Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Pizza, Fat and Genetics

My 12 year old granddaughter is as slim as a rail. Not "skinny" but just perfect... looks great in pants etc. Like I never did, never was. And she basically eats what she wants too. Fast food, pizza, whatever. Even according to the fat-a-phobes, she is apparently like 90 percent of the other kids because the so called "obesity epidemic" only affects 10 percent of kids!

And I was in the "lucky" 10 percent!

I remember those darned kids who lived on pizza and coke when we were in High School and never had a weight problem. I had to starve, literally, to get down to 135-140 and then the minute I stopped starving I gained right up to 170. (And I'm 5'5" so I'm somewhat altitudinally challenged). Unlike these modern kids, pizza and coke was basically never in the house for us - neither candy except at Christmastime and Easter. We had apples and oranges for snacks.

Pretty much through elementary school, I did 2 hours daily of bicycle riding or skating or playing ball (after school that is, and during school, we had P.E. daily and also active recesses - something kids do not have now).

In High School, I was in intramurals twice a week (played volleyball or tennis or badminton or had trampoline), I swam during my study halls and I walked home from school, 3 miles every day with books and a violin. I also walked to stores and/or my violin students homes (what I did to make a few bucks in High School) That kept me at a weight of 170 lbs, unless I starved (ate about 500-800 calories a day) so I DID starve to stay within a somewhat normal size in High School. No breakfast, no lunch and then, a small supper... can we say "eating disorder" sports fans? Of course no pizza and very little coke. My High School social life was spent in watching others stuff their faces with goodies with apparently no worries about "getting fat".

So, my 12 year old granddaughter told me that they had pizza the other night. Now she's somewhat active but not near as active as I was, riding my bicycle for hours etc - Just out of curiosity, I asked her if pizza filled her up. She answered "Oh yes!" and I said "how much pizza do you have to eat because you are full" and she answered "about 1 and 1/2 pieces!"

I remember distinctly, not only did pizza NOT fill me up but left me with hidden hunger and a sick stomach if I ate more than a bite. And that to fill me up, took at least 3 or 4 pieces of pizza. And at 400 calories a slice, that's a bunch of calories to consume at one time.

Maybe there is something to this satiety disorder thing.

So now I eat mostly veggies, still no pizza, fast food, candy or junk food. And I exercise at least 40 minutes of cardio a day and often more. That to keep at a svelte (not) 250 lbs. (I'm not counting the half hour of yoga I do daily because that's not "fat burning" - actually seems nothing is fat burning for me!)

I talk about this because I see in the papers daily and on TV, slim people expounding about how ALL fat people eat too much and move too little. The latest study (maybe I should put that in quotes!) tells us that you should diet when you are pregnant because if you have a big baby, you are "dooming" your child to a "miserable" lifetime of obesity.

Well, ironically enough, I -ate- during my pregnancy (gained 40 lbs), was clinically obese when I delivered by natural childbirth - I also exercised daily during my pregnancy so was a fit fat mom. I had a normal sized baby who was an Apgar 10 (that's a scoring system from 1 to 10, 10 being the highest score a baby can get meaning no birth defects and perfect healthwise).

So much for the "diet during pregnancy - deliver a small baby" myth. Add that to the numerous myths we hear daily about obesity - like the one which states that -all- fat people eat too much and move too little.

And my 12 year old granddaughter, you know the one with the ideal figure? She weighed 9 lbs at birth and now can eat anything she wants and still is slim without being overly active (like I was).

The name of the game here is -genetics! As geneticist Rudy Leibel states "Size is 40-80 percent genetically controlled".

Genetics, the big "G" word that no one wants to put in the media because we people of size are not only a great target for derision and bad examples, we also are a great market for the diet industry which has now "ballooned" to 55 billion bucks a year just in the USA.

That's a twofer - two for the price of one. Verbally abuse fat people then sell them a diet, over and over again. No wonder the 90 percenters who do not have to deal with clinical obesity are not wild about stopping -that- gravy train!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

is this a diet blog?

I had a gent leave a comment here, saying he just loved the content of this blog. And then, in the next sentence, he advertised his favorite -diet- site.

And I am wondering about this. I'd love to believe his first sentence but I have to say that if he's read my blog at all, how could he ever think I would be amenable to advertising a diet blog?

