Live Long and Eat

Fat DeathPaul Campos is a law professor. And he is not fat. So why he wrote an op-ed about our fucked up ideas of proper body weight, I can’t say. But it is a hell of an article, Our Absurd Fear of Fat. The article discusses a new analysis of data that I’ve been aware of for a while. These data indicate, among other things, that if I want to live a long time, I am better at my new pudgy weight than I was at my old skinny weight.

This paper appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association. But don’t hold that against it. (I’m none too fond of the AMA.) The paper is titled, Association of All-Cause Mortality With Overweight and Obesity Using Standard Body Mass Index Categories: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. What it illustrates is that those that the CDC claims to be over-weight and even the marginal obese actually live longer than those considered “normal.”

Suck on that health nuts!

But really, I don’t care that much. I’m in no hurry to die, but I am glad that it is coming. The idea that I would make myself miserable for the sake of a couple of more years of life is ridiculous. And now I know that the fattening glass of wine I drink each night not only lowers my stress level, it lengthens my life. Bathroom scale: be gone!

I’m most interested in how we got to this place where we tell everyone to be thin “for their own good” even though it is not. And that is where Campos is at his best:

How did we get into this absurd situation? That is a long and complex story. Over the past century, Americans have become increasingly obsessed with the supposed desirability of thinness, as thinness has become both a marker for upper-class status and a reflection of beauty ideals that bring a kind of privilege.

In addition, baselessly categorizing at least 130 million Americans—and hundreds of millions in the rest of the world—as people in need of “treatment” for their “condition” serves the economic interests of, among others, the multibillion-dollar weight-loss industry and large pharmaceutical companies, which have invested a great deal of money in winning the good will of those who will determine the regulatory fate of the next generation of diet drugs.

So not only can we embrace our sagging figure for its health benefits, we can do it to strike a blow against our corporate overloads.

Perhaps we need a slogan: “We’re fat; and fine with that; get used to it!” If you have a better one, let me know.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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