Quick Hit: The Myth of the Obesity Tsunami

A great Op-Ed is out today from Cato: The Myth of the “Obesity Tsunami”

Here are the last three paragraphs, but I encourage you to read the whole piece. No Sanity Watchers’ points required!

The findings of the English survey not only contradict the claim that we are in the midst of an obesity epidemic, but they also debunk the public health establishment’s erroneous claim that increases in children’s weight are due to junkfood advertising and too many sugary soda drinks. According to the survey, the root cause of any weight gains that one does see appear to lie in physical activity levels. For example, “21 per cent of girls aged two to 15 in the low physical-activity group were classed as obese compared with 15 per cent of the high group”.

A similar pattern was found in the 2006 survey, which found that 33 per cent of girls aged two to 15 with low levels of physical activity were either overweight or obese compared with 27 per cent of those with high levels of physical activity. As with smoking, obesity prevalence was higher in both boys and girls in the lowest income group.

Clearly, governments’ current course of draconian regulatory treatment seeks to cure an illusory disease. The nanny state’s infatuation with an obesity epidemic that does not exist is a searing indictment of this particular public health crusade.

Libertarians and Obesity, Take Two

I’ve often talked about libertarianism and size issues: namely, that libertarians are the best political friend of fat people, and that nationalized healthcare (of which libertarians are the most vehement opposers) will steal away our most precious of civil rights, namely, the right to make choices for our own bodies. How does nationalized healthcare do this? By making others foot our healthcare bills, making those groups of people who are perceived to “raise” costs easy scapegoats for a healthcare model that’s doomed to fail by definition. So when it inevitably fails, it won’t be the model or the voters or the bureacrats who are held accountable, but those scapegoats.

I came across this article from 2006 that cleanly illustrates this effect:

The libertarian assumption is that we should all be free to do what we want, as far as possible, and if some people’s lifestyle choices involve snacking on deep-fried Mars bars and triple-processed cheeseburgers, other people have no business interfering, still less the government.

However, obesity does not concern only the obese. It concerns all of us. Obese parents produce obese children, and obesity places a crippling burden on the National Health Service, quite apart from the many personal miseries involved.

The moral of the story?

Don’t get government involved in healthcare. Don’t place private citizens in the situation where their neighbor can claim to be footing the bill for their perceived choices. It’s NOT a good idea.

UPDATE: Comments are furthermore closed. If you are interested how free markets work, and why nationalized heathcare doesn’t make economic sense, please grab texts in basic Micro and Macro, and especially Price Theory. I also recommend reading up on basic game theory, though that’s a bit more abstract. Additionally, there is a very interesting evidence-based site called The Problems with Socialized Health Care I suggest everyone who wants to comment here at least breezes through.

Son of Porkulus

The news contained in this post is so horrifying that I’m going to put up some extremely cute pictures along with the text to try to offset the mounting terror.

cutie2

The bizarrely massive porkulus bill that just passed the senate, has had some interesting little hidden things in it. And by “interesting” I mean “horrific” and by “little” I mean “enormous”.

The bill’s health rules will affect “every individual in the United States” (445, 454, 479). Your medical treatments will be tracked electronically by a federal system. Having electronic medical records at your fingertips, easily transferred to a hospital, is beneficial. It will help avoid duplicate tests and errors.

But the bill goes further. One new bureaucracy, the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology, will monitor treatments to make sure your doctor is doing what the federal government deems appropriate and cost effective. The goal is to reduce costs and “guide” your doctor’s decisions (442, 446). These provisions in the stimulus bill are virtually identical to what Daschle prescribed in his 2008 book, “Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis.” According to Daschle, doctors have to give up autonomy and “learn to operate less like solo practitioners.”

Look back at the doggie!

cutie1

So never mind that I pay to go to a PRIVATE doctor, whom I expect to keep my fucking business to HIMSELF – now he will have to report my every visit, my every prescription, to the feds? THE FEDS? (I dare say some doctors are going to go rogue on this one – this is an outrage beyond most outrages I’ve ever read of – they NEED to step up and say “NO, we will NOT do this.” A database? A fucking FEDERAL database? You weren’t worried about stupid little things like your privacy, were you? Your autonomy? Your liberty? You can kiss those things goodbye, pal. They were never yours.