To paraphrase one of my favorite movie characters (the bad cricket in one of the ant movies) "Do -I- -Look- like a person who is into diets?"

I am actually a fat gurl (well, not such a girl maybe) who is 120 lbs overweight, lives a healthy lifestyle without the worry of pleasing the scale OR medical providers with fat-a-phobia, who seems to be outliving many of my slimmer friends.

And I must say that in my long life of 63 years, I have -never- seen a good result of any kind of dieting.

Maybe that's kind of a no brainer because when you diet, you deny your body nutrients and put your body into starvation mode - how ever can this be healthy?

I've known people who lost 70-100 lbs .... and then came down with cancer (and died). And I've known people who lost 30 lbs only to regain 70 lbs. In fact most people I've known who have lost weight, are lucky if they -only- regain what they lost. I've known people who restrict calories to low amounts, run marathons, have low risk numbers, are congratulated by every doctor they see and then, come down with their last illness in their 40's and 50's and die a couple of years later.

My so called risk numbers are not low. They are not extremely high but according to the fat-a-phobics, way to high for me to be so doggoned healthy. My cholesterol's about 250 (of course my HDLs are 56 and the ratio is "correct"), my LDLs are 139, my blood pressure is 140/90 on a good day (without medications).

Frankly I'm not sure this is anything to worry about (and worrying about it may be much more dangerous to my health than my numbers not fitting in to the ever decreasing "perfect numbers") Because the risk numbers are also very low in anorexics, and terminal AIDS and cancer patients yet can we really say they are "at less risk"?

Oh and my waist measurement is um.... generous. Not the equator but way into the area which Dr Oz says is highly risky.

I find some things in life rather interesting such as:

1. a dear friend of mine who describes herself as "super sized" has outlived 48 of her large friends who had weight loss surgery

2. my slim father was always given a good bill of health by the medical community while my BBW mother was told she was on the brink of death because of her weight and yet, my slim Dad (also a lifelong smoker) died suddenly of a heart attack when he was 63 and my high BMI Mom was still going strong at the age of 68 when she decided they had lied to her and obesity was -not- going to kill her so she used a more traditional method to hasten her demise - a gun.

3. a relative who is in her 70's is super sized and diabetic and very healthy - travels all over the world, takes cruises and only quit working last year.

According to the diet industry-driven media, all this is not supposed to be.

Meanwhile, society keeps buying this message that we -must- starve ourselves to a certain weight despite increasing evidence that not only does dieting -not- work but several studies suggest it is a risk practice to diet. But then, why would starvation, practiced or environmental be healthy?

Lately evidence keeps pouring in that our 65 percent fat society is actually living -longer- than society did in days of yore before the deadly obesity hit us.

For example, yesterday a news item told us that we just are -not- seeing the deaths from heart disease we expected. In fact, heart disease deaths have "plummeted" the article says, continuing to warn us that due to the obesity they are going to get worse. But wait, the obesity is already here and they are plummeting? Is this like the killer bees which never arrived or the Y2K which was supposed to shut the the world which -never- happened or the bird flu pandemic which we have been waiting for, for 4 years now? Media spin to get our attention so we buy diet products?

In the last couple of years, the average lifespan, in case you didn't notice, has been creeping ... down? Nope, in fact it's been creeping upwards. Last year we were told that women could be expected to live until 80 now.

Has anyone noticed that before the days of obesity, like at the turn of the 20th century, the average lifespan was 45? Back then, people got lots of exercise, they did not have any transfat or fast food and obesity was just about unheard of. Yet the average lifespan was so low.

Maybe just maybe (heresy alert) we are -designed- to be chubby animals in an environment where food is abundant?

Do I -look- like I support diets? Perish the thought. My philosophy is more like "eat dessert first because life is too short"!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Why are so many weight loss surgery patients on antidepressants?

A friend sent me an article today from one of the large medical sites. The article was authored by Drs Roizen and Mehmet Oz (of "You On A Diet" and Oprah show fame). Although they are two of my favorite health authors, they sometimes do not distinguish between when they are giving facts and when they are expounding on their theories.

This article talked about gut hormones and how they can affect the moods and my friend, a gastric bypass patient, asked if this was the reason why so many longer term gastric bypass patients require anti-depressant medication.

