Ba-da Bing! Ba-da Boom!

Well, colour me tangerine!

I open the Sydney Morning Herald this morning (that bastion of fat-hatred) and find an almost entirely fat positive article criticising the Australian government’s misguided intention to weigh and record the BMI of 4 year olds. It gets in there, questions the assumptions and even finishes on a fat positive note.

What the HELL is going on?

‘One in four Australian children and one in two adults are already overweight or obese,” the Minister for Health, Nicola Roxon, told a conference of obesity experts this week.

Where are they, minister? In the past fortnight, I’ve been in the centres of Sydney and Melbourne, in Newcastle and Katoomba, and in Sydney suburbs including Maroubra, Gladesville and Parramatta. I’ve seen plenty of fat adults but nothing like one in two. I’ve seen thousands of children, but were a quarter of them fat? No way.

So we have to ask again, where are they? Either Australia’s fat people are hiding, too scared to come out and incur the wrath of the Health Minister, or else something fishy is going on. As fishy as Roxon’s other claim, that obesity is costing the [Australian] economy $21 billion a year.

Great start, right? Except for the bit about fat adults.

We have to fight back. If this is the first step in the introduction of a Rudd Labor nanny state, it is necessary to make a stand now. The obesity epidemic is a myth created by the pharmaceutical and health industries, and we don’t have to accept their nonsense.

There are three main points to be made about fat. First, it is not nearly as extensive as claimed. Second, being a bit overweight is not as bad as most people believe. And third, there’s not much you can do about it anyway.

Right on.

Even if one believes the general population is fatter than it once was, we should be cautious about assuming this is a bad thing. A recent major study published in The Journal Of The American Medical Association found that overweight people have a lower death rate than people who are normal weight, underweight or obese. The study was carried out by Katherine Flegal and other federal government researchers at the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. Being up to nearly 14 kilograms overweight reduces by 40 per cent your chance of dying from a range of common diseases and risks, not least because it improves your chances of recovering from surgery, injury and infections.

OMG! He’s done research! I’m about to faint. And I’m quoting nearly the entire article.

The findings have outraged many health experts, and in response they have made some good points. These include the fact that being overweight does increase the chance of death from some illnesses, even if it reduces the chance of death from many others. It has also been pointed out that health is about more than whether you die.

A token nod to the critics, although the last line makes no sense. Everyone dies sooner or later.

But it is important to note that worrying about being overweight is rarely useful. Dale Atrens, a reader emeritus in psychobiology at the University of Sydney, has made an extensive study of scientific literature in this area. He says, “The injunction to lose a little weight is probably the most common medical prescription. It is given to untold millions each day through both official and unofficial channels. Globally, the weight loss industry is approaching a trillion-dollar turnover. This is astonishing in light of the fact that there is no systematic evidence that any of the weight loss schemes (except surgery) have any more than transient effects.”

Yes. Yes. Yes.

The next time someone, even a health minister, tries to make you feel guilty about carrying a few extra kilos, just say no.

Ba-da Bing! Ba-da Boom!

Read the full article here (although I’ve probably quoted most of it)

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12 Responses to “Ba-da Bing! Ba-da Boom!”


  1. 1 La di Da Sunday, 16 December 2007 at 11:30 am

    I’m considering writing to the Health Minister and local member/Senator about this issue. And including copies of HAES literature and so on. Would be nice if there was a size acceptance/fat rights org established in Australia – looking organised gives you clout. (I know, I know, if I keep lamenting/suggesting it, why don’t I start one? Several reasons, not the least of which is I’m seriously crap at that kind of thing.)

  2. 2 KarenElhyam Sunday, 16 December 2007 at 2:07 pm

    Gosh, I wish I were an Australian citizen, so I could write in and give that reporter the complete kudos he or she deserves!

    As it stands, it might be kinda weird for a college student in the states to be writing in, praising them. ^^

  3. 3 Thorn Sunday, 16 December 2007 at 4:52 pm

    OMFG! This was in a paper? A newspaper, I mean. Like the kind people read while eating breakfast, or at home after work? Fer realz????

    Somebody get me a fainting couch, I’ma gonna keel over!

    That is some seriously amazing stuff. Whoo-hoo!! Nice to see, y’know, SCIENCE gain some traction for a change!

  4. 4 fatadelic Sunday, 16 December 2007 at 9:19 pm

    La Di Da,
    I’ve often lamented the lack of an organised Fat Acceptance movement in Australia. Here, it’s kind of hard to even make contact with other fat people in a political sense.

    Many years ago I used to belong to the Don’t Tell Me What Size I Must Be email group, which used to coordinate letter writing campaigns – but the group has long since ceased to focus on Australian issues and when I left it seemed to be primarily about fashion (not a bad thing, just not what I was looking for).

    So yeah, it would be nice to do similar things to what the BFB crowd are doing in the US. Maybe that’s the way to do it, ie. use their template and build on it for Australia’s needs? Gah. I don’t know.

    KarenElhyam,
    I don’t think your location matters too much. I mean the internet is Global and I comment on US issues all the time. He’s probably be flattered.

    Thorn,
    Tell me about it. Coverage like this NEVER happens. Can’t wait to see the fat-phobic letters section tomorrow.

  5. 5 La di Da Sunday, 16 December 2007 at 9:56 pm

    Hmmm, well I put my hand up to participate in some of the organising stuff that BFB is doing, so I’ve mentioned a few things that can be added on to include Australia. (Am good at research, crap at publicity stuff.) Join in? :)

    I still read DTMWSIMB now and then.

  6. 6 La di Da Sunday, 16 December 2007 at 10:08 pm

    Also, praise for the editorial can be left via this page:

    http://www.smh.com.au/contacts/readerlink/

  7. 7 Rene Monday, 17 December 2007 at 1:39 am

    One comment about the research: Even these authors can bring themselves to accurately present the CDC paper which actually found “obese” also had lower risks until the most extremely high BMIs (attributed to other things beside adiposity). It wasn’t just “overweight.”
    Why is “fat acceptance” only for “pleasantly plump” or muscular guys in the “overweight” category but not for fat people?

  8. 8 Rene Monday, 17 December 2007 at 1:40 am

    Correction: I meant “cannot” bring themselves to…

  9. 9 juliafaye Monday, 17 December 2007 at 4:58 am

    Thanks for the comment on my blog! :)


  1. 1 Another voice is added « Fatadelic Trackback on Wednesday, 19 December 2007 at 9:58 am
  2. 2 Thursday Blogwhoring Trackback on Friday, 21 December 2007 at 12:34 pm
  3. 3 Australians are fatter than ever & (oh no!) they think it’s OK! « Fatadelic Trackback on Saturday, 26 January 2008 at 1:46 pm

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