When covering obesity, do you ever feel like you’re writing the same story over and over? We’re fatter than we used to be…we can’t control our eating… we’re not exercising enough… obesity is driving up health care costs… this is the first generation of kids predicted to lead shorter lives than their parents…
We’re caught in a web of failed efforts to trim our waistlines, disillusioned health care practitioners, and stigmatizing and ineffective public health measures.
But there’s another angle to the story, more hopeful, an evidence-based alternative to the same old tired storyline. Let me tell you about it.
Whatever your obesity-related coverage–whether it’s Jamie Oliver in Appalachia or fitness trends on the coasts, the cost of medical care or Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative–the facts behind the “facts” may surprise you.
With reference to solid, government sponsored studies, for instance, I can explain these ideas:
Body Mass Index (BMI) was derived politically, not based on scientific evaluation of health implications. Using it leads to misdiagnoses in people of all sizes.
Weight loss, for most people, is unobtainable or unsustainable due to biological constraints. “Prescribing” it helps no one. It actually backfires, supporting weight anxiety, feelings of failure – and weight gain.
Diet-induced weight cycling actually causes many of the very conditions blamed on fat, while heavy but stable-weight people fare better.
The “ironclad” notion that obesity leads to early death is wrong: Mortality data show “overweight” people, on average, live longest and the moderately “obese” people have similar longevity to those in the category deemed “normal” and advisable.
When “obesity” is the target, sound medicine falls by the wayside. Unforeseen costs run from ineffectual medical interventions (like futile advice to reduce) to the collateral psychological damage that arises from stigmatizing fat. Meanwhile, billions of taxpayer and consumer dollars have disappeared in pursuit of a slimmer future.
Whatever the weight-related topic you’re covering, getting HAES viewpoints can add depth and understanding.
- Is it diets you’re covering? I have a doctorate in physiology and can explain how stubborn physiological mechanisms impede long-term weight loss.
- Researching health consequences? I can describe how associations between weight and disease almost disappear when factoring in activity, nutrition, diet history and socioeconomic status.
- What about health care costs? I can show you how much of what we attribute to weight can really be blamed on weight stigma.
- Writing about food deserts and obesity-poverty links? I can show you how judgments about weight and fat are especially damaging for the disadvantaged.
- When childhood obesity is the topic, I can help you see how painful it is when we target the fat kids – and identify more effective interventions to improve our kids’ health and well-being. I take a strong stand on these issues: For example, I’ve argued that by framing her efforts as obesity prevention, Michelle Obama is a bigger threat to our children’s health than their weight.
Ready to dig deeper? Email me. Or call me at 510-542-7317. Monitor the conversations on my Facebook and Twitter feeds. I’m also happy to connect you with other experts who can add additional perspective.
For compassion, reasoned thinking and expertise to help you get the story right, please, talk to me.
If you are on deadline and need an immediate response, consider calling 510-542-7317.