Tuesday, October 20, 2009

More About Your Fat Ass

Rethinking Thin: The New Science of Weight Loss--and the Myths and Realities of Dieting Rethinking Thin: The New Science of Weight Loss--and the Myths and Realities of Dieting by Gina Kolata

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Man, I feel like such a chump. I've been swallowing the line on dieting for years without question, and this book really blows it up. The author reviews the past several decades of research on obesity and dieting and lets us in on the results -- diets don't work and your weight in genetically predetermined. You heard me. All that fat shaming and blathering about lack of personal responsibility that is done by public health folks, diet gurus, and Dr. Phil? Not relevant. The reason the vast majority of people can't keep weight off after dieting is that your body is working against you to get you back to whatever weight is your "set point." We have decent control over maybe 10-20 pounds. And you know what else? It's unlikely that being overweight has a significant effect on your health or longevity.

I've just blown your mind, haven't I?

The author, who's a science writer for the New York Times, does a good job of reviewing the research and explaining the different studies. The writing is a little technical at times, where she explains how scientists uncovered various hormones, peptides, and DNA. She also talks about the resistance the media and other researchers have had to certain studies that refuted the conventional wisdom about obesity. She explains this by pointing to the vast amount of money that dieting advocates, obesity researchers, and government entities stand to lose if the "obesity epidemic" is disproved.

Here's the deal: While improving your food choices and getting regular exercise can have a positive impact on your health, they probably won't make you thin. So if we can stop beating ourselves up for being fat, ugly, and unlovable, if we can make peace with our size and use all that time and money we spent on dieting for something else, if we stop letting people tell us we should be ashamed of ourselves...that'd be something, huh?

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hammersox said...

It's great to hear about some sanity on this particular topic. It's funny how most of us are able to muster up the courage to tell the world to stick it when it tries to get us to conform to some ridiculous "ideal" in our intellectual or emotional lives, but cower in the face of similar challenges when it comes to our bodies. One shouldn't be any more difficult than the other. Being healthy and feeling good about ourselves is extremely important, but it's the internal signals that matter, not the external ones. Let's hope this all becomes conventional wisdom sooner rather than later...

B said...

I have so much to say about this...but I'll sum it up with an exasperated UGH! As the mother of 3 beautiful little girls, all with different body types, my heart aches for their upcoming struggles with this topic. It doesn't mean much when Mom & Dad tell you your perfect - they're suppose to. Now how do we change the environment? Let's start with women's magazines, shall we? "O", you're first on my list! {Love your words Lucy!}

Sassmaster said...

Right on B! The lady mags are the worst about this stuff. And I think of niece A and her worries about weight in like 6th grade. Gah! We do need a course of action, definitely.

HS: Thanks for your continued support and wisdom. It makes me think of one of the big women on that horrible show More to Love. She said something that is kinda revolutionary coming from, really, any American woman: "I don't think there's anything wrong with me." Amazing.