Wednesday, December 29, 2010

All he did to lose weight was eat less and move more?

An article on CNN covers the weight loss of a man who went (they claim) from almost 500 lbs to "one-der-land". The man, Matt Hoover (who ironically is a namesake of one of the Biggest Loser Contestants of the 2005 season), told CNN his weight loss journey lasted 3 years. Most of the article is detailing "how terrible he looked" as a person of size and the usual. Finally a couple of sentences way down in the article tells how he lost the weight.

Predictably, he "ate less and moved more" that is, the article states:

He ate smaller portions and took daily walks. The first 120 pounds came off.

And in case we didn't understand how the weight melted off when he "just got off the couch", he's quoted:

"When you're that big, you can lose weight pretty quickly," he said.

The article goes on to say that Matt plateaued out at 150 lbs over his goal weight and then, joined Weight Watchers and "lost the rest of the weight"

According to this article, Matt had no health problems (or I'm sure they would have mentioned them) and it was all how "bad he looked" which motivated him.

Hey, if a person wants to lose weight (or not lose weight) that's fine - our bodies are ours to do with them what we want.

What I found very objectionable in this article was the following:

1. The article implies that the only reason Matt got up to 470 lbs was because he ate too much and moved too little in other words, "he sat on the couch, eating bons bons all day so no wonder he was so fat", and this idea is I think, what CNN wants to convey to the readers. But the reality about obesity is that according to Dr Rudy Leibel and the scientists who study this stuff, size is mostly genetic.

2. The article gives the impression that once Matt started eating as a "normal person" i.e. not totally overstuffing himself while sitting on the couch, the weight just "dropped off". And that is so not true! For a person who is genetically/physically obese to lose weight and keep it off takes daily vigilance almost to an obsessive level.

To expand on the second point, while the article implied that Matt just had to "get off the couch" (they never did detail what his exercise program consisted of however), ordinary exercise does not keep off any weight if you've got a certain set of genetics - I can personally attest to that one!.

For example, the Matt Hoover from the "BIGGEST LOSER" (not the same guy as in this story, I'm pretty sure) is described in one article as exercising 25 hours a week (he did regain some, it says from his "Biggest Loser" season but is determined to get it off):

Hoover spends 25 hours a week training for the grueling triathlon, which consists of a 2.4-mile open-water swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a marathon 26.2-mile run.

In my research I have found that societies in which there is no obesity, typically move 25-40 hours a week and eat about 1200-1400 calories a day.

Now that's a lot more than just "getting off the couch" and "eating smaller portions".

This type of article is falsely misleading. To the person of size who thinks that they can exercise an hour or so a day and eat a bit less and the weight will drop off, they will be very disappointed when they can actually gain weight eating normal amounts of food even if they do exercise. (How well I know about that one!)

And for those 85% of society who do not have to fight clinical obesity, articles like this just fuel the flames perpetuating the falsehood that shaming people of size is actually "good for them" because they might get motivated to "eat less and more more" and the "weight will drop off", as it did with Matt Hoover who is not the Biggest Loser contestant in this article.

I know people of size who have awesome achievements, careerwise and life-wise and even are very good looking, and yet, feel themselves failures because even though they already "eat less and move more" the weight just doesn't fall off them like it does on people in the newspaper or on TV. These feelings brought on by articles like this CNN article, filled with falsehoods and misleading statements, can lead people to drastic measures including unhealthy diets or even surgery to cripple their digestive system (what Dr Fobi, WLS surgeon calls the gastric bypass) or worse.

In a world which needs more love, isn't it time we enjoy people for who they are and just accept that in a country like ours where food is in easy access, people are going to come in all sizes and so what? What if we were all the same size - it would be pretty boring! (look at manikins for example). :)

Note: the photo included with this blog is Olympic athlete, Cheryl Haworth who won an Olympic medal in Weight Lifting. Like all elite athletes, she trains hard for several hours a day and watches what she eats. She also weighs over 300 lbs. People do come in all sizes and just because someone is a person of size, doesn't mean they lie on the couch all day, eating bons bons.

Like one of the TV reality show stars quipped when someone called him on a misrepresentation in a so called "reality show".

Well, you cannot believe everything you see on TV!

1 comment:

Kelly said...

I'm personally convinced the healthy, sane levels of 'eat less/better, move more' are responsible for the few kilos of weight loss they keep claiming improve diabetes and stuff, but that's only a few kilos, not the massive weight loss this guy is talking about.