Tag Archives: obese

Should the Boy Scouts Add a “Weight Cycling” Badge?

Proposed (by me) "Weight Cycling" patch

Proposed (by me) “Weight Cycling” patch

In the wake of my previous blog post about BMI and the Boy Scouts of America (BSOA), I’ve been reading some responses.  And the responses I’ve been reading by various members and officials within the BSOA are troubling to say the very least.  Let me give you some examples:

1.  We haven’t turned anybody away because of BMI.  In an article found in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Adult leader Ron Blasak states, “there was no one in the Greater Cleveland Council who was turned away because of a BMI issue.”  However, Blasak also admits that it’s possible “that someone read the requirements and shied away.”  To which I reply, hmmm.  Do you think so?  Do you think that plastering BMI requirements all over the marketing materials and saying they will be strictly enforced just might make a kid fear that he will be shamed and ridiculed at this shindig?  Do you find it surprising that your average 13-year-old might choose not to trap himself miles away from civilization with people who are convinced he can’t do anything?

2. We’re turning away kids with high BMI for their own good.  In that same article, Blasak also states, “Overweight boys would have a tough time getting around and probably wouldn’t have much fun.”  I have to wonder what evidence he is using to form this conclusion.  BMI is a simple calculation based on height and weight.  It doesn’t tell you anything about the fitness level of a potential participant.  A Scout with a BMI in the “ideal” range may be very unfit and may be at greater risk than a stouter scout who exercises more and has greater functional fitness.  Assuming that all the overweight kids will be miserable is just that, an assumption.  And we all know what happens when you ASSuME.

We’ve given the scouts plenty of time to get thin.  In many of the articles I’ve read, BSOA spokespeople are quick to  point out that they released these health requirements two years in advance of the Jamboree, which should give the scouts plenty of time to get fit and achieve an acceptable BMI.  In an article published by Fox News, BSOA spokesperson Deron Smith states:

“We published our height-weight requirements years in advance and many individuals began a health regimen to lose weight and attend the jamboree.  But, for those who couldn’t, most self-selected and chose not to apply.”

To which I say, “You got it half right, but 50 percent is still a failing grade.”  Over a two year period, it may be reasonable for a young person to make significant changes to their overall conditioning and fitness level.  We know how to do that.  What we don’t know how to do is make a fat kid into a thin kid–at least over the long term.  We can make a fat kid into a thin kid temporarily.  We might even get the timing right and make that fat kid thin at just the right moment to pass his physical and enjoy the Jamboree.  But when we look at the statistics for that kid staying thin over the long haul, the success rates are dismal.  So instead of teaching fat Scouts how to become thin scouts, we are teaching them the amazing, adult-level skill of weight cycling.  This is the process of losing weight, gaining it all back plus a little more, losing weight, gaining it all back plus a little more and so on and so on.  In fact, this process of BMI busting in order to make Jamboree weight seems ideally suited to the process of weight cycling.  That’s what led me to suggest that maybe the BSOA should just make a “weight cycling” badge and be done with it.  (Please see proposed badge design above.)

And what can I say about “self-selected and chose not to apply” other than “see point 1 of this blog”?  Yup, if you tell pudgy kids and chubby kids and fat kids that they are not welcome in enough ways, with enough 14 point bold print on your website, they will ultimately get the message, “Don’t bother to apply, because we don’t want you.”

But the real story is not in the rhetoric that is flying back and forth on the airwaves and in cyberspace.  The real story is the way that this policy will affect the lives of real kids.  Kids like the one referenced in this recent NAAFA press release:

One mother reported to NAAFA in 2009 that her son was having issues attending Philmont High Adventure Boy Scout Camp in Cimmaron, NM.  “Philmont has a weight standard and anyone over this standard is labeled unhealthy and cannot participate.  I tried to explain to them that my son plays football, wrestles and runs relays, shot put, discus thrower, in track & field and a weight lifter.  During the summer he swims, weightlifts and conditions for football. He has been conditioning for Philmont by hiking for 2-3 hours with a 50 pound pack on his back for the last 2 months.  He weighs 261 lbs. and has been eating a 1200 – 1400 calorie diet trying to lose weight.  Unfortunately he only lost 3 pounds… According to Philmont medical staff if he doesn’t weigh below 246, he will be sent home.  It didn’t matter to them if he is active, only his weight number.  I have watched my son condition for football and he can run circles around other players that are what society deems healthy.”

