Please visit the new home of Majikthise at

« [Raw Story] Karl Rove oversaw Alabama elections from White House | Main | Masa Acher magazine exploits Flickr photographers »

December 17, 2007

Obama on obesity

Meowser takes exception to a recent comment by Barack Obama's claim during a recent Democratic debate that that "[i]f we could go back to the obesity rates of 1980 we could save the Medicare system a trillion dollars."

In this election season, Meowser has some questions about how far this crop of Democrats is willing to go to control obesity:

[W]e have an election coming up next year, and strictly from a fat perspective, I worry about who is going to replace [Bush]. When I found out Barack Obama (much like Hillary Clinton, who has made similar remarks in the past) wanted to disappear me solely because of my weight in order to save the government money, I had to ask: Just how far are they willing to go to make that a reality?

I find this rhetoric offensive. The United States government really is disappearing untold numbers of people, and not because they're fat. (Cf. Stephen Grey's Ghost Plane, an outstanding book that I plan to review soon.)    

Meowser continues:

But I still think I have a right to know just how much agency they are willing to remove from people—and especially fatasses like myself—in the name of "health care cost containment." You'd think the Democrats would be all about personal agency and individual freedom. They damn well ought to be. But I'm afraid that when it comes to nosing around in people's body autonomy, they're just as guilty as the people they want to replace; they just want to nose around in a different part of our bodies, that's all.

Here are some questions I'd love to see asked during Presidential debates (and not just of Democrats):

"Do you believe in reducing the number of fat people by any means necessary? What if people really make an effort to exercise and 'eat right' but are still 'obese'? Do you favor requiring them to have bariatric surgery, or putting them in weight-reduction prisons, or having a police state in which people get their homes broken into and their pantries cleaned out and forced at gunpoint to work out until they drop, or being barred from all restaurants and grocery stores and all public places until they slim down? How far are you willing to go?"

Who said anything about stripping people of agency, let alone disappearing anyone?

If politicians are making hateful or false statements about fat people, they deserve to be called out on their prejudice. However, Meowser hasn't offered any evidence that Obama or Clinton is doing any such thing. She's railing at Obama for an empirical claim about the relationship between health care costs and obesity, and assailing Clinton because she voted for nutrition grants and exercise promotion.

These candidates haven't said anything about people who are already fat needing to diet, much less to disappear. Clinton's bill was aimed at promoting healthy lifestyles across the board. We don't know what Obama has in mind, but we shouldn't assume that he's calling on anyone to diet. He was talking about reducing obesity rates to what we saw in the 1980s through prevention. That could mean preventing obesity through healthy school lunches, phys ed, and grants for bike paths.

As far as health policy is concerned, it would be a mistake to fixate on obesity itself as the primary threat. The rapidly increasing prevalence of obesity is just one very visible symptom of much more widespread public health problems, including poor nutrition and insufficient excercise.

Experts disagree about the extent to which excess body fat itself causes health problems
However, there's no doubt that high calorie, low nutrient diets will eventually cause weight gain in a large percentage of the population. We know that poor nutrition and inactivity are harmful, even to those who don't gain weight. What isn't showing up on your abs may very well be collecting in your arteries.

So, the increasing prevalence of obesity is genuinely worrisome, if only because it appears to be linked to deteriorating diets and declining activity levels on a societal level. Weight isn't a good indicator of individual health. However, it is troubling to see entire populations getting heavier, at younger ages.

Clearly, the answer isn't to identify people who weigh "too much" and harangue them to lose weight.  If individual bootstrapping worked, the burgeoning diet and fitness industries would have already addressed the problem one consumer at a time.

We often talk about obesity as if fat people have a problem and everyone else is A-OK. That's a dangerous form of self-delusion. We're ignoring the ways in which our entire society has become less healthy since the 1980s. As a society we're driving more and sleeping less. We're awash in high fructose corn syrup because we subsidize too many Iowa corn farmers. Schools are shortening recess and cutting out PE while adding vending machines to generate badly-needed revenue.

Politicians should be encouraged to talk about public health issues. Their health policies should be judged on their merits. If Obama and Clinton are scheming to deprive fat people of their agency, let's see the evidence.

