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Health is more than heart disease

Chris Hoofnagle, adjunct professor of information | November 14, 2009


The arguments in this thread seem to be missing some connective tissue. I’m skeptical of the implication that metabolic fitness means much in this context. Barbara Abrams seems to be reading the evidence in the most precise light: that normal metabolic markers, “would suggest no increased risk of heart disease.” (Emphasis added.) Even if this is the case, the other secondary effects of obesity are awful and expensive, and thus this condition should be avoided and fought through both personal and public policy interventions.

On an entirely separate note, it’s important to understand how this science gets used in the Washington DC public policy arena. For some time, my brother and I have been documenting “denialism” on Scienceblogs. We’ve paid particular attention to obesity denialism, a trend that has gained significant support with the entry of right-wing libertarian groups, no doubt funded by the junk food industry. These groups love to muddy the waters by arguing that there is an obesity myth and that the obese are healthy. These arguments can serve extremely reactionary political agendas, and in the end, lead to more obesity, because their ultimate political agenda is to protect the consumptive habits of Americans from the interventions that could make all of our lives healthier.

Comments to “Health is more than heart disease

  1. Many physical problems do not arise from purely physical causes – whether they are weight or heart related. In our esoteric anatomy, we have multiple bodies of
    increasingly higher vibration – emotional, mental and spiritual bodies. The underlying cause of most disease is stress caused by discordant energies lodged in
    these higher bodies.

  2. The key to health is knowledge. They do say that knowledge is power. Get yourself on a healthy eating schedule, get tested for ailments/diseases if you are at risk, and keep track of your daily health.

    This article hold some very valuable information in it. Thank you so much for sharing with us!

  3. The harder we work and the more we move about the more kilojoules we use up. Whatever kilojoules we use up in our daily activities, is supplied by food, but if we consume more kilojoules / food than the body needs you will gain mass. The aim of Eating Healthy is to get the balance right.

  4. This article clearly indicates to eat and be healthy for most of the time of your life is extremely important. It seems to say that prevention is better than cure.

  5. The problem with eating healthily or organic food is that it cost too much. If you notic the people who are mainly overweight are the ones who can’t cook properly, so they get things pre cooked and you have to warm through. oven chips etc. we need to get people cooking so they understand that vegies aren’t bland and boring they can be better than the normal rubish they eat.

  6. Great post … I really learned to eat healthy during the last 4 or 5 years. They rarely eat out, just eat the sugar and try to eat mostly organic meat fruit and vegetables … haha and maybe all organic. I was a little sad to see how much of the food industry as it is, but I’m glad to see the increased abundance of organic products.

    I think the big problem is obesity, the situation is the lack of education. Most people do not really even know what they eat and spend almost every meal goes to fast food to eat. The ads on TV more or less says it all that fast food is to eat well, which makes me laugh … lol

    I also believe that if one were to examine the emergence and expansion of fast food restaurants and also look at the statistics about rising obesity rates, which would be a direct correlation between the t

  7. It is truly a shame that the vested self interests of the food industry have spun America’s obesity issue into a positive. We often here about the benefits of being healthy and fit but what are the benefits of being obese and out-of-shape? I can’t think of any. With child obesity growing at an alarming rate, it won’t be long before the vast majority of American’s are obese.

  8. nearly 45% of america is obese and overweight and the impact of obesity is there for all to see. Unless efforts are made to curb this menance we are sitting on a ticking time bomb.

  9. Health is very important, but all too often is misguidedly used as a bludgeon against us, or as a smokescreen to conceal the fact that society is ill at ease with very big people.

  10. It’s one thing to accept oneself and deny obesity, and it’s another thing to act on it and be healthy. If the community above normal weight won’t do something and just decide to accept themselves all the way, they will be ridden with disease.

  11. Obesity is indeed linked with so many diseases and ailments. If they keep on ignoring the facts and say that these are “obesity myths” then they would never regain a healthy lifestyle. It’s one thing to accept, but it’s another thing to do something about it and change your lifestyle.
    James Locke

  12. I have been “food optimising” for the last 6 months and i have found i am able to loose weight easliy and without actually being hungry!! I love it now..

  13. BMI, what a con! Completely unreliable and inaccurate, its surprise so man people rely so heavily on something so inaccurate.

  14. If this is truly in their agenda, then it is so unfortunate that the very same people who are supposed to look after our welfare are turning their backs on us. Given this scenario, what is left for us to do? Maybe by taking it upon ourselves to guard our eating habits, choose a healthy lifestyle and dump the “obesity myth”.

