Weight Watchers Continues To Spew Waste

I probably don’t need to say I think WW’s app for kids is poised to mess up kids’ lives.  That research shows dieting leads to long-term weight gain. Or that disordered eating is often dieting with a different name.

But if you are looking for more info:

Diets don’t work, let’s stop.

Change.org petition is here if you want to sign.

“a successful weight loss drug could potentially have huge sales”

Wow, so many people want to lose weight! Wouldn’t a weight loss drug make piles of money?  Check out this business article on the new drug the FDA approved!

In a clinical trial involving patients without diabetes, those who took Contrave had an average weight loss of 4.1 percent beyond those receiving a placebo. About 42 percent of those getting Contrave lost at least 5 percent of their weight compared with 17 percent of patients in the placebo group.

So…if a hundred women who weighed 200lbs combined Contrave with diet & exercise, 42 would lose at least 10lbs!!!  Without it, only 17 of the hundred women would lose at least 10lbs.  Wow, is that a guaranteed success in the making or what?  

Oh, and from another article,

In people with diabetes evaluated in a second trial, those patients lost an average of 2 percent more weight compared to the placebo.

2%!!!! Wow, that is definitely worth adding another medication, don’t you think?


Yes, at this point, I may be abusing sarcasm. I also think the FDA measurement of “successful weight loss” for diet drugs needs to be better known.  Like the NIH expectations of weight loss, the FDA’s expectations are for a much more modest weight loss than is commonly expected or promoted in the press as possible.

Music Monday

I first heard this song in the spring of 2000, shortly after the police who shot Amadou Diallo were acquitted. I heard an audience recording and read a transcript of the lyrics (Springsteen fandom tends to share such things) and then I heard it live in New York.  Fans called it “41 Shots” or “the Diallo song”; its official title is “American Skin (41 Shots)”.

That was 14 years ago; the shooting of Amadou Diallo was 15 years ago.  When I first heard this song, I thought it (and the Diallo shooting & acquittal) was shameful legacy to a time past.  I was sheltered, or possibly in denial.  Now, I wish this song was no longer relevant.  But it is.  Still.

41 shots, and we’ll take that ride
‘Cross the bloody river to the other side
41 shots, cut through the night
You’re kneeling over his body in the vestibule
Praying for his life

Is it a gun, is it a knife
Is it a wallet, this is your life
It ain’t no secret (it ain’t no secret)
It ain’t no secret (it ain’t no secret)
No secret my friend
You can get killed just for living in your American skin

(41 shots)
(41 shots)
(41 shots)
(41 shots)

41 shots, Lena gets her son ready for school
She says, “On these streets, Charles
You’ve got to understand the rules
If an officer stops you, promise me you’ll always be polite
And that you’ll never ever run away
Promise Mama you’ll keep your hands in sight”

Is it a gun, is it a knife
Is it a wallet, this is your life
It ain’t no secret (it ain’t no secret)
It ain’t no secret (it ain’t no secret)
No secret my friend
You can get killed just for living in your American skin

(41 shots)
(41 shots)
(41 shots)
(41 shots)

Is it a gun, is it a knife
Is it in your heart, is it in your eyes
It ain’t no secret (it ain’t no secret)
It ain’t no secret (it ain’t no secret)
It ain’t no secret (it ain’t no secret)

41 shots, and we’ll take that ride
‘Cross this bloody river to the other side
41 shots, I got my boots caked with this mud
We’re baptized in these waters (baptized in these waters)
And in each other’s blood (and in each other’s blood)

Is it a gun, is it a knife
Is it a wallet, this is your life
It ain’t no secret (it ain’t no secret)
It ain’t no secret (it ain’t no secret)
No secret my friend
You can get killed just for living in
You can get killed just for living in
You can get killed just for living in your American skin


Food for Thought

From the St Louis Post-Dispatch on the policing in Ferguson, Missouri:

A “best practices” study published in the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin two years ago says it’s generally accepted that “crowd violence escalates if people think police offers treat them unfairly.”

Furthermore, the study says, when a crowd perceives that “officers act with justice and legitimacy,” disorder becomes less likely.

Cops are human beings, and human beings get scared. Their first impulse is to gear-up as if they were patrolling outside Baghdad’s Assassin’s Gate. As in foreign policy, the academic types may say that dialogue and soft power are better, but that defies the average’s cop’s attitudes.

