As I said recently, I've been reading an interesting book called Women Afraid to Eat. I don't agree with it 100%; it was written in the late 90s, so there are suggestions to go low fat and low sodium sprinkled throughout, but the rest of the book is fascinating. It's a shocking exposure of what our society's focus on weight really does to women. It's definitely opened my eyes.
The author, Frances Berg, talks about a lot of things; the shocking long term results of dieting both physically and mentally, the fact that 70% of women don't get enough of the nutrients they need to be healthy, how people unfairly judge women based on their appearances, and the surprising fact that the health benefits that you get from dieting and losing weight are very tiny compared to the health risks. I haven't quite gotten through the whole book yet, but I'm finding it to be pretty inspiring and I plan on looking into these subjects more soon.
The last point there is the most annoying to me. People that are obese or overweight are, yes, statistically at more risk for many health problems, such as hearth disease and diabetes. The risk, according to Frances, isn't as high as you might think, considering how loudly health experts are yelling about it. In some ways, it's actually healthier to be overweight or even obese; some recent studies have shown that overweight people actually live longer than normal weight people, and are less likely to get dementia. And race plays a big role in it, too. Apparently, black people can be healthy at slightly higher BMIs than white people, and Native American people can have much higher BMIs than white people and still be healthy.
So what's the deal? Why is skinny "ideal", anyway? I just don't get it. And I certainly don't understand those people who are in favor of public fat shaming to get people to lose weight. As a person who has never been a normal weight, I can tell you for sure that fat shaming doesn't work. It rips a deep scar into your heart that never goes away. I'll never forget being called hippo hips, or thunder thighs, or being barked at and called a dog. I think the one that hurt the most when two boys came up to me, and one said, "I think you're pretty, but my friend thinks you're ugly. That must mean you're pretty ugly." It's hard to look in the mirror and see a beautiful woman; all I see is an ugly fat person. And there are health experts out there that want to promote this kind of treatment!
A recent study really got me riled up. It was a cohort study that tried to see if there were different kinds of obese people. And, apparently they found six types, though because this was focused on a group of people in England, they suspect there are even more groups globally than they found. I think this kind of study is awesome; they're actually looking at obesity as a set of different types of people instead of fat vs. skinny. I went into the article with high hopes, thinking yes, now they'll see there are some healthy obese people. And they did find healthy obese people! Obese young women, and obese older affluent adults. Great, wonderful, glad to hear them say they're healthy.
But then they go on to say that these two groups, the healthy obese women and healthy obese affluent older adults still need to lose weight.
Why?! Why do they need to lose weight if they're healthy?! That makes no sense! If they're healthy, and living a health promoting lifestyle, why does it matter if they lose weight or not? Shouldn't health be the first priority? RRR!
We're all individuals. I can never be skinny; my genes won't allow it, and I'm not just blowing smoke here. My mom was a beautiful woman when she was younger; she lived on a farm, in the days when everyone walked everywhere (she walked to town most days, a five mile hike up and down a huge hill), and she ate real whole food her parents grew and that grandma cooked with love. But she was still a size 18 at her smallest. All of my maternal female relatives (seven aunts and many cousins) were like that; we're a family of strong, tall, big boned, robust, and voluptuous women. Grandma was never skinny (though never fat, either), and she was vibrant and healthy until her death at 102.
I tried to find the data behind the news article for that study about types of obesity, but apparently you have to email the lead scientist for it. Although I'm interested to see what it says, I'm not really that good at sorting through the data. Besides, I doubt they'd send it to me for a blog post a few people are going to read.
I came across an article on the New York Post's website, with an excerpt from a book called Body of Truth. After reading the article and the reviews of the book, I had to order it. It's a serious look at the science of obesity and what it honestly says about the health risks of being fat and also of dieting. I feel like I need to get to the bottom of this. I want to read about the real science behind obesity, rather than just what the health experts are screaming.
So that's my rant for the day. Hopefully, when I read more into the book, I'll have something more interesting to say than RRRRR!