[NB: I don't want to hear any hateful comments about weight or body shape. Take that bullshit somewhere else.]


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Obama on obesity:


I never suggested you weren't working out, Lacy. (I challenge you to actually quote what I said instead of making shit up about what I said to make me look bad.)

I said that if you're working out and can't get below 190 lbs at 5'5" then you either must not be getting your heart rate up OR you must be taking in enough calories to maintain a weight of 190 lbs.

You are carrying at least 40 extra pounds of fat. If you're ok with that, so be it.

I'm just saying that's a condition of obesity, not health. If you choose to think carrying 40 extra pounds of fat is a condition of health, you're entitled to that.

>I never suggested you weren't working out, Lacy.

And I never said you did. But thanks for the otherwise non-trollish post.

FWIW, I'm not claiming the extra 30-40 is healthy. I am saying that I am healthy, despite a single unhealthy marker.

FWIW, I'm not claiming the extra 30-40 is healthy. I am saying that I am healthy, despite a single unhealthy marker.

At least 40 extra pounds (and probably closer to 50), not 30-40, but at least you've acknowledged it's not healthy and not continued passing it off as fine.

That's a significant unhealthy marker, btw. One you won't want to perpetuate forever.

And on an unrelated note

Happy New Year to all.

Best wishes for 2008. And good luck Phantom.

No I did not (and there you go showing a complete lack of respect towards me).

Oh my, I shouldn't have done that, please forgive me. As an act of contrition, I'm spending the next few hours whipping myself as punishment for having insufficient gratitude towards Dear Leader Lesley.

This from Ben who had a tantrum about somebody using the word "dude." Since you find innocuous words offensive you should be able to appreciate others getting annoyed with you when you misquote, misrepresent, and take things out of context.

You can't reason with morons.

Just in case anyone is still reading this thread, some recent info and a link:

December 28, 2007
Hot flashes worse for heavy women
Excess fat likely makes it harder to dissipate heat, study suggests

NEW YORK -- Contrary to expectations, the higher a woman's percentage of body fat at menopause, the more likely she is to experience symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats, a new study shows.

Such so-called "vasomotor symptoms" had previously been thought to be less common in heavier women at menopause, because body fat can convert male hormones into estrogen, Dr. Rebecca C. Thurston of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and colleagues note. Fatter women would therefore have a reserve source of estrogen that could shield them from these symptoms.

However, there is mounting evidence that heavier women may actually experience more vasomotor symptoms with menopause, the researchers add in their report in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

To better understand the relationship between body fat and menopausal symptoms, Thurston and her team looked at 1,776 women going through menopause. Fifty-nine per cent reported having vasomotor symptoms.

As body fat increased, so did the likelihood that a woman would have hot flashes and night sweats, the researchers found.

The findings contradict the hypothesis that being fatter protects women from vasomotor symptoms, they write. Instead, they suggest, it's possible that excess fat makes it more difficult for the body to dissipate heat.

Based on the findings, Thurston and her colleagues add, weight loss -- especially loss of fat -- may help women going through menopause to reduce hot flashes and night sweats.

and this ol' Brit has a great post up.

All you so-called feminists who are railing at fat people for being unhealthy? Go take a really good look at the Merry Monarch Hula Festival. The people who take hula seriously and practice for hours and hours daily...are often fat. And yet they have endurance, speed, and grace which you probably will never experience in your little boxed-in lives. Wake up and smell what you're blaming.

Let's not forget that more and more Americans are becoming "extremely obese":

Americans are not just getting fatter, they are ballooning to extremely obese proportions at an alarming rate.

So Lesley, come clean. I know you're still checking this thread every day. Are you the one sock-puppeting here with that "So glad I'm not Ben" nickname?

Come out and say it. Don't be coy. Don't pull any punches.

I am immensely frustrated with people who continuously misrepresent what I say.

Standard Operating Procedure with the FA crowd, along with Circle-Jerking Groupthink Denialism defending the indefensible & Rhetorical Thuggery towards anyone calling "bull" on their bull. Trademarks of a Cult.

