. a cocky (farmer),

    -had no idea that was slang-
    -imagines all the ‘plowing one’s field’ jokes-
    -explodes from overload-

  36. After all, they can’t very well come out and say it’s my fault for having been born twenty years too late, can they?

    Meg: BCBS did THIS EXACT THING to me when Gardasil came out. “We’re not covering that for you because you’re not ages 12 to 20,” or in other words, “You were born eight years too soon so go catch HPV now plz.”

    A Sarah, I totally believe that theory. *straight face*

  37. Re: Denying surgeries

    I know a woman who was denied knee-replacement until she lost 20lbs. She lost 13 of those lbs and tried to schedule a consultation with the Dr. and the fat-phobic nurse was evil, etc, and refused to schedule the CONSULTATION.

    This woman was made to feel ashamed and she actually cried because she wants to have the surgery early enough to be fully recovered by the time her daughter’s wedding rolls around.

    Don’t be fooled. Surgeries are denied to people all the time because of weight or whatever the Dr. thinks is an inappropriate lifestyle “choice”.

  38. Isn’t is Australia the country that has a policy of not allowing people with BMIs over a certain number to immigrate?

  39. Less than a year back, I was given a very painful shot of cortosone and told to lose weight and my “knees” would be better. I was told, absolutely, that even though the spurs were causing pain, and would give me relief if we did surgery, we were absolutely NOT going to do surgery. Period.

    I went to another doctor, who told me that 1) what was wrong with my KNEE (not kneeS) was something the cortosone wouldn’t (and didn’t) help, and 2) we needed to get in for surgery, as the pain was only going to get worse and be more incapacitating as time went on. Oh yeah, and this was going to be major reconstructive surgery, not a day surgery event.

    Seven months later and it’s like I’ve got a new knee most times (except for when I’m stupid and try to stand in 2″ heals).

    So yes, they can and DO deny surgery because of being fat. Luckily, I found an exceptional doctor who diagnosed me with what was really wrong, and treated me like a person who was in pain.

  40. Wish, I think that’s New Zealand.

    And dammit, Kate, I almost managed to forget about that poopsack J**** O’N****, until you reminded me!

  41. My mother was denied a knee replacement and told to lose 100 lbs. I don’t think she weighed 300 to start with. Well, not being able to walk without excruciating pain did not help her lose weight. She went on an extremely low fat diet and lost a lot of weight, but the doctor kept saying it wasn’t enough. After starving herself down to an “acceptable” weight, she had the surgery and had several strokes while under the knife. At first they thought it was dementia, but it was strokes. I’ve read that very low fat low calorie diets can increase the risk of stroke. She never had high blood pressure her life.

    Now she’s proud of herself for her weight loss, but has trouble putting two words together. Ironic from a woman who dieted her whole life away and never felt she (or my sister and I) were worth anything unless we got thin.

  42. Hey, I have an idea that would save all kinds of money. Simpy deny health care to those of us who were stupid enough to pick ancestors with histories of heart disease and diabetes – as far as I can tell it’s the damned hereditary that’s the real problem.

  43. Just have to add my own…

    And you know, NO thin people ever get hernias. Not my very physically active and fit husband… never.

    Certainly not me, as an underweight infant. Clearly at 5.5 pounds I was too fat and it’s my own damn fault for my hernia (which didn’t cause my much pain and was fixed when I was 4 and it was SANE to put me under general anesthesia).

    Yes, I realize that hernias at birth are usually genetic, but still, point made :)

  44. @Jmars:

    I run that much, AND I have a BMI of 26. I guess it’d be bye bye necessary surgery for me!

    (And not all runners have knee problems; it really depends on the individual and running form.)

  45. This is so disgusting! Can you say Jim Crow? I mean seriously, it’s like denying blacks the access to use a public restroom because they’re black!

    We don’t have sound proof that “obesity” causes anything let alone “heart-related hospitalizations.” Are they kidding me?!

    It’s just disgusting and whats worse is that most people aren’t going to see it the way we do! They will just look at this article with this unproven numbers as yet another reason why obesity is the #1 killer of everything good and Holy!

    sick sick sick!

