Eugenics Rears Its Ugly Head, Again

When you deliver your body to the State, expect the State to start:

  1. Making you do things
  2. Preventing you from doing things

In other words, if you hand your body over to someone else, that someone else will claim the right to control it.

Today I was rudely reminded that eugenics, one of the nasty platforms of famous fascist/socialist states like Nazi Germany, is alive and well (h/t Elizebeth). Eugenics posits that one can (must) improve the species by allowing some people to have children, and disallowing others. In our modern time, it has also become more selective: couples can choose to have children with certain genetic makeups and not others. All in the name of having the ‘best’ child, who will become the ‘best’ kind of citizen and human, and that these ‘best’ people are superior in general to naturally-born, unselected people.

In this current example, The European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE)), has recommended practitioners or governments which follow the Society’s recommendations, void the Article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for certain classes of people, namely (bolding mine):

1) In view of the risks for the future child, fertility doctors should refuse treatment to women used to more than moderate drinking and who are not willing or able to minimize their alcohol consumption.

2) Treating women with severe or morbid obesity required special justification. The available data suggested that weight loss would incur in a positive reproductive effect, although more data was needed to establish whether assisted reproduction should be made conditional upon prior life-style changes for obese and smoking females.

3) Assisted reproduction should only be conditional upon life style changes, if there was strong evidence that without behavioural modifications there was a risk of serious harm to the child or that the treatment became disproportional in terms of cost-effectiveness or obstetric risks.

4) When making assisted reproduction conditional upon life style modifications, fertility doctors should help patients to achieve the necessary results.

5) More data on obesity, smoking and alcohol consumption as well as other life style factors were necessary to assess reproductive effects. Fertility doctors should continue research in this area.

Article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (bolding mine):

Article 16
  1. Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
  2. Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.
  3. The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.

It is my firm belief that being fat is intertwined with racial status, since fat is preponderantly genetic. Therefore, discriminating against fat people is discriminating against them based on their racial status. Again, fat is not a behavior. Fat is not a disease. Fat is a body type, which is preponderantly genetic.

To understand how ridiculous this is, just consider this one fact: the fear of diabetes is one of the largest health ‘risks’ that anti-obesity crusaders tout when trying to get you into a panicked enough state to agree to their fascist ultimatums. And having diabetes in your immediate family is by far the largest risk factor for having diabetes yourself. Yet, women who already have diabetes — or heart disease, or a history of cancer, or any of the other major ills thrown at the doorstep of fatness — aren’t disallowed from getting reproductive help in the article being discussed here.

This isn’t about the future health of the child (a concept right out of eugenics, by the way), or whatever malarkey they’re concocting to get you to go along with their crusade. Or else women with diseases shown to be genetic wouldn’t be allowed to get reproductive help. No, this is a direct attempt to make formal the second-class status of unpopular groups of people.

As a final note, not only should it be a basic human right for a woman to reproduce if she so chooses. It should also be a basic human right to contract with another individual for services that do not violate other basic human rights. In other words, if there’s a doctor willing to contract with you for IVF services, then you have the right to proceed.

Quick Hit: The Myth of the Obesity Tsunami

A great Op-Ed is out today from Cato: The Myth of the “Obesity Tsunami”

Here are the last three paragraphs, but I encourage you to read the whole piece. No Sanity Watchers’ points required!

The findings of the English survey not only contradict the claim that we are in the midst of an obesity epidemic, but they also debunk the public health establishment’s erroneous claim that increases in children’s weight are due to junkfood advertising and too many sugary soda drinks. According to the survey, the root cause of any weight gains that one does see appear to lie in physical activity levels. For example, “21 per cent of girls aged two to 15 in the low physical-activity group were classed as obese compared with 15 per cent of the high group”.

A similar pattern was found in the 2006 survey, which found that 33 per cent of girls aged two to 15 with low levels of physical activity were either overweight or obese compared with 27 per cent of those with high levels of physical activity. As with smoking, obesity prevalence was higher in both boys and girls in the lowest income group.

Clearly, governments’ current course of draconian regulatory treatment seeks to cure an illusory disease. The nanny state’s infatuation with an obesity epidemic that does not exist is a searing indictment of this particular public health crusade.

The FA Weight Loss Strawman

This was originally written as a comment on Bri’s post: FA, weight loss talk on the feed, blogging and me. Please read her post, it’s good stuff .

First of all, I agree with the vast majority of what Bri said. She spoke about how and why she became an FA blogger, which I appreciate — it’s always interesting to hear how people got started.

Personally, I got started after I read a seminal article on FA in The New York Times. The article was written almost exactly two years ago, on January 22, 2008. I started this blog on January 24, 2008, after two solid days of voracious reading of all the blogs mentioned in the article. Many of the blogs mentioned in the article are still around today, though some have changed the nature of what they blog about (usually trending towards including more material than just FA, or less frequent posting).