A logical question which I began to think about.

Truth is, no one knows why, although several studies done by psychologists have suggested that gastric bypass surgery seems to cause more psychological problems and relationship problems than it cures (despite what the TV ads tell us).

However, in pondering this, I came up with a few of my own theories. For what they are worth (probably not much) - I am not a psychologist and I don't even play one on TV.

I think so many gastric bypass patients are on anti depressants for the following reasons (and this is -my- opinion, not scientific fact - how's that for a disclaimer?):

1. Many people including those who become severely overweight are handling some of their stressful situations with food (it's a well known fact that a goodly portion of the population can medicate with food without becoming severely overweight although this is something the diet industry works earnestly to keep secret). For some, the consumption of food causes the production of endorphins (our body's natural -feel good- pain killer which actually has a similar structure to the opioid drugs). This, in some folks, can actually function as an anti depressant. When the person is severely calorie restricting in dieting or gastric bypass surgery and not able to use food as a comfort, they miss that "anti depressant". And of course, foods which are low calories are generally not the ones which produce endorphins (like broccoli).

2. Gastric bypass pre ops are never warned that in order to keep some weight off (in some people) the doctors will be giving them a disability of the digestive tract. Gastric bypass is sold as a fix rather than the introduction of one illness which hopefully causes less pain than the one it's supposed to cure.

"By doing this surgery, you're creating a medical disease in the body. Before you expose someone to that risk, you have to be absolutely sure that you are treating an illness which is equal to or greater than the one you are creating."
(Dr Edward Livingston, bariatric surgeon in Self Magazine, 4-2001)

So when they wake up with a disability, they are totally unprepared... never expecting they would be coping with new illness. And to make things worse, there is no help for them. No one takes them through the four stages of getting used to a disability (similar to the four stages of mourning) because no one wants to admit that gastric bypass -is- a disability.

Generally speaking, disabilities you cannot see, tend to cause problems with doctors and friends alike. People are often, overly considerate at the sight of a wheelchair but not considerate at all to someone who is struggling to walk on their feet (who may need the help much more than someone who has become mobile via a wheelchair). Likewise for a doctor confronted by a gastric bypass patient with gut pain or stomach pain which likely has a real underlying physical cause. It's so less troublesome to say "it's in your head" and prescribe anti depressants which only are a bandaid, than it is to try and unravel the complexities of illness which drastically cutting up and rearranging your stomach and gut can cause.

3. The high number of marriages which break up after WLS is similar to the high number of marriages which break up after a person gets, for example, multiple sclerosis or a spinal cord injury. The spouse sometimes, can not handle the disability and what goes along with it... visits to the ER, illness and/or inconvenience plus the pain and suffering which accompanies this. Many marriages may be more based on the fact that they like to have fun together rather than the "better or worse" principle and so when the "worse" comes along, it can do damage to the well being of the couple. Additionally, the couple was never expecting anything but an almost magical "cure" to obesity when the patient got WLS and so, both are shocked and unprepared at the reality.

4. As mentioned before, people tend to lack sympathy for disabilities which are not obvious to the casual observer, as is true of those in the digestive tract. To make things worse, the person might "look good" and be "the picture of health" according to what we are told - slim - so what on earth is their problem, people wonder. That the patient is often sick a lot, losing efficiency at work, depressed, suffering pain and more must be in their head because they are slim, right? The gastric bypass patient who has regained a lot of weight, fares even worse. One often hears horror stories of patients with serious physical problems, having their medical providers tell them that all their problems would be solved if they -only- could lay down their fork, the provider totally ignoring a potentially serious problem the patient is complaining about!

5. Somehow, a disability which seems a result of a decision one has made, is worse than one which happens by luck of the draw. But, truth is, that many patients were -not- aware that they were, in fact, chosing a disability because the media sells the gastric bypass as a medical cure for diabetes, and whatever illness people have, as well as a fix for being socially unacceptable i.e. fat. So when illness and repercussions occur, the patient has an easy time agreeing with the medical providers and the rest of the WLS community in saying that somehow -they- caused the problems they are having. This is depressing to think about and may explain the reactive depression which many patients suffer. That is, they blame themselves but somehow can not -do- anything to help the situation.