dumbooctopus-s448x450-2298-580

Now my doctor weighed me once, the first time I visited him; and has never mentioned my weight to me, or asked me to get on the scale. He is more concerned about things like my asthma and my stress levels. But God forbid he asks me now – the feds will most certainly tell him that I must lose weight and if I don’t I’ll be non-compliant…that won’t help them save money, right? Never mind that IT’S MY FUCKING MONEY I’m spending to get PRIVATE treatment from my PRIVATE PERSONAL doctor.

dorayaki

This is so far beyond a travesty that I’m getting speechless. I could go on about it for weeks, months, and never hit the end, and I’m exhausted just thinking about it. Well, frankly I’ve been hearing a lot of people screaming about socialist health care and how we need it. All it costs you is your privacy and your liberty and your autonomy. And MINE TOO. Thanks a fucking lot. All I ever asked is to be left OUT of these plans and to be allowed to live my life – because, you know, the constitution says I have that right. Form all the little socialist societies you want and all the voluntary plans you want, but leave me out of it. Now these people have thrown out *everyone’s* autonomy for them. Nice job. Those of you who wanted it – hope you enjoy it as much as I will. TANSTAAFL, but no one knows this anymore. Pfft. Here’s a pretty good rant on it; most of which I would have said myself. Enjoy. :)

UPDATE: Hospitals and doctors that are not “meaningful users” of the new system will face penalties. “Meaningful user” isn’t defined in the bill. That will be left to the HHS secretary, who will be empowered to impose “more stringent measures of meaningful use over time” (511, 518, 540-541)
What penalties will deter your doctor from going beyond the electronically delivered protocols when your condition is atypical or you need an experimental treatment? The vagueness is intentional. In his book, Daschle proposed an appointed body with vast powers to make the “tough” decisions elected politicians won’t make.

The stimulus bill does that, and calls it the Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research (190-192). The goal, Daschle’s book explained, is to slow the development and use of new medications and technologies because they are driving up costs. He praises Europeans for being more willing to accept “hopeless diagnoses” and “forgo experimental treatments,” and he chastises Americans for expecting too much from the health-care system.

Even before socialized medicine inevitably degenerates into mandatory euthanasia à la Logan’s Run, the elderly will be hit hard.

Daschle says health-care reform “will not be pain free.” Seniors should be more accepting of the conditions that come with age instead of treating them.

It just gets better and better.

When Your Body is No Longer Yours

Many civil rights activists agree: your body, you business. If you’re not hurting anyone else, what’s the business of others if they perceive that you’re hurting yourself? In the past, these activist issues have extended to protect freedom of choice to have an abortion, freedom to smoke cigarettes and ingest other substances that might not be beneficial to your mind and body, and other bodily freedoms, as long as they did not, as a consequence, inflict harm on others.

However, the temptation to control the body of a citizen – thereby robbing the citizen of its most essential right, and reducing the citizen to an effective slave to the whims of the State Health Ministry – is very powerful. A society is a complex entity, and a politician who desires a predictable, machine-like State which operates in a certain way towards a particular purpose, will do what he can to control the variables of the system.

Even just one uncontrolled variable can throw the whole complex societal system out of whack, we learn from chaos theory (it’s called a metastable state, for anyone who wants to know), history, and excellent science fiction like Orwell’s 1984.

This push for absolute control has spelled the downfall of other perfectly good societies. Big Brother can’t be everywhere at once, and if there’s one citizen who isn’t completely controlled, then there exists the possibility for chaos to erupt and for the whole system to collapse.

That’s why the road towards tighter and more extensive controls starts with the loss of basic civil rights: once one has been corrupted, the others soon follow. The most basic civil right is the right to body autonomy; it is reasonable to fear that once the right to body autonomy has been corrupted, other civil rights will follow.

Body autonomy has been eroded over the past twenty or so years. The test case – of whether or not Americans could be so bamboozled – was anti-smoking legislation. Get into private businesses to control the bodily decisions of private citizens, and anything is possible.

The logical question in the minds of some politicians that followed from the outstanding success of anti-smoking legislation was: if we can change the behavior of an individual by claiming that behavior is harming others, how do we go about convincing the populace that more general behaviors are potentially harmful to others?

The answer: by first making bodily behaviors your neighbor’s financial responsibility instead of just your own, and then by redefining “harm” to include any arbitrarily “unreasonable” financial burden.