I’m certainly not one of the oldest blogs out there. But I like to think that I got involved at a very heady time for FA in 2008, when a bunch of new blogs started, traffic increased substantially, and many, many conversations have been had about what FA means and who/what it includes/excludes, good/bad fatties, the politics of FA, and so on.

One topic I’ve seen pop up time and again is what I like to call the FA Weight Loss Strawman. This is the logical fallacy that FA:

a) excludes dieters or even just thinner people

b) denies that weight exacerbates any medical conditions

c) creates the impression that activists in FA are somehow bigoted, out of touch, in denial, or actively dishonest

Sometimes the strawman has been posed by trolls, sometimes it’s been posed by people in the movement. I’ve seen blogs leave the ‘sphere because of their differences on this. And I’ve also seen people argue that if we actively try to include dieters, admit that weight exacerbates some medical conditions, and admit that we are only a small corner of the world that doesn’t intersect with what most people believe about weight and health, the movement will expand and be more powerful and effective.

I beg to differ, and will bust this strawman point-by-point.

1. FA doesn’t exclude dieters or thinner people.

How do I know this? There are dieters, and people who have maintained a weight loss, who are ardent FA supporters and those people can be ardent FA supporters. The whole point is not to claim that weight loss makes one morally superior, or that others should do it, or that since one believes weight is strongly correlated with certain health issues, that somehow trumps the message of FA. Those dieters and maintainers who are ardent FA supporters don’t make those claims.

And of course thinner people can be important voices of FA. FA is a subset of SA, Size Acceptance. As such, it inherits the points of size acceptance, one of which is that someone’s contribution to the community is not measured by the size of their waist.

2. FA doesn’t claim that weight doesn’t exacerbate certain medical conditions.

While many people in FA are currently investigating the literature on fat and health, and actively coming to the reasoned conclusion that the body of evidence suggests that the common-wisdom connections between health and fat are contradictory at best, and, when correcting for funding sources and bias, suggest strongly that fat does not cause diseases like diabetes, heart disease, strokes, and cancer, I don’t think anyone in FA would claim that issues like joint pain, back pain, foot pain, etc., can’t be exacerbated by weight.

But these issues can also be exacerbated by height, occupation, age, and so forth. It still does not make dieting work for the vast majority of people, nor does it make trying to change weight necessary. No one would suggest I should try to make myself shorter because it will ease stress on my knees.

In other words, when we myth bust the common-wisdom health/fat connection, it doesn’t mean we’re a bunch of hypocrites because we don’t talk about, in the same breath, those instances where weight can exacerbate certain medical conditions. Healthism is a modern morality which paints people blackly if they aren’t trying to be ‘healthy.’ So myth-busting the health/fat connection is often a moral matter. The point is that activists in FA don’t believe that health should be a moral matter, but we understand that others do, and that untying body size from morality often requires taking on these health myths.

3. Fat Acceptance activists aren’t out of touch with regular people and how they think.

Why? Because we are regular people. And most of us did buy into the common-wisdom fat/health connection. Many of us had eating disorders. And the part of us that was lucky enough to have fat accepting parents, friends, and environment isn’t and hasn’t been living in some kind of fat accepting impenetrable bubble. Anti-fat rhetoric is everywhere. Fatphobia is rampant. The common-widsom fat/heath connection myths inundate us.

It’s pretty much impossible to avoid fat myths and fatphobia in our current society. However, it is completely possible to avoid fat acceptance messages. The very idea that we are somehow oppressing those who buy into the common-wisdom fat/health connection by not promoting proponents of that common wisdom in our discussion is flat out wrong, and frankly short-sighted. The idea that we’re oppressing anyone by having a community with rules is ridiculous. You can choose to participate or not, or to create a new space or not. No one is twisting your arm.

The alternative is this: FA allows diet-talk. FA can’t myth-bust health issues and especially particular studies and claims without always prefacing that the evidence is, on some issues, not cut and dry. FA apologizes to the dieting and fatphobic world constantly, and instead of incubating and strengthening internally, commits itself to reaching out externally, trying to actively ‘change’ minds instead of provide a space for the incubation of ideas of the minds that have already changed themselves.

I do not think that alternative will work. I do not think minds are so easily changed, unless they are already ready to change themselves (and in that case, they would likely be seeking us out rather than the other way around). Maybe you do. If so, I encourage you to create your own new space. But realize that FA is a lot bigger and older than your particular participation in it. And that these issues have come up many, many times and reasoned arguments have been had which conclude that diet talk and apologies will only erode our movement and message, not strengthen it.

Send Away the Fat Kids

Shudder-worthy article today: Task force: Screen kids, obesity treatment works

An influential advisory panel says school-aged youngsters and teens should be screened for obesity and sent to intensive behavior treatment if they need to lose weight — a move that could transform how doctors deal with overweight children.