    Erin Leeds

  15. I agree with one of your statements that obesity does have serious and costly effects. That is why parents should take on their roles seriously in terms of advising their kids to eat healthy while still very young. The problem is, advertisement in all forms has greatly affected kidsโ€™ eating habits. I am sure that your efforts in documenting obesity denialism can contribute to an increase in health awareness.

    Jamie Lore

  16. That is why one should not believe all the things that the media says. One should try to do his or her own research too. It is worthwhile to think that it is your health that is at stake.

  17. If a person have always been obese since childhood, there is no denialism for a person might have grown up accepting the fact that he or she is like that. And he or she sees nothing wrong with it. Not until people tells him or her so.

  18. I agree, your health is a lot more than just your heart!! You have to watch everything nowadays. Maybe we should all go organic and really look at what we’re putting into our bodies before we eat!!

  19. Until now, the issue on health particularly in obesity denialism is still on going. It has even I think increase its number especially that more and more fast food chains have developed while the junk food industry is growing at a fast rate. This has been really becoming a never ending problem and I hope more blogging concerning health will spread just like what you’re doing to at least contribute to educating people about this particular matter.

  20. I am an avid fan of junk food but I am more than ok. There are times you should not believe what most people say because they can misled you from what is real and what is propaganda. Do your own research and try to understand how your body works.

  21. Hearing about that “obesity denialism” really is not a good thing that people should do. Being obese is never healthy. Some people influencing people who are becoming obese are mostly uttering false claims. It’s a good thing that you focused on “denialism” because a lot of individuals are really lost with it nowadays.

  22. How many NAAFA members do you know? Have you attended NAAFA meetings so you can acquaint yourself with their beliefs or their political agenda? I think you are generalizing about a group you have little personal experience with โ€“ documenting something on a blog is not the same as actually interacting with people. NAAFA members do not deny their obesity โ€“ they are constantly reminded of it everyday in almost every way by people who have little understanding of the challenges they face in living happy, healthy, productive lives.

  23. The first time I hated hearing the word “BMI” was when my friend from medical billing and coding school was denied by the hospital to get operated on her diabetes because of unfit BMI. That was really frustrating and only during that time that I knew that BMI is a significant thing considered for diabetes operation. Anyhow, she’s trying to work on it now to pursue the operation.

  24. This article makes it clear that eating and being healthy for almost all the time of your life is hugely important. It seemingly says that prevention is better than cure.

    • I believe that all obese people should start working on how they can be physically fit and healthy. I know it is hard but patience, determination and discipline are the keys to success. Obesity is not healthy and before one gets the sickness related to it, he or she should do something to prevent it.

  25. Sure, but I think the BMI scale is practically useless. It needs to take into account a person’s build and muscle.

  26. I think that a common misconception is that if you are overweight, even morbidly obese, that you are unhealthy. The term “morbidly obese” implies that there are severe health problems as a result of your BMI and/or height-to-weight ratio. The fact is that your actual height-to-weight ratio is the determining factor for morbid obesity. Personally, I am an obese individual with an average blood pressure, cholesterol, and activity rating. I won’t mention my BMI in an open forum, but I will say that it is far above what is considered “healthy”. My doctor, on the other hand, believes that if all of his patients were as healthy as I am that he would soon be out of work. I have been obese all of my life and generally only need to visit a doctor for annual check ups.
    Sleep deprivation is another matter entirely. Medical studies have proven, time and time again, the importance of sleep. The funny thing about it is that the amount of money spent to promote weight control is far higher than that spent to promote good sleep. Consider this point: The Federal Government has a specialized department to regulate weight control products (if they are pharmaceutical/supplemental in nature), but only the safety factors (such as fire retardation) of beds are evaluated.
    Obesity Denialism can be a problem IF obesity affects your health. We should not assume that obesity means poor health. Sleep deprivation is actually worn like a badge of courage for some people, and they are applauded for it. Nobody is ever saluted for being overweight, with the exception of a Sumo wrestler.

  27. I totally agree with you. It is always a bigger propaganda which makes people afraid. BMI BMI BMI… Where can you make the highest profit? With the health of persons… Enough said I think…

  28. Nice offering, if you are for Big Brother of 1984 creeping even more into your life. I don’t argue obesity is not a problem, but in the end whose business it anyway? All we need is for government to start dictating what we can eat and when. I am really looking forward to that. The next thing you know they will have cameras in your bedroom spying on how you have sex and with who.