It’s taken a while, but the path has been laid and we’re now firmly traveling down it. Here are the steps towards the ultimate establishment of bodily ‘serfdom’:

  1. Cultivate a “preventative” healthcare system. Get in bed with anyone who’s hawking a bottle of Fountain of Youth Elixir [TM].
  2. Cultivate a fearful attitude in the population. Overestimate deaths, diseases, and average costs from those stereotypical ills a “preventative” healthcare system claims to eradicate. Frame our existence as one in “crisis.” Suggest such ills are contagious, and call their set an “epidemic.” Frame the situation as one in which public health is at risk.
  3. Promote a government-controlled healthcare system by painting private care blackly and public care as cheaper, more efficient, and better quality. Use classist arguments to suggest that only the rich can afford decent healthcare, that their healthcare is excessive, and they should be paying for a more moderate policy plus a few policies for others.
  4. Once government-controlled healthcare is established in some form (all it needs is a toehold, as in Massachusetts), burrow ever-deeper into the hide of Americans, tick-style. Argue that since healthcare is no longer private, the costs of healthcare are therefore shared by everyone.
  5. Use this argument to suggest that those who do not endeavor to follow “preventative” health measures are deviant, and are financially “harming” their fellow citizens via their “irresponsbility.”
  6. Draft legislation which scapegoats certain easily-identifiable groups of deviants which  fines them, enslaves their bodies to meet arbitrary wellness “requirements,” forces their children into camps or otherwise divests the deviants of parental rights, and in general slowly divests the deviants of all their basic civil rights if they don’t “comply.”
  7. If this works, then make up new maladies, and find new ways to finger other groups of people who didn’t before fall into a deviant class. Slowly divest all citizens of their civil rights when they fail to “comply” to be responsible and not cause “undue harm” to their citizens financially or otherwise.
  8. The step after this one frightens me, honestly. I’ll leave it up to your imagination.

Obesity Tax proposed in New York

Governor Paterson proposes ‘Obesity Tax,’ a tax on non-diet sodas

Continuing in the theme of creating a deviant class out of fat people, Governor Paterson of New York will now punish a fat person’s perceived deviance by taxing that fat person’s apparently precious full-sugar sodas.

Gov. Paterson, as part of a $121 billion budget to be unveiled Tuesday, will propose an “obesity tax” of about 15% on nondiet drinks.

Guess the revenue from the cigarette taxes has begun to dry up, eh?

The so-called obesity tax would generate an estimated $404 million a year. Milk, juice, diet soda and bottled water would be exempt from the tax.

There are, of course, many problems with this proposition.

Phrasing it as an ‘Obesity tax’ is problematic on its face, because although it does take advantage of the popular act of getting a good jab at a deviant class, not all people who drink soda regularly are fat.

This is in contrast to the cigarette tax, which was meant to take a jab at the deviant class of smokers. Regular smokers are most certainly addicted to nicotine. Regular soda drinkers are fat, thin, and in-between. Not to mention that there hasn’t been any convincing, rigorous proof that sugar is addictive like nicotine. The only evidence that could possibly be put forward is that people who eat sugar are likely to do so again at some point, since it can stimulate the pleasure centers of the brain (as many enjoyable activities, including the ‘runner’s high,’ do).

This leads to another glaring problem with this proposed tax: while the cigarette tax banked on the addiction to nicotine to ensure a steady revenue stream, true sugar addicts are rare. This means this tax is going to generate little or no additional revenue, and might even cause a deficit, as the tax has to be enforced administratively.

“I’ll just buy less,” said Victor Lopez, 55, of Manhattan, as he drank a Coke at a midtown Subway store.

“I don’t like to buy Diet Coke,” said Amaury Garcia, 16, who works at a flower shop in Penn Station. “I’ll just not buy any sodas if it goes up.”

Good for you, Victor and Amaury. Let’s hope your state doesn’t go ahead with this fascist measure, so you can drink whatever the hell you want without the elitist judgmentalism of the State picking your pockets in an attempt to control your behavior.

Public health advocates welcomed news of the tax, saying it would help the fight against childhood obesity.

“Raising the price of this liquid candy will put children and teens on a path to a healthier diet,” said Elie Ward of the American Academy of Pediatrics of New York State.

Good thing I don’t believe in ‘public health.’ Get your goddamned nannying out of my refrigerator.

Albany Soda Party, anyone?

We are, indeed, in a new age of Intolerable Acts.

I call on all people who believe in liberty, freedom, and the right to do whatever the damned hell you want for or against your body without intrusion by the State. The ultimate weapon of the government against the right to govern your own body is the belief in so-called ‘public health.’

Once the idea of personal health is tied into the fate of one’s neighbors, you lose your body autonomy, your most fundamental individual right.

