I have now read Paul Campos’ editorial in The New York Times, Our Imaginary Weight Problem, twice. I chose to read it a second time because I originally read it on a day that I read a series of other ridiculous articles published to begin this new year. I wanted to be sure that I didn’t misread it in a biased mental state. It frustrates me to no end. Why does the media have to lie (or distort truth)? The whole ‘problem’ would likely disappear if the media would tell the truth and publish what most qualified professionals already know! Instead of blaming the weight loss industry or pharmaceutics companies, how about bringing it back to science instead of gimmicks and fads that make the industries look bad?
Who’s to blame?
If there is anyone to blame, it would be two groups: the Nixon Era and health insurance companies. The Nixon Era is at fault for highly subsidizing the production of high fructose corn syrup and significantly increasing the availability and affordability of this ‘food’ product. The health insurance companies can be blamed for developing the Body Mass Index (BMI) which is still used in most medical and research communities to this day. BMI is not representative of health – there may be correlations, but correlation does not equate to causation. And to read the research and conclude that body composition has no relationship to medical conditions and/or mortality is a pretty bold judgement.
Who’s living longer?
Campos states himself that research doesn’t account for any other factors that may contribute to mortality. What about the fact that a great majority of America’s overweight/obese population are athletes and physically fit individuals who maintain higher levels of lean muscle mass and take considerable care of their bodies? Are these the ‘overweight/obese’ individuals who are living longer than the ‘normal’ weight individuals?
Who’s going to read NYT and jump for joy?
The unfortunate result of such an editorial is that we will now have individuals read this and tell themselves and others that they do not need to lose weight or become healthy. As a society, we have associated weight with health – we need to separate these two. But the world is ready and anxious to hear, “You don’t need to lose weight. You ARE healthy just as you are!” When health is actually comprised of so many factors.
I have trained many clients who will exercise as much as I ask them to – but will not change eating or drinking habits. They’ll use this research to try and argue with me and justify themselves. I’ve had clients who exercise, eat right, but do illicit drugs – they maintain the excess weight and now have another ‘reason’ to be complacent with the additional weight. Humans are resistant to change and want to hear that they are already doing the right thing – particularly when it relates to health and well-being.
This is yet another bogus claim. Is the weight problem overinflated? The BMI problem and it’s associated labels of overweight and obese is overinflated. If we looked at the whole person, the data and associated research would be a whole lot different. Unfortunately, the science is trying to classify groups of individuals – and seen as we ARE all individuals, it makes it difficult to classify based on such a narrow set of data.
But what do I know? I’m just a girl…and I don’t know anything about Paul Campos. But I do know that I will now read his book, The Obesity Myth: Why America’s Obsession With Weight Is Hazardous to Your Health, and maybe that was his ultimate goal?