Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Fat is fake, and our latest public policy demon

I could just post links to Megan McArdle articles all day, but I'll stop here. This article describes the recent focus on American obesity as a fake problem and gives cogent reasons why:

  • There are no quantifiable health benefits to being thin. If you're seriously overweight, then you have a problem. But that's not what's going on. The fellow interviewed here suggests that what we're seeing in the U.S. right now is just a statistical fluctuation. Americans are not dangerously obese; the average body mass index value has moved a bit.
  • Being very thin is tied to class issues. It's hard to stay super thin if that's not the way you are built, unless you are wealthy and/or have lots of time.
  • We don't tell people to move to the country, even though people live longer there than in urban environments. But we tell them to lose weight, because weight is demonized.
  • Here's a quote: "So the strategies that have failed so spectacularly with adults -- tell them to exercise more, and eat less, and shame them about their weight -- will work with children. Because if there's one thing fat kids need, it's to be made to feel bad about feeling fat. "

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