Sunday, February 24, 2008

Supporting Sandy at Junkfood Science

I know that she and her blog are controversial but I just made a small donation to the Junkfood Science blog. This is the first time I've given money to someone over the internet just because I respect the work she's doing. As I mentioned in my last post, her latest series is both enligtening and inspiring and I am sooooo thankful that there is someone out there doing the work that she is doing even if some of it may be motivated by ulterior motives than just Fat Acceptanc. Her committment to truth and the disemination of accurate interpretations of scientific news is very strong. Of course she doesn't cover everything, but I like the way she covers what she does and I respect her habit of linking to the original sources so that I can go read the science behind it myself.

Here's a bit of her intro that says it better than I ever could. I think she believes this and that she actually is living it.

"The more I’ve learned, the more horrified I’ve become. Science is being misused for marketing and political purposes. Evidence is being distorted and bias has inundated media, research, government policies and clinical guidelines. Unsound information proliferates in professional and advocacy organizations, academic institutions and journals; and even professionals aren’t reaching beyond beliefs to critically examine studies and recognize credible information. So much valuable and critically important information, and the very best science — well documented in careful, objective, evidence-based research — is never reported and almost never published. Fear sells and unfounded scares, exaggerations and “what-ifs?” are being used to terrify people about their foods, bodies and health.

And all of this is costing, frightening and hurting people.

For years, I have traced virtually every science, food and health story in mainstream media to their original press releases, which are reported verbatim. Literally everything we hear and read today is marketing and created by those trying to sell us something: a belief, cause, product, service, or themselves. That’s why we hear “science” finds something one day, and something entirely different the next. “Pop” science, what is popularly believed and marketed as “science,” is oftentimes really the junk science.

I’ve also gone to the original source, the study behind each of those stories, and been even more alarmed to realize that the evidence is nothing like what we hear, or even what appears in the conclusions of many study abstracts. In fact, it’s often the exact opposite! Simultaneously, I’ve watched the very best science that counters popular beliefs and could put fears to rest, go unreported. And after a decade of unsuccessfully trying to get any mainstream or alternative publication to publish articles with the fact-based information, I realized it wasn't possible.

That’s not right. I believe people deserve to know the truth and not be taken advantage of, needlessly terrified or put at risk.

People also deserve the soundest facts to make informed decisions for themselves and their loved ones, and so we can all ensure public policies and clinical guidelines are based on sound evidence and risk analysis.

My personal commitment is to give people information that is as true as I know it to be."

Thank you Sandy! Thank you to all of you out here in the blogosphere who are fighting the good fight.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Another Ah Ha Moment

This article on Junkfood Science (one of my favorite blogs) has really stimulated my brain. Sandy points out that the authors of a new study on the effect of negative body image have shown a link to poor health outcomes including diabetes and heart disease. They posit that this may be due to the stress response from discrimination and internal dissatisfaction rather than the actual body fat itself (they controlled for actual BMI!). That right there is a big old WOW! and thank all that is good that someone is doing this kind of research but this went even further for me.

In the last paragraph of the entry she mentions her plan to discus how "Those very same health problems associated with the stress response and obesity, are also found among other groups in our culture most targeted by prejudices and discrimination." I work on a multi-million dollar research project that is looking at health care disparities for African American families. We've been looking at what might be some of the causal factors that lead these families to have poorer outcomes even after you control for socio-economic status. I'd never thought to put internal stress related to self-perception into the equation, stress caused by being in a group that is consistently dealing with societal messages that they are "too dark" or somehow less than people of different skin tones.

Thank you Sandy! Thank you researchers at Mailman School of Public Health! You've certainly opened my eyes to some new possibilities today.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

But it's Soooo Easy

I've been thinking about this all weekend.

I was sitting at happy hour on Friday with my brother and a co-worker/friend. She was asking me where I plan to go once I finish my PhD and suggested New Zealand. I joked "Nah, they won't take me cuz I'm too fat." and she replied "Well you can fix that easily enough."

Easily fixable? Really? Does she honestly think I would stay 100+ lbs. over weight if it was easily fixable?

She's recently been doing Weight Watchers and has lost a significant amount of weight. She's mentioned to me several times how easy it is. This is of course the first time she's ever been on a plan like this. She just turned 40. I was on my first diet at age 7. Believe me, if it was easy I would have done it. I've dieted many, many times. I've lost over 40 lbs three different times. I've spent thousands of dollars on diet plans, support groups, special foods, and exercise programs. If I could find a way to maintain that kind of weight loss I'd do it in a heartbeat!

Maybe I'm weak. Maybe I'm lazy. I don't know but for me maintaining any kind of weight loss has NEVER been easy. It breaks my heart. I'd give so much to not deal with this struggle but here it is and here I am and it doesn't look like it's going away anytime soon. So as far as I can tell, I've got a few choices. I can continue to try each new diet that comes out, try the diets that worked but didn't stick again or maybe try something different--not focusing on losing weight. Not hating myself for the shape of my body, not beating myself up for every morsel of food that goes into my mough, and celebrating the good things about this body I have.

Yeah, I think I'll go with option number three.

Friday, February 1, 2008

No Soup for YOU!

This Mississippi Bill is a bunch of baloney. It made me mad enough to write a letter to the jerks who sponsored it...something I don't do nearly enough. Check out some of the other letters that the infinitely more articulate Shapelings wrote, read mine, and send one of your own!

Here's what I wrote:

Representatives Mayhall, Shows, and Read:
I am writing in opposition to House Bill 282. I saw a report on this bill on my local news here in California. I'm certain this must be a ploy for publicity but that does not excuse the ignorance and biggotry that this bill contains. It is both discriminatory and frankly ridiculous which I assume you already know. I'm not sure what your true motives are but I know they can't be good. How exactly do you propose that stopping fat people from eating at restaurants will decrease obesity? Are you going to stop them from buying food at the local grocery store? Do you think that people will let their heavier friends and families starve? In at least 95% of cases people who have been on a diet gain back more than they initially lost. The body is designed to resist starvation by slowing the metabolism and storing additional fat.

I am a professional who works with children with eating problems. One thing I can say for sure from my experience is that shame and restriction DO NOT WORK. If you really feel that this is one of the biggest challenges facing your state (a notion I highly doubt, take a look at this website for some clear critical reading of the actual research that is out there, and you actually want to help people be healthier there are all kinds of things you can do to promote the health of your constituency. Perhaps you could make cities friendlier for bikers and walkers, perhaps you could subsidize fresh vegetable farmers, or support campaigns that promote Health at Every Size ( The news report that I heard this evening mentioned that you have brought up this bill because the programs Mississippi has tried so far have not helped decrease the rates of obesity in your fair state. Perhaps Health at Every Size might be a humane answer.

I urge you to revoke your support for this bill in order to show that you are a person of character and to remove this blight from your states image which certainly doesn't need more association with discrimination."

It's time to speak up. Fat discrimination is real! Feel free to copy my letter or let your own passion speak.

Contact info here.