You Don’t Know What You Think You Know

I’ve gotten some emails from people  – not trolls – but totally brand spanking new to the subject who are just dead sure they understand everything they need to know about fat: we’re in an obesity crisis, and fat is just calories in/calories out.

So for all of you folks, I am going to kick you off with two articles – which aren’t from fat positive sources at all – just to problematize everything you think you know about fat.

Scientific American –  Obesity: An Overblown Epidemic?

War on Obesity Not the Obese

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9 Responses to “You Don’t Know What You Think You Know”

  1. Erin MJ Says:

    Thank you! I’m brand spanking new to the subject, not a troll, just a fat chick who isn’t quite sure what to think of all this information. The thermodynamics argument made sense, even if it never worked, you know? I’m reading *Rethinking Thin* right now, but am glad to have more sources.

  2. dolia Says:

    Haven’t read the first article yet, but the second made me realise how useful a sociological approach to fatphobia was. Basically, Jeffrey Firedman is at what we can probably call the “coalface” of Leptin research, and what comes out of that talk is that his desire to address an audience comes from his feeling that people make up their own minds about the “causes” of fat without actually paying any attention to research at all. Except that he is quite confused about what his actual message is. (If I had to paraphrase, it would be – “Yes, calories in need to = energy out, and fat eventually comes from an imbalance, BUT genetics means that the equation and rate is different for everyone.” – the implication being that government reccomendations about optimal calorie amounts are eventually going to need to be discarded because they can’t be generalised AND effective – but he doesn’t actually say this) This message is confused by his inability to really address HAES and there are so many instances of him revealing his underlying assumption that fat is BAD. (was any obesity researcher motivated into that field by the assumption that fat is good, or normal?) What’s going to happen if his research eventually tells him otherwise?

  3. fatfu Says:

    Dolia – oh yeah definitely. I addressed some of those issues in an earlier post (scroll down to the caveat auditor), but I think these two articles are really useful in shaking people out of that initial complacency about what we think we “know” and what “science says.”

  4. fatfu Says:

    Oh and actually I don’t think your summary of his argument is right. He’s saying that for everyone (fat or thin) calories in=calories out to within a ridiculous accuracy, and that what determines fat is not an “imbalance” of that equation, but the level of fat that you’re wired to have.

  5. Tracy Says:

    Calories in = calories out has been debunked for a while now. When will they catch up? Humans are not calorimeters, perfectly programmed. We’re complex organisms. A calorie from a Twinkie is going to be processed/used differently than a calorie from a steak, or piece of asparagus.

    I know a guy (formerly overweight) who recently did a calorie experiment: for one week, he ate 4000 cals/day of protein and fat, just to see if he’d gain weight/store fat. He lost 2 pounds. Anecdotal, but so many people have seen the same for themselves. I gained weight eating far less calorie-wise than I eat now.

    If you look in PubMed Central there’s a great article by Fienman and Fine called “A Calorie Is A Calorie Violates the Second Law of Thermodynamics”. A good read.

  6. dolia Says:

    thanks for picking me up on that little piece of fat negativity there! (“imbalance”) It’s really hard to think about the implications of your language – I think that’s probably exactly the problem Friedman has.

  7. kateharding Says:

    Thanks for this, fat fu! I’m always looking for more primers to point people to.

  8. fatfu Says:

    I’m working on it Sara, really!


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