6. Ok, perhaps Dr Oz and Roizen's theory of gut hormones being disarranged might play into the equation too. I wouldn't doubt it. The drastic rearrangement of digestive organs is bound to cause severe repercussions. That seems a no brainer.

7. And last but not least, many people were depressed before surgery and those providers who promised that being slim or losing weight would solve all problems were simply not even close to the reality.

Whatever the case, people who decide on gastric bypass surgery should be totally aware of all the repercussions which can occur by making sure they have informed consent, and that they understand that this is the type of medical procedure which "breaks" one thing (the digestive system) to hopefully fix another thing "obesity" and that they will be dealing with new disabilities and co-morbidities even if their procedures go well for them.

I feel that medical providers who tend to not give us lay folk informed consent (one medical provider told me "if we gave informed consent, no one would ever have anything done") need to consider distinguishing between those surgeries which are essential for survival, and those which are elective. I think they also need to trust us more - that we can do research and that we can know what will work best for us even if our answer to their proposed medical procedure is negative.

Monday, January 21, 2008

It's all her fault that she got a repercussion of WLS

In my favorite WLSer blog, "Melting Mama" , Beth details how some "rocket scientists" are accusing her of -causing- her reactive hypoglycemia. "You ate too many carbs" they tell her.

She answers:

"I'm currently diagnosed as a reactive hypoglycemic, and The Cause IS my Roux En Y Gastric Bypass. I do not know if I have nesidioblastosis, because that is tested by doing an arterial calcium stimulation test to the pancreas, which is probably in my future if my episodes of hypoglycemia do not improve with medication and diet, or get worse.

Seriously, though, do you really, truly, think that eating carbohydrates CAUSED this?

It's a fair question, I guess, but, really? If that were the case - everyone around me should be dead."

I hate it when patients get a repercussion of the bypass and both the WLS community AND medical providers blame -them-.

For example the other day, I phoned a 9 year post op gastric bypass patient who had been repeatedly told she was a failure. She had originally lost 150 lbs (from 320 to 170) but had had a rebound gain of 85 lbs. In addition, she has anemia requiring iron infusions a few times a year. She is a very compliant patient, following carefully the rules for post gastric bypass including taking her supplements, getting regular medical follow-up and watching what she eats.

The bottom line though is that she is -keeping off-, 70 lbs - something she likely, would not be able to do without WLS.

She was extremely surprised when I told her she was a textbook success. Repercussions like anemia are expected in some patients (after all, the part which digests iron has been bypassed in a gastric bypass) and surgeons write in the medical papers that they expect most patients to have a 50-60 percent rebound gain within a few years of surgery.

The problem is that this is -seldom- what the patient has been told. Most patients have been to seminars where the small percentage of patients who can remain slim after their surgery have been paraded, thus strongly suggesting that this is or can be, a cosmetic procedure to make them _look_ better and fit in better. They are told things like "if you don't like this you can have it reversed" (- not - true - the gastric bypass is considered a -permanent- change to the body) or "You will never have a weight problem again" (very not true - post WLS patients of any procedure are -expected- to diet and exercise to maintain their weight loss and only a small percentage will maintain the -entire- weight loss, that is, most will regain a significant amount of weight).

One patient who had regained it all and complains that anything she eats will cause more gain, was told by a medical provider:

"You are regaining weight because your body is in starvation mode from the malnutrition caused by the WLS"
Kind of a no brainer so why aren't -more- patients told this? Simple - because in my observations when patients are told the full informed consent information about Weight Loss Surgery, only 50 percent or less of those who were originally investigating, go ahead with the procedure. Even many who are keeping off as much as 100 lbs feel that the repercussions they got like neuropathy were -not- worth suffering the comorbities caused by the surgery.

And if you do the math, if half of those seeking WLS, decide against it, that means they will -only- be doing 100,000 WLS surgeries a year instead of 200,000. While 100,000 WLS procedures sounds like a lot, it's not what will keep the providers in the style to which they have become accustomed.

Whatever, the case, patients have a right to know the informed consent information, before surgery - if nothing else than to be able to answer the naysayers who will blame them if they get normal and usual repercussions after their WLS procedures.