What the public generally regards as “riot gear” — helmets, shields, Kevlar vests — is known in police circles as “hard gear.” Here’s what the FBI bulletin says about that:

“Officers must avoid donning their hard gear as a first step. They should remember the lessons learned from the 1960s civil rights movement and Vietnam War protests. Police should not rely solely on their equipment and tools.”

What we’ve seen in Ferguson is skirmish lines of officers in hard gear and videos of tear gas canisters lobbed onto roofs.

Individual officers generally have shown great restraint. But those images are doing incalculable harm, and not just to community relations in Ferguson. The nation and the world have seen horrible images from St. Louis that suggest that race relations here have a long way to go.

They’re not wrong.

(Links and emphasis from the original.)


Why I Care About Mars Hill Church

You may have noticed me tweeting about Mark Driscoll, co-founder of Mars Hill Church.

You may not know this, but Mars Hill Church started in Seattle. Prior to co-founding Mars HillDriscoll was a college pastor at Antioch Bible Church.

Now, that likely means nothing to you. But Antioch Bible Church has a rep around here. First, it’s praised for being racially diverse (all too rare in the US). Second, Antioch is known for its late pastor and co-founder Ken Hutcherson, who received a lot of press for trying to stop gay rights in Washington state. Some of his plans to do so were skewered in the press, but certainly not all.

Let us say that I am not at all surprised that Mark Driscoll doesn’t fall far from that anti-gay tree.  And that is one of the reasons I had no interest in attending Mars Hill even BEFORE they opened a location less than a mile from my home.

But I’m also concerned about Driscoll’s teaching about women. Women in the church, in the home, the workplace, and life.  Around here, you don’t have to read Christian bloggers (though you can) to hear about Driscoll or Mars Hill — area news reports covered that “women belong in the home” and “women can’t lead” were standard Mars Hill teachings.

As noted by Rachel Held Evans and others, some earlier “sock puppet” blog postings of Driscoll’s have recently resurfaced.  I haven’t read them all. One quote in particular is in reference to women asking questions of his sock puppet:

“I speak harshly because I speak to men. A woman might not understand that. I also do not answer to women. So your questions will be ignored. I would however, recommend to you a few versed to memorize: I Timothy 2:11-15 I Corinthians 14:33-35.To learn them, ask your father or husband. If you have neither, ask your pastor. If she is a  female, find another church. If you are the pastor, quit your job and repent.”

I would be embarrassed to have a pastor or spiritual leader write that. I would flee. I say this as someone who has walked out of churches in mid-sermon in response to anti-gay rhetoric from the pulpit.  Then I was — correctly — offended. This is offensive — but also silly.  Driscoll, using a sock puppet account, writes that he’s going to ignore all questions from women on a message board.  At the time he wrote that, he wasn’t disclosing who he was — yet he thinks he can tell who the women are?

Dog at a computer, telling another dog that 'On the internet, nobody knows you're a dog.'
“On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.
But Mark Driscoll knows if you’re a woman!”

You may gather I don’t think much of Mark Driscoll. You’d be right. The fact that he started his own church, neatly bypassing having to answer to a boss or denomination, is part of it. I think of him as being very young, because his combination of “rock and jeans and cool” and “the Bible is simple” reminds me of teenagers, but it turns out he’s in his 40s and merely acting like a teen. I resent that he’s presented as being a church leader in the Northwest.

But much more important are these words from Fred Clark today at Slacktivist:

There are women at Mars Hill Church. There are girls at Mars Hill Church. There are girls who go to church on Sunday and hear from a man who believes that “pussies” represent everything that is wrong with the world.

In the name of all that’s holy, that has to stop. That is sin. That is evil.

This is an evil, destructive teaching.

Why Isn’t Obesity Research Better Known?

CBC has an article on the part of obesity research that doesn’t always get talked about.

Tim Caulfield says his fellow obesity academics tend to tiptoe around the truth. “You go to these meetings and you talk to researchers, you get a sense there is almost a political correctness around it, that we don’t want this message to get out there,” he said.

“You’ll be in a room with very knowledgeable individuals, and everyone in the room will know what the data says and still the message doesn’t seem to get out.”

In part, that’s because it’s such a harsh message. “You have to be careful about the stigmatizing nature of that kind of image,” Caulfield says. “That’s one of the reasons why this myth of weight loss lives on.”

