Welcome to www.no-obesity-epidemic.org -
A voice of Sanity in the world of obesity
Earlier note to my readers: My early month (September) web statistics show that the ability of this website to retain interested readers has plummeted. This is unsettling because, after a two month period in which I revised as well as added much new content, the new version is incomparably more interesting and powerful than before.
I deduce that mention of my homeless status may have largely
reason for this. I'd like to present my case succintly.
First. a website of this caliber is
quite an accomplishment from a homeless person let alone an employed
college professor. Such refutes
the notion that all homeless people are failures or a burden on
society. Second, the condition of homelessness actually
stabilized my financial situation, which gave me the courage to step
away from my earlier marketing efforts, dig in for the next two months,
come up with web content that vastly improves the calibre and
effectiveness of my message.
honor and respect the contents of other Health At Every Size
(HAES) websites, related websites, and blogs. Indeed, I include
many links to these
websites and freely give attribution to the excellent work done by
individuals and principles in this field. Without each of their
website never would have reached its potential. I believe that
its own unique niche among websites that advocate Health At Every Size
and I am confident that it is on par with the best of them. I
welcome you to stay on and see this for yourselves.
WWW.no-obesity-epidemic.org provides much new material and answers many heretofore unanswered questions. Major advances to the knowledge base are listed below. Most of my assertions appear contrarian to our common knowledge about obesity. I hope that your are willing to challenge you own thinking if you have any misgivings with what I state below. I believe that the science behind my assertions is sound and convincing.
The "childhood obesity epidemic" is refuted on mathematical grounds, as well as on an observational basis.
A flawed and biased Body Mass Index assessment tool is largely responsible for the perception of an "obesity epidemic," especially in children.
The cause of most obesity is a homeostatic response to caloric deprivation from weight-loss dieting and other forms of caloric restriction including food insecurity.
Gluttony does not cause obesity, weight-loss dieting does.
Obesity is not genetically determined.
Obesity is, in large part, harmless to our health. Many factors confound the results of obesity studies.
There are no foods that inherently cause obesity, including high fructose corn syrup.
Cholesterol and saturated fats do not cause heart disease.
Physical activity, or lack thereof, has no influence on body weight in the long run. Changes in caloric expenditure will result in parallel changes in appetite, keeping weight relatively constant.
Bariatric surgery is a harmful mutilating procedure that irretrievably damages the body, mind, and spirit of each of the 225,000 Americans that undergo it each year.
We are lied to again and again by the government, public health community, and medical establishment.
Gerald Rubin Ph.D., 1987, University of California San
If you can afford it, please donate to facilitate my, as well as our collective efforts to bring truth back into the discourse on health, nutrition, and obesity.
Obesity Kills 400,000 Americans a Year
You Can’t Be Overweight and Healthy
Obesity Is a Disease
Overeating Is the Primary Cause of Obesity
Soda Causes Childhood Obesity
64 Percent of Americans Are Overweight or Obese
Obesity Costs the U.S. Economy $117 Billion Annually
Let common sense override political correctness
I have had negative feedback concerning the pro corporate nature of the Center for Consumer Freedom. I respond to this. Truth is more important than political correctness. Their booklet as well as their website obesitymyths.com, are very good sources on stating facts that set the record straight. If not for the food lobby, governmental legislative intrusions into our eating choices would range from highly unpleasant to unbearable. Model legislation on "healthy eating," found at the Center for Science in the Public Interest website, demonstrates that there are forces in our society that would create a draconian food policy under the guises of promoting health and stemming a fictitious obesity epidemic.
As you read through this material, you will learn that many ideas on nutrition and obesity commonly adopted by individuals in the medical and public health communities are based on non-fact and many of the issued warnings are unduly alarmist.
Why I entered the fray
I became interested in the obesity epidemic when I realized that I was attempting to market my eBook: “Common Sense Ways to Save Money on Food: A Resource Guide for Hard Times,” on another website in what I considered to be an adverse environment created in the popular news media. My eBook recommends the purchase of low-cost high-calorie foods, including calorie dense foods, as a way to save money on food. Recommending calorie dense foods is contrary to the advice of many authorities who espouse that such foods are not healthy and lead to weight gain. Even the purchase of low-cost high-calorie foods that are not calorie dense, such as cooked pasta or rice, is rarely mentioned as way to save money on food. It seems that all low-cost high-calorie foods are, by semantic or other means of association, considered to be problematic.
