Thursday, January 6, 2011

"Doctor Urges New View on Obesity"

I just ran across this article, entitled "Doctor Urges New View of Obesity", via Obesity Panacea. Dr. Arya Sharma is scientific director of the Canadian Obesity Network.

Here is a quote from the article:

"I think one of the biggest misconceptions when we talk about obesity in general is that obese people are obese largely because of their lifestyles and because of the way that they live," Dr. Arya Sharma of the University of Alberta, told CBC News.

Sharma points to studies where people's eating and activity are carefully monitored. They show that some people can eat an additional 1,000 calories per day and not gain a gram, while others would gain five to six kilograms over a six-week period.

"There's a huge variability in how people can cope with extra calories," he said in an interview with CBC News.

He says people who tend to pack on the pounds simply have bodies that burn calories very efficiently and store the excess as fat.

"They just take their extra calories, they don't even burn them because they're very fuel efficient, they'll just store those calories and they'll put them away."

This of course goes against the views of the dieting world, which essentially believes that anyone whose BMI is not perfect has gotten into this mess simply by stuffing their "piehole" (as one of the highly articulate commenters to the article said) to excess with junk food.

Indeed, if a visitor to our planet read through many (if not most?) dieting blogs, they would come away with the impression that overweight people are by definition lazy, junk food eating slobs.

The reason I keep my diet blog reading to a minimum is because I don't see myself in these blogs. Nor do I see the people around me in them, despite our embonpoint (a fancy-shmancy way of saying fat).

Read this article about Dr. Sharma and his revolutionary views on overweight. Then just try to eat a reasonably healthy diet in reasonable portions, take the stairs more often, take public transit instead of your car if at all possible, try to get a nice walk in as often as you can. That's all.

Then again, you might agree with the vitriol in the comments section.

Up to you.


  1. I am one of those genetically cursed ones. I not only have autoimmune conditions (and one of them killed my thyroid, a scarred lump now), but I sent away for a DNA test and it said I had the obesity markers--I hold onto fat and absorb it more than normal, I don't realease it easily, so regular exercise does squat for weight loss for me and i have to do high intensity exercise, etc.

    I suspected I was a mess, as all my siblings were skinny and I was not, and we ate the same breakfast, dinners, and weekend lunches.

    Even when I was active as a teen, I was on the higher end of normal--I swam, I biked, I walked, I did yoga, I did aerobics. Still could not get under 135, which is normal weight, but not slim (I still had a poochy tummy and fleshy thighs).

    I got to 300. I'm now 233.6. I don't lose weight as fast as many, but if I cut calorie I lose. I'll lose only to where I can stabilize and eat somewhat satisfyingly, but I know I can never eat with abandon. Never. I'm a conditioned overeater and I have a slow metabolism (DNA verified, thyroid verified), and I'm by nature a bookworm/couch potato. HOllywood slim is not in my destiny.

    So, all I want is to get close to normal weight, and live on whatever weight I can maintain at about 1600 to 1700 calories (which is not a lot, mind you).

    I've consistently lost weight when I ate less. I consistently gained weight when I ate without thought. I have no choice but to choose to stay fat and get fatter or modify my caloric intake. My DNA is against me, but I can still progress to where my body lets me feasibly progress. 300 pounds is me eating what the hell I want. Maybe I can only reasonably go to 180..which is still fat, but not obese. Then that's where I can go and I accept it.

    But accepting 300 pounds cause I have A, B, C conditions and I'm a fuel-efficient fat hoarder--that would be giving up and being stoopid

  2. Hi Princess,

    I get where you're coming from. Eating responsibly and mindfully is the best we can do. And believe me, with all my ailments, I understand what it means to not be a quitter!

  3. I think people misinterpret the value of this sort of information. Those who aren't overweight (or who are but full of self-loathing) think this is about science "letting fat people off the hook". They view this information only from the perspective of how it undermines their justifications for viewing overweight people in a highly judgmental and prejudicial fashion.

    The value of this information is in treatment. It's a path to understanding that the whole "one size fits all" notion of "calories in/calories out" with tables of calorie consumption for your height and required values for losing weight are wrong. It's a way for doctors to see that every patient who claims he or she is eating at a certain level is not lying or "cheating" when they fail to lose weight but rather that such people may require a different (and far harder approach).

    Of course, the bottom line is that this information says that thin people can eat like horses and not get fat and fat people can eat like birds and still remain fat. This is the scariest reality for people because they refuse to accept the unfairness of it as it undermines their ability to feel superior simply because they don't easily gain weight. If it's about fuel efficiency, then the rug is pulled out from under people who think they have greater self-control and "willpower" to thank for their trim physiques. And that is why people will never accept this as having validity.

  4. Thank you SFG. Your analysis is spot on.

  5. Mind if I point out some reporter bias/irony? Look at the first two sentences below that were juxtaposed, one right after the other. The first is a direct quote from Dr. Sharma, the second is the reporter's transition sentence to a new thought.

    "Some people are just naturally lean. They can have crappy lifestyles and it doesn't seem to affect them."

    Sharma believes the key to maintaining a healthy weight, is maintaining a healthy lifestyle. One of the most important points he drives home is the need for a healthy breakfast.

    My guess is that he said NOTHING about maintaining a healthy weight. He probably said that health is an issue of lifestyle REGARDLESS of weight. But the reporter is so blinded by cultural mythology that she pulled out a pat line that appears in nearly every weight-related article. Yeesh.

  6. Ever the keen observer, Debra. Thanks!