Stigmatizing.  How is it stigmatizing to know that being fat isn’t something that can be easily changed by anyone?  One theory: accepting that most fat people cannot permanently become thin implies that fat people aren’t fat “for now”. They may be fat forever.  For the fat people who are rationalizing “I’m fat but I’m losing weight,” the idea that they may not be able to fulfill their fantasy can unfortunately cause another round of self-hate.  Realizing that thinness may not be as controllable as they thought could be scary. But — my understanding is that most obesity researchers are thin. So let’s try another theory.

Researchers may not be fat, but they know fat people, and are probably influenced by implicit and explicit biases.  Adding awareness that fat people will probably stay fat — even the fat people you like, that might become friends?   That’s scary.  It implies that fat people may not actually be sabotaging their weight loss, may not be at fault for weight regain.  Why, fat people may not actually be deserving of hatred.  What, then, of your attitudes toward fat people?  What kind of person are you?

Or, y’know, it might be that researchers are just concerned that if they stop promoting weight loss they they’ll lose their jobs and funding.  In the book Health At Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your WeightLinda Bacon discussed the funding for her HAES vs weight loss study.

[…S]tatistics clearly show that when industry funds research, the published results are much more likely to show beneficial effects than research conducted without industry funding.

[…] I follow a strict policy of never accepting research money from private industry. Not that private industry would have been interested in funding this research anyway—I mean, there’s no profit to be made if we show people getting healthier with lifestyle change, without worrying about weight loss, or if we show that weight isn’t the be-all and end-all when it comes to health.

Consequently, I’m limited to public funding […] Given that Congress shares the general perception that Americans need to lose weight, that’s where much of the nutrition money goes these days. Plus, many (all?) researchers who sit on the panels that review the grant requests are on industry’s payroll themselves. In fact, some in my field jokingly refer to a group of researchers from the Universities of Colorado and Pittsburgh and Columbia University as the “obesity mafia,” given their control over National Institutes of Health funding.

With my HAES study, I managed to wrangle a relatively small grant out of the NIH […] I’d like to believe we got the grant because of the outstanding proposal. But I’m not that naïve. The reality, I think, is that I took my name off the proposal as the primary investigator and substituted Dr. Stern’s, who is better connected to the mafiosi.

(emphasis added by me)

Others have also speculated that obesity researchers are afraid of losing funding.  To quote Melissa McEwan,  “Boy, it’d sure be sad if they lost funding. Almost as sad as if I lose my life [because] a deadly ailment is misdiagnosed as fat.”  The emphasis on thinness as a measure of health and the societal biases against fat people conspire to prevent fat people from getting proper healthcare.

And that, of course, brings the biggest reason this could be stigmatizing: If the “everyone can be thin” drumbeat is a lie, researchers are complicit in this lie.  You’re not just kowtowing to Weight Watchers, Congress or the NIH when you continue to encourage “just eat less and move more” — you’re a fraud.  That might, indeed, be stigmatizing.

CBC: Obesity research confirms long-term weight loss almost impossible

The CBC has an article on what obesity research shows.

After years of study, it’s becoming apparent that it’s nearly impossible to permanently lose weight.

I’m not sure that’s news, but go on.

 For psychologist Traci Mann, who has spent 20 years running an eating lab at the University of Minnesota, the evidence is clear. … “Long-term weight loss happens to only the smallest minority of people.”

We all think we know someone in that rare group. They become the legends — the friend of a friend, the brother-in-law, the neighbour — the ones who really did it.

But if we check back after five or 10 years, there’s a good chance they will have put the weight back on. Only about five per cent of people who try to lose weight ultimately succeed, according to the research. Those people are the outliers, but we cling to their stories as proof that losing weight is possible.

“Those kinds of stories really keep the myth alive,” says University of Alberta professor Tim Caulfield, who researches and writes about health misconceptions. “You have this confirmation bias going on where people point to these very specific examples as if it’s proof. But in fact those are really exceptions.”

Our biology taunts us, by making short-term weight loss fairly easy. But the weight creeps back, usually after about a year, and it keeps coming back until the original weight is regained or worse.

This has been tested in randomized controlled trials where people have been separated into groups and given intense exercise and nutrition counselling.

Even in those highly controlled experimental settings, the results show only minor sustained weight loss.

When Traci Mann analyzed all of the randomized control trials on long-term weight loss, she discovered that after two years the average amount lost was only one kilogram, or about two pounds, from the original weight.

FYI, a PDF of Traci Mann’s study is here.  Most people — up to two thirds — regained all the weight they had lost, PLUS more.  Oh, and several studies indicated that dieting was actually a consistent predictor of future weight gain.

