Bill Maher Calls Out American Obesity Crisis, Says Fat Shaming Needs To Come Back

GoblinCampFollower

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Eating isn't the only cause of obesity, though...
Your post is correct in spirit. We agree fat people are not always at fault and shaming is bad. But the literal reading of this statement is problematic, because you can't get bigger without a caloric surplus, and thinner people don't have higher metabolisms.

It is true that all sorts of health problems and stress can make people crave more food and make people crave worse food. Overeating isn't just a lack of will or laziness. If your hormones are screwed up, you really just will not be able to lower your calories very much. ...but the obesity problem isn't so much worse in America because we have more health problems than other countries that cause this. Many Americans have a very warped sense of what a "normal" portion of food looks like. Once again, I'm not blaming big people, because I know I have difficulties with this. If the restaurant gives me too much food, I know I feel compelled to eat it all... Being surrounded by people who eat too much makes it very hard to be the one eating less. Culture is to blame more so than any one person I think.

In summary, it is food, but that doesn't mean anyone can just decide to eat less or better.
 

Innula Zenovka

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Eating isn't the only cause of obesity, though. Endocrine problems, especially undiagnosed, can be responsible for significant weight gain or loss. And in the case of that kind of weight gain, it can be particularly hard to lose the weight. So shaming wouldn't help there at all.
How does this work? I ask not because I doubt it but because I simply don't know.

If I want to lose weight I know I can so pretty rapidly by ensuring that I eat no more than 1000 calories a day or thereabouts.

Why would this not happen if I had a particular kind of endocrine problem, since the base rate at which my body expends energy simply keeping my vital systems going, even before I start moving around or taking a short walks to the shops?

That energy has to come from somewhere, after all.
 

GoblinCampFollower

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That energy has to come from somewhere, after all.
Right. You can't get bigger without eating the calories, which is why some popular diets work more by helping you control hunger than by directly telling you to eat less. Keto diets lower appetite. Intermittent fasting also seems to lead to less overall eating. The one meal a day diet has always been very common around the world, and has become more popular with the research into intermittent fasting, since you really can't absorb so much in one sitting that you'd get very big.
 

Romana

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Your post is correct in spirit. We agree fat people are not always at fault and shaming is bad. But the literal reading of this statement is problematic, because you can't get bigger without a caloric surplushttps://www.cnn.com/2019/03/07/health/skinny-metabolism-food-drayer/index.html
Actually, you can. I know because it happened to me when my thyroid first went low. You can gain weight relatively quickly that way. I'd have to ask my endocrinologist for details,; i just know it happens. And you can lose weight when your thyroid is high.
No calotic surplus needed to gain or dieting needed to lose in those cases.
 

GoblinCampFollower

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Actually, you can. I know because it happened to me when my thyroid first went low. You can gain weight relatively quickly that way. I'd have to ask my endocrinologist for details,; i just know it happens. And you can lose weight when your thyroid is high.
No calotic surplus needed to gain or dieting needed to lose in those cases.
hypothyroidism is consistent with what each of us are talking about. There still is a caloric surplus. A thyroid issue just makes it much easier to have that surplus. I'm sorry you had to deal with that.

That said, we both know obesity didn't skyrocket because issues like yours suddenly got a lot more common.
 

Romana

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hypothyroidism is consistent with what each of us are talking about. There still is a caloric surplus. A thyroid issue just makes it much easier to have that surplus. I'm sorry you had to deal with that.

That said, we both know obesity didn't skyrocket because issues like yours suddenly got a lot more common.
I guess we have different definitions of 'caloric surplus'. To me it means eating more or taking in more calories, which I did not.
My point was that fat shaming will only make people who are struggling with health issues feel worse, and isn't a solution across the board.
I know at least one person who very likely has undiagnosed endocrine issues, too. I have urged them to get checked out (without mentioning weight) because their mom had it and want diagnosed til she got seriously ill.
 

Ava Glasgow

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It's important to note that we also excrete calories, so it's not as simple as calories-eaten calories-used. In addition to mediating appetite, gut microbiota influences how much of what we consume is actually absorbed vs. excreted. In mouse experiments with groups eating the same food in the same amount, it made the difference between extreme obesity vs. zero weight gain.

The fact is that metabolism is incredibly complicated with multiple interacting factors -- neurology, endocrinology, biochemistry, and microbiology -- and we aren't even close to completely understanding it. But we can definitely see that there are multiple biological factors that significantly affect weight, and that shaming people for being fat doesn't do shit.
 