This is why this is such a big deal.  We have kids who really want to go, who have put in the long hours of training required to be physically prepared for the challenge, who are probably in far better physical condition than many of their younger counterparts who are told, “go home fatty.”  Given the rise in eating disorders among young men, I have a hard time understanding not only how this is considered reasonable, but also, how it can be considered responsible.

Maybe we need to help the BSOA along a little and propose some new HAES-friendly, body-positive awards.  Got any ideas?  I’d love to hear your proposals for new BSOA awards patches that are more likely to help young men accept and care for the bodies they already have and learn to feel comfortable in the skin they are in.  Feel free to post your ideas in the comments below!

Love,

The Fat Chick

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Prof with poor impulse control wishes he hadn’t tweeted about will power, part the second

Cat Pause, who recently created a new tumbler feed featuring fat PhD's. Nyah!

Cat Pause, who recently created a new tumbler feed featuring fat PhD’s. Nyah!

So, yeah.  I’ve been continuing to follow the saga of Dr. Geoffrey Miller and day two of what just might be his worst week ever.  In case you missed it, this whole thing started when Dr. Miller tweeted:

Dear obese PhD applicants: if you don’t have the willpower to stop eating carbs, you won’t have the willpower to do a dissertation. #truth

Cue the poo storm of epic proportions. It’s enough to keep writers at Jezebel, HuffPo, Jane and Bitch magazines happily scribbling for weeks.  I mean we are talking about worldwide calls for Game of Thrones-style retribution here.  But amongst all the yelling, are some very interesting developments.

First, there’s this video response from Miller’s colleague and UNM Psychology Department Chairwoman, Prof. Jane Ellen Smith.

It is interesting to note that Professor Smith seems to take this whole tweeting business pretty darn seriously.  But right in the middle of the video, she reveals the third-act-dramatic-twist! Professor Smith says that Dr. Miller is now claiming that the whole tweeting business was part of an “research study” he was running.

Riiiiight.

So were his initial support  tweets of his original hate tweet followed by his hasty apology about his original hate tweet followed his frantic tweet declaring that of course neither he nor the university actually follow any practices that might be implied by his original hate tweet all part of the “social experiment” as well?  Was it part of his experiment to close down his twitter feed to all outside viewers who are not confirmed followers part of the experiment?   140 characters isn’t a lot to work with, but somehow I think this dude still doth protest too much. I am encouraged that Prof. Smith says she’s going to look into the validity of his claim.

It’s amazing just how much passion has been stirred up over this whole thing.  I am really, really excited to tell you about a new blog started by Dr. Cat Pausé called Fuck yeah! Fat PhDs all about being fatlicious in academia.  In this blog she is posting images of fat people in academia, many of whom somehow managed to get accepted into a program, complete coursework, finish their dissertations and walk up to the platform to receive their diplomas all while sporting bodies above a BMI of 25.  Imagine that!

Look, I don’t know Dr. Miller.  I can only comment on the things that I see.  And what I see is a guy that didn’t have enough will power to wait 30 seconds to consider his life, his career and his responsibilities as a human being before hitting the send button on a hateful one hundred odd characters all about, wait for it, will power.  His apologies and the subsequent “social experiment” defense, seem a little suspect to me.

So, if Dr. Miller wants me to believe in his sincerity, he’s going to have to put some actions behind those hundred character mea culpa statements.  Let me know that he’s read some of the brilliant writing about Fat Stigma from such visionary teachers, researchers and writers as:

Amy Erdman Farrell, Dickinson University, author of Fat Shame: Fat Stigma and the Body in American Culture

or

Abigail C. Saguy, UCLA, author of What’s Wrong with Fat?

or

Dr. Linda Bacon, UC Davis, author of Health At Every Size: The Surprising Truth About your Weight

of course, if he’s still confused about Health At Every Size or Fat Stigma, I would be happy to come and speak on the topic at any of the universities he’s affiliated with.  Or they could hire any of my many amazing colleagues like Ragen Chastain, Golda Poretsky or Marilyn Wann to speak.  If he actually makes some kind of attempt to learn from his mistake by spending just a little time listening to those of us who have spent decades doing actual, you know, science around this topic, I might be inclined to believe him.

Maybe.

Or maybe I’ll just tweet about it.