"An informed patient is a healthy patient"

(Note the pictured person is not a gastric bypass patient but rather a fashion model)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Queen Size movie was a Queen size diet ad

Recently Lifetime aired a movie called "Queen Sized" about a very fat High School lady who was nominated for Homecoming queen as a joke and then, decides to run. A good summation of the plot of the movie, stars, movie trailer and short analysis can be found here.

About the only positive thing I found in the movie was the main character played by Nikki Blonsky, was really fat and actually wore somewhat youngish clothing.

But the movie was actually anti fat and perpetuating the same tired old myths about fatness over and over.

Based on a real incident which happened in 2004 in Detroit to Allie Burris, various facts about Burris were changed in order to push the anti fat agenda. Whereas Burris' Dad died of asthma, a non fat related disorder, Maggie's dad died of diabetes which is said to be fat related (it is genetically related rather than fat related but it's one of the sound bites they use to scare people into dieting). Throughout the movie, although we are reminded that it - isn't nice - to make fun of fat people, we are also reminded that Maggie should lose weight to save herself from the deadly diabetes which killed her Dad.

In the real incident, Burris got the support of the other High Schoolers and got elected to Homecoming Princess (she was supposedly elected so they could jeer while she was riding in the parade but her ride was without incident). In the movie Maggie got the support of a lot of her contemporaries who were tired of the lady who usually won, but when Maggie stood up to accept the honor, she was almost unanimously booed.

Supposedly, the audience was told she brought that upon herself when she took a TV interview and acted fat and proud. "We want the old Maggie back" said several kids to her. That is, the Maggie who hated herself and thought she was a failure and buried her sorrows in food -that's the one the High Schoolers liked, NOT the new Maggie who actually thought she could do something. Ostensibly some kids who worked in her campaign got angry at her because she didn't mention them as having a part, on TV but they helped, the movie gave us the impression, because they "felt sorry for her" and not because she had any attributes worth anything.

Everyone else in Maggie's family was Hollywood slim and the movie clearly suggested that Maggie was fat because she was out of shape (they showed her running and puffing, walking and not being able to keep up with the other kids and so forth, implying the only exercise she did was opening the fridge plus the arm exercise of putting the food in her mouth). Maggie was also fat, the film showed us, because everytime something went wrong, she ate - all of the wrong things of course. Never did so much as a veggie pass over her lips.

The usual stereotypes we all are familiar with. People are fat because they eat too much and move too little. Only like other stereotypes, these are equally erroneous. There are plenty of slim High Schoolers with binge eating disorder and plenty of fat High Schoolers who are like I was - exercising MORE than the average person (I walked EVERYWHERE I went, I swam during my study halls, I ran from class to class) and STILL only achieving a somewhat large-normal size by starvation. Society doesn't want to admit fatness is mostly genetic because then they couldn't have their fat-a-phobia in comfort. But science says that size IS genetic. The "Queen Sized" movie did not teach people that however. On the contrary.

Interestingly enough, all the high schoolers were shown as slim and perfect looking. I guess the makers of that movie hoped we wouldn't ask difficult questions like "where are all these fat kids that the obesity epidemic mongers are telling us about?" Two fat kids in a large school? Where is the epidemic and why do we have to be "worried" if only 2 out of 1000 kids is fat? Guys, you cannot have it both ways!

"Queen Sized" wasn't even that interesting to watch. It dragged in several places. I fast forwarded through the commercials but I'm told the diet industry was advertising a lot.

The end of the movie was like the rest of it. Maggie goes back to being humble and carefully finds all the candy she has hidden in her room and throws it in the garbage so the audience is consoled with the fact that she has finally decided to get with the crowd and lose weight.

If you haven't seen this movie, I don't think you've missed anything but more of the same dose of fat-a-phobia we get on a daily basis. It was just cleverly (or not so cleverly) cloaked in a different wrapper.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Weight loss surgery ads disguise themselves

I shouldn't write another blog so soon, but an article I saw in Newsweek annoyed me just a bit too much.

It's because the article tries to disguise itself as written by a person who is "concerned" about fat prejudice and trying to "find herself" but is basically, merely, a blatant commercial for gastric bypass surgery.

