Last week, “health news” outlets widely reported this study that found that fat people with metabolic abnormalities, when studied over a 10 year period, seem to show more cognitive decline than thin or fat people without those abnormalities.
I could go on and on about the fact that this is not a controlled study and doesn’t account for things that might be causing this decline other than fat, like fat stigma and pharmaceuticals etc.
But today, I want to talk about the way this study was reported, not the study itself.
Let’s look at MSN Health, for example. The original article on MSN Health was so hate-filled and misleading that an editor must have finally revised it to make it slightly more accurate. I wish I could get access to that original posting, but at the very least this facebook preview from the Rolls Not Trolls group says it all.
This is how “health news” outlets like MSN Health reported the study:
Even though MSN eventually changed the text of the article, they kept both the inaccurate title and the image of the mostly headless fatty holding a donut. Kudos, MSN for not letting fact checking get in the way of your hit count!
So is it any wonder that this other study, which found that fat doesn’t kill and being fat may actually have a protective effect when it comes to diabetes, got swept under the rug by “health news” outlets this week?
Here’s a quote from this study that may blow your mind.
"After adjusting for diabetes and hypertension, severe obesity was no longer associated with mortality, and milder obesity was associated with decreased mortality. There was a significant interaction between diabetes (but not hypertension) and BMI, such that the mortality risk of diabetes was lower among mildly and severely obese persons than among those in lower BMI categories."
In other words, fat doesn’t kill you. If you don’t have diabetes or hypertension, and you’re fat, even really, really fat, your life expectancy is no different than a thin person. And if you have diabetes, being fat actually lengthens your life expectancy.
Hmm. So why would this study, which had a sample size of over eight times that other, widely reported study, get so little mention in the press?
Could it be because, as I wrote last week, the idea that fat is bad and weight loss works is the result of advertising, not science?
Perhaps it wasn’t reported because, if fatness isn’t dangerous or unhealthy or bad for you, then everyone from diet companies to diet pill manufacturers to weight loss surgery implant manufacturers to weight loss surgeons to Dr. Oz to women’s magazines to diet book gurus to anti-obesity researchers to the hacks at MSN Health would have to find some other way to make a living?!
This is hugely important health news that news outlets never bothered to cover. They didn’t cover it because if people actually knew about it, it would kill the weight loss business.
The diet industry alone makes over $60 billion a year here in the U.S. and much of that money is funneled back into the economy in the form of advertising. Perhaps some “news outlets” would go under without those monthly checks from Weight Watchers. I can’t be sure of that, but this much is clear: the news industry has an interest in keeping the weight loss industry thriving.
1) Follow The Money — When you see a fat bashing article online or in print, take a look at the rest of the page, site or periodical. How many diet-related ads do you see? How many references or links to weight loss products do you notice? You may be shocked by what you find.
2) Ignore Or Comment — When you see “articles” that say that fat is bad and weight loss is the answer, feel free to ignore them. You know that they’re not the truth, and won’t contribute to your mental health. Alternatively, dig a little deeper and see if the cited study lines up with the article. The study itself may have bias too, so see if you notice that as well. And remember, very often, “health news” is neither healthy nor news. Feel free to comment and give ‘em heck for bad reporting.
3) Practice Health At Every Size(R) — When you look at studies that are not funded by the diet industry, again and again it becomes clear that fat is not a death sentence, it’s not a curse. Embracing the body that you have—nourishing it, loving it, moving it in ways that feel good—is truly the healthiest thing you can do. This is the essence of HAES(R). You have the right to live a big, beautiful life in the body you have right now.
Golda is a certified holistic health counselor and founder of Body Love Wellness, a program designed for plus-sized women who are fed up with dieting and want support to stop obsessing about food and weight. To learn more about Golda and her work, click here.
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