Let us open our eyes
I would often ask myself, where are the 64 percent of Americans who have been defined to be overweight or obese? Why don't I see with my own eyes that most Americans appear too heavy? I posited that some agreed upon standard for defining the conditions of overweight and obesity must be very strict. How else could this be explained?
Perhaps I could be accused of having a conflict of interest because this website deconstructs the obesity epidemic while my other website, www.recessionfoodguide.com, features a downloadable eBook that recommends low-cost high-calorie foods, some of which are calorie dense. However, when I am in a public venue, I just do not see anything close to 64 percent of adults, nearly two out of every three, as carrying too much weight.
invite readers of this website to do your own informal
study on the frequency of overweight and obesity in adults and
children by simply observing people. I believe that you
will soon determine
that there is, in fact, no obesity epidemic. Often, simple direct
observation will give a more accurate view than published
numbers do. I am not denying the existence of obese adults, you
may see plenty of them over a day's time. But I would estimate
that less than one-quarter adults carry "too much" weight. The
number of obese children is exaggerated many-fold.
The overestimated frequency of
overweight and obese individuals is
largely a result of an oversimplified and biased assessment tool,
the Body Mass Index (BMI).
Body Mass Index is biased in several respects. The empirical equation for calculating BMI uses an incorrect power relationship between body weight (mass) and height; BMI limits for overweight and obese categories are arbitrary and overly strict, especially in children; and BMI does not account for differences in body composition, frame size, or somatotype (body type).
Why are we worrying about
defined overweight anyway?
Supporting (by inference) my assertion that BMI limits defining overweight and obese are too strict, in 2005 research led by Katherine M. Flegal, PhD, Senior Research Scientist at the National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control, determined that BMI defined overweight people, with BMIs ranging from 25.0 to 29.9, had a lower mortality rate than BMI defined people of normal weight. Saying it another way, one-half of the 64 percent of Americans who are defined as carrying too much weight are in fact at the optimal weight. Why has such beneficial information largely been downplayed? Such information would allow tens of millions of Americans to begin to rest easier, to worry less about their "weight problems" and health, and to perhaps refrain from dieting that rarely works in the long run.
It is true that there has been a moderate increase in the average weight of American adults in the latter part of the 20th century. Highly reliable National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES 2007-2008) data show that weight increases have leveled-off in all groups of Americans for several years now even though many authorities will not admit it.
Conflicts of interest
What is the interest in misleading Americans? There are various reasons. The anti-obesity industry is a 60 billion dollar behemoth involving governmental officials and agencies, various non-profits, physicians, obesity researchers, bariatric surgeons, pharmaceutical companies, weight-loss clinics, a diet food industry, and a physical fitness industry. There is a major profit incentive driving the obesity epidemic and the field of major players includes some who have incurred substantiated conflicts of interest.
Misinformed attitudes and
There is also the matter of American cultural premiums on ambition, will power, and morality. Many people incorrectly assume that obese individuals lack these traits. Recent evidence has been pointing to the fact obesity is largely based on factors beyond our willful control. It is a fact that 95% of dieters will regain their weight. Now we are learning that two-thirds of dieters end up putting on more weight in the long run. In my opinion, ambition, will power, and morality have been emphasized to such a lop-sided extent that the quest for attainment of these traits has become a burden on our culture.
Emphasis on a non-existent obesity epidemic is not to be sloughed-off as a nuisance to Americans. It is a serious assault on our freedom, dignity and well-being.
Children are the most
oppressed by this obesity hysteria
Authorities claim that the number of obese children has increased dramatically over the past few decades, and speak of a "childhood obesity epidemic" as though it was a separate phenomenon. American children have been placed under enormous pressure to lose weight and eat more "healthy" foods. As though they were already little adults, children are being conditioned to fear obesity, worry about what they eat, worry about their body images, worry about their health, and are being made give up their favorite foods for "healthier" ones.
For today's children, the natural, enjoyable act of eating has been turned into a matter of grave concern - something to be studied, manipulated, and continually improved on.
