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June 13, 2008

Feministing had a post today of a video about abortion from TrueTube.  It was very interesting and progressive.  So I was excited when I found a category called “Obesity is not so bad.”

The videos in this segment range from semi-helpful videos, one with a nutritionist about easy to grab meals, a segment on getting girls to excersize,  to a video called “FAT KIDS- WHO’S TO BLAME?”  (Sanity watchers warning.)  If you have some extra SW points you could move to the second page of videos and learn about how to actually tell if you are obese, and hear about people who just love losing weight so much.

So yeah, way to really push the envelope there TrueTube.  Several of the videos feature “people on the street” interviews talking about how fat people are ugly and unattractive.

I was so excited, I saw the video entitled “Obesity = Fad?” The title of the video was even “Obesity is just a fad.”  Ooo, thought I, perhaps they have at least one video that presents a different point of view.  Silly Shinobi, the beginning of the video:

“There are lots of factors that contributes to obesity, but at the end of the day if you consume more calories than your body is able to use up, you will put on weight.”

“Clearly there are a small percentage of people who do  have perhaps thyroid problems or hormonal problems, or other reasons, genetic reasons why they may be predisposed to obesity.  I would say less than six people that I see have a genuine medical condition that’s causing it.”

She goes on to repeat everyone favorite talking points about how people don’t know when to stop eating, they aren’t active enough and they don’t know how to cook or eat together.  She does acknowledge that there are some health professionals don’t agree with her that obesity causes huge problems.  But of course, they are wrong.  Thanks TrueTube for getting THOSE guys on your site to combat myths about obesity. (Quick everyone drink every time you see a headless fatty in that video.  Good and drunk now?  Lets move on. )

I’ve stopped watching now though.  I can’t imagine that any one of these videos are going to continue to do anything but repeat the dominant media narrative on obesity, and assert its “Truth.” I’m so dissappointed.

TrueTube, you are False.  (At least where Obesity is concerned.)


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  1. I don’t understand why so many are quick to discount real and valid endocrine disorders like thyroid issues as the cause of why someone is overweight. If acknowledged at all, it’s always quickly followed by a “But this comprises a miniscule of the population; most people just eat WAY too much and don’t exercise.”

    I understand the rationale, of course, because we always have to create an “other” by which we measure our own perceived successes. But in the case of thyroid disorders, it’s estimated that as many as 10 percent of women have some degree of thyroid deficiency. In fact, women are up to 8 times as likely to develop thyroid issues. And overall, it’s estimated that hypothryoidism affects up to 9 percent of the population, with many more cases going undiagnosed. Millions of people have hypothyroidism and do not know it.

    To me, this indicates a sizable number of people who struggle with thyroid issues, which have a direct affect one weight gain and an inability to lose weight. But it’s so much easier to chalk obesity up to gluttony and greed.

  2. Marste permalink

    I also think it’s interesting that on the one hand half the media reports, “Well, that thyroid stuff doesn’t affect THAT many people,” and then on the other hand you hear, “OMG! Chemicals in our food are affecting our bodies! Hormones added to milk make you hit puberty earlier! Transfats will KILL YOU OUTRIGHT!” Disconnect much? It doesn’t seem like much of a reach to me to say that IF chemicals in our food are affecting our bodies, then OF COURSE various chronic illnesses are likely to either become more commonplace or to be “discovered” for the first time (fibromyalgia).

    And that doesn’t even account for Rachel’s undiagnosed millions. Hell, I just found out about 3 weeks ago that my thyroid is screwed, and I’m 31. I thought EVERYONE was always exhausted and just handling it better than me. (No, really.) But seriously, how many years have I been this way (undiagnosed)? And as women, given that we grow up in a culture where we’re conditioned to take care of everyone else at the expense of ourselves, how many of us really think that we’re tired/stressed/whatever because we’re just “giving too much.” I’d guess a lot of women with endocrine problems just think exactly that. That’s pretty much what I thought: I kept looking for ways in my life that I was failing, because that must be why I was so freakin’ exhausted all the time.

    But no. There really was something wrong. And I would NEVER have found out, except that my acupuncturist asked if I’d let her run some tests. Thank God for her.

  3. Rachel,
    I know, like it’s just an excuse for them to be fat or something. Also you’ll note that she completely does not mention at all the fact that some people are on medications that cause them to gain large amounts of weight. As if an endocrine disorder is the only reason one is allowed to be fat.

  4. Also, not everyone who is hypothyroid is fat, either. My mother has never been fat, and she is hypothyroid. I’ve also never seen her go on a diet, ever, and while she does exercise, I’ve never known her to do so for more than maybe 30 minutes a day.

    So obviously there must be other metabolic and genetic issues at play that govern a person’s weight. People want a simple, reductionist answer (like “calories in, calories out”) where there isn’t one and never will be.

  5. I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism in my early 20s. I thought the fact that I slept 13 hours a day and overslept my classes was just me being lazy. I hadn’t even heard of hypo until my doctor brought it up. I now eat a very healthy and balanced diet that I would compare next to that of any thin person and I exercise regularly. And yet I find it very difficult to lose weight, while its very easy for me to gain weight. I refuse to believe that I am just one of the minority few fat people who experience this. And how would we know how many fat people have thyroid disorders? It not like we have signs on our foreheads screaming “THYROID DISORDER.”