  46. When I read the headline “fat bomb” on The Age’s website, a paper which I normally respect, I couldn’t help but think, what someone has stuffed a bomb full of fat to explode all over us as we go about my daily business? In the same way they fill them will nails and ball bearings to create shrapnel I have noticed that The Age buys into the obesity hysteria, but this headline was particularly disappointing.

  47. Isn’t is Australia the country that has a policy of not allowing people with BMIs over a certain number to immigrate?

    That would be New Zealand. They don’t publicize it on their government website, but an English worker with skills that NZ covets tried to immigrate and they wouldn’t let him in until he lost a certain amount of weight–despite his MD saying over and over again that he was healthy as a horse and that fat doesn’t necessarily mean “unhealthy”. He got in, but then when his wife tried to join him…yep, not allowed in because of her BMI.

    A friend of mine’s mother has jacked-up knees and they refused to perform surgery on her until she lost weight. So she got lapbanded and since she had it done, she hasn’t been able to eat much of anything because whatever she ate, she would throw up and then had a heart attack. Hooray for modern medicine. PFFFFFFT.

  48. (Which of course you pointed out in your message…doh. I do think it’s a point that bears repeating, though. Different activities have very different effects of different bodies.)

  49. I’m not sure if anybody mentioned this as I have not read every post but Austrailans live longer than Americans by quite a few years. In fact I think that we are among the top 3 longest living populations in the world. So what does this prove? That being fat if good for you of course. Hand me another meat pie love…….

  50. Do we use HFCS?
    Yeah, we have lots of cane sugar here but in the types of foods you peeps in the US would find HFCS, we have high fructose wheat sugars. I don’t know if it’s any better for us, it doesn’t sound like it. I just hope it’s our own wheat, I’m a bit tired of having to buy back our own produce after it’s been “value-added”.

    BMI-immigration policy?
    Yup, New Zealand. Although on immigration forums people report that BMIs up to 35 were considered okay if the rest of the medical report showed good health.

    My uncle has Haemochromatosis, a condition where the blood produces too much iron for the body to filter out. He has just had to have both knees replaced as a result of the damage done to his cartilage by it. Excess iron accumulates in tissues and organs disrupting their normal function. Patients can present with cirrhosis of the liver, adrenal insufficiency, heart failure (!!) or diabetes (!!!). The hereditary form of the disease is most common among those of Northern European ancestry, in particular those of British or Irish descent.

    Considering how many parts of the world were colonized by the Brits, I wonder if it’s a Haemochromatosis epidemic we’re having instead!

  51. Australia does deny permanent residency visas and work visas if your BMI is over 30, if you have a cardiovascular “co-morbidity” such as high blood pressure. Last time i read any visa documentation, anyway.

  52. They can deny you some surgeries here until you lose weight, notably breast reduction.

    That’s a little out of whack. I know I’d lose a lot of weight if someone reduced the size of my breasts, there’s gotta be 15 pounds in my bra alone!

  53. Unfortunately, they (the Herald Sun website) took away the original link I read, which contained the following gem from the author of the study (paraphrased):

    “We thought there were only 7 million overweight/obese people in Australia, but we now believe there are more than 9 million … That’s 1 million more than we thought before this study.”

    But now the link is gone from the interwebz, which is a shame because it had me (an obese Aussie with a maths degree) rolling in laughter at the quality of statistics we could expect in the report based on his arithmetic.

  54. There is NO food in Australia with HFCS, and thus grand theories of it being the cause of THE EPIDEMIC are demonstrably false.

  55. Yep, saw this on a news break here in Oz, complete with obligatory headless fattie shots. You can’t get away from it, even if you don’t watch the actual news! What really gets me is that I saw it on our government channel, which thinks it is so PC and should know better. I’m going to pop them an email this morning just to remind them.

    I wonder what percentage of us have to be fat before we realise how much collective power we have and start to demand rights? They might need to keep us shamed, because if we ever all get our heads up at once, look out! :)

  56. Funny. After I had a breast reduction, I lost a bit of weight. I asked my surgeon if that was normal, or what, and he said it happened pretty frequently. You get eight pounds or so taken off your chest, and suddenly, you just tend to be a little more active, maybe a little happier with your shape, and some people lose a bit of fat, without really thinking about it.

