Debra Sapp-Yarwood Does It Again

meowser-48.jpg posted by meowser

Debra Sapp-Yarwood (DebraSY on Big Fat Blog), who as I said here could teach dieters a thing or two about humility, has a brand new op-ed in the Kansas City Star about the Wii Fit, and it’s a good one. In short, Debra’s against it, because it makes exercise a crapload of no fun if you’re fat, especially for kids:

The Munchkin voice from the Wii Fit says “That’s obese.” How dare it talk to a child like that!?

Later, that same child, when he cannot complete an exercise, cries, “I’m obese and stupid!” Parental intervention now. Therapy in 10 years?

And she’s especially critical of the program’s across-the-board recommendation that everyone shoot for a BMI of 22:

In addition to being a questionable benchmark, the 22 BMI is unrealistic. If your genetics, gastrointestinal chemistry and hormones don’t want you at a BMI of 22, or at least within 10 percent, then it’s unrealistic to aim for it. Studies show that fewer than 5 percent of dieters can maintain significant weight loss for more than two years. The scientists at the National Weight Control Registry, a project devoted to tracking weight-loss successes, have said that only 20 percent of the population can maintain a meager 10 percent loss for a year.

We need more stuff like this in the papers, y’all. Click on this story. Do it lots. Leave some feedback at the bottom that you’d like more stuff like it. (But as always with stories of this kind, unless you’ve been really parsimonious with your SW points, stay away from the comments already left, which are full of the usual “but kids are so faaaaat now, and your husband is a big fatass too” kind of dreck.)

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15 Responses to “Debra Sapp-Yarwood Does It Again”

  1. Bree Says:

    I left a comment. I’m sure those who have the blinders on about all fat people eating too much and not getting any exercise will tear into it like a fly on shit, but let ’em.

  2. meowser Says:

    Good for you, Bree!

  3. spacedcowgirl Says:

    I love Debra Sapp-Yarwood. And it’s about time somebody called out the NWCR as nothing like the shining beacon of hope for dieters that it’s often portrayed as. (Summing up my opinion perhaps rather unfairly, but the MSM coverage is not usually much better than this IME: “Literally THOUSANDS of dieters out of like 100 million Americans who are supposedly overweight or obese have been able to ‘maintain’ a loss of 10 percent of their weight for a year by reducing their caloric intake to an absurd level and engaging in weird draconian habits that are often hard to distinguish from an eating disorder! So dieters take heart–it really IS possible to permanently lose weight! It’s just calories in/calories out!”)

    The shocking levels of effort required to meet their relatively low bar for “success” means that the findings of the NWCR actually make me less hopeful about the possibility of permanent weight loss. A LOT less.

  4. meowser Says:

    Exactly, SCG. I mean, the NWCR is NOT a fat-acceptance organization by any stretch of the imagination. They are pro-weight-loss and trying to promote any possible glimmer of hope that people have of trying to become permanently thin. And when forced to show the numbers even THEY have to admit that glimmer ain’t so glimmery.

  5. Kimberley Says:

    In defense of the wii fit – I was not planning on buying one, for fear that it would taunt me like a grade-school bully. But we were given one – and even though I was afraid that it would scream, “Aaaaagh! Fat person! Obese! Obese!”, it wasn’t that bad. I mean, it didn’t tell me anything I didn’t know – I am obese, and I don’t have a svelte little body – but it only tells you your weight if you want it to, and after the first assessment of bmi, it pretty much leaves you alone to have fun with the games, unless you choose to have it pester you. ( Really, you have to choose to get follow-up assessments!)

    Here’s the thing – at least, here’s MY thing – I can’t let fear of judgement – by other people, by ‘experts’, by my wii, get between me and what I want to do. It’s like, I’m fat and that’s NOT a secret – not even from my wii.

    And hey – my ‘wii fitness age’ today was 28 – that`s 15 years younger than my real age! Once you`re past the assessment stage, you`re judged only by how well you can do the activities – not how `hot`you look doing them. When I think about it, that`s the level of acceptance I wish I could find every day, everywhere I go.

    I had fun today with my wii fit – and I`m glad I

  6. Jackie Says:

    Seriously, the Wii Fit will tell you you’re obese like that?

  7. Meowser Says:

    Kimberly, since you’ve used this device and I haven’t, can you tell me if a parent can disable the machine from telling a kid s/he is “obese”? Is it easy for a parent to figure that out from the instructions given? (Of course, there are parents who would choose to have the machine harangue their kids about their weight, but chances are they already do a pretty good job of that even without the machine if that’s the way they operate.)

  8. Liza Says:

    I left a comment as well (about how exercise is healthy and Nintendo made an error in making the Wii Fit about weight instead of health). I also rated the size positive comments with 5 stars and the idiotic omg!teh fattyz!lazy!die! type comments with 1 (because you can’t click 0).

    I hope that Nintendo re-issues the Wii Fit with the BMI measurement removed (or buried in there so you have to REALLY want it in order to hear it). If they do that, hell yeah I’d buy one. But I don’t have room in my life for judgmental video games. It’s bad enough I have to put out a fire on a covered wagon with a boomerang while riding a horse and shooting goblins next time I turn on my Wii, I don’t also need to hear that I’m a fatty fatty fat fat. I get reminded of that every time I try to take the middle seat on the F train, thanks.

