Some people seem to truly delight in telling me that I’m going to die sooner because I’m fat. The studies that I’ve seen are deplorable science and maybe I’ll break that down here eventually but that’s not what I want to talk about today. Today I want to talk about what happens if I’m wrong and they are right.
In science, we always have to remember the possibility that we might be wrong. (So if someone isn’t willing to admit that they could be wrong, they aren’t someone I’m interested in talking to about science.) There were times in our history when the best of science “proved” that the Earth was flat, that giving pregnant women thalidomide was a good idea, and that small objects fall more slowly than large objects, and that heroin is a non-addictive substitute for morphine. Oops.
Speaking of large objects…. I’ve examined a lot of scientific evidence about weight and health, and I’ve decided that a preponderance of the evidence points to habits, rather than manipulation of body size, is the best way to support my health (knowing that health is never a guarantee, is not entirely within our control, and is not an obligation or a barometer of worthiness.). The fact that no study on weight loss has ever been successful for more than a tiny fraction of people, the fact that, statistically the most likely outcome of intentional weight loss attempts is weight gain, Linda Bacon’s work on Health at Every Size and a host of other information has lead me to what I believe is a sound scientific decision that healthy behaviors are a better way to support my health than a lifelong pursuit of a specific height to weight ratio.
But just like I believe all of those people pushing the idea the thin = healthy are wrong, I know that I might be wrong as well. It’s possible that I would live a longer life if I just kept trying diet after diet in the hopes that I would find one for which I am in the magical 5% who can achieve weight loss.
I also realize that even if I’m not wrong, thanks to the drivel that passes for science these days, almost everything that you can die from has been correlationally related to being fat at some point, by someone. (Including swine flu, no seriously…swine flu.) I’m pretty sure that if I died because a giant flock of geese dropped a piano on my head, the report from the coroner would probably say that I died of fatness.
I digress. I saw a great interview with Will Smith, of whom I have long been a fan, in which he said “You have to say…this is what I believe, and I’m willing to die for it. Period. It’s that simple… You have to be willing to die for the truth.” I agree with him 100%.
Here is what I think is true:
- While many things have been correlated to obesity (with some really questionable science), almost nothing has been successfully causally related (despite numerous attempts)
- Even if they could prove that obesity caused health problems, there is not a single thing that has been proven to actually succeed at creating long term weight loss (despite even more numerous attempts) so there is no “cure”.
- The weight cycling (yo-yo dieting) that occurs when the vast majority of people fail at one diet and then move on to the next is being shown to be more harmful than just being fat
- I just can’t make myself care about the opinions of people who think that they can look at me and judge my health based on nothing more than the size of my body.
But what if I’m wrong?
There is a 100% chance that I’m going to die so I don’t think it’s about that. I think it’s about how I lived. I spent almost all of my childhood, all of my teens and a decent chunk of my 20s buying to the diet industries’ version of truth and I was sick and miserable and still fat. In fact, I spent years of my life dieting and my weight did nothing but climb. Only when I started to practice Health at Every Size did my weight level off. I know people who are in their 40′s, 50′s, 60′s and older still living a life of guilt, shame and weight obsession, crippled by their low self-esteem because they buy into the diet culture and believe that they aren’t worthy until they are thin. They are allowed to do that, I have no judgment about it, I’ve certainly spent time living that way. Now I live a life of joy, people tell me that I help them, and if I die immediately after pressing “Publish” on this blog, I will be happy with the life I gave. I seriously doubt that I’m going to die of fatness, but if I’m wrong then my truth is that when I was trying to be thin my life was miserable and I wouldn’t want three or five extra years of that. If I am wrong then I choose to live a joyful, short life. But I think I’ll stick around to see if they are still VFHT-ing me when I’m 102.
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