At first, your blood sugar level may rise so slowly that you may not know that anything is wrong. One-third of all people who have diabetes do not know that they have the disease. If you do have Type 2 Diabetes Symptom, they may include: Feeling thirsty. Having to urinate more than usual, Feeling more hungry than usual, Losing weight without trying to.

Unfortunately for all, obese or not, Obama's statement is not true. You could make a pretty good case just on the math that, because the obese die younger and do not cost the health care system for their age-related long-term illnesses, it is a wash or a net reduction in expenses.
It's easy to blame. It's harder to research.

I do believe>family drug intervention can be extended to nutrition and eating disorders. It should be done very privately and anonymously.

If you don’t think obese people will cost us a trillion in health care cost you lack common sense. I’m not and Obama supporter, I have been a republican for 30 years. But the man is dead right on this subject. You need to open your eyes and look around at the health of the American population. Do you even know what the current increase in diabetes is among children? This is the first time in the history of mankind he has tried to digest so many chemicals through his liver (hormones, steroids antibiotics in the food supply, diet soda 100% chemical, a Walgreen’s on every corner, etc. etc.!) Do you know what the number one transplant is now and why? I went from obese with high blood pressure, high cholesterol and etc. etc. 260 pounds of pure health care cost that was I! I’m now 170 pounds, off all drugs have perfect blood pressure, cholesterol and can physical run any 20 year old into the ground. I have not been sick or seen a doctor in 5 years, and I will not have to see a doctor unless I have and accident. If the rest of the population would take personnel responsibility for there health there would be no health care crisis. Anyone that defends the health of the American people at this time must be making money from health care or lack common sense. Great health is nothing more than “Diet, Exercise and rest”. The trouble is the American population does not have the discipline to exercise or stop shoveling crap into in to their mouths, I KNOW I WAS ONE OF THEM!!!!!!

"Want to learn to eat a lot? Here it is: Eat a little. That way, you will be around long enough to eat a lot."
Robbins, Anthony

"Don't dig your grave with your knife and fork."
Proverb, English

"Put a knife to thy throat, if you're a man given to appetite."
Bible ·

"More die in the United States from too much food that from too little."
Galbraith, John Kenneth

"Medicine is a collection of uncertain prescriptions, the results of which, taken collectively, are more fatal than useful to mankind."
Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon Bonaparte
"Doctors will have more lives to answer for in the next world than even we generals."
Sloth, like Rust, consumes faster than Labour wears, while the used Key is always bright.
Ben Franklin

The polarizer and thief is now denigrating fat and old folks. If his derog-oratory continues, young and skinny perpetrators will feel entitled to 'off' individuals of that age and morphology.

Pertaining age discrimination: I sent a list of members over age 62 in the houses bicameral. In the senate, 60% are beyond 62 and 40% the same in the house. I then quoted Matthew 23, which I paraphrase: The leaders will place the burden upon the backs of their people than carry it themselves. I then suggested they are eligible for 'end of life counseling'.

It's not about age, and it's not certainly not about suicide. It's offensive to anyone with a living will that you'd even insinuate such nonsense.

It's plain old personal responsibility to put your wishes in writing.

I signed an organ donor card when I was 18 and a living will when I was in my early twenties. It's just common sense to go on the record about what you want, and don't want, just in case something happens to you. Avoids scenarios like Terri Schiavo's where the family has to guess what she would have wanted.

People my age grew up in the post Nancy Cruzan-era. We know what the stakes are. We also know how to go online and download the forms or buy the blank forms at Staples. If we're lucky, most of us have lots of time to get around to putting our wishes on paper.

But when you're a senior citizen, possibly with specific health issues to consider, it's much more complicated. You'll want your doctor's advice about how your personal medical condition affects your treatment options, and your prospects for recovery and quality of life. Most people probably don't even know that their doctors can help them with this. Which is why the original bill encouraged doctors to make patients aware of the option of living will counseling.