    It’s also nice to find shirts fit better, and to be able to stand up straight.

  57. when I was looking for a newspaper at a cafe this morning, I saw today’s Age with a graphic of a bloated, bulging Australia and “FAT BOMB” on the cover and just thought, ohhhh no.

    the article took great pains to remind me that “you don’t need to be the size of a lorry to be ‘obese’ – even if you’ve got a bit of a double chin or love handles, you’re still a fat fat fatty boombah” (slight paraphrasing) and I wanted to throw something.

    thanks for the reminder. thanks for making me hate myself, despite rolling out of a warm bed this morning with the knowledge that I am loved.

    so, yeah, I’m immensely relieved and happy to see that Shapely Prose responded to this particular Australian news story.

  58. “Almost 125,000 people will die as a result, many prematurely”

    What about the ones that don’t die prematurely?

    “he lived a long , full life , dying peacefully in his bed OF OBESITY OMG at 90 years old , surrounded by his many great-grandchildren.”


    Yeah, this article is full of dim. The question is why is the only questioning of the ‘facts’ therein done by not doctors, not government consultants and data crunchers, but bloggers?

  59. This seems like a good place to quote from this wonderful collection of poems, which I don’t see mentioned much these days. It’s an excellent elaboration on Kate’s comment in the original post: “the widespread perception that our advancing hordes of fat people are a metaphor for gross American overconsumption.” My favorite line is “the fat cats who are lean men in limousines.”

    Nothing Will Be as Sweet as the Taste, by Elana Dykewomon

    the real fat womon poems

    from poem V:

    We live in a country
    that consumes,
    that needs consumption
    to continue consuming,
    and what gets consumed
    are the resources and the lives
    of dark skinned and poor people,
    the lives of women in sweatshops,
    of women carrying rocks on their heads
    in india to build american hotels.
    We saw a lot of newsreels in the ’60s.
    Some of us stopped watching the news
    but the news doesn’t change.
    Even if i choose carefully,
    don’t want my “major purchases”
    to contribute to the evil
    done to people in soweto,
    some woman in a factory
    compromised her eyes or her lungs
    her back or her labor
    for my computer
    for your vcr
    for the stereo, hell, for the music.
    When did we let ownership
    purchase our analysis?
    Consider it: they don’t have to buy us out
    we pay them.

    It would be nice to have a target
    an easy simple target who could take
    some of this unease
    about our consumerism.
    The fat womon, she’d do.
    She moves slow, and she’s wide.
    It’s her who starves children
    across the globe
    it is her hideous appetite
    that makes us ashamed to be americans.
    All those fat cats living off the fat of the land
    we don’t have access to,
    the fat cats who are lean men in limousines.
    We call them fat
    because we have been taught
    that fat means eating
    means consuming
    means taking the rights to what is not yours
    and these things which are not the same things
    become the fat womon’s fault
    it’s a shame she’s so out of control.
    We hope she stays indoors.

    From poem XI:

    What keeps you from understanding
    what you do to me?
    What did they pay you to do this to yourself?
    Who does this to us?
    Where is our courage?
    And what happened to our resistance
    to our simple stubbornness
    not to let our enemy win
    not to let our enemy win inside us.

  60. This blog:


    actually checked the information and it turns out they used a cross section of the country who were more likely to be overweight (middle aged people) and then found that wow! some of the people likely to be overweight were overweight. Its not even representative of us aussies as a whole, and now they are using it to claim that everyone has a problem and that we are all doomed. Its basically sensationalist garbage

  61. Correct me if I’m wrong…but don’t we fat people gird our loins every time we have to visit the doctor anyway? I know every time I go to the dr I must put on my thick skin and chest armor so that I can hear once again the “Just eat less and exercise more” verbage from my doctor and prevent it from penetrating into my psyche. Don’t they read the research that shows fatties delay seeing doctors just so we don’t have to endure the “you are going to die if you don’t lose weight” speech?
    Denying fat PEOPLE surgeries will only fuel the very real chasm that exists between between doctors and fatties anyway….why pile on more? The patient’s overall health should be the ONLY factor in determining whether or not surgery is an viable option. I can’t tell you the number of times I have been approached at the gym and told I have great flexibility and stamina…while the “average sized people” (eyeroll) spend half, yes half as much time in the gym as I do. Try telling that to a doctor and enjoy the sneer you get because you’re obviously lying.
    When are we going to have REAL science to back up all the theories about obesity being the cause of all the ills in the world? Im sure it has nothing to do with the chemicals, pesticides, refined white flour, corn syrup and overall nutritionally lacking food products we are forced to buy to feed our families…nor is there ANY genetic link to weight that could possibly have an impact on a person’s size…..ugh!