    By the by, I was so sad to learn that the same guy who invented Zelda invented Wii Fit. I give so many hours of my life to those games, and this is how you repay me, Shigeru Miyamoto? I played the original NES Zelda when I was 4! I’ve beaten Ocarina of Time about 20 times! I freakin named my dog Zelda! How could you do this to me? Noooooo!

    OK, clearly it’s time for Liza to go to bed.

  9. Lacy Jordan Says:

    I left a comment, too.

    I am so frustrated at the notion that weight loss trumps fitness. And I have no clue what to do. At least fat hate, discrimination, etc. can all be attributed to character and personality.

    But good grief. Whatever happened to science?

    (Sorry. Preaching to the converted.)

  10. Carol Says:

    I haven’t seen one of these in action so I can’t speak from experience but who on earth answers nosy personal questions from a machine? Why on earth put the information in there in the first place?

    And if the machine makes you put in information by refusing to complete set-up until you do, then for heaven’s sake, lie. Treat the silly thing like an exit pollster and lie through your teeth.

    Now that the people mentioned in this editorial know that the machine has been programmed by some very nasty people, go back into set-up and tell it what you want it to know.

  11. Meowser Says:

    (Sorry. Preaching to the converted.)

    No problem, Lacy, me too! 😛

    Carol, if we’re talking about adults, that’s one thing. They know enough, or can find out enough, to game the system if they want to. Kids don’t know that, and parents should not be put in a position of teaching them to lie. There will be plenty of time for that later. But if it were me? Yeah, I’d probably tell the machine I weigh 4 pounds, or something like that.

  12. Jackie Says:

    I think one of the main problems with people being so critical of the Wii Fit, is they’re not taking into account the cultural differences between America and Japan.

    I think in Japan, it’s not abnormal to hear such strict comments about weight. Where here, we won’t put up with it. Am I saying that it’s right for Nintendo to have made the game based on the BMI, with one of the chibis spouting out “obese!”? No. What I am saying, is given the cultural differences to which most of us may not know about Japan, that you shouldn’t be throwing Shigiharu Miyamoto under the bus for this one.

    I find that most countries outside America and England, are more strict about issues of conformity, and weight. I’ve heard that the eating disorders in Japan are at an all time high. So instead of saying, Nintendo has become ignorant and mean to fat people. Perhaps the best way to deal with this, is look at how it reflects on how weight is delt with in Japan and how we’re lucky to live in a country which while extremely biased about weight, isn’t forcing people to be thin as some sort of mandate.

    Nintendo has done alot of great stuff for family gaming, and now they really have been embracing the female gaming audience. Which no other gaming company really has bothered to do, acknowledge female gamers.

    So yeah, you can call me a Nintendo fangirl if you want. However, I think I am doing my best to put aside my bias in favor of them, and explain that this isn’t an attack from Nintendo towards fat people. It’s a game that came from another country, with another culture, translated straight into English. Perhaps Nintendo of America has some explaining to do on why they chose the word Obese, but that has little to do with Shigiharu Miyamoto in Japan in my opinon.

  13. Meowser Says:

    throwing Shigiharu Miyamoto under the bus

    You’re kidding about that, right? One editorial in a newspaper versus millions of dollars in sales in America alone, and you actually feel bad for Shigeru (note correct spelling) Miyamoto because the mean old size acceptance advocates are saying this isn’t the best thing in the world for kids?

    Kind of reminds me of what Jay Leno (yeah, yeah, I know) said years ago when he first took over the Tonight Show, when a reporter at a press conference asked him if critics’ jibes ever bothered him: “Tell you what. I’ll hand you my paycheck and call you a moron, and you see if you can handle it, okay?”

    You make it sound like this is the only product on earth that any Japanese manufacturer has ever been asked to tweak for the American market. I think maybe not. (And I’m also not sure I buy that Japanese kids don’t mind being called “obese” by a machine, either.)

  14. Jackie Says:

    Ok Meowser…..Do you feel better now having gotten that out of your system?

  15. The Great Mouton Says:

    This comment is very late indeed.

    I have the Wii Fit and I found the focus to be MUCH more on balance / posture than on BMI. To me, is seemed the BMI was just casually mentioned, like “Oh hey – FYI your BMI is this. Experts say you should aim for this”. The real focus / assessment is based on how well you balance or how quickly you can shift your weight.

    As for the focus of the game (as opposed to the assessment) – it is almost entirely based on how well you performed the exercise with respect to your posture, i.e. did you shift often from foot to foot or were you able to balance your weight equally? There are also some exercises based on timing.

    I found it to be excellent in helping me understand the way my body moves and in helping me have better control over my yoga poses.

    I can agree that the BMI could be eliminated, but that’s what we have to deal with right now. There is so much focus on BMI, and there are so many people who are concerned about their BMI, that I am not surprised that this game included it.

    I suppose I’m just surprised how many people are quick to say how awful this game is having not played it themselves. It’s actually quite fun!


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