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fat and happy?



Wellcome Trust # L0028090

“Countries achieve great progress in economic development as conventionally measured; yet along the way succumb to new crises of obesity, smoking, diabetes, depression, and other ills of modern life.  Affluence has created its own set of afflictions and addictions. Obesity, adult-onset diabetes, tobacco-related illnesses, eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia, psychosocial disorders, and addictions to shopping, TV, and gambling, are all examples of disorders of development.”  Dr. Jeffrey D. Sachs, Professor of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University, from a paper called World Happiness Report

“Just Google “Depression Linked to Obesity” and see what you come up with.”  Dr. Russell SchierlingAlthough many scientists used to say that these two things are linked together genetically, science is increasingly discovering that we are not nearly as defined by our genes as certain genes are turned off or on according to our lifestyle choices, good or bad (HERE).

Has anyone else noticed the increasing number of stories showing up as link-bait on Yahoo’s home page (most of which seem to be coming from the Huffington Post)?  These are typically about people — mostly women — telling us that they are happy even though they are Obese. In one of the more recent articles (I’m Fat – And Ridiculously Happy), the author made statements like (I’m cherry-picking here), “I am fat and I am ridiculously happy. That may just be my personality. My career does involve coaching plus size women to seize the day and embrace their curves. I coach them to be fat and proud; to celebrate the pleasure their fat bodies are capable of — so maybe that makes me happy.  We are…. having lots and lots of amazingly connected and intimate relationships and lots of hot sex.  Not everyone was meant to be a skinny girl. I can’t even imagine how boring that would be. I love every ounce of myself, my fat doesn’t define me as a person.

On the flip side of the coin, we have the relatively new phenomenon of online “Fat Shaming” articles (or maybe it’s just the the term itself is new). This came to the forefront with the ‘Workout Mom’ (Maria Kang) and her now infamous “What’s Your Excuse?” poster taken with her three young children — a pic that got her banned from Facebook for ‘Fat Shaming’.  It was followed by any number of women posting pictures of themselves online with captions like, “I Have a Kid, a Six-Pack, and No Excuse.”  The latest thing is for women to put up a picture showing their physique and / or midsection on social media, mere days — or even hours — after having a baby.  I was actually accused of ‘Fat Shaming’ myself by a physician (female) after THIS POST about unhealthy doctors.  Today’s post is not intended to fall into either camp.

I’ve known any number of people who are paralyzed, dying of CANCER, debilitated by CHRONIC AUTOIMMUNE DISEASES, or struggling with CHRONIC PAIN, who are quite happy.  I would also have to say that these people are happy in spite of their problems, and not because of them.  My FATHER IN LAW who lived nearly all his life with Post-Polio Syndrome definitely fell into this camp.  While I completely agree that people can be both fat and happy; based on 25 years of clinical experience, I can also assure you that people are rarely if ever happy because they are fat.   Despite many of those from the first group invoking the FAT BUT FIT argument, there are plenty of reasons that the medical community voted nearly two years ago to categorize Obesity as a “disease” — a disease that is often referred to as an “epidemic” here in America because it’s almost universally thought of as our nation’s number one public health crisis.  We’ll get to that in a moment, but first I want to take a look at at what studies on the subject reveal.

With almost 30% of our citizens being considered, by definition, “Obese”, and the first article above revealing that 67% of our population is overweight, we should be able to go to the peer-reviewed literature and find out something about the way people in these categories see / perceive themselves.  One of the first things to catch my eye was something stated in a Gallup Poll on Obesity.  “Reducing obesity rates could unlock a bevy of economic and societal benefits including lower costs to employers. But despite the issue’s ample media attention…, obesity rates have not declined.”   Not only have costs not declined, they are skyrocketing.  If you add this to the fact that Americans are spending tens of billions a year on WEIGHT LOSS, you should begin to realize that it all adds up to something I would not exactly describe as a “happy” equation.  It reveals to me that we live in a society that is both addicted and dealing with lots of underlying health issues. 

Obesity is not a lifestyle choice.  I’m not saying that people’s habits or lifestyle choices don’t matter or that they can’t potentially lead to Obesity.  I’m saying that given the choice, people don’t really want to be Obese.  The fact that 2 of 3 of us are overweight, reveals to me the power of America’s number one ADDICTION.  The majority of the people out there, whether fat or thin, know that they shouldn’t be eating JUNK FOOD and drinking SODA POP (or as one of the women I read about today said, eating cake).  But they do it anyway, even though it makes them feel terrible about themselves.  This is the nature of “addiction,” and the excuses we use to justify them are legion.  And don’t kid yourself, if we’ve learned nothing else over the course of the last decade, we’ve learned that REFINED CARBS are nothing less than “DIETARY CRACK“.  This leads to any number of visible blood sugar regulation issues (METABOLIC SYNDROME, HYPOGLYCEMIA, DIABETES, HIGH CHOLESTEROL, and even something called MONW).   All are intimately associated with Obesity.

Now throw in some ANTIBIOTICS and watch what happens (HERE).  Antibiotics are purposely given to commercially-raised livestock — even when they aren’t sick (HERE).  Why?  For the simple reason that it is a well known fact that destroying the good bacteria that live in The Gut leads to weight gain via a process known in the medical field as DYSBIOSIS.  This is the same reason that DEPRESSION is linked to Dysbiosis as well as Obesity (HERE). 

