On Wednesday, Huffington Post's Highline dropped a beautifully researched long form piece by Seattle journalist Michael Hobbes explaining the grand misconceptions we—but more importantly our m-f-ing doctors—have about the health risks associated with obesity. From the article:
About 40 years ago, Americans started getting much larger. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 80 percent of adults and about one-third of children now meet the clinical definition of overweight or obese. More Americans live with “extreme obesity“ than with breast cancer, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and HIV put together.
And the medical community’s primary response to this shift has been to blame fat people for being fat. Obesity, we are told, is a personal failing that strains our health care system, shrinks our GDP and saps our military strength. It is also an excuse to bully fat people in one sentence and then inform them in the next that you are doing it for their own good.
The piece, titled "Everything You Know About Obesity Is Wrong," is a well-written, empathetic read that reports the demeaning experiences many overweight people have had when trying to get advice from their doctors about non-weight-related concerns. Furthermore, it asserts that pressuring patients to diet doesn't work because diets don't work. Doctors should know about this but "according to a 2015 survey, [medical] students receive an average of just 19 hours of nutrition education over four years of instruction."
Hobbes also co-hosts a history podcast with Portland journalist Sarah Marshall called You're Wrong About.... They put up a new episode yesterday, to coincide with the HuffPo article, that gave Hobbes an opportunity to talk more in-depth about the solid year of research behind the piece. Hobbes is eager to point out, "we all kind of know that diets don’t work."
"That cliche that 95 percent of diets fail," he continues. "That comes from a study that was published in 1959. In 1969, there was a study that showed that if you lose three percent of your body weight your metabolism gets 17 percent slower... We've known for 70 years that what we're doing about the obesity epidemic isn't working."
On the podcast, Hobbes also dishes on some sassier nuggets of info from his background research like: "No country on planet Earth has reduced its obesity ever. We can become a healthier country but we're not gonna become a skinnier one." And "the whole calories in/calories out thing is total nonsense. Calories in/calories out is as credible among endocrinologists as like climate denial is among geologists."
A lot of people have pointed out today that my article doesn't say anything that has not been said by fat people in 50 ways and for 50 years. That is absolutely correct. https://t.co/5YmsnqhrvR
— Michael Hobbes (@RottenInDenmark) September 20, 2018
While it seems unlikely that Hobbes' article will upend the 66 billion dollar U.S. diet industry—or even make everyone I know stop talking about their new "Slim Jim Only" diet plans—it certainly was a good read and the podcast episode a fact-filled delight. And it can still impact YOU. So it looks like diets don't work and you just have to love yourself the way you are. What are you gonna do instead of dieting and being miserable? There are a lot of fun things to do with your time now.