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Why Aren’t We Talking About Losing Weight?
The other day I was on the phone with a friend who is high-risk for COVID: he’s over 60, has diabetes, and is overweight. I never thought of him as overweight, but the math doesn’t lie. And so, he’s taking some serious steps to lose weight and explicitly said that he’s doing so in order to reduce his susceptibility to the virus. And it got me thinking: why aren’t we promoting weight loss as a general tool in our arsenal to fight the virus? This morning I saw this tweet from Kyle Smith:
An under-noticed aspect of why the US has been hit especially hard is that we lead the world in obesity. Skinny countries do much better. pic.twitter.com/Q3qRNOcDbM
— Kyle Smith (@rkylesmith) August 21, 2020
The answer is of course we’re not allowed to talk about weight-loss because that’s “fat-shaming.” And there’s a difference, of course, between making someone feel badly for being overweight and explaining the health implications for obesity. It’s not even that subtle of a distinction to make. And yet, it’s a taboo subject because it might make people feel sad. You know what else makes people feel sad? Dying of COVID. So maybe we should start promoting wellness as a tool in our fight against this virus.Published in General
Too many people make money off of obesity lies. “Big is beautiful” is a multi-million dollar business.
People are addicted to eating. I fight that same impulse, as my whole family did. But most people who are overweight are more interested in eating than in maintaining good health. Watching your diet requires discipline. And many people don’t want to exercise discipline regarding food. Never mind doing exercise, period.
Lockdowns probably contribute to obesity…even walking around a mall is better exercise than just staying at home.
One issue is that it takes very little extra weight to be officially classified as “overweight”. It is virtually impossible for anybody to get to their government-approved weight without being a full-time athlete.
For example, I think I look pretty darned good for my age. I don’t live off junk food. I’ve cut way back on my alcohol consumption. I get a moderate amount of exercise weekly, mostly by going for walks but also with occasional bike rides, kayaking, cross-country skiing, etc. However, in order to get to my government-approved weight I’d have to get down to 173 lbs.
I actually did it once. It took an enormous amount of effort (that wasn’t close to sustainable over the long term) and I looked like I had a horrible wasting disease, so now I’m happy if I can keep my weight below 205.
I didn’t notice at all before your post, Bethany. But, come to think of it, the silence is pretty interesting, especially compared to the way we couldn’t stop hearing about obesity back when Michelle Obama was out to change public school lunches.
You’re so right. An online BMI calculator, courtesy of the NIH, tells me I would need to lose 13 pounds past the weight my doctor told me was fine and healthy for me. That’s a lot for a five-foot-nothing old lady.
I think it’s important to differentiate between overweight and obesity. Most people know whether they are carrying too much weight (whether they’ll admit it or not). Also, bone mass (and its weight) isn’t measured with BMI, and that can make a big difference.
But that was making the children eat the way they ‘should’ instead of us walking-around, fully-grown (and I mean grown) adults.
You do look good for your age! Oh right, I’m looking at a drawing. Never mind.
I forget who said it, but something to the effect that America is the only country where the rich are thin and the poor are not
Misthiocracy has a point….not that a doctor or family member shouldn’t express concern but concern from press/government and especially unrelated persons does veer into judgement based on appearance alone that can break a person’s spirit: IE they have weathered recovery from an accident, have just reached a hard-won halfway goal etc. or are handling too many family/job etc. responsibilities to add on taking that extra care of themselves for the time being. And the goal thing by some chart can sound literally unimaginable/unattainable to many of those who might work on it if we would celebrate the effort at whatever level they can make, and reward reaching interim goals (but we can’t SEE those). Also I’m glad it worked for the OP friend but the virus would hardly stand out among all the things people attach to obesity, and that target people have heard before…you name it: ruptured disks, cancer, joint problems… even things that can come from wrong exercise (damaged disks) or have a large genetic component like type 2 diabetes and varicose veins. I wouldn’t doubt some add whatever they can think of for good measure that could just be normal age compounding… like bladder control, sleep problems etc. After awhile it just sounds a little dubious, and doesn’t help.
BMI is not a health indicator. It has no scientific basis. Its literally a device made by a Belgian PolyMath to help governments buy medicine in bulk.
So few people especially doctors know that.
Speaking as someone who has lost 35 lbs since the beginning of the pandemic, I know its hard for people to lose weight when all the gyms were closed.
Finally the real problem is the American diet. That combined with the low cost of food and huge portions (Canadian portions are half to 2/3rds US portions and about 30 percent more in cost), and its no wonder so many people in your country are over weight.
Even then, certain types of athlete have too much muscle. Maybe for a runner or other Skeletor-style athlete. Back when I was younger and fitter, I was the same height and weight as Steve Yzerman, yet my (really our, in this case) BMI was considered overweight.
All I need to do is grow 1’10” to be considered in the normal weight range.