It appeared in Newsweek Magazine and is entitled "My Secret History". It doesn't say it's a commercial for gastric bypass but it hits all the high points, including a photo of a lovely young lady who has likely had a tummy tuck and a makeover. She greatly resembles the lovely young ladies who smile out from the TV ads for Nutrasystems, telling us how wonderful it is to be slim. Her "before photo" is NOT included at least not in the web version of the article (maybe because she might have been equally lovely weighing 265 at 5'6"???).

In fact this lady DOES tell us how wonderful it is to be slim. For example, the handsome young doctor (ding-dong for point one - she's dating and she's dating MONEY $$$) she went out with, was obviously disgusted at one of his fat patients. Message - this handsome "catch" of a man would NEVER have dated her when she was fat. I'm sure it will never occur to either this lady or the readers that if this guy has such a nasty attitude toward fat patients, will he really accept her when she's pregnant, and/or gains the weight back and/or gets a few wrinkles?

She then describes her Great humiliation of her life. This was when she got her butt stuck in a hanging tire swing at the age of 19. (that's so important - she could have been smaller and gotten stuck also but would have laughed it off).

Not too far down in the article she writes:

I've had nothing but success, healthwise, from the decision to have gastric bypass surgery. I've even run a half-marathon since then (not a superhuman feat by any means, but one almost unimaginable to that girl dangling in that tire).
Oh my, a reference to the tire nightmare again. If that's the worse thing she can pull up about being a teenager in general, she's lived a charmed life, fat or slim!

I'd like to point out that she is not even 1 year out and probably was about 9 months out from her surgery in Feb 2007 when she wrote the article - those magazines have a lag of 2-3 months from writing to publication for non news articles.

The testimonial from the new op who is enamored with the fact that she lost a bunch of weight fast.

The problem is, we can only get sugar out of body fat so when we are only eating 300-500 calories a day during a quick weight loss period, most of what we lose is NOT bodyfat. It weighs heavy on the scale and so we FEEL like we are losing A LOT of weight, but does NOT really reduce our inches that much.

So doing the math, if she lost 135 lbs then only 40 lbs of that was likely, FAT. (about 20-30 percent of the gross loss). The rest was muscle tissue, bone mass (and organ meat) which her body "ate" to provide protein during her "quick weight loss" period. Well, just where do people THINK the NECESSARY calcium, protein and vitamins come from, when we do not eat enough food and have digestive problems?

  • B12 and iron from the liver
  • iron from the heart
  • protein from the muscles
  • calcium from the bones

YUM. Not quite the lovely "magic bullet" picture we are getting from the article, is it?

40 lbs???? She didn't need surgery to do THAT. She could have lost that and gained muscle and lost bunches of inches working just as hard as she obviously did (to be able to run a half marathon) WITHOUT the surgeon's knife. Eye opening, isn't it?

One doctor told a gastric bypass patient recently that he had seen many patients suffering the numerous maladies she is enduring, 8 years post op, including auto immune disorder, osteoporosis, anemia requiring iron infusion and more. He said:

"When you bypass the main food and vitamin processing center, there shouldn't be any surprise when deficiencies show up."
Oh but there WILL be surprise when the gaggle of desperate fat people running to their surgeons now with the dream of their gastric bypass making them look like the lovely lady in the article, start having those problems. Because no one ever told them about the other side. And media articles like this make folks think surgery is a "magic bullet" instead of what it really is, a medical procedure done for medical reasons when the co morbidities of obesity are thought to be worse than the co mobidities from the gastric bypass.

Did I say co morbidities from the gastric bypass? Yes that is EXACTLY what I said. And what potential patients are never told about in the media advertising.

I hope potential patients will research the internet including the yahoo group which has a membership of close to 2000 members, many of whom have seen the "other side of the mountain" which is never portrayed in the new op interviews in the media:

And the website:

Which contains informed consent information, patient histories and more.

Gastric bypass surgery has become for many longer term patients, what Stephen King prophetically wrote about in the novel "THINNER"

Perhaps, he thought, Houston was right and I'm thinking myself thin ... because that old Gypsy wanted me to. Only now I can't stop. I could make a million bucks writing a response to that Norman Vincent Peale book ... call it The Power of Negative Thinking. But his mind suggested that was a pile of crap. All that gypsy had said was "Thinner". He didn't say "By the power vested in me, I curse you to lose six to eight pounds a week until you die."
Luckily thanks to modern medicine, the picture for gastric bypass patients who have problems in the long term is not as bleak. But gastric bypass is by no means the magic bullet or "easy way out" that the media wants us to believe, either...

