I wake up in the morning to all kinds of interesting things: comments on the blog, e-mails from readers asking questions or for help, and articles that people think might interest me. Make no mistake, I love getting these things, even when the articles are awful. Today I got a couple of articles that made me want to tell the authors, and some of the subjects of the articles “Fuck you, and the horse you rode in on.” Except I have nothing against the horse, so I guess it’s just fuck you.
The first article [trigger warning: blatant fat bigotry] is about the Royal Ottawa Hospital’s family court case reviewing whether a 38-year-old man is too fat to be a dad. It seems that the court now uses obesity as a factor when deciding if someone is a fit parent. This is, obviously, HIGHLY problematic. First the court said:
[the father's] strong personal beliefs on issues, including weight loss, make it difficult for him to accept the opinions of specialists on such matters,” the doctor wrote in the assessment report.
[father] has struggled with obesity for years, which impacts significantly on most aspects of his life including [his] functioning as a parent. He was short of breath or winded in simply walking short distances about the clinic and he lacks both the mobility and stamina required to keep up with young and active children.
Does the court make everyone take a fitness test to be a parent? What does this mean to parents who have disabilities that cause stamina and mobility challenges?
Court filings show a doctor had recommended the sometimes deadly “obesity surgery” but the man declined and instead “had his own approach to weight loss.” A doctor wrote, “I do not believe he followed through with even one of our dietary recommendations.”
The father refused to put his life in danger (and set his boys up to lose their father) for a risky, sometimes deadly surgery that has horrible side effects and fails a lot of the time. He still lost a lot of weight short term, dropping from 525 pounds to 340 pounds and now weighs 380. (He is likely to be blamed for the weight regain even though it is what all the evidence says will happen.) He also stopped smoking marijuana and took anger management classes as the court requested. And it may still not be enough. The doctor contracted to assess the man’s case wrote:
Regardless of how much weight (the father) may have lost to date, he will continue to be at risk related to his obesity for some considerable time. This will include not only his risk for major life threatening events, but also a lack of mobility and proneness to injury as was exemplified by (the father’s) hobbling around on crutches when last seen individually. (The father’s) health issues are magnified by his anti-authoritarian traits and refusal to follow recommended treatments. This also raises questions to his ability to make proper decisions in regards to his sons’ medical, educational or psychological needs.
Unbe-fricking-lievable. He got the outcomes that the court asked for and he may lose the right to see his children because he refused medical advice for which the doctor would be completely unable to provide an evidence basis, and because he had a life event that put him on crutches? Do other parents who come to court using crutches have their suitability for parenthood questioned?
Fuck you Ottawa Family Court.
The next article [Massive Trigger warning: Absolutely Horrible] is called “Armaglutton” (See what they did there. Get it? Get it? Hilarious amirite?) The first line reads:
OVERWEIGHT people could bring about the end of mankind by gobbling up all our food stocks, a shock study claims.
Which begs the question – if you know it’s a “shock study” why are you treating it like it’s news? The next question that I have, as a trained researcher, is “How in fat hell did they calculate this?” So I looked it up and it turns out that using study, research, and calculate to describe this is charitable:
For each country we used data on body mass index (BMI) and height distribution to estimate
average adult body mass. We calculated total biomass as the product of population size and
average body mass. We estimated the percentage of the population that is overweight
(BMI > 25) and obese (BMI > 30) and the biomass due to overweight and obesity.
Did you catch that the whole thing is based on an estimate and every single calculation includes an estimate. I think they got confused – it’s the hypothesis that’s supposed to be an educated guess, not the entire research process.
But wait, it’s gets better. They used those estimates to determine that “If all countries had the BMI distribution of the USA, the increase in human biomass …would have energy requirements equivalent to that of 473 million adults.”
Their conclusion “Increasing population fatness could have the same implications for world food energy as an extra half a billion people living on the earth.”
Note that they rounded up from 473 million to half a billion. I guess they just wanted to get one more estimate in under the wire. Also, increasing population fatness by how much? Do we have any reason to believe that this is likely? Zombie Apocalypse could also end the world but I don’t expect major media outlets to report on the Zombegeddon. Much later in the paper they explain that this is actually a worst case scenario which means that maybe IT SHOULDN’T HAVE BEEN THEIR CONCLUSION. (It also means that their conclusion rounded up from their worst case scenario – as a trained researcher I’m embarrassed for and by these people.) Not to mention the fact that it’s impossible to calculate how many calories a population will need based on an estimate of a guess of that population’s BMI, even if you knew the exact BMI you would not know the body composition (different types of tissue requires different caloric amounts to be sustained) or activity level of the population. Don’t worry, they just went ahead and guessed at those as well.
Here is a quick study that I put together that has similar validity: I know that there were six researchers who participated in the creation of this study. I know that the school these researchers come from has 4,000 students. I can assume from the available data that all six researchers were either incompetent or had their heads up their asses. I estimate that it was half and half. Therefore I conclude that 2,000 of the students at the school are incompetent and the other 2,000 will require a colo-rectal head extraction to have any hope of becoming competent researchers.
Hundreds of news outlets reported this story as fact – with headlines like “Obesity Could Lead to the End of the Human Race”
Fuck you research team and every news outlet that is reporting this as if it’s legitimate.
Dear fat people and fat activists who aren’t fat: It’s only a “War on Obesity” if we fight back. If we don’t fight back, it’s just going to be massacre. What’s it going to take to get fat people to stop internalizing our oppression and start saying “If they want a War on Obesity - let’s give them one.”
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