Speak out against the ‘Obesity Tax,’ and its inevitable sons and daughters. Nip that idea in the bud now, before you wake up one day and discover that you’ve sacrificed your body autonomy on the alter of ‘public health.’

To Write To The Governor:
David A. Paterson
State Capitol
Albany, NY 12224

518-474-8390

To Email The Governor:
Click here to email the Governor.

PLEASE INCLUDE YOUR MAILING ADDRESS.
Responses may be sent via the U.S. Mail.

For Information on Legislation:
Please access the New York State Legislative
Session Information page at
http://public.leginfo.state.ny.us

Why Universal Health-care Should Be Opposed by Fat Activists

I’ve been thinking about this for a while, ever since a my short post on why universal healthcare is not automatically fat-friendly.

I’ve often been confused by what I see as hypocrisy in those who are proponents of both sovereignty of body (i.e. – our bodies, our choices) and universal healthcare, which places the care of, and ultimately the control of, our bodies  into the hands of the state.

Many of the proponents argue that they’d rather have the state, an objective third-party with no profit motive, have control over their healthcare than the profit-motivated private sector.

However, I must take issue with that sentiment. The state is not an objective third party with no profit motive.

First off, the state’s decisions are not objective – they are made by regulators, who are often appointed by politicians, or hired by a committee headed by politicians. The main goal of all politicians, regardless of what they might say to get elected, is power. This is a good and bad thing, of course. We want the good politicians with our interests at heart to have more power than the bad politicians who oppose our interests.

Politicians are not specialized or disinterested third parties. They are not hired based on merit, with respect to the issues they espouse: they are elected by a body of non-specialists. And, as we know, even specialists can be biased and motivated to skew truth to attain personal or institutional goals, so even electing specialists wouldn’t guarantee us diddly squat.

As such, the individuals appointed to regulate healthcare and hence our bodies will be appointed ultimately by politicians. More likely politicians will “contract out” appointments to whatever healthcare organization lobbies the hardest, or has the most friends amongst the Washington elite.

When it comes down to it, the people who have the power to control your body, and by extension your behavior, will be those who crave the greatest power they can get, and will appeal to the electoral body and the misconceptions and fears of that electoral body for healthcare decisions about your body.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not very keen on the electoral body telling me what I can/cannot eat, how much and in what way I should exercise, what medications I should take, and how I should govern the health and safety of my children.

The electoral majority currently believes that I am fat because I eat too much and exercise too little. They believe that diabetes and even certain cancers can be prevented or cured by weight loss surgery such as gastric bypass or a lap-band implant.

They believe there are “good” and “bad” foods imbued with the magical power of health or illness. They believe that processed foods make you fat, and organic, locally-grown foods would keep you generally thinner.

They believe that shunning, chastising, or mocking fat people because of their weight is for our own good. They believe that hanging around fatter people can make you fat, too.

The electoral majority believes that fat adults are stupid, lazy, and lack the power of will. They believe that naturally thinner people are lucky, and that unnaturally thinner people are heroic. “Have you lost weight?” is considered one of the highest forms of praise.

The electoral majority believes that fat children are being mistreated by their stupid, lazy, ignorant parents, especially if those parents are themselves fat (and many parents of fat parents are fat, though of course not all). The electoral majority believes there is a childhood obesity “epidemic,” and that children will begin to have the heart attacks and strokes traditionally enjoyed by 50-somethings with a family history of heart disease.

The electoral majority believes that if you feed children the “right” foods, these days a low-fat, low-calorie, low-carb diet usually only prescribed to people with heart-disease — it will make the children not only permanently thin, but it will prevent heart-disease, strokes, diabetes, and certain cancers, without reference to variable family histories.

The electoral majority believes that the greatest risk factors for heart disease, strokes, certain cancers, and diabetes is fat, and that fatness is the greatest predictor of future or current ill-health. It very clearly isn’t, and even the biggest crackpot medical doctor will admit, when pressed, that fatness is a lesser risk factor than several other factors, with family history at the top of that list.

The electoral majority fears and loathes fat so much, that they refuse to use their common sense, even in the face of overwhelming counterexamples to their misconceptions, like given in the above paragraph.

The electoral majority doesn’t know what certain BMIs look like, or even what “obese” looks like. Their mental images are usually supplied by nightly news scare-footage of individuals who nearly always have the highest BMIs, who are in fact a small percentage of those who are actually technically “obese.”