The lady pictured in this blog was a close friend of mine, a teacher, a mother and beloved friend who died way too soon. To see her memorial, click here

Friday, January 04, 2008

But it's NOT a diet!

Weight Watchers has a new ad campaign. They tell their viewers that "Diets don't work". Which is true - countless studies suggest that 95 percent of dieters regain the weight within four years of losing it. So that's great but they go on to say "Weight Watchers works". Wait a minute. Weight Watchers is a DIET and they just said "Diets don't work". And Weight Watchers, although one of the healthiest weight loss programs out there, is STILL a DIET.

My personal opinion is, although that seems a good idea, it may backfire on them because if they ADMIT that diets don't work (and everyone knows that Weight Watchers IS a diet) then, folks might get to thinking that maybe it's NOT time to re-join!

Resolutions to "lose weight" were somewhat absent from the numerous New Year's interviews and news articles. And a news article suggests that Americans are AT LEAST as interested in health as they are in thinness. Only 29 percent of those asked, admitting to dieting (but remember many dieters do not admit that a weight loss program is "dieting"). Of course, people may be going underground with their interest in slimness because it's fallen out of style to admit that you want to be slim. However, diets or weight loss programs are STILL being sold as a looks improvement - with smiling slim ladies and a few gents saying how wonderful it is to be slim, how they can buy clothing off the shelves and fit on carnival rides. The usual sound bites.

And despite the word "diet" being a no no now, Diets are going strong in 2008...

Discovery Channel's "body challenge" is one diet which has been heavily advertised. That's 8 weeks long and encourages a quick weight loss with supposedly changing one's habits (an 8 week membership at Bally's is included). But as we all know the quicker you lose the weight, the quicker it comes back. And will people REALLY change their habits in 8 weeks? Questionable.

Of course, the 55 BILLION buck a year diet industry doesn't mind repeat customers, in fact they thrive on repeat customers.

Oklahoma City is being put on a diet by their mayor who brags he wants his people to lose 1 MILLION pounds. (will they gain back 2 million lbs then?). The enthusiastic mayor of OK city has TWO domain names for the program and fancy websites with messages like how much obesity costs. Their program encourages exercise and watching what you eat. The 2600 people who have signed up already, have lost 300 lbs (they say). Nice but 2600 is but a small percentage of those who live in OK city. Perhaps not all residents are that enthusiastic about the major's challenge!

And NutraSystem has a new ad (with plenty of happy smiling slim people) and a new program called Nutrasystem advanced. You get 2 free weeks of food, food is shipped in plain boxes so your mailman doesn't know you are on a (gag) diet and the smiling slim folks in the ad tell us how much they love the food and especially the chocolate. The small print in the ad (which becomes available to those of us who have DVR's and can stop the action) tells us that those used in the ad were "renumerated" i.e. paid, and that they lost weight on the OLD program and that it isn't exactly 2 free weeks - it's more like buy 3 weeks, get on free, twice. Also says the small print, you only get the entre for $10 bucks a day. You have to buy the fruit and veggies. Seems rather pricey to me.

And then, somewhere in a quiet corner amidst all the noise of all the diet (oops NOT DIET - weight loss) groups advertising is HAES, Health at Every Size. The only program which has been suggested by CLINICAL studies to really work to help people GET HEALTHY. HAES is where you try to eat healthy and exercise a few times a week and don't fret about your weight. Because we know that DIETS DON'T WORK for most people. HAES, unlike diets, DOES work.

Problem is, I think just about EVERY American knows how to lose weight and what they SHOULD be doing for health but many choose to not do it. And maybe, that's ok too. It's nothing to feel guilty about, because for as many epidemiological studies which suggest that being obese is dangerous, there are an equal number of epidemiological studies which suggest that obesity really isn't a big factor in health, one way or another.

One of my favorite things to think about is this:

On the Titanic, destined to sink that night, how many women denied themselves desserts due to "watching their weight"? And if they had it to do over, would they have skipped that dessert?
So take a walk a few times a week, try to eat more veggies, don't fret about your weight and .... enjoy your dessert because you never know when it will be your last.