Love,

The Fat Chick

 

Love,

The Fat Chick

Like my posts?  You’ll love my stuff!

Buy my book: The Fat Chick Works Out! (Fitness that is Fun and Feasible for Folks of All Ages, Shapes Sizes and Abilities)–available in softcover and e-book versions

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Dear Dr. Terrible Your Bigotry is Showing…

professorterribleRan across this in my facebook feed today and almost wanted to cry.  This tweet from Evolutionary Psychology Professor at NYU & U. New Mexico Dr. Geoffrey Miller is really special.  It states:

Dear obese PhD applicants: if you don’t have the willpower to stop eating carbs, you won’t have the willpower to do a dissertation. #truth

Here’s somebody who is at least in theory, well educated and yet he felt that he needed to tweet that absolute garbage.  Since the tweet has gone viral, he has taken it down and apologized.  But in my opinion, that is way too little and way too late.  Plus, I have to say, I find the apology a little bit suspect.  Here, let me interpret for you.

Dr. Miller states:

My sincere apologies to all for that idiotic, impulsive, and badly judged tweet. It does not reflect my true views, values, or standards.

Which means, “Oh crap, I could possibly get fired for this.  I’d better retract my statement ASAP.  I’ll just say I didn’t really mean it.  That will work, right?”

Dr. Miller goes on to state:

Obviously my previous tweet does not represent the selection policies of any university, or my own selection criteria.

Which means, “Upon further reflection (or after some very tense phone calls) I realize that some of the folks who were rejected for anything by me or any of the universities at which I teach may be somewhat upset.  In fact, they may just sue us into financial oblivion.”

So hey Dr. Miller, here’s my tweet to you:

Nobody believes your stupid and transparently self serving apology. #Find a good lawyer

I can find no excuse for this sort of behavior.  None. This guy is supposed to be a teacher.  This guy is supposed to be a scientist.  And he’s drawing this conclusion based on what evidence?  None.  He doesn’t like fat people, therefore they are lazy and incapable of doctoral level work.  Oh except, not really.  He didn’t really mean it.

The fact that this guy clearly gets to make decisions about who gets to apply for a PhD is utterly terrifying to me.  And speaking of terrified, I hope that both Professor Prejudice and his university are currently shaking in their shoes.  Even if an actual lawsuit from a student who was turned away from the  university is not forthcoming, I think might just be the opening breezes of a PR poopmageddon about to go down.  In fact, I think there needs to be a social media storm of biblical proportions over this tweet.  Do you hear that my dear readers?  Let’s start twittering and peeping and let our voices be heard!  This is a rare opportunity to talk about bias at the highest levels of our learning institutions.  This is an opportunity for us to educate the educators.  Let’s get the conversation started and keep it rolling!

Love,

The Fat Chick

Like my posts?  You’ll love my stuff!

Buy my book: The Fat Chick Works Out! (Fitness that is Fun and Feasible for Folks of All Ages, Shapes Sizes and Abilities)–available in softcover and e-book versions

Buy my DVD: The Fat Chick Works Out! (A Safe, Easy and Fun Workout for Klutzes, Wimps and Absolute Beginners!)

Buy a book or a DVD for a friend and save $5!  Just enter FRIENDBLFT in the discount code box!

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Only Fat People Need to Walk: As Indicated by Blue Cross Program

Study showing healthy habits most important for health outcomes.

Study showing healthy habits most important for health outcomes in ALL weight categories.

Oh dear.  I think it’s going to be hard to keep up with all of the discriminatory practices being rolled out by insurance companies to punish those who are fat.  But this new announcement from Blue Cross Network is really above and beyond.

Blue Cross recently announced that its program, offering cash discounts to obese members who agreed to add 5,000 steps a day and be measured via a pedometer was a “success”.  Discounts were significant–representing a cost savings of up to $2,000 per year per family.  Apparently these “discounts” were not offered to anybody who was not obese.  But Blue Cross is claiming success, due to the fact that most of those who enrolled in the program were still walking one year later.