  29. “Obesity Denialism”

    First time I heard of it, first time I knew it existed. But that article was a top read. Thanks for sharing it.

    By the way I’m not obese, and I’m not suffering from “Obesity Denialism” ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I agree! It is an interesting phrase. But I can totally understand that and I can see how that develops.
      I have a friend who has ED. He is also like 42 years. He doesn’t admit that he has ED. He thinks is comes with age and doesn’t need treatment. I guess people come up with all kinds of denialisms when it comes to their own poor health. That’s too bad ๐Ÿ™

  30. Personally I don’t know about the whole BMI index and link to obesity. In my opinion it all comes down to a simple equation… burn more calories than you consume and you lose weight. That’s why I believe training for a marathon is a great way to sort out all of these issues.

    • I agree the correlation between BMI and obesity doesn’t take into account lean mass. BF % is a more accurate determining measure of obesity.

  31. Our health matters most. Profession, achievements, and property are nothing when health is not properly manage. It might lead you to unfulfilled life. Discipline is vital to stay healthy!

  32. Don’t you have feeling that the world is going in really really wrong direction? With capital, companies, religions, governments, etc are changing our habits, which is making us like robots on daily routines, serving to somebody and forgetting about ourselves, our friends and families. Forgetting about helping people, forgetting about our health and well being…

  33. Behind strong propaganda there is always capital, which is ruling the world and people’s lifestyle. There is almost nothing anymore that is not made because of profit – even over people health…

  34. Another interesting point is that how we are getting aware or even obsess with healthy life style in present time. Why so big difference between now and 50, 100 or 500 years ago? Looks like that the media is doing at least one thing right ๐Ÿ™‚ Seriously, if we look modern technologies like internet and also TV and magazines, all of them are spreading the word from health researchers. Which was impossible years ago. Of course also science have improved, but without an information we would still be many years behind…And eating junk food on the couch at from of TV. Some of them still does anyway…:)

  35. Great post… I have learned to eat really healthy over the last 4 or 5 years. I rarely eat out, barely eat sugar and try to eat mostly organic meats, fruits and veggies… well maybe organic everything haha. I have been a little sad to see how a lot of the food industry as been going, however I am glad to see the growing abundance in organic products.

    I feel that a great deal of the problem with the obesity situation is the lack of education. Most people really don’t even know what they are eating and they spend almost every meal going to the fast food restaurants to eat. The commercials on the T.V. pretty much tells everyone that fast food is perfectly fine to eat, which makes me laugh lol…

    I also feel that if one was to examine the rise and growth of fast food restaurants and also examine the stats on the rise of obesity levels, you would see a direct correlation between the two.

  36. I think my critique is misunderstood. What do you think of this argument ? This argument represents a different play on the facts, one that junk food companies would like the public to accept, and its acceptance is based in part on undermining the science that shows that obesity is associated with a parade of horribles. It’s really masking an underlying ideology: personal responsibility extremism (manifested in keep the government out of the kitchen). My post is a warning: this science gets used to maintain our fast food nation.

  37. It is amazing to have worked with those promoting basic human rights for fat people for many years, and have our work put in the same category as those civil libertarians who happen to believe that we should have the right to decide what to do with our own body (I agree, up to a point), and to also be dismissed as an “obesity denialist”. What I can’t deny is that most fat people will be unable to significantly lose weight and keep it off for more than 2-3 years, and when some people propose initiatives to eliminate obesity, I read it as eliminating fat people’s right to exist.

    Health is extremely important, but all too often is misguidedly used as a bludgeon against us, or as a smokescreen to conceal the fact that society is ill at ease with very big people.

    Bill Fabrey
    Council on Size & Weight Discrimination
    Mt Marion, NY

  38. There is one civil rights organization devoted to the cause of fighting stigma and discriminaton against large individuals. It is the National Association for the Advancement of Fat Acceptance ( I can assure you it is NOT funded by the junk food industry. NAAFA promotes “health at every size” – the idea that large people can be fit and healthy by adopting healthier lifestyles. They do not promote eating junk food or being a couch potatos. I feel you are doing an injustive to large people who are fighting for their civil rights by implying they are right wing libertarians. How many NAAFA members do you know? Have you attended NAAFA meetings so you can acquaint yourself with their beliefs or their political agenda? I think you are generalizing about a group you have little personal experience with – documenting something on a blog is not the same as actually interacting with people. NAAFA members do not deny their obesity – they are constantly reminded of it everyday in almost every way by people who have little understanding of the challenges they face in living happy, healthy, productive lives.

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