If you go to a public venue, you will see very few children who might be deemed as carrying too much weight (preview below). The vast majority of American children do not have a "weight problem" but they are being made to fear the consequences of eating anyway. Numerous children are developing body image problems and eating disorders and taking on unnecessary worries about their health. Contrary to claims, children are not besieged by a rash of obesity related diseases. The incidence rate of Type 2 diabetes is less than 0.1 percent in children under 20. As such, the 7 percent of children who test glucose intolerant rarely end up with diabetes. When it comes to a childhood obesity epidemic "the emperor is truly wearing no clothes."
According to Dr. Jon Robison, who gives a sane perspective on how fighting childhood obesity has been harmful to children, the average intake of calories by children has actually declined in recent years. How can the rate of childhood obesity be increasing when their caloric intake is actually less?
On webpage "How the BMI Overestimates Obesity, Especially in Children," I demonstrate how the so-called childhood obesity epidemic may entirely be attributable to flaws in the Body Mass Index assessment tool. This includes demonstrating on a mathematical basis that the BMI limits that denote obesity in children are too low. It also discusses how historical trends of increasing stature in children automatically result in higher BMIs for children of a given age, even though BMI limits denoting overweight and obesity have not been revised to account for this.
read this material.
Physicians blinded by
adhering to bad science
I found a research paper "Visual Recognition of Child Body Mass Index by Medical Students, Resident Physicians, and Community Physicians", C. R. Ahlers-Schmidt et al., Kansas Journal of Medicine, 2010. The results and conclusions, taken from the Abstract, are quoted below. The author points out the difficulty that physicians have in recognizing children defined as overweight or obese by their BMI statuses.
Results: "… Only 15% of respondents correctly identified a 3-year-old boy, whose BMI was 95th percentile for his age, as obese. Nearly 86% correctly identified a 4-year-old girl with normal BMI-for-age, but only 21% correctly identified another girl who was overweight at the 90-95th percentile BMI-for-age."
Conclusions: "Medical professionals and trainees have difficulty visually assessing a child’s BMI-for-age weight status. This underscores the importance of calculating and plotting BMI at healthy check-ups.
At this point I am scratching my scalp in a gesture of incredulity.
Fortunately, I happened on an entry in the Food and Health Skeptic blog (UK) that featured a book review of "The Obesity Epidemic" by diet author Zoe Harcombe. On the top of the page there are pictures of four healthy children. The caption reads, "These kids are all "obese" according to Britain's ...National Health Service. All four children were obviously of normal size. If you want to stretch it, one or two of them had a slight tendency toward the husky side. Between the stigma that they will suffer and the harmful attempts to have "correct" eating habits forced on them, defining any of these children as obese is a tragic affair.
I am trying to help people to
understand that visual impression works
fine for assessment of obesity in children, especially when the other
option is a flawed and biased Body Mass Index assessment tool that
normal children as overweight or obese. Click here to see a table which
demonstrates that the BMI limits defining obesity in children are too
mischaracterization of the Pima and Tehono O'odham Native American
experience to induce alarm and create unnecessary policies
False results and conclusions serve as a basis for unnecessary and harmful policies and actions.
An article in the February
11, 2010 issue of the New York Times "Child
Obesity Risks Death at Early Age, Study Finds", opens with
"A rare study
that tracked thousands
of children through adulthood found the heaviest youngsters were more
than twice as likely as the thinnest to die prematurely, before age 55,
of illness ...".
I consider this to be a serious indictment of childhood obesity, one that should be taken seriously if true. I obtained the original research paper and analyzed the methodology, results, and discussion to determine whether this frightful attribution to childhood obesity is of substance. I remind my readers that if you go out and observe you will find childhood obesity to be uncommon, this knowledge should overlay the following discussion.
I have had much experience evaluating research papers as a graduate student at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF). I obtained a Ph.D. in pharmaceutics and worked in drug research for 5 years. One thing that I had learned in my seven years at UCSF was to not trust the validity of a research paper without first exploring it on my own. This paper in question, like many peer reviewed papers published in scientific journals, turned out to be problematic in a number of ways.
