Friday, December 23, 2011

Tell "Health Experts" They Are Tools This Christmas

The National Obesity Forum has told the BBC and presumably other compliant hacks that you should "Tell loved ones they are overweight this Christmas." I am, alas, not kidding. At all. I believe that the next article recommended in the sidebar on the Beeb's website -- which is not open for our irate comments, BTW -- would be "My loved one served me a hot steaming mug of Shut the Fuck Up," followed closely by "How to Repair the Psychic Damage You Did This Christmas."*

"Christmas may be a time of indulging for many, but health experts believe it is the perfect time to tell a loved one they are overweight." That's right. At the time when you want to nestle all warm and cozy in the bosom of your family, feeling the glow of peace on earth and good will to all beings that you think are important? Dr. David Haslam, Chair of the National Obesity Forum, wants your family to tell you, "sensitively," that you are fat.

This is fucked up on so many levels that I hardly know where to begin. First of all - does the National Obesity Forum think that fat people don't know they are fat? When our culture spends so much energy telling them that every single day? So we're not only fat but completely moronic? Or does Dr. Dave think that instigating hateful, misguided, and shaming (to those who will allow themselves to be shamed) conversations at this festive time will just flick on the switch? "Oh, that's what's been going on all these years! I thought the rest of you were just shrinking in the wash."

Dr. Dave says, "Suggesting to someone that they should consider losing a few pounds may not be a comfortable conversation to have. But if someone close to you has a large waistline then as long as you do it sensitively, discussing it with them now could help them avoid critical health risks later down the line and could even save their life."

But here's the deal, Dr. Dave: nope, it won't. And why is that? Because, in the words of Dr. Linda Bacon, who reviews and conducts real research on metabolism, dieting, exercise, and psychology: "Not one study has ever shown that diets produce long-term weight loss for any but a tiny number of dieters. Not one." Furthermore, there's actual scientific research showing that it is perfectly possible to be fat and healthy. And lots and lots of research showing that weight cycling or "yo yo dieting" is downright bad for you. And you know what else is bad for you? Being stigmatized, bullied, and stereotyped at every turn as lazy, stupid, undisciplined, and lacking in self-respect.

Right. So let's see just who this National Obesity Forum is, behind the benign-looking website oozing concern for the state of all us poor sick fatties and the costs of trying to keep us from killing ourselves with whipped butter souffles topped with lard.

Well, Dr. Dave is the "Acting Editor
of the National Obesity Forum Newsletter Advisory Board of 'WLS' Weight Loss Surgery patient support group." Weight Loss Surgery, huh? Well, clearly he has no vested interest. He claims that
bariatric surgery "is among the most clinically effective, and cost effective procedures in any field of medicine.” Uh-huh.

Who else is on the NOF Dream Team? Well, there's Dr. Matthew Capehorn, NOF's Clinical Director who was, get this, a
paid shill for a – get this – weight loss SPRAY product!!! They think fat people are too stupid to know they’re fat? How about being so stupid that you'll endorse a spray-the-fat-away product?

Then there's pharmacist Graham Phillips, who
promoted making Orlistat (Xenical) available over the counter to anyone with a BMI over 28. Orlistat is notorious for its gastrointestinal side effects (anal leakage, anyone?). Phillips also owns a chain of pharmacies in Hertfordshire.

And who funds the National Obesity Forum's website?
  1. Pharma giants Sanofi, who have pulled at least two weight loss drugs from the market amid claims that they make people so depressed they kill themselves.
  2. Mega-pharma giants Roche – they make Xenical. Surprise! Oh. No. No surprise.
  3. Giant pharma giants Abbott – they pulled their weight loss drug Merida off the market.
Makes you think it’s not an obesity epidemic, it’s a lust-for-unconscionable-profit epidemic. At least it's comforting to know that the Brits, in this as in many other areas, actually are not classier than us.

Happy Festivus!

*I normally don't swear on this blog, since I post it in places where people can see it. But this story makes me so mad that I am whipping out my profane vocab. If this offends you, try not reading words beginning with "f."


  1. Tim, as always, had a great comment. I read him the bit where Dr. Dave says, "and could even save your life," and Tim said, "Briefly."

  2. "whipped butter souffles topped with lard" sound delicious.

  3. Hannah, I would be happy to make you one.

  4. Thank you so much! As one of those wrestling with the problem I was aghast at the Christmas suggestion - as you say - as if I don't know that I have a weight problem! Your unpacking of this is soooo good!
    It is so easy for people to suggest that you just eat less and lose weight but like divorce and smoking it is far more complicated than that or let's face it we would all be slim/ married/non-smokers!(Well not everyone of course but you get what I mean!) It's time these these 'experts' understood that it is very complicated and tied up in relationships, self-image and modern life demands. My job required me to be sat at a computer for many, many hours a day - add a two hour drive each day and there's not much time for the exercise bit and once you get out the way of that exhaustion at just coping with my daily grind took over.
    I've quit my job and am now trying to get my life and head back together. Weight and fitness is now on the agenda and I have started working on it but have had to take drastic action to sort myself out. Quitting my job in the current climate is pretty serious! So I don't need to be told how fat I am by anyone thanks!

  5. I love you and if you and I weren't already married to lovely husbands, I'd probably propose even tho' I'm straight. Just stumbled upon your blog. I read your "Slow Fat Triathlete" a year or so ago and it was wonderful. So happy I need not hunger any longer for your written word.

  6. These recipe is sounding delicious after seeing all comments . .