I particularly love the fact that despite the fact that Blue Cross of Minnesota cites this press release as its source, the headline for their online blurb reads, “Money Motivates Weight Loss, One Step at a Time”.  I went back to the original press release.  I read it twice. Not one word is said in that press release about weight loss.  NOT ONE SINGLE WORD.  Holy “make it up as you go” reporting, Batman!  It is possible that there is some mention of the press release in the study announcing the findings.  But there is absolutely no mention of weight loss in the abstract.  And in my experience, were weight loss found in the study, it would be in the title of the study and the first sentence of the abstract.  If anybody has access to the full study, I’d love to know if this holds true.  But in any case, the piece on the Blue Cross webpage did not cite the study but rather the press release as its source.

Now, all of this leaves me with a few key questions.  First and foremost, is walking only beneficial to fat people?  Why in the world are they only offering this incentive to people qualified as “obese”?  There are so many studies that show that modest exercise is beneficial to everybody’s health.  And there’s plenty of evidence showing that healthy habits and not weight loss is what is needed to improve health outcomes?  So why are only fat people singled out for this treatment?  And are these actually “discounts” or are we really talking about being rescued from “fat penalties” not being faced by other insurance network members?

It’s also interesting to note that obese members were allowed to choose between this walking program (created by online biometric site, Walking Spree) or Weight Watchers.  Look, I would clearly pick a walking program over Weight Watchers any day of the week, but I wonder if these “obese persons” were interviewed to see if they had been exercising before this incentive was offered.  Were these people actually sedentary?  What about fit fatties like me who already exercise nearly every day?  Were we offered the same price increases/incentives?  Would I be expected to add this onto my already active exercise program?  Do I have to exercise three times as much as a thin person in order for my exercise incentives to “count” and my discounts to kick in?

I also find it extremely instructive that the first line of the press release reads as follows:

It was a controversial move when a health insurer began requiring people who were obese to literally pay the price of not doing anything about their weight – but it worked, a new study finds.

Okay.  First let’s look at the “not doing anything about their weight” line.  How do we know they weren’t doing anything about their weight?  We know that diet and weight loss attempts fail most of the time in the long term.  Some suggest they fail over 90 percent of the time.  So by “not doing anything about their weight” do we mean that people refused to engage in the dangerous practice of weight cycling? Do we know that people weren’t eating well or exercising before and that they are doing those things now?  Do we know that they were sedentary before and are now active?  Or were some of these people active before and have simply shifted to a less rigorous form of exercise (walking) than before in order to receive a discount on their health insurance?

It’s also interesting to note how the release defines “success”.  Again, nowhere in the release does it state that people lost weight.  Nowhere in the release does it state that there were positive health outcomes or lower healthcare costs.  In fact the final line of the release states:

“Comprehensive evaluations are needed to determine whether participation in these programs translates to meaningful changes in health and costs of health care.”

Overall, I have to state that this press release, issued by the University of Michigan Health System is astonishingly devoid of detail, definition or real facts.  While positively gleeful about the fact that most of the people who elected to participate in this program remained participants for over a year, it really leaves us with more questions than answers.  Did people who didn’t like the coercive nature of the program leave the network for a different insurer?  What were the changes in attitude towards exercise among participants?  Did they grow to like exercise more or see it as a punishment?  What are the long term effects on attitudes towards exercise?  And finally, why are we singling out fat people for this program?  Don’t thin people need to exercise too?

Aaaaaargh!

I guess I’m pretty worked up here.  Maybe I’d better go for a walk to blow off some steam.  Because some of us fat people go for walks even without “finger-wagging”, “pedometer-wielding”, “biometric-tracking” moralists telling us to do so.

Love,

The Fat Chick

P.S. If you’re looking for a form of exercise that doesn’t come with doom and gloom weight loss messages or any finger wagging whatsoever, you might enjoy buying a copy of my DVD.  And if you are a member of the Fit Fatties Forum, you’ll receive a special discount.  Just click here to order and type FFBL in the discount code box!

Teenage Boy “Diagnosed Fat”–Infection Missed

chart2How many times have we heard this same story?  A vibrant, active young man goes to the doctor, in this case, with knee pain.  The doctor does a routine test and doesn’t see a problem.  The doctor does see a young man who fits into an “undesirable” segment of the BMI chart.  The solution, the young man is diagnosed as fat, is told that his “extra weight” is probably causing the pain in his knee and sent home.  Now Kaleb is an active kid.  He plays rugby, and he loves to sail.  But once the doctor sees Kaleb’s place on the BMI scale, he just might think something like this: “Aha!  I don’t have to say that I don’t know what’s wrong with this kid’s knee.  I can write obesity in the kid’s chart and then we have a diagnosis!”