I don’t know about you, but I do not want decisions made about my body, my behavior, and the bodies and behavior of my family being made by these people.

The idea that there will be some objective institution — some university or government institution perhaps that magically doesn’t have conflict-of-interest funding and their own political interests at heart — which will make objective, rigorously scientific decisions about care guidelines is a myth. I challenge you to give me an example, from any of the world’s universal healthcare governments, of a guideline-issuing body that is scientifically objective and not controlled/funded/influenced by other interests with their own agendas (whether profit or power).

Some people say that healthcare is or should be a right. Well, you can’t successfully institute a right that trounces other rights. The “right” to healthcare is the right of the government to healthcontrol.

That trounces on my personal liberty, the most important part of which is the right of body privacy. You cannot enter, not even with a warrant. The body is off-limits.

Universal healthcare is healthcontrol. It is not, especially in this current climate, a friend to fat people. It will only serve the interests of the electoral majority, who at this time fear and loathe fat, blame fat people for everything from rising fuel costs, to rising healthcare costs, to global warming.

Do you want these people to have control over your body and your health decisions? Do you want these people to have control over what premiums you pay, and what care you are allowed to receive? Do you want these people to have control over the body-monitoring of children in schools and doctor’s offices? Do you, do you really?

I am specifically not talking about relative costs in this article. There are many more eloquent than I who have made the argument that free-market healthcare is vastly more affordable, efficient, and equitable than universal healthcare. And if you think what America currently enjoys is free-market healthcare, you are sadly mistaken. My personal premium in Massachusetts is four times the amount it is in some other states, though I’m receiving the same care. Healthcare premiums are directly proportional to the amount of regulations on healthcare from state to state. (see WSJ.com — it’s in the archives for this week).

For those who believe that universal healthcare will ensure everyone is safe and healthy while under our current system some people are left out in the cold, let me ask you this: why would the complete regulation of healthcare make it more affordable person-to-person, while the evidence shows that regulation only makes premiums more expensive?

Wouldn’t it make more sense to pare down regulations on healthcare so that people in states like mine who can’t afford a $300/mo individual premium, but who can afford a $100/mo premium, would gain the ability to purchase healthcare? How many people would are currently uninsured, would then choose to be on the rolls?

Additionally, without having to pay abnormally high premiums on every individual insured under universal healthcare, the government would have more money in its coffers to offer an affordable plan to the impoverished citizens of our country. Our taxes would remain low, and fewer and fewer people would remain uninsured. We’d never get 100% of citizens insured, which is as it should be — individuals should have the option to opt out of insurance for whatever reason they choose, even if they can afford it.

But even disregarding the economic argument above — even assuming that somehow universal healthcare is the boon many make it out to be — we again face the problems of the electoral majority and healthcontrol.

Taxes will necessarily be raised in order to pay for universal healthcare. All the people who currently do not have policies will need to be subsidized. People who currently own more expensive policies and use more medical resources than others will need to be subsidized by those who use fewer resources. Institutions will have to be created to regulate healthcare, state hospitals will be built, employees and maintenance and so forth will be hired.

Given also that greater regulation means more paperwork which means hiring more people and building buildings to house those people and so forth, individual premiums will certainly be more expensive, on average, than they are now, under universal healthcare.

In short, there is no way that the current average individual premium could possibly go down under universal healthcare. It will only go up.

How is this efficient? Same quality of care for more money? Who’s paying? The taxpayers. Who will get angry when their taxes go up, and look for someone to blame, some group of people who are “more expensive” members of the healthcare community, those who have, unlike older people (who are always going to be more expensive), brought their ill health “upon themselves”?

This argument is already being rehearsed.

Nearly everywhere you hear — even in America — people claiming that fat people are making the country’s healthcare premiums go way up. People are angry that they are being made to pay for weight loss surgery (I agree with them. I do not want to pay for someone else’s weight loss surgery). They blame heart disease, certain cancers, strokes, and diabetes largely on fat, so when they hear about how expensive it is to treat these conditions, who do you think they’re going to blame?

Taxpayers—the electoral majority—who hold all the misconceptions I listed above (obviously there are some exceptions, like those in the FA community), are going to believe that fat people are costing them money, through their irresponsible, ignorant, lazy behavior. Do you see where this is going? Do we see how it has gone in some other countries, even states in our own union, who want to make fat people pay more for healthcare, or be denied health services with no option to turn anywhere else, just because they are fat?

We are very lucky to currently be able to state, “My fat is none of your business,” when encountering fat hatred, or “My fat has nothing to do with you. I’m not hurting anyone.”