  62. For those that are interested the full report can be found here:


    Here’s a just a couple of my fave lines from the report:

    “Overall, there is a paucity of data regarding the projected, long-term impact of obesity on CV morbidity and
    mortality in middle-aged Australians.”

    But that’s not going to stop us from making assumptions and blanket statements about cardiovascular disease, obesity and their long term impact anyway. (Whaddya mean you need data and evidence to support a scientific statement?)

    “The AusDiab Study has indicated that television viewing is associated with a number of metabolic risk variables such as increased fasting plasma glucose, systolic blood pressure and waist circumference that are associated with Type 2 diabetes, hypertension and obesity respectively.”

    Well clearly this means that televisions are evil and destroying our health and they should be immediately banned. I am yet to read the AusDiab study, but as a reasonably intelligent person with a Medical Science degree, I fail to find any connection between my television and my blood pressure. To me that’s like saying there’s a association between my lack of height and the internet. (Therefore, Kate Harding, I blame you for my being short. Thanks. Thanks alot.)

    Oh, and the sample size for the study that says 26% of Australians are overweight/obese? 14 000. Out of a population of something like 19 million. (That’s 0.07%).

    I could easily descend into a rant here about how socially and scientifically wrong this report is, but really, I wouldn’t be saying anything new. The sad thing about this – I would be one of those denied surgery for being too fat. The even sadder thing about this – I work for a subsidiary of the company that produced this report. (Maybe they’ll fire me for being too fat and unhealthy.)

  63. I have a question/topic of discussion that’s a little OT…

    Between the waist measurements to combat “metabo” in Japan and the very idea that surgery could be denied to someone based on weight, I’m fuming and I’m pretty damn sure I’m not the only one. While talking about these topics on the blog and spreading the principles of FA to friends and family are great ways to act on spreading awareness, does anyone have any ideas on more concrete, immediate actions we can take (if any) to combat these type of injustices? I know there was a letter-writing campaign a few months ago with the MS bill, and while I read about it after the fact, I thought that was pretty awesome. Is anyone doing anything similar about these recent developments (either those inside the countries or from outside)? Is there anything that any of us as individuals can do to fight for equal rights for all body types rather than just spread awareness to those around us?

    I’m rather new to FA, so perhaps my question is naive, perhaps I am overlooking something, but I just keep thinking “Is there something more I, or any of us, can be doing?” Any suggestions?

  64. Ditto to Himawari… It makes me so terribly frustrated that people never question these studies, because the majority of the time, what’s reported in the media bears no resemblance to the actual study. And of course, every time I say this to someone, they look me up and down and then dismiss what I’m saying because of my weight.

    I’m fairly sure you guys are a bit more organised in the US than we are here in Australia, but if there is some sort of organisation or group over here that are planning anything more solid, I’d love to know about it…

  65. I would love to participate in a letter writing campaign. I’m thinking Letters to the Editor of the major newspapers that printed stories on this issue might be nice and get voices heard, possibly even printed. Will need to get filled in on which are the most influential papers down under, though.

  66. I’m very disappointed, I thought the UK was up for replacing our US friends, especially with our ‘special realtionship’ and all, now I realise we are also rans at this too.

    I wish you Aussie’s could be a little more sensitive before boasting and bragging how you’re the fattest, think of the many disappointed nations before
    engaging in this triumphalism.

  67. “But I don’t hear people talking about those fucking Aussies and their fucking SUVs and fucking huge houses and overflowing landfills and whatnot,”

    We aussies talk about it. Our houses average over 400 sq metres, SUVs are everywhere, we’re salinating our farmland and rivers and having to desalinate our sea water to drink because our dams can’t keep up. Our rate of consumption keeps going up and up.