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Maher's remarks hit a nerve because, while I never actually became obese, I know how difficult it is to lose weight from health issues. So I'm guessing it must be even worse if one is.
So how would people know who deserved fat-shaming, if anyone deserves it? Even if the. odds are that most obese people got that way because of food. It's like when people give you dirty looks when you park in a handicapped side because your disability doesn't show.
 

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I guess we have different definitions of 'caloric surplus'. To me it means eating more or taking in more calories, which I did not.
My point was that fat shaming will only make people who are struggling with health issues feel worse, and isn't a solution across the board.
I know at least one person who very likely has undiagnosed endocrine issues, too. I have urged them to get checked out (without mentioning weight) because their mom had it and want diagnosed til she got seriously ill.
Agreed. My entire life up until around age 32 or so I hovered between 95 and 110. Suddenly I skyrocketed within around a year to 170, with no sign of slowdown. I was having to go buy new clothes constantly. I had quit smoking and attributed it to that initially, expecting to have weight gain, until I just kept growing and growing. I was, most definitely not eating more. I was eating the very same as I always had, which is to say pretty lightly. In response to it, I was going to the gym three times a week, sometimes more, doing an entire aerobic and weight training routine each time, but still kept growing and growing.

During a yearly exam, I brought it up to the doctor. She decided to run some more tests, including blood tests and an ultrasound. She diagnosed me with both PCOS and hypothyroidism (which often go hand in hand), which surprised me because I was always a person who fidgeted constantly and was hyper if anything. I asked her why this had rather rapidly occurred as after reading about it, I had learned that this was largely a lifetime condition, but usually diagnosed in 20's/30's. We got to talking about menstruation cycles and such and I had always presented differently, sometimes going for a very long time without one, and of course was infertile, which also had been diagnosed as another reason. I had spoken to a doctors about it during annual female exams as far back as my teens. But way back in those days they didn't even know what it was and simply said that I had a hormone imbalance and was prescribed the birth control pill as a means to control it. They just simply thought it was extra male hormones (also part of PCOS). I also had presented hirsutism, rosacea, and severe acne, also symptoms. I had written off the acne as simply part of my youth. I had never even heard of this thing called PCOS. She told me it was something that they were still learning about. The ultrasound did indeed present numerous ovarian cysts, as well. She proscribed a number of things to me, one of which was a hypothyroid drug. These brought it under control somewhat. I eventually lost all of it, but that was due to a different medical condition.

TL;DR
I was NOT eating any more food, in fact I was eating less because of the weight gain. So no, it does NOT always coincide with overeating.
 
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Ava Glasgow

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Maher's remarks hit a nerve because, while I never actually became obese, I know how difficult it is to lose weight from health issues. So I'm guessing it must be even worse if one is.
So how would people know who deserved fat-shaming, if anyone deserves it? Even if the. odds are that most obese people got that way because of food. It's like when people give you dirty looks when you park in a handicapped side because your disability doesn't show.

I really take issue with Maher's whole premise that the obese are insufficiently shamed. As a fat person, I can assure you we get shamed plenty, even in the era of supposed fat-acceptance. Even when people aren't screaming at us on the street or scolding us in a doctor's office, we are subjected to constant reminders that being fat is really really bad and we are really really bad people for being this way. The fucking furniture shames us!
 

Jolene Benoir

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I really take issue with Maher's whole premise that the obese are insufficiently shamed. As a fat person, I can assure you we get shamed plenty, even in the era of supposed fat-acceptance. Even when people aren't screaming at us on the street or scolding us in a doctor's office, we are subjected to constant reminders that being fat is really really bad and we are really really bad people for being this way. The fucking furniture shames us!
Yes, during that time period when I was larger than society deems fit, I experienced an amount of that, I'm sure far, far less than what you have had to endure, but it definitely opened up my eyes. I had always suspected that, after they would be successful in shaming smokers, increasing their medical premiums and such that they would then go after larger folks, using the same arguments about how they drive up costs for everyone else, etc... Maher placing his rant in the middle of the healthcare debate drives that home even more.

But, moreso, it has shown me that there are always people out there that feel qualified to judge others and demean them. There has always been fat shaming, yet we still have weight issues. You would think that they would learn that shaming is not a valid tactic. They get something else out of it; perceived superiority. If tomorrow, suddenly, everyone fell within their proscribed weight limits, they would then just jump to some other means of shaming people.
 

