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Ending the war on fat

I just read an interview with a gentleman named Paul Campos who believes that obesity is not a problem in the United States. He’s right when he states that we don’t know how to make a fat person thinner…if we did, more people would be thin. And since we don’t know that, how can we know that it would be better to be thinner? We have no experimental evidence of such. The argument is rather compelling.

Campos’ last statements were the most interesting to me:

I’d just like to emphasize the message that there is really no basis for believing that trying to get people thinner makes sense as a matter of medical practice and as a matter of public health policy. There is really no basis for that belief. What we need to do is let go of a belief that doesn’t make any sense. Once we let go of that belief we will be healthier and we will be happier. Here is the ultimate irony. We might even be a little thinner. Not that being thinner really matters in terms of health and happiness. It does not. But the fact of the matter is that by obsessing about weight and obsessing about dieting and engaging in all these obsessive compulsive behaviors towards food and our bodies and so forth, it is clear that [we] ended [up]weighing more than we may have ended up weighing as a group. So the ultimate solution to the war on fat fueled by the obesity myth is stop fighting the war. If you stop fighting it, you win. This is not the first war that can be won by that strategy, but I think this is one that is well suited for such an approach.

I’ve heard that sort of rhetoric before, and to an extent I agree, but I think that a line has to be drawn between “not thinking about it in order to live a healthier lifestyle” and “not thinking about it and just letting yourself go”.

Robert says that the best thing to do when you want to enact a change in your life is to “re-frame” it into something pleasant. So, instead of thinking “I have to exercise”, think “I’m going to go meditate, which I do while taking a brisk walk”. It’s an interesting approach, one that’s certainly better than continually beating yourself up.

I think Campos is definitely on to something when he says that the focus should be on health, not weight. However, I don’t know if I’m totally convinced that weight isn’t an issue. That seems a little too idealistic. Probably the truth lies somewhere between the two extremes.