The alternative is having people go without that kind of advice and letting their family second-guess their wishes. That can lead to under-treatment as well as over-treatment--i.e., loved ones just assuming that the person wouldn't want aggressive medical care because they're old. So, it's imperative that the individual gets a chance to talk over their options with their doctor and put their own wishes in writing. I thought the GOP (at least sometimes) valued individual liberties.

Terri Schiavo's family had "to guess what she would have wanted"?

Living wills are the right lesson from that melodrama, but didn't the courts determine she had made her wishes known to her husband? The trouble IIRC was with her parents, who couldn't accept that their daughter was gone. Prolifers rode that delusionary wave as far gone as today's Deathers, claiming she was still conscious.

And Comrade Phantom, what did you have to report April Fools Day, last year?

Dametruth.Wordpress, 1 Sep 09:
There is obviously a sinister PC Kerry-like movement to demonize our peacekeepers as 'vicious murderers'. The resentment by those who pledged their 'allegiance to the flag under our God' will smolder and wax to flames . As more Michael Behennas are punished, more Rambo's will evolve. This is the reason Janet Napolitano labeled Iraqi returnees as potential 'domestic terrorists'.
The pretender in the blight house does not want half a million Constitutionalists returning to CONUS. He will keep them in foreign lands ad infinitum. In the name of 'fiscal responsibility', he will over time, gradually withdraw monetary support for two 'unwinnable wars'. The usurper prefers a 'civil army' to preserve his order.
When will the generals awaken and join with their soldiers before the denouement of the last bastion of liberty in the world? Remember 'The Martian Chronicles'. When the colonists saw their home planet incinerated, they went home. They wished they had left sooner than too late. Will our mustard seed army arrive in time to combat the the ghoulish children of ACORN?

message send to four dozen pols today:
Blog in Townhall forum in response to article by Michael Barone today:

For more that five years, we of the like minds sent numerous letters suggesting how to safe guard our homeland against alien infiltration:

1. We urged the legislators to mandate the protection of both borders with with armed troops: No less than 60-80,000 south and 50-70,000 north. Squads should be posted no more than 1/4 mile of separation. Larger forces at the rear would be available when conflicts arise. Too late, our soldiers are occupied to secure 'freedoms' in foreign lands.

2. Two summers ago, we 'word warriors' waged a vociferous campaign against McCain's amnesty bill. We won, but too late.

3. We suggested the formation of a real cavalry--on horseback--than noisy and inefficient ATV's. Recently, wild mustangs are now being broken by prison inmates for that purpose. About time, but too late.

4. We used our pens and keyboards to warn the people of the danger of a Marxist in the white house. We used the analogy of 'how to cook a frog'. If the water in the pot is too hot, the frog would leap out of it. If it does not, the frog is likely dead. Obama's 'fast and furious' pace could be a chink in his ambitious armor. While Americans are awakening, the donkeys are yet hungover from the intoxication of their triumph over the pachyderm. If they don't sober up soon, the thuggish politburo will soon supplant them. If the frogs in government are cooked, what will become of the tadpoles?


For more than twenty years, this government has ignored the need of secure borders to maintain our sovereignty. Greed for the bottom line, they refused to gird the borders. Now, we have a 'president' who seeks the denouement of our dominion--or what is left of it. Are we too late to eject this flotsam from our ship of state--the country he obviously despises?


Townhall.AOL forum, retro impeachment, 30 Aug 09:
Three days ago, I posted this message on several blogs, including the blight house 'snitch site':

I saw this coming months ago. I call it 'retroactive impeachment'. I know that phrase sounds oxymoronic, yet how else can one describe this psychotic regime but as a gang of brutish oxen herding the morons of this nation?

They will pick on the little guys at first. The allegations will trickle up the order to Cheney and Bush. The 'world court' will indict them for 'crimes against humanity'.

No sitting president has ever permitted such a ploy to suborn his predecessor. The pragmatic reason is that all presidents fear reprisal by their successors. So what is Obama's rationale to tempt his own fate? Simple. He believes his 'successor' will be himself. Worse, he may realize his whimsical dream--the first and last president of the NWO.
I'll wager 5,000 ameros that it is so. I have spoken boldly like this for years before Glenn Beck urged us so do likewise.


The comments to this entry are closed.