    In terms of hypo, it should also be noted that the most common test performed measures only one’s T4 levels. And Synthroid, which is the most commonly prescribed med, only works on T4 levels. New research is coming out which shows that T3 is just as, if not more, important. And your test can show in the normal range, and yet there can still be a problem. I’ve been on Synthroid for years and yet I still have the same symptoms as one who is undiagnosed. I no longer sleep 13 hours a day, but I still get cold easily, my skin is dry and my nails brittle, I have lethargy and episodes of depression and forgetfulness, weight gain etc… Obviously, the medication isn’t working and my psychiatrist, who is also a family doctor, agrees with me. She just wrote me a prescription for full blood work to be done, also measuring my T3 levels.

    So, millions of people have thyroid deficiencies and are undiagnosed, and for many of the people who have been diagnosed and are undergoing treatment for it, the treatment is not effective. But please do tell this health-conscious vegetarian how she just needs to put down that Big Mac and she, too, can be thin.

  6. With all of you talking about thyroid problems, I’m almost beginning to think I might have one. But it’s probably just fibromyalgia after all. I can definitely relate to the “for all those years I thought I was just being lazy” thing. Ugh. I also kept wondering why other people’s “tense muscles” didn’t cause them as much trouble as mine did. I thought I must be terribly weak.

    The fact that they don’t acknowledge the many REAL conditions (including side effects of medications) that cause weight gain makes me very angry, too. And as for side effects, if they are mentioned, the phrasing usually leads you to believe that the pills just make you unnaturally hungry, but you’ll be fine if you don’t act on it. That’s not what it’s like at all! Changes are you’ll eat exactly the same as always and gain weight anyway, while being tricked into believing that you do eat more. Especially if your illness had previously slowed your appetite so that you finally start eating enough again when the pills start working, and you automatically assume that it’s too much and thereby making you fat. I’ve seen it happening way too often.

  7. I have chronic pain. The medication I take for it knocks me out. Fortunately, for my weight, I don’t like to eat when I’m tired so I maintain my weight on it. I started exercising regularly. I’m losing weight very slowly, but my goal isn’t to lose weight, but to have more energy.

    With strength training, I’m now able to clean house without being fatigued in twenty minutes. I added jogging and biking to my schedule. I still sleep close to half the day, but I have more energy the time I am awake. I don’t know about hypothyroid, but I do have a rather low natural body temperature.

    I initially lost weight on Prozac since it made me tired and so I ate less. My body learned to compensate by eating high calories food and I put on more weight than the initial loss. I wonder if that is happening to other people. Once I focused on not eating the junk food, I stopped gaining. Then, by adding exercise and watching what I ate carefully, I could slowly lose weight. Losing weight is very difficult. I wonder if I ever need to stop exercising if I’ll gain again. Then, I’m not a person that becomes obese. My heaviest weights have always been in the overweight range when I ate whatever I wanted and did absolutely no exercise.

  8. Piffle permalink

    I think some of this thinking comes from the fact that up until recently men did the research, and the research was done on men. Men and women have metabolisms that are different, and which respond differently to exercise too. (This study looks at weight loss after WLS, gastric banding, and finds that in women “deposition of lipids into adipose tissue might be favored after weight reduction”. In other words women respond to weight loss by depostiting more fat–can you say set point? I can.)

    So some of the traditional recommendations may simply be more likely to work for men than for women. It makes me wonder if this could be one reason why there are fewer men than women in the fatosphere, weight loss may simply be more possible for them as a group, though individuals always vary and I’m sure there are men who have similar metabolisms to women.

    I am not an expert, I simply googled for information, though I had seen the MSNBC article before.

  9. criss permalink

    Sorry for going off topic a bit, but all you thyroid-savvy folks, where could I go for information on “normal” t3 and t4 levels? My doctor (yes, I am finding a new one soon) basically told me there was nothing wrong with me causing my fatigue other than that I should lose some weight. Oh, and that my ankle is swollen because I need to lose weight, though I’ve been fat for almost 30 years now and my ankles had always held up just fine before… so anyway, I’m thinking maybe I should compare my thyroid and other test results to some sort of standard myself and see if I want another opinion on that.

  10. emmy permalink

    Hi, just stumbled in from the fatosphere feed.

    criss, has a couple of good introductory articles about thyroid function. And another thing a lot of doctors seem to miss is that the levels of t3 and t4 are important, but so is the RATIO between the two.

    On the topic of endocrine disorders, I’d like to add another one. PCOS patients with insulin resistance also have a difficult time being “normal” weight. Amazingly, though, some in the medical industry are coming around to the idea that maybe being fat doesn’t cause PCOS, rather, PCOS causes weight gain. What a novel concept.

  11. Hi,

    I have a site about weight loss and health tips I think You Might be Interested in and would be glad if you could add me to your blogroll as I think that my site might also benefit your readers.

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  12. Not interested charisma seeker, keep seeking. You should try actually reading things before you post comments.

  13. criss permalink

    Thanks, Emmy!

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