Wait, what? Could you say a little more about this?
It is also true that older people, who usually are the folks who need to lose some weight, have given up trying to diet. Inside our diets lurk various items that make weight loss difficult.
The food additive called MSG is partly responsible. It is found in so many things: from soups to cookies, from gravies and sauces and of course, almost everything that is breaded. The Big Food companies know Americans want to avoid MSG, so it is referred to on the packaging as modified wheat starch, modified tapiocca starch, “spices,” and even with the words “natural flavorings.”
MSG turns off a person’s appetite control mechanisms. This is one reason why food manufacturers, restaurants and fast food places add it into their products. If your family has a tub of breaded chicken without MSG, and a day later, a tub of chicken that has it, you will notice that with the chicken that has it, you want to wolf the chicken down. Plus no matter how much you eat, you still want more.
It is ironic that MSG is very heavily found inside salad dressings, especially “low calorie” salad dressings.
Red Vines and Jelly Bellies are nothing but a tiny bit of gelatin, food coloring, some wheat, high fructose corn syrup and a ton of MSG – with the MSG guaranteeing that a person gets addicted.
Additionally, when a person has food sensitivities, weight is put on as bloat and no amount of dieting will allow a person to shed that bloat until the item they are sensitive to is removed from the diet. Gluten, or rice, or corn, or dairy are usually the culprits.
For me, it was gluten. Gluten is not only wheat but also barley and a few other things too. Once I gave up gluten, I lost 15 pounds or so in two weeks. (Even though I never ate much wheat, just the odd slice of 7 grain toast my spouse gave me with an admonition: “You need healthy grains in your diet.”) All of that 15 pounds was pure gas and bloat.
Most doctors are oblivious of this. The person needing to lose some weight is told it is about calories and exercise, but there really is so much more to it. Once MSG is out of a person’s diet and they have identified what food(s) that can never have, it is easy to shed some pounds. With the MSG and the problem food, it is extremely difficult.
As time has gone by, there have been so many great foods added at the grocery store that are wheat free. I also make cookies, cakes, pizza crust and breads without wheat, and unless I tell people there is no wheat in these items, they never know.
Congratulations on the weight loss. That is tremendous.
Another thing somebody else wants to watch my body for. Don’t you have enough in your life to pay attention to?
OK, people need to lose weight. Now what? If it was as easy as saying “Hey porky, lose some weight”, it would already be done and we wouldn’t be having this conversation in the first place..
Most fat people know they need to lose weight (I need to lose 40 pounds just to get to the point where I’d need to lose 40 pounds).
As I understand it, BMI was developed to measure populations, not individuals.
“I’m not overweight. I’m undertall.” – Garfield
Short story. Its a statistic that is supposed to be used by policy makers to help guide there policy level decisions. It should never, EVER, be used by a single human being as a measurement for an individuals health.
I believe the body fat index is far more accurate.
Thanks. Partial Fasting diet and now 10000 steps a day. Cutting out a lot of junk food helps as well.
Advising people to lose weight is racist.
Sounds like a sensitive topic for you. I probably weigh a lot more and am far more obese. I know it. I can deal with it.
When you get down to it, this is all that Bethany is saying. Let’s be honest, overweight, and especially morbidly obese, is not healthy. Further, we know that co-morbidities (such as being obese or diabetic) are more likely to lead to complications with CoViD-19, such as death. So, why can’t we talk about it?
I have a number of auto-immune diseases. I have been trying to find a list of these co-morbidities, and at least early on had no luck finding out whether I needed to worry. (The List) Why? Maybe it just took time to verify and publish the data. Still, I only have one on the main list (fatitude) and one on the suspect list, so it may not be as bad for me as I thought. It’s good to find the list and be able to discuss the problems and maybe even take some steps to help lessen my risk of dying of CoViD.
Nobody, especially Bethany, is planning on watching your body. We just want an open discussion. I would like open discussions of food additives and how they contribute to American fatness, even more of them than the ones Carol was mentioning above. There is no reason these topics should be out of bounds for discussion. And there is no reason for anyone to be sensitive about them or assigning nefarious ulterior motives to those who would speak about them.
A 22-stone fat guy.
Exactly. I’m morbidly undertall.
Can’t convince people to bear a minor inconvenience like a mask but you are going to convince to loose weight?
Some people have trouble losing weight because they’ve been on and off diets all their lives. Their metabolism doesn’t know what the heck is going on. So (I’ve heard) that if you go on a strict diet, the metabolism thinks you’re trying to starve your body and won’t let you lose weight. I don’t do diets, so I don’t know firsthand.
@torywarwriter – can you explain the fasting approach? I have been hearing more and more about it and I’m wondering how to reconcile that approach with previous advice of “experts” which was to “eat a little bit throughout the day – try and balance out your insulin levels. Avoid peaks and valleys.” Thank you! Best, Nerina