The earth is flat. We all know that. If the earth weren't flat, the level you or your handyperson used to hang that picture in your living room or install your new kitchen cabinets just wouldn't have worked.
If the earth weren't flat, people living in the prairies wouldn't be able to see for "miles and miles" (as The Who used to sing).
If the earth weren't flat, people in Tierra del Fuego would be standing on their heads all the time. For that matter, so would we, seen from the perspective of Tierra del Fuegans.
Right? Right! Wrong.
The thing is, any four year old (at least living in the First World) has seen a 3D version of our world in the form of a globe and knows for a fact that the world is round. Although some people still belong to the Flat Earth Society, I think there is a very broad consensus shared by both lay people and scientists alike that our planet--the world we live in--is actually round.
Notwithstanding this truth, I suspect that over the years, many people were even burned at the stake for daring to say that the earth was round and not flat.
In fact, it took thousands and thousands of years for humankind to admit to this simple fact. Why? Because our eyes don't lie...even though they do.
Controversy is a normal part of the human condition and today's controversial, "out of the mainstream opinion" often becomes an accepted, scientific fact, though it may takes centuries to do so.
Take global warming, for instance. It seems quite obvious to me that global warming is a real phenomenon. As I look out my window this January morning and see the brownish lawn and leafless trees that forty years ago marked the beginning of winter--not the middle, as is the case today!-- I feel quite sure that global warming is something to worry about. But then again, for many (including, I suspect, some of you reading today), global warming is still just a theory--and a very questionable theory at that.
What does all this have to do with weight?
Here's my opinion, based on what I see as the most serious, honest science: when it comes to asserting that losing weight is the only legitimate path to good health, we're still living in the Middle Ages and the world is still definitely flat.
"Common sense" tells us that the lighter we are, the healthier we are. "We all know" that obesity is a sure sign of ill health. "Everyone knows" that there is an obesity epidemic raging out there, and that "for the first time in human history" our "significantly fatter" children are set to live shorter, sicker lives than their parents or grandparents. "You can't deny" that people just weren't fat a hundred years ago.
So says the mainstream. So say Dr. Oz, Dr. Phil, Dr. Dukan, the myriad of weight loss companies out there, the newly slim stars who shill for these companies, the newly re-fat stars who now shill for their own weight loss systems that THIS TIME will make them finally and irrevocably thin because WE ALL KNOW without a shadow of a doubt that SLIM = HEALTHY.
If I had a penny for every time that I read or heard, "I'm losing weight to get healthy", I'd be a rich woman indeed.
In fact, if I had a penny for every time I repeated this mantra to myself, I wouldn't be worried about paying for my kids' education or making sure I have enough money to retire without having to live on dollar-store pasta, canned sauce and cheap, yellow, chemical-laced margarine on white bread.
Unfortunately, and despite a growing body of research to the contrary, our society has reached the apex of the slim = healthy mania. We are bombarded with this message. The media, the "experts", our mother-in-law, our doctors, our friends and neighbours all know the truth. And the truth is that you are fat because you are a lazy, ignorant, weak-willed Twinkie eating slob and you are unhealthy (if not today, then tomorrow or next year) because you are fat.
Remember: all the above is TRUE. And please keep in mind: the earth really is flat.
Tonight, I'll be attending a talk by Dr. Steven Blair, a professor in the Department of Exercise Science at the University of South Carolina and winner of the "Bloomberg Manulife Prize for the Promotion of Active Health". The talk is entitled "How 30 Minutes a Day Could Save Your Life". I'm really looking forward to going and intend to take copious notes. Then I'll report back on why when it comes to weight and health, the earth is actually not flat, no matter what our eyes (and the media and our friends and neighbours) tell us.