Under universal healthcare, we will no longer have that freedom.

Under universal healthcare, they will believe that our fat is indeed their business, because it is costing them money. They will believe it has everything to do with them, and that it does indeed hurt them and their desired lifestyle. They will believe that they couldn’t afford to send their kids to private school because of fat people. They will believe that the government couldn’t afford to send the proper equipment to the troops because of fat people. And so on, and so forth.

Do you understand? Do you get what I’m trying so desperately to convey?

The only way we can fight our fight and win is to retain our sovereignty over our own body. Once our body becomes common property, the misconceptions about fat will turn fat people into easy scapegoats, and will institutionalize fat hatred. We will no longer be able to say, “Hands off!” We shall be immensely less free, and will become institutionalized second-class citizens. And brother, whatever you say about our practical second-class citizenship currently, it is peanuts compared to what we’d suffer as institutionalized second-class citizens.

Universal healthcare should be opposed by fat activists.

Fat Americans, universal healthcare is not your friend. Regardless of how you believe the current heavily regulated market economy healthcare is broken, at the end of the day, we still have sovereignty over our own bodies. We can opt out of discriminating plans, we can choose to pay more, some plans still do not discriminate against fat, and, above all, nobody else can honestly claim the right to dictate our health or our choices to us.

Human rights cannot contradict each other. Beware of anything people claim to be a right which does.

By adopting universal healthcare so we can redistribute income in the direction of the poor, we will put the currently uninsured 15% on the rolls, but we will lose something much, much more important: The fundamental right to govern our own bodies.

Universal Healthcare is not automatically fat-friendly

As one individual in the UK put it, commenting on the recent article by Marianne Kirby from the Rotund:

Given that we’re obliged to contribute to a universal health provider, there is a legitimate public interest in criticising avoidable behaviour which increases the burden upon it, whether that be over-eating, lack of exercise, or substance abuse.

If the time comes when it is possible to opt out of contributing to that system (rather than merely consuming it), and choosing one that rejects the wilfully unhealthy, that legitimate public interest will no longer exist.

Now, please look at this more closely. The junk science the UK citizens are fed gives them even more reason to legislate thinness. Why, oh why, does anyone believe junk science would magically “go away” with universal healthcare? You’re still going to get outsourced groups writing the medical guidelines, and they’re still going to claim that fat raises risks in all cases, and they’re still going to recommend that fat people need to be eradicated.

Excuse me, but I’m already hated enough for my body in the USA. I don’t need a “legitimate public interest” in it, too.

Big dogs, and watchdogs, or: diversity makes us strong.

Hits count for a lot on the old internetz, but brother, they don’t count for everything. There’s something to be said for remaining critical and objective, but it’s not a trench in which to hide your biases while you fire at others. You’d think there’d be a low-tolerance for Baloney in the Fatosphere — I mean, we’re constantly getting the line, “Diets don’t work, but ~+~lifestyle changes~+~ do!” but apparently not.

Hit counts expose you in good and bad ways. And we all flub — maybe we don’t think about a particular political sect’s potential protests to that which we link, and perhaps we’re thinking one thing when we link and someone else is thinking an entirely different thing when they read that to which we linked.

No one is perfect. Especially not those who attempt to rip down a monolith with one out-of-context swipe. Constantly trying to find the keystone, those who desire to fell the monolith probe and pull, probe and pull. Finding a loose stone, they yank feverishly and, most of the time, are left with a heavy stone crushing them to the ground, the monolith still standing soundly.

It takes a lot of energy, that kind of hate, that kind of focus. Energy better directed where it can do the best good — like myth-busting the fat-haters — than trying (badly, and largely in vain) to paint another fellow blogger in the movement to be some evil word (fill in the blank. This word was: racist. We know that’s a loaded one around here. )

Here are some good posts which deal with the aftermath of this most recent in(fought?) hullaballo:

1. Shocking revelations about the Fatosphere (by Lindsay)

2. The Fatosphere is not a Hive Mind (by goodbyemyboy)

3. In a World Gone Mad (by Limor)

and a response — with a neat recent real-world example! — to the *real* issue at hand, which is the fight between those in the Fatosphere who support universal healthcare, and those who do not.

4. Taking a step back and thinking about the real story (by Sandy)

Healthcare decisions will no longer be those for individuals and their personal healthcare providers to make. Workers found to have high BMIs, cholesterol levels, glucose levels, or blood pressures will be required to enroll into wellness programs with their integrated disease management, along with weight loss targeting those with BMIs ≥35, and be given one year to improve, or be penalized $25/month. Those who are thin and have approved numbers will be exempt.

