Fat Double Standards

Really quickly — because I’m actually supposed to be writing my novel right now — here’s a hilarious addition to the double standards in weight reporting.

Early-Stage Alzheimer’s Could Make People Lose Weight

According to EurekAlert, scientists looked at 506 people ranging from those with no memory problems to those with full-blown Alzheimer’s. They found that people who had markers of Alzheimer’s called beta-amyloid plaques in their brains — even if they had no symptoms — had a lower BMI on average than those who had no markers. This means Alzheimer’s, even in its early stages, might be doing something to make people skinnier. Says study author Jeffrey M. Burns, “These results suggest Alzheimer’s disease brain changes are associated with systemic metabolic changes in the very earliest phases of the disease. This might be due to damage in the area of the brain called the hypothalamus that plays a role in regulating energy metabolism and food intake.”

So hey though, I’m sure you remember that study done not too long ago that concluded people with higher BMI were at greater risk for developing Alzheimer’s. Cuz yanno — fat causes ill health period. This is ignoring the fact that greater fatness is correlated with and may be causes by conditions that are known to be risk markers for development of dementia later in life (like insulin resistance, thyroid issues and diabetes). Again, we have the chicken-and-the-egg problem that plagues weight research: the assumption that weight always comes first, that it’s most always controllable, and that correlations having anything to do with higher BMI mean a prescription of weight loss.

Do you see the double standard in the above article? Thin people with a higher prevalence of Alzheimer’s means that Alzheimer’s causes thinness (and researchers are willing to do all that’s necessary to prove that particular conclusion, not to mention assume it from the outset without proof as such). But fat people with a higher prevalence of Alzheimer’s means that — wait for it — fat causes Alzheimer’s! And researchers (on the GlaxoSmithKline/Eli Lilly/Johnson&Johnson/etc dole) will do anything they can to prove that particular conclusion, not to mention assume it from the outset without proof as such.

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3 comments on “Fat Double Standards

  1. The bias seems so obvious to me now after a couple of years reading size acceptance blogs, but it’s exactly the type of ‘news’ articles I used to read before and have no clue there was anything off. It makes me despair because millions of people are still reading this stuff and think it sounds perfectly logical. And how much other biased stuff am I probably still reading every day without realizing?

    • bigliberty says:

      I hear you. I used to think I was skeptical and careful before I discovered size acceptance, and now I’m triply so. I think one of the most valuable lessons from being involved in size acceptance is understanding how perception and access to information can change ‘truth.’ Face it: high weight = bad health is just one of those things most people *know* is true. There’s a powerful cultural dynamic to support the maintenance of the faulty logic and bad science of sizism and punish those who question it. Researchers who question it get ostracized with, “But saying fat isn’t bad means you’re *promoting* obesity!”

  2. tehomet says:

    Their logic is not like our earth logic.

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