(File under: Things they don’t tell 8-yr-olds when putting them on their first diet.)

I was a bit puzzled at:

But eating right to improve health alone isn’t a strong motivator. The research shows that most people are willing to exercise and limit caloric intake if it means they will look better. But if they find out their weight probably won’t change much, they tend to lose motivation.

Is this a reference to (please choose one):

  1. People who improved their nutrition in an effort to lose weight and who stopped when weight loss slowed or stopped?
  2. That people are only willing to improve their nutrition if the carrot is “weight loss” and not “health”?

Because (let’s face it) option 1 is a classic bait-and-switch, and I know how demotivating that is to experience.

Mom/Teacher/Doctor:   “You should do this! You’ll lose weight!”
Me: *Does it*
Mom/Teacher/Doctor: “Why aren’t you losing [more] weight?  Oh dear. You’re probably healthier now!  So keep it up — maybe you’ll lose more!”
Me: *Sudden intense desire to commit matricide.*

I do love that the CBC quoted Traci Mann on what to do about this:

 Traci Mann says the emphasis should be on measuring health, not weight. “You should still eat right, you should still exercise, doing healthy stuff is still healthy,” she said. “It just doesn’t make you thin.”

And yes, that sounds like Health At Every Size®.

Some links

Image of a fat woman talking on the phone in an office setting.

Image courtesy of the Rudd Center Image Gallery

Oh wow have I been busy. But that’s not the point.  So here’s some things to read :)

ASDAH has launched a HAES curriculum for colleges, universities, and professional groups.  Check it out. :)

The story behind The Butler.

WalMart complains that lower-income people aren’t buying much.  If only there was something they could do to raise incomes…  (NY Times)

Rachel Held Evans had some thoughts about the writer as a person vs the writer as a “brand”. 

Polimicks wrote about #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen, which was started by Mikki Kendall.  If you haven’t heard about this, check it out.

How coordinated trolling maximizes threats while limiting liability for the trolls.  (Salon)

Seen in my search terms: “mineralogical weight loss”.  (What is this I don’t even.)


Things to Read

Some links I thought worth sharing:

Lara Frater on the word “fat”.

Grief moves at its own pace, despite the “rush to normal” common in our society.

You know how kids will bulk up a little before a growth spurt?  That’s now a strange thing to be studied, not a normal thing.

Swimming laps & self-acceptance.

On the US government, but likely applies to others: Fewer secrets would also be smarter secrets.

Anyone have others to share?

Genetics Affect Weight

This New York Times article by Gina Kolata isn’t totally news to me. At least not this summary of a study published in a 1990 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine (bolding added):

The work fascinates Claude Bouchard, a genetics researcher at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La., because it might offer insight into an intriguing finding: there are genetic controls not just of how much people want to eat but also how much of what they eat turns into fat or is burned off and not used by the body. Although the common mantra is that a calorie is a calorie and 3,500 extra calories eaten equals a pound of fat on the body, that is not what happens in real life, he found.

For example, in one of his studies, Dr. Bouchard enlisted 12 pairs of lean identical twins to live in an enclosed area for 120 days so their food and exercise could be monitored while they ate 1,000 calories a day more than needed to maintain their weight. The twins in each pair gained about the same amount of weight, but the amount gained varied threefold among the pairs. Those who gained the most put on as much as 29 pounds while those who gained the least put on 9 ½ pounds.

“It is not a freak finding,” Dr. Bouchard said, adding that about 20 studies found the same threefold range in weight gain in response to excess calories.  

 …and, in fact, this isn’t news to anyone who’s read Health At Every Size by Linda Bacon, PhD.  What is new is more information about a particular gene that appears to be involved.

The mice were eating their usual chow and exercising normally, but they were getting fat anyway. The reason: researchers had deleted a gene that acts in the brain and controls how quickly calories are burned. Even though they were consuming exactly the same number of calories as lean mice, they were gaining weight. […]

[This] may help explain why some people put on weight easily while others eat all they want and seem never to gain an ounce. It may also offer clues to a puzzle in the field of obesity: Why do studies find that people gain different amounts of weight while overeating by the same amount? […]

[Reasearchers] are now trying to determine whether additional mutations in the gene they discovered — ones that hinder its function but do not completely disable it — might explain why some people gain weight.