Needless to say, sanity watchers points required when reading the entire article.

Ugh, this kind of thing makes me sick…such blatant ‘othering,’ such a huge expense, for: “…intensive treatment can help children lose several pounds — enough for obese kids to drop into the “overweight” category, making them less prone to diabetes and other health problems.”

Several pounds? Twice a week appointments, group ‘therapy’ meant to brainwash children that feeding themselves and/or not having a cookie-cutter body type is a sign of being broken and bad?

Ugh, ugh, ugh. What are your thoughts?

Quick Hit: Americans Are Just as Fat Now as 1999-2000

…you know, just after the BMI categories for overweight and obese were revised downwards several points, in effect making millions of Americans overweight or obese overnight.

One-Third of American Adults Are Obese, but Rate Slows

Figures from the National Center for Health Statistics showed 34% of American adults age 20 and older were obese in 2007-08 while 68% were considered overweight or obese. In children ages 2 through 19, 17% were considered obese while 32% were considered overweight. Broadly, the figures are similar to rates seen in 1999-2000.

But don’t worry, just in case you were starting to get the idea that the obesity epi-panic’s drama was largely constructed to profit a wide variety fear/hate-mongering groups and body-hate industries, the next paragraph in the piece reminds you that once again that if you’re fat, ur gonna die.

“Obesity remains high and is a significant public-health problem in the U.S.,” said Cynthia Ogden, one of the main researchers involved in tabulating the data and an epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s health-statistics unit.

And then, a little later on, a funny kind of quote:

“I see this as relatively good news,” said William Dietz, the director of CDC’s division of nutrition, physical activity and obesity. “It suggests we’ve halted the progression of the epidemic.”

And how is it that you’ve “halted the progression of the epidemic”? Because I certainly don’t remember all those anti-fat vaccines being offered in schools and the workplace. And I don’t remember dieting suddenly starting to work. And WLS not only doesn’t work in the majority of cases but also makes people sicker (and hence more costly from a public policy perspective). So, right. All that — stuff — we did, that uh, didn’t have any effect, well it sure has slowed/stopped the epidemic!

How about this: There was never any obesity epidemic. But there was panic. And there is still panic. So don’t think this is going to stop us from hating you and wanting to eliminate you, fattie. Because you’re still a threat.

The Problem with “Peer Review”

I just came across this article mentioned in the comments on this post at Sociological Images. I think it’s really interesting, and is of definite value in the determination of what is real, and what is not real, regarding the science of body size.

In Search of an Optimal Peer Review System, by Richard Smith, an editor of the BMJ for 30 years.

Namely, it highlights the pitfalls of the peer review system as we know it today. I think this article is a really valuable resource for anyone who currently reads, edits, and writes articles for science journals, and for those people who who rely on those who can wade through such articles for summaries and so on.

The moral of the story is, there are a lot of biases, luck, and basically non-science that goes into publishing science. This article shows how that state of affairs is more the norm than otherwise.

My advice is to always check out the affiliations of the authors, the other articles they’ve written, and their funding. Usually one can get a sense for agenda and possible confirmation bias this way. And trust your logic when reading articles. Look out for sketchy things like small or over-corrected sample studies, data dredges, and heavy use of  odds ratios when reporting results.

The business of science is, these days, far from infallible. That’s why just quoting one, two, or five studies isn’t going to prove your case. You have to use your own sense of reason to wade through things and really get down to the nitty gritty, or rely on those who make it a point not to take any study at face value.

Ring in the New Love

I hope all my lovely fatties, inbetweenies, and thinnies are having a great New Year’s.

Already the Fat Hate Month (January) has been warming up: I was watching something on a woman-geared channel (I think it was Style), and nearly every commercial was about body hating or body snarking. There were even advertisements for a new show called, “The Ten Things I Hate About Me” (ugh).

However, the Fat Hate Month is also a usually a good month for FA recruitment (especially near the end of the month). Indeed, it was January, in the midst of the Fat Hate ads, shows, and so on, was when I created this blog.

So when your friends and colleagues get weary of January dieting and exercise binging, point them to Big Fat Blog, Shapely Prose, here, The Fat Nutritionist, The-F-Word, and other great FA sites. (Rachel’s The-F-Word was the first FA blog I came across, ever. It blew my mind, and I was hooked).

In other news, since I’m not a huge fan of Resolutions, I’ve made a list of ANTI-Resolutions. Yep, Rebel Without A Cause, to the end…

1. DO NOT sell myself short.

2. DO NOT base my self worth on my appearance.

3. DO NOT wear ugly, ill-fitting clothes, unless engaged in home renovations or working out.

4. DO NOT take my eyes from the sky. Dream, and achieve my dreams.

Do you have any Anti-Resolutions?