Diets aren’t ~+~lifestyle choices~+~, and government dictation is not the common good. Capisce?*

* An’ that ain’t racist, cuz I’m Italian. And you know what? It wouldn’t be if I weren’t.

I know this is cross-posting, but it’s worth it.

Here’s richie79‘s reply in this the thread “The Fat Police Are Coming” over at BigFatBlog.com:

They want a nation full of thin people who eat salads and drink water.

You know what though? I actually wonder sometimes whether they do (want everyone to be thin, that is). Sure, that’s what they CLAIM to be fighting for. But if they were, surely they’d have more regard for what works (ie leaving people alone and letting them live their lives free from the anxiety generated by heavy-handed attempts to influence the average body size of entire populations)?

As you point out the Government are throwing around huge amounts (our) of money in the form of donations to pressure groups and research grants for obesity researchers. In the last few years a huge, self-sustaining industry has sprung up on the back of this with the purpose of launching obesity campaigns, generating obesity research, writing stories and making TV shows about the obesity epidemic. And as such, if there *were* no obesity epidemic, say, because new research was discovered that dismissed it, or the figures that showed that measured child obesity (for what that’s worth) had stopped rising and that life expectancy was actually increasing proportionally to average BMI were properly publicised and taken seriously, or for that matter, all their miracle interventions worked and fat people were somehow abolished or outlawed (shudder) there would be a heck of a lot of people clearing their desks.

Or perhaps not. A poster on a BBC messageboard I frequent suggested that many of today’s obesity crusaders may possibly have been anti-smoking zealots in a previous incarnation. Most of these public health types believe that the war against smoking is close to being won, with blanket bans in much of Europe and various US cities having had a dramatic effect on the numbers taking up the habit. The number of stories about smokers and smoking has rapidly dropped to the extent that one barely hears it mentioned in the Health sections of newspapers nowadays. Where anti-smoking posters once hung in GP surgeries, now they’re all about BMI, waist measurements and Type II diabetes. And it’s interesting to note how the war on obesity seemed to really get going at around the same time as smoking stopped being regarded as the number one public health issue.

Obesity is even better from Big Nanny’s perspective, because it gives them opportunities for the control of the individual that smoking did not. Did you ever hear of local authority ‘smoking police’ coming into peoples homes and demanding to know whether the parents smoked, or children being removed from homes because either they or their parents smoked? Certainly the groups of 11 and 12 year-olds who used to puff themselves silly outside my secondary school didn’t seem to be living in fear of a knock on the door from the gubmint.

Whilst they’ll all move onto something else eventually (probably alcohol; prohibition will be tried, and fail, all over again – maybe we Brits will even flirt with it this time) in the meantime they’ll be sure to milk this one for all they can, and doing so depends largely on generating as much hysteria as possible through exaggeration, hyperbole, dubious research and statistics coupled with the simultaneous suppression of any research or statistics which undermine their crusade in order to skew or close down the debate.

Trouble is, so far it’s working a treat, and the damage being caused is little short of catastrophic and possibly irreversible.

Richie, you da MAN and your wife is a very lucky woman! ;)

I love it when people get it, you know? They see the writing on the wall, and they know how to logically connect the dots and then predict potential future events using induction alone. Kudos!

Fat Discrimination Inevitable in the Next Presidency

As a disclaimer: I identify with, most closely, the libertarian party (see my post on FA and libertarianism). Logically, I would not be supporting any of the current candidates for the presidency based on my views; each of them hold some kind of deal-breaking beliefs which makes it impossible for me to rubber-stamp them in. I don’t do the “lesser-of-two-evils” thing. Perhaps it is convenient I live in Massachusetts, which is never a state in contention during the general election. Therefore I can write in my own candidate, which I plan on doing, without even the hint of the possible sabotage to the candidate of ‘least evil.’

That being said, this post is merely educational. I’m not for any of the front-runners right now over another; I want to illustrate that, in their own words, we are careening ever deeper into the inevitability of fat discrimination in the next presidency.