And as for the whole sex issue brought up in the first article in the post…..   I would never say that it is not possible for overweight or Obese people to have, “lots of hot sex“.  I would, however, say that at the author’s stated age of 47 years old, she is living on borrowed time in this area of her life.  Obesity catches up to people in an almost unlimited number of ways, and SEXUAL DYSFUNCTION is just one of them (HERE).  

For you women, this Sexual Dysfunction will start in the form of something called PCOS — widely believed to be the number one ‘female’ problem facing modern American women.  For you men, it will be probably start with being unable to achieve or maintain an erection (HERE).  In most cases this is just the piper collecting what’s owed him.  Nobody gets away with bad habits forever, even though some people’s bodies happen to be better at giving the appearance of staving off the inevitable.  To better grasp the fact that Obesity is not conducive to hot sex over the long haul, see QUALITY OF LIFE, SEXUAL DYSFUNCTION, AND OBESITY, as well as OBESITY, DEPRESSION, LOSS OF LIBIDO, AND POOR GUT HEALTH.  For the record, after extensive review of the peer-reviewed literature, I have yet to find a poll (formal or otherwise) or study that links Obesity to a higher level of function or satisfaction in any area of life.


The problem as I see it, is that this conversation is occurring between people who are at the very ends of the spectrum.   Another article — again from HuffPo (Being Thin Didn’t Make Me Happy, But Being ‘Fat’ Does) —- is a great example of what I’m talking about.  The author, who during the time she was writing about was raising three children, working, weighed all of 123 pounds, and had the following to say about her quest to achieve bodily perfection.  “I attained it by eating a ‘plentiful’ 1,000 calories a day; by running 35 miles a week (10 on Sunday); by sleeping an average of three hours a day; by counting every bit of food I ate, down to a single cherry tomato; by writing and tracking my weight every day for a year; by running the stairs of the hospital during my 12-hour shifts; by losing my period; by denying myself food when I was hungry; by denying myself sleep.”   Striving for such an elusive goal was simply too much, and she found herself increasingly disenchanted and miserable, eventually coming to the conclusion that she would rather be fat. 

After gaining a significant amount of weight (there are before-and-after pics with the article) she felt much better about herself, saying that the world, “wants you to believe that you’re only worthy of love and life if you are beautiful. And beautiful people just aren’t fat. Or maybe they are.”   This is the message of 2001’s Shallow HalIn the movie, life guru Tony Robbins hypnotizes Hal (Jack Black) — a chronic skirt chaser who only cares about women’s physical attributes — leaving him only able to see what a woman looks like according to her inner beauty (or inner ugliness as the case might be).  Hal falls in love with the movie’s Obese protagonist (Rosemary — Gwyneth Paltrow) and in the movie’s final scene, she carries him to the car because he can’t lift her. 

While stories or movies like this are admirable on a humanitarian “feel good” level, they fail to find that “middle ground”.  For instance, later in the article, we learn that the author is BIPOLAR (Antidepressants and similar drugs used for treating Bipolarity, Anxiety, Schizophrenia, etc, etc, etc, are widely known as “anti-aphrodisiacs” for their adverse effects on libido — HERE, as well as being notorious for making the people on them gain weight).  We also learn that she was eating foods she hated (spray on butter and rice cakes).  The absurd amount of exercise she was doing, coupled with an extremely low calorie (and possibly TOO HIGH IN CARBS) diet was more than likely driving her into ADRENAL FATIGUE and destroying her BRAIN (your brain needs GOOD FATS, and lots of them to function properly).

Just last week, the latest edition of one of the oldest and most prestigious medical journals in the world, The Lancet, released a paper called Global Failure to Reverse Obesity Epidemic Demands New Ways of Thinking.Lead author, Harvard’s Christina Roberto, assistant professor of social and behavioral sciences and nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and colleagues call the view that obesity is driven by either personal choice or the environment a false dichotomy, and suggest that these competing perspectives be merged to show the reciprocal relationship between the individual person and the places where they live and eat.

The reason that their model is and always will be a “false dichotomy” has to do with the fact that they are not thinking of Obesity in terms of INFLAMMATION.  Because Obesity, DEGENERATIVE ARTHRITIS, Bipolarity, Depression, Adrenal Fatigue (think BELLY FAT here), as well as every single one of the other diseases mentioned in this post all share a common denominator (HERE), a failure to deal with this common denominator will whittle away at both the mind and the body.  Knowledge is power, and if you can’t get a handle on Inflammation, solving (or preventing) the myriad of health problems intimately associated with it will prove virtually impossible.  

The first author we looked at in today’s post made this statement, “My fat gives me the opportunity to laugh at everyone struggling to be skinny?  Please realize that skinny is never a healthy goal.  You don’t have to be a size ____ (enter your perfect dream size here) to be healthy or happy.  But going through life overweight or Obese is not something that people who are being honest with themselves can really get excited about; and in light of the information provided in this post, there’s no conceivable way to argue that it’s healthy. 

If you want to grow old enjoying sex with your spouse, spending time with your grand kids, and maintaining your mental capacity, Obesity is not the best vehicle for getting there.  Even for those of you who are extremely happy despite your weight issues, just realize there’s a better way — a way to get to a normal weight that does not involve starvation or absurd amounts of exercise (HERE).  If you are looking for long-term solutions to your health and weight issues, take just a moment to read THIS POST


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