Unfortunately, in Kaleb’s case there was another diagnosis besides “fat” to be found.  A short while later, he was taken to the hospital via ambulance after he fell down some steps.  At that point, he was referred to a specialist that he saw two weeks later.  The specialist ordered an MRI and during the scan they found a serious bone infection.  Kaleb was scheduled for emergency surgery the same night.  He is recovering well.  So thankfully, the story has a happy ending.

But how much pain could have been avoided without the “fat diagnosis”? It appears that had this infection been detected earlier, it could have been treated with antibiotics rather than emergency surgery.  Now there’s no guarantee that had Kaleb been thin, they would have found the infection sooner.  They might have still sent him home and told him to take some aspirin and take it easy.  Thin people are misdiagnosed too.  But I’ve heard time and time again about people who are “diagnosed fat” and sent home.  Remember this guy who was diagnosed fat, and it turned out to be a brain tumor?  Remember his emergency surgery?  I wonder if doctors, frustrated by a lack of diagnosis and discouraged from ordering expensive tests don’t lean on the BMI chart as a way to have something to write in their diagnosis box.  I imagine in many cases, once patients are “diagnosed fat” and are shamed and blamed, they stop asking annoying questions.  They stop demanding that doctors figure out what is wrong with them.  In some cases, they stop going to the doctor altogether.  This is part of the collateral damage and opportunity costs in the “war on obesity”.  This is another example of the casualties that arise from singling out a body type as unacceptable and trying to eradicate it.

And we’re not just dealing with misdiagnosis here.  We’re dealing with fat people suffering and dying from the mutilation of otherwise healthy tissue via gastric bypass and banding surgeries.  We are seeing the development of more and more new strategies for trying to make fat people “healthy” by making their digestive systems mimic eating disorders and limited blood flow to the gut.  We are so focused on helping fat people get healthy by making them thin that we are willing to make them really, really sick to help them get there.  And sadly, in so many cases, the fat people who undergo these treatments end up fatter or sicker or less happy than they were in the first place.

There are weapons we can use in this war.  One of them is to ask the doctor if thin people also experience the same problem.  In Kaleb’s case, he or his mom might have asked, “Do thin people also have knee pain?  What tests might you do if I were thin.  Can we do those tests please?”

Another weapon is to help make doctors and other medical professionals more aware of the pain and repercussions of fat bias.  And it just so happens that we have some terrific tools to do that.  The Association for Size Diversity And Health (ASDAH) along with the Size Diversity Task Force are compiling videos about fat bias in healthcare.  The project is called RESOLVED.  Some folks at ASDAH have informed me that the deadlines are being extended.  You can hear more about the project and see my sample video HERE.  In addition, the Size Diversity Task Force has a unique opportunity through one of our members to help train medical advocates about fat bias in healthcare.  But in order for your video to be used in both places, you need to submit your video by March 18.  If you’re interested in participating in the project and/or have any questions or concerns, please leave me a note in the comments below.  Or send me an email at jeanette at thefatchick dot com.  I’d be glad to help.

Let’s do what we can to limit the number of casualties in the war on fat.  Let’s help kids like Kaleb get the attention and care they need at the first doctor’s appointment–not the third.  Let’s see what we can do to have “diagnosed as fat” be a thing of the past!

Love,

The Fat Chick

Dealing with Diabetes: Episode 004 of the Right Now Show with Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

Are you coping with diabetes?  Is your doctor shaming you because of your weight?  Do you wish you had some body-positive advice for coping with this disease?  I’m pleased to share with you episode 004 of The Right Now Show. In this episode, I answer a viewer’s question about dealing with Type 2 diabetes. Tune in for helpful hints for taking a Health At Every Size (R) approach to coping with this challenging disease. I offer tips for integrating exercise (even when coping with chronic pain), managing stress, and how to keep loving the skin you’re in through it all.

There are more tips available about coping with diabetes in a special article I wrote for the Association for Size Diversity And Health available here.

And there’s a really fun music video I did with Ragen Chastain all about managing family boundaries during the holidays available HERE.

You can learn a lot more about The Fat Chick on my website.

And you can buy Jeanette’s progressive workout DVD (with that 10 minute beginning workout) on the shopping page or at Amazon.com HERE.

Thanks so much for watching and don’t forget to subscribe!

Love,
The Fat Chick