Hillary Clinton

From her Senate web page:

Obesity/Eating Disorders

The prevalence of overweight, obesity, and eating disorders is increasing at an alarming rate in our country. It is time that we recognize the causes and costs associated with poor dietary behaviors and physical inactivity and begin to focus on promoting healthy lifestyles and behaviors. To address these issues I have co-sponsored the Improved Nutrition and Physical Activity (IMPACT) Act with Senators Frist (R-TN) and Bingaman (D-NM). This legislation, which passed in the Senate in the 108 th Congress, would provide grants to train health professionals and students in obesity and eating disorders; grants to promote increased physical activity and improved nutrition; and provides funds to collect and analyze data related to obesity and youth health behaviors.

Here’s my analysis:

Line 1: indicates that she firmly believes in the verity of the junk science behind the so-called “obesity epidemic.”

Line 2: indicates she believes that obesity causes disease and poor health, and suggests the government intervene with anti-obesity programs.

Line 3: confirms she believes in government-sponsored and -enforced programs to ‘combat’ obesity, and in fact has co-sponsored a bill to that effect.

Line 4: details the anti-obesity initiative: the first part would either create new anti-obesity sections in health classes in high school or reinforce those existing, as well as “training” care-givers to accept and/or promote the junk science behind the so-called “obesity epidemic;” the second part would give monies to create programs which would further regulate and ritualize what children eat, and get them to exercise more; and further creates programs to find more correlations between “youth behaviors” and “obesity,” cementing the idea that obesity is behavioral, not genetic, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

John McCain

From his personal website, bullets taken from his “health system reform” page:

  • Childhood obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure are all on the rise. We must again teach our children about health, nutrition and exercise – vital life information.
  • Public health initiatives must be undertaken with all our citizens to stem the growing epidemic of obesity and diabetes, and to deter smoking
  • Bullet 1: confirms his believe in the so-called “obesity epidemic” rash of diseases. “We must once again teach our children about health,” etc indicates that the Thin People of Yore had apparently more nutrition and exercise training than children do now. “Vital life information” suggests that fatter people won’t live as long, which has been shown to be false.

    Bullet 2: not only indicates that obesity/diabetes is a choice like smoking, but says that “public health initiatives” i.e., government intervention, “must be undertaken to stem the growing epidemic…”

    Barack Obama

    Taken from his official healthcare policy.

    The nation faces epidemics of obesity and chronic diseases as well as new threats of pandemic flu and bioterrorism.

    This nation is facing a true epidemic of chronic disease. An increasing number of Americans are suffering and dying needlessly from diseases such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, asthma and HIV/AIDS, all of which can be delayed in onset if not prevented entirely. One in 3 Americans—133 million—have a chronic condition, and
    children are increasingly being affected.52 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that 1 in 3 children born in 2000 will develop diabetes in their lifetime.53

    Childhood obesity is nearly epidemic,59 particularly among minority populations,60 and school systems can play an important role in tackling
    this issue. For example, only about a quarter of schools adhere to nutritional standards for fat content in school lunches.61 Obama will work with schools to create more healthful environments for children, including assistance with contract policy development for local vendors, grant support for school-based health screening programs and clinical services, increased financial support for physical education, and educational
    programs for students.

    NOTE: Obama uses statistics from this CDC 2004 obesity study, referenced in his plan. This study was investigated and shown to have inflated its numbers. A JAMA study later on showed that the CDC’s numbers had been, in fact, inflated by about 400%. A good exposition of the CDC 2004 study is here.

    Points: I don’t have much to say about this that hasn’t already been said in response to Clinton’s and McCain’s plans and observations. Also, my “NOTE” at the end of the quotes from Obama’s plan discredits his major source of information, likely cherry-picked to push forth an agenda considering it just took me a quick Google to discover the JAMA refutation to this study (which his staffers should/could have done).

    Conclusion

    A fat acceptance activist would be hypocritical to support any of these candidates, given their anti-FA beliefs about fat, obesity, and required government intervention. Furthermore, there is every indication that they would vigorously promote those same anti-FA beliefs, spending tax dollars on ignorant and biased programs that would only serve to in one way or another harm future generations of Americans.

    Plan of action: Write in your own candidate. Seriously. Stand against fat discrimination, ignorance, and hate in a consistent manner. What does it serve you to vote for these candidates based on 90% of a platform you agree with, when that last 10% is so discriminatory, ignorant, and potentially harmful?

    Given that I don’t expect all FA activists to do this, and most to vote for one of these three front-runners, please resolve to do all you can to educate your favorite future administration as to their error of their ways. For their error will become our terror, if we give them, with our vote, the power to commit it.

    Contact forms:

    Hillary Clinton

    John McCain

    Barack Obama