Saturday, July 24, 2010

you go girl

Fabulous op-ed piece in the Baltimore Sun by Lizbeth Binks Carney about Michelle Obama's anti-obesity appearance at Camden Yards as a really badly-chosen place for such a thing:'s the hypocrisy of it all, and the finger pointing at our enduring national tolerance for weight stigma: nobody has ever gone to a baseball game and been told by a famous person to stop drinking so much or gambling or wearing that outrageous hairstyle. We don't even get mild warnings about wearing enough sunscreen or going to the ballgame instead of church on Sunday.

"Child Obesity Must Address Mother’s Weight Issues" the title of a piece in Psych Central that came out this week covering the meeting of the Strategies to Overcome and Prevent (STOP) Obesity Alliance Task Force on Women at a meeting on Capitol Hill.

The thing that strikes me strongly while reading it, especially at an online mental health resource, is how glaringly absent is any discussion of psychology and the often extremely fraught triangulation that goes on with mothers, children and food. I'm not saying this in the spirit of adding more blame to this mess, but this article and many other obesity-targeted efforts speak about a lack of information as the main culprit, when I would argue a fear of obesity and the unbelievably harrowing things parents can do to their children in response sometimes do as much to make obesity possible.

The idea that Fat Is Bad really, really isn't new. I don't mean that there isn't lots of information of many kinds still rolling in about how fat and health intersect, but we didn't suddenly just commit to that idea.


I found this article about weight loss drugs and the way the human animal responds to metabolic challenges interesting and very effective at putting the issues in good scientific context. I'm not entirely sure about the context from which Dr. Katz himself writes, though, from the conclusion, which reads:
When one considers that the problem we are asking weight control drugs to fix--a body turning surplus calories into an energy reserve--is normal human physiology, the conclusion that they may prove to be elusive not just now, but forever, is hard to avoid. And if so, there may be much lost in waiting for them, namely opportunities to turn what we already know about the power of feet and forks over weight into policies, programs, practices and resources that can do what drugs may not.

None of this is to deny the important insights that will doubtless derive from the scrupulous pursuit of scientific details relating to weight control. Rather, it is to note we miss the forest--the fundamentals of human metabolism in native context--for the densely clustered hormonal, neurochemical, and genetic trees--at our evident peril.

Stated differently, even as we analyze and attempt to compensate for the peculiarities of gills in a creature gasping at the air--we should not fail to see the fish. And just maybe devote our best putting it back in the water.

...which sounds rather as if it is advocating in turn taking all of these issues--trees, forests and all--and dumping them in the individual's lap.

But still--interesting. The information about the weight loss drug that caused increased rates of depression and suicide was especially scary. I agree very much that most medical developments that have weight loss as a goal fuck with human and environmental biology to no avail.