About six months ago, I started reading Dr. Arya Sharma's blog with great interest and often great delight. Dr. Sharma, who is chair in obesity research and management at the University of Alberta, seemed to have a lot of interesting things to say. In particular, I was struck by his ability to step outside the usual and uselessly simplistic "calories-in, calories-out" paradigm to see the bigger (and vastly more complex) picture of weight, overweight and weight management. I considered Dr. Sharma to be one of the few nuanced voices in the field--someone who accepted that summarizing good health in a BMI number is far from the truth.
Well, something's changed.
I have noticed in recent posts that Dr. Sharma feels the need to take a more mainstream position when it comes to weight and health. Today's post (which I will not link to) discusses the similarities between those he terms "obesity deniers" and those who question the ill-effects of smoking on health. I won't go into any details. If you really want to read what he wrote yourself, please feel free to do so. Personally, I am appalled (although it is worth reading to then read the comments that deftly deconstruct his essentially fallacious arguments).
I can only hypothesize that Dr. Sharma's move towards the more conventional view that good health cannot be decoupled from an "acceptable" weight is perhaps the result of his close connection with the Canadian Obesity Network and its recent symposium. Perhaps, in the wake of the conference, he's on an "obesity epidemic/panic" high. It reminds me of the ten days I spent travelling with a federally appointed panel examining violence against women. After ten days of hearing nothing but stories of violence and abuse, I came home feeling that no man could ever be trusted and that all women were at risk. Perhaps after spending many months preparing for the conference and then spending several days hearing about morbidly obese, junk-food addicted diabetics who can barely walk from the couch to the TV, I too might feel that "health at every size" is a load of bunk. I don't know. It's just a hypothesis.
Facing a Dying Nation
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