  68. I think my other comment got caught in the spam filter, but the full quote from the Genius Professor who headed the report about denying surgery wasn’t about denying fat people general surgery, but denying weight loss surgery to fat people unless they demonstrated they could lose some weight on their own first. I’m not even going to begin to deconstruct that, and it doesn’t make the report any less fucked, but it’s…something, I guess.

  69. Hi Himawari and others,

    Hope you may be able to help me here. Australia has a “Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice” which is supposed to regulate program content on commercial free-to-air television, including it’s accuracy.

    Now I am more than happy to fire off to the offending TV chanel each time I see one of these stupid news spots the official ‘complaint form’ which they have to reply back to (so they say). http://www.acma.gov.au

    But what has my read lots, but don’t write much brain in a spin is that, in the ‘Complaint Summary’ part, what should I saying? Should I be giving them studies that show they are wrong? Do I just say- stupid reporter go back to school and learn to read an actual report and not just something that the weight loss industry has given you to report?..

    SO, what do you think would be good ‘form letter’ information to send to various people who pretend to give us factual news?


  70. SAKI: perhaps get media watch involved.

    I think the 14,000 people were self-selecting folk who wandered into free health check vans — gee, I wonder if that would introduce any bias?!

  71. Reading about denials of surgery makes me SO relieved my mom met with the surgeon she did, last Tuesday. She is somewhere around 300lbs – possible a little bit less, but not much. She badly needs both knees replaced. She met with one specialist several months ago who was just about to move on to some other job, so wouldn’t be around to be the one doing the surgery (he wanted to be doing sports medicine), who told her she’d probably have to lose weight in order to get knee replacements. But since he was leaving, she’d have to meet with someone else to figure it out, anyway (Thank goodness!!!)

    She finally got another referral to a surgeon and met with him this week, and how has her Surgery scheduled for the end of August. She really liked him and his nurse, and felt respected and so forth by them. He apparently told her that they (not sure who “they” are) recommend not doing them for people over 235 because the replacement knee won’t be *as* stable, but “what am I going to do, not do surgery on someone who’s 236?” Again, she’s more than that, even, but his attitude is clearly that if someone needs it, he’s going to do it – in any case, it’s not as if her current knees are stable! She basically has bone on bone and it’s even causing her legs to bow out *shudder*.

  72. “I don’t hear people talking about those fucking Aussies and their fucking SUVs and fucking huge houses and overflowing landfills and whatnot, let alone how all their fucking fat people are just another manifestation of the same problem”

    Oh, but we Aussies hear it all the time. All the damn time.

  73. I’m not sure if it’s been mentioned in the comments yet, but there was a very good letter in yesterday’s Age newspaper about the study this “news” was based on, seriously questioning the methodology. I’ll copy it here: (hoping the html works!)


    IT HAS been reported widely that Australia has become the fattest nation in the world. Bigger than the Americans? I’m not so sure, judging from the methods used in the study (The Age, 20/6). The study was large, with many good features, but it had serious potential for some of its results to be biased.

    The data came from free tests conducted in shopping centres as part of a national blood pressure screening day last year. People who are overweight are more likely than people of normal weight to attend such a screening, because of concern about their health. The results are therefore likely to give an overestimate of the proportion of overweight and obese people in the population.

    Obesity is indeed a major problem in Australia, and many of the measures suggested to address it have merit. But it doesn’t help to overstate the problem, and the conclusions drawn from this study are in danger of doing that.

    Dr Graham Hepworth, Statistical Consulting Centre,
    The University of Melbourne

  74. It may disgust you (as it did me) to realise that our Aussie Maternal & Child Health Nurses (at least in Victoria) measure babies and childrens’ BMI ! And then talk to the parents if they deem the figure too high! I am talking children aged 0 – 4. Yikes!


  75. Really interesting to see the discussion here. I apologise for what will seem like self-promotion, but a few months back I wrote an article about some of the problems with the ‘obesity crisis’ not long ago. It sums up pretty well what some people here are commenting on.

    I’ve been pleased to see some experts stating their doubt about the latest press-pushed study in Australia. Pity it isn’t receiving more attention. There was a piece in crikey.com.au about the way this study has been promoted to attract attention.

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