The research paper reported results inconsistently, doing so with the number of deaths from diabetes as well as with several less important issues. It employed Body Mass Index as a measure of obesity even though BMI is a poor surrogate for body fat. The study employed a non-representative population of study subjects, Native Americans from the Pima and Tohono O'odham Tribes who tend to be morbidly obese as adults due to genetic factors. Pima Native Americans, who seem to have made up the largest portion of study subjects, have markedly short life expectancies (47 years by one source). Tohono O'odham Native Americans have a life expectancy that is cited to be more than 6 years shorter than normal. The endpoint used to determine the effect of childhood obesity on health was early deaths. This is a poor choice, not only because the Pima and Tohono Native Americans normally have a short life expectancy, but also because Native Americans who live on reservations are subject to a high rate of alcoholism related deaths, suicides, accidental deaths, murders, and other sources of early death. In the study, such deaths overwhelmed the number of obesity related deaths. The study was finalized 20 years too early to obtain adequate mortality statistics. The average age on follow-up was approximately 35 years while the definition of early mortality used in the study was 55. There were many minor problems in procedure and interpretation as well.
Click here if you wish to
details of the study.
the linked web page, I discuss how the article informs readers
that the 51 most obese
child study entrants, defined by having a statistical z-score above
3.0, incurred no early deaths as adults. The authors minimize
this seeming anomaly (of no deaths in the most obese study entrants)
subjects were slightly younger.
My independent chi-square analysis of the expected death rate in
these subjects (which hould have been significantly greater than
zero) demonstrates much uncertainty on the high side in the reported
increase in early deaths in the highest BMI quartile of child
Two particular factors, emphasized in the New York Times article are very misleading. First, it was inferred that the Pima and Tohono O'odham Native American experience of increased obesity with a high degree of associated morbidity and mortality may portend a similar occurence in other Americans. Pima and Tohono O'odham Native Americans have a very different genetic makeup than Americans of all other races, one that had enabled them to handle a scarcity of food by a very efficient utilization of calories. Their bodies were overwhelmed by their new Americanized diets when they had to switch from a very physical agrarian existence to living on reservations. Most Pima Native Americans normally end up morbidly obese as adults and as many as 80% develop Type 2 diabetes. Fifty percent of adult Tehono O'odham Native Americans develop Type 2 diabetes. The recent average weight gain in Americans is nothing close to what the Pima and Tohono O'odham Native Americans had experienced.
Second, there is much fearmongering about childhood Type 2 diabetes which is extremely rare despite concerns of a childhood obesity epidemic. Glucose intolerance in children is much overplayed. It is seen in 7% of children (2,000,000!) even though less than 0.1% of children develop Type 2 diabetes. These numbers show how it is misleading to conflate the condition of glucose intolerance with pre-diabetes as is done in the article and elsewhere.
Millions who read the news are misled by such articles. Policymakers in the government and other organizations take the reported 2.3-fold higher death rate in Pima and Tehono O'odham adults who were obese as children at face value, even though the study had major flaws. Misinformed policies are inevitable when based upon spurious results. Since the results fit our government's agenda to hype a non-existent childhood obesity epidemic, how could anyone expect politicians to be concerned with the obviously poor scientific quality of the results and conclusions from the study?
Obesity hysteria and early
age body image problems, the "enemy" must be defeated even if we
destroy a million of our own
On June 20, 2011, ABC news highlighted a story describing a 2009 University of Central Florida study that found that nearly half of the 3- to 6-year-old girls surveyed said they worried about being fat. This is a burden placed unnecessarily on America children by relentlessly pontificating anti-obesity crusaders. American children, especially girls, are being set up for a lifetime burden of severe body image and self-esteem problems that will result in numerous cases of bulemia and anorexia. I ask our government, please leave us alone until you have correctly defined a problem and come up with reasonable approaches to solving it.
Balko states, in his introduction to an article
childhood obesity by
Dr. Jon Robison. “A
recent report in the British Journal of Developmental Psychology says
that girls as young as five years old are beginning to have problems
with body image. The authors concluded that the girls "felt
about their weight - partly because of the Government's anti-obesity
message," according to the
London Telegraph. Girls as young as eight are being diagnosed
with eating disorders."
Who cares about 48 million
hungry American's when there are obese people on the loose?
