Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Nature Medicine Reinforces the Obesity is Gluttony Narrative (@naturemedicine)


While I'm sure the intent was innocent, I was sad to see the infographic up above which highlighted Nature Medicine's Metabolic Syndrome Supplement (for non scientist and MD readers, Nature Medicine is one of the world's most prominent, peer reviewed, medical journals).

Yes, excess dietary intake leads to obesity, which in turn fuels metabolic syndrome, but the use of multiple large pieces of chocolate cake to represent intake just stokes the fire of weight bias and the belief that excess intake is consequent to simple gluttony.

This year, when you write or chat or think about obesity, why not take a moment and think about how you're characterizing it, and whether or not you too, perhaps unconsciously and inadvertently, are cultivating classic weight bias and stereotyping?

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  1. Hey Yoni,
    Over the holidays we stopped at a Quiznos for lunch while travelling home from Quebec City, and I ordered the "regular" veggie sandwich. When I got home, I checked the calorie content - it was 790 calories for this innocuous, ordinary looking sandwich! I was thinking about it, and it keeping with what you are saying about this infographic, the problem with our crazy food world is not even that it tempts people to eat "too much." In the above case, the sandwich was not "too much" in terms of its size or its satiety factors. In fact, it was not particularly filling. Rather it had too much energy in it relative to its size and nutritional value. So people are not even necessarily "over-eating." They are just eating food with toxic levels of calories that don't sate hunger or provide nutrients. Crazy food world indeed. Those who become obese are not necessarily over-eating; they may just be more sensitive to the junk food that thin people are also eating!


  2. Another problem is that they define *central* obesity by BMI. Why not use abdominal circumference?

  3. Anonymous9:44 am

    That's pretty typical. All of us obese people eat nothing but junk food and sweets. Sigh.

    At my heaviest [370lbs] I ate a healthy, well balanced diet with minimal exposure to junk and fast foods. The reason why I was obese is because even on a healthy diet I ate too much of it. Instead of 1 portion, I'd have to have 5 to feel satisfied. I was always hungry and never satisfied.

    WLS [RNY] solved that problem. I am now FINALLY satisfied with only 1 portion and I'm not hungry all the time.

  4. that diagram is terrifying. all those diseases...

  5. It's disappointing but not surprising. Things are changing but those old narratives are ingrained in our culture like fairytales. People comment on obesity and overeating while in the next breath commenting that I'm lucky to have such 'good genes' that make me slender!

    Meanwhile I was watching a travel doco on Africa, where in a remote village market some very generously proportioned women sat behind stalls laden with fresh fruit and vegetables, narry a junk food store within a thousand miles.