This research may lead to a better understanding of why some people are naturally very large and others aren’t.  It may also be useful in helping to spread some pesky, little-known facts:

  • Body weight is strongly inherited.
  • Some fat people eat the same amount food, or less food, as some thin people.
  • In studies where people deliberately eat more than they do normally, different people gain weight at different rates.
  • Twins in those studies, who overeat by the same amount, have almost identical weight gains.
  • An addition or subtraction of 3500 calories does not automatically mean gaining or losing a pound.

If this is new information for you or you just want one link to reference when needed, it’s on the NY Times site.

Quote of the Day

Mr. de la Rionda hammered away at the chain of events Mr. Zimmerman set off, he said, when he profiled Mr. Martin, got out of his car with a gun and followed him, despite the advice of the police dispatcher.

“The law doesn’t allow people to take the law into their own hands,” he said.

Mr. Zimmerman, a gun on his hip, made the wrong assumptions and the wrong choices, he said. Because of that, a teenager who was “minding his own business,” heading to watch a basketball game, wound up dead.

“The law talks about accountability and responsibility for one’s actions, and that’s what we’re asking for in this case,” he said. “Hold the defendant responsible for his actions; hold him accountable for what he did. Because if the defendant hadn’t assumed that — then Trayvon Martin would have watched the basketball game, George Zimmerman would have gone to Target or done whatever he does on Sunday evenings, and we wouldn’t be here.”

— Chief prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda, in closing arguments
(Bolding added)

Why I Think Declaring Obesity A Disease is Harmful

It’s inaccurate:

It distracts from the real issues:

It’s a win for the weight cycling industry

Unfortunately, what’s good for the weight cycling industry isn’t necessarily good for patients: 

There is a Change.org petition on this – I’ve signed, have you?

In The News

The AMA has endorsed the idea that “obesity” is a disease, not a “condition”.  (Personally I consider it a characteristic.)  Forbes states that this is “a move member physicians hope will spur better reimbursement for treating overweight Americans and create better health outcomes.”  Exactly how it’s supposed to “create better health outcomes” when commonly prescribed treatments do not work long-term or create good health outcomes is not addressed.

In good things, Shakesville’s Fatsronauts 101 series continues to hit it out of the park.

The NY Times does a piece on Melissa McCarthy that doesn’t focus on her weight.  That’s allowed?

The NY Times also reminds people go get some sleep.

Job requirements

“Put this all together and it means the IRS needs tens of thousands of people who are (a) smart, (b) willing to do really tedious work, (c) for moderate wages, (d) while working for a soul-crushing bureaucracy, and (e) being loathed by all right-thinking people. Does this sound to you like a recipe for disaster? Me too.”

Mother Jones

Wow…to a certain extent this sounds a bit like working in child care, or elder care, or Microsoft tech support.  (To name a few jobs I’ve done that were exacting and received little respect or pay.) But the IRS is probably worse.

Things to Read

By way of Slacktivist comes a piece on recognizing silencing techniques.  Some are definitely too familiar.

Security guards do not always improve the learning environment.  Art teachers might be better.

Petition to drop the charges against Keira Wilmot for a science experiment gone wrong and re-enroll her in school has over 36000 signatures — does it have yours?

From an article on mammograms, and why they haven’t dropped the incidence of metastatic breast cancer: 

Mammograms, it turns out, are not so great at detecting the most lethal forms of [breast cancers] a treatable phase. Aggressive tumors progress too quickly, often cropping up between mammograms. Even catching them “early,” while they are still small, can be too late: they have already metastasized. That may explain why there has been no decrease in the incidence of metastatic cancer since the introduction of screening.

At the other end of the spectrum, mammography readily finds tumors that could be equally treatable if found later by a woman or her doctor; it also finds those that are so slow-moving they might never metastasize. As improbable as it sounds, studies have suggested that about a quarter of screening-detected cancers might have gone away on their own.

 It’s a long article, but worth reading. 

Fat Bias Isn’t Just About Rapport

As noted on Twitter, the article Tara Parker-Pope wrote for the New York Times about a study in Obesity looking at how fat patients aren’t always welcomed by doctors. Not news, though I suppose it’s good to have quantitative research supporting it.

Really, though, this is just the tip of the iceberg.  Here’s some more.

For patient stories on health professionals, check out the crowdsourced http://fathealth.wordpress.com

ASDAH is collecting videos on weight bias in healthcare.

The Yale Rudd Center is not a fat-accepting organization, but they do research on weight bias and their publications page can be very useful.

Naafa on weight discrimination.