Nutritionists and other authorities have used the popular media to hype their concerns about "junk foods" and the "obesity epidemic." However many ignore the fact that there are over 48 million food insecure individuals in the United States. The tragedy is that dieting and other interventions rarely work to reduce one’s weight over the long run. In fact, they often cause great harm. On the other hand, the problem of food insecurity can be dealt with and alleviated using relatively simple approaches such as promoting the purchase of low-cost high-calorie foods instead of insisting that we purchase more high-cost fruits and vegetables. Increasing Food Stamp and WIC benefits rather than taking them away would be of great help to Americans as well. Food insecure children may suffer from developmental, psychological, and educational problems that have a continued influence during adulthood. Food insecure children also suffer from a higher rate of obesity later during childhood and adulthood. In a tragic paradox, it is substantiated that low birth-weight infants, (see pages 16 - 17 of linked article) that are more common in food insecure mothers end up with a high incidence of childhood and adult obesity.
There are other sane
individuals that decry the unnecessary tragedy that is being heaped on
all of us
J. Eric Oliver is author of the well-written, informative book; Fat Politics: The Real Story Behind the Obesity Epidemic. As a post-doctoral fellow at Yale University, he had set out to learn about and do research on some political aspects of the "obesity epidemic". Feeing a disillusionment that was probably similar to mine, he soon discovered that the so-called "obesity epidemic" does not exist. Fortunately, he followed through on his revised understanding and wrote "Fat Politics" a comprehensive work that debunks the "obesity epidemic" from many angles.
I would like to include a salient passage quoted from pages 11 and 12 of his book. J. Eric Oliver writes: "Ask any of the millions of frustrated dieters in America and they will tell you what molecular biologists have long known -- for many of us, our bodies are quite resistant to being slender. Nor do we have a safe of effective mechanism for helping us lose weight. Indeed, the same doctors, health officials, and medical researchers who have spent the past four decades telling Americans they are too fat have not been able to devise a sound treatment for becoming thin. As a result many Americans are going to extreme measures to make themselves lose weight, such as self-starvation, smoking, taking dangerous appetite suppressants, or even having their stomachs surgically shrunk. Not only are such practices ineffective, they often do more harm than good. Whether it is from a failed diet, a botched gastric-bypass surgery, complications from an eating disorder, or heart damage from diet drugs, every year thousands of Americans are literally dying to be thin."
Continuing, author J. Eric Oliver writes: "Thus with respect to our weights, we have put ourselves into a bind. In calling our growing weight an 'epidemic,' we have created a disease out of a physical symptom that, in turn, we are unable to treat. In calling fat people gluttonous and lazy, we are ascribing moral characteristics to what is largely a biological phenomenon, We are now being told to lose weight without understanding that out fatness is actually an expression of forces that are largely beyond our individual control or our collective will to change. From the misguided equation of thinness and health, millions of Americans are being told to lose weight, which is only likely to make them more miserable and possbly do them great harm."
The epidemiology of overweight and obesity: public health crisis or moral panic? - Article by Paul Campos, Abigail Saguy, Paul Ernsberger, Eric Oliver and Glenn Gaesser.
Healthy Weight Network website - Obesity: Risks and benefits.
THE DEATH OF HUMANE MEDICINE AND THE RISE OF COERCIVE HEALTHISM - Pdf eBook by Petr Skrabanek. ExposŤ of a corrupt, authoritarian, hypermoralistic medical establishment.
Health at Every Size website.
JunkFood Science blog.
Dr. Jon Robison - Holistic Health Promotion and Health At Every Size website.
Dr. Jon Robison's blog - Very astute on debunking food and nutrition myths.
Dr. Jon Robison blog artricle - Food Phobic Nation, a Brief History.
Dr. Jon Robison article that deconstructs
the "Childhood Obesity Epidemic" with forward by Radley Balko.
Linda Bacon, Ph.D. - Health at Every Size website.
Linda Bacon, Ph.D. - Ending Foodie Fat Bashing, a post initially sent to the Community Food Security (Comfood) listserv, and later posted on La Vida Locavore blog, March 2011.
Linda Bacon, Ph.D. - Cutting the Obesity Epidemic Down To Size.
Bacon, L., & Aphramor, L. Weight Science: Evaluating the Evidence for a Paradigm Shift, Nutrition Journal, 2011, 10(9).
Judith Matz, LCSW - Making Peace with food website.
Judith Matz, LCSW - "Why Diets Make You Fatter" article.
Judith Matz & Ellen Frankel - Becoming a Diet Survivor: Q&A with Judith Matz & Ellen Frankel (Diet Survivors Handbook)