GoblinCampFollower

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I guess we have different definitions of 'caloric surplus'. To me it means eating more or taking in more calories, which I did not.
My point was that fat shaming will only make people who are struggling with health issues feel worse, and isn't a solution across the board.
I know at least one person who very likely has undiagnosed endocrine issues, too. I have urged them to get checked out (without mentioning weight) because their mom had it and want diagnosed til she got seriously ill.
We totally agree on all of the social/qualitative points. I'm just nit picking a minor factual point. By "caloric surplus" I mean taking in more calories than your body is burning. It does NOT mean you were being irresponsible or some sort of decadent glutton. Hypothyroidism will lower calories burned, which makes it easier to accidentally have a caloric surplus. It's not because you fucked something up.
 

Innula Zenovka

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Seems to me that it's symptomatic of a certain type of extreme free-market, libertarian interpretation of "freedom" to cast such issues in terms of the freedom of business to pursue profits for its shareholders by providing goods and services that people may freely choose to buy, or not, and at prices they are willing to pay, without interference from government, and then for the business similarly to defend it from criticism, should the widespread abuse of these products and services become a significant threat to the health of many people, to point to the customers' freedom to use or abuse these products as they choose, and it's unfair to be made to pay for other people's poor decisions.

It completely shifts all responsibility away from the company and onto the shoulders of those whom it encourages to abuse its products, be it food, alcohol, gambling, and so on, with the company piously explaining "We support the moderate and healthy use of our product" while simultaneously targeting those most likely to abuse the product or service through its advertising.
 

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Smoking rates have plummeted in the US at least. People still smoke, but it's a lot less. That said, I am not saying shaming is the way to go in all things. Smoking isn't a deep, fundamental evolutionary drive in the way that food is. I think shame is a powerful motivator for myself. I have improved on a lot of things because I became ashamed at something I did wrong. ...BUT, maybe food addiction doesn't respond to shaming because of very different evolutionary pressures. If someone is ashamed, it absolutely could drive them to eat more. This ties into something I mention ebelow:



I think it was on NPR, but they showed how programs to give food desserts better produce didn't work at all. The thought is maybe that impoverished, STRESSED OUT people just crave calorie dense food. I think better social programs in general, and better general healthcare (including medical) helps put people in a better peace of mind to do things like eating right and exercising. I agree with others here that it's usually not about knowing that you SHOULD eat right and exercise, it's about being in a good head space to do those things.
I don’t think it’s all stress. When money is very limited, I start thinking of high calorie density food as a way to stretch my money, if I have no where to cook, or not enough time.

Middle class people are used to the idea everyone should be dieting, but it doesn’t work that way if you can’t get enough food. Then calorie dense foods are better because you can get enough calories for more days instead of eating well one day and nothing the next.

The people who talk about the poor are not the poor. They don’t realize Americans are actually going hungry. They think everyone has too much cheap food, and it’s just a matter of getting on a diet like middle class people do.
 

Brenda Archer

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Eating isn't the only cause of obesity, though. Endocrine problems, especially undiagnosed, can be responsible for significant weight gain or loss. And in the case of that kind of weight gain, it can be particularly hard to lose the weight. So shaming wouldn't help there at all.
That’s exactly what happened to me with PCOS, which caused insulin resistance. People are still focused on the role of calories and ignoring what we know about insulin.

Diabetics who lack insulin can suddenly lose weight because of it, though they’re eating the same. It is one of the warning signs of diabetes.

Insulin resistance, which will later become Type 2 diabetes if it is untreated, is the opposite problem. The insulin levels are high, but the body tissues resist what should be its normal effect of getting sugar into the tissues. So the affected person has weight gain, fatigue and cravings with blood sugar swings.

I don’t see how shame solves any of this.
 

GoblinCampFollower

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I don’t think it’s all stress. When money is very limited, I start thinking of high calorie density food as a way to stretch my money, if I have no where to cook, or not enough time.

Middle class people are used to the idea everyone should be dieting, but it doesn’t work that way if you can’t get enough food. Then calorie dense foods are better because you can get enough calories for more days instead of eating well one day and nothing the next.

The people who talk about the poor are not the poor. They don’t realize Americans are actually going hungry. They think everyone has too much cheap food, and it’s just a matter of getting on a diet like middle class people do.
This is the article I was basing my earlier statement on.
 

Brenda Archer

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Thanks. I can see the argument
stress > inflammation > illness.

The ACEs study showed children exposed to traumatic stressors get more illnesses, including obesity, even as adults. It makes sense to think of a connection between inflammation and endocrine problems like diabetes.

People are still failing to see how much poor people are affected by malnutrition. They want to blame poor people for not knowing enough to be dieting like middle class people do. But if you really don’t have enough money for food, and you buy high calorie density food to have more days with adequate calories, you’re going to see low calorie density food as a luxury even if it’s available. You can go further on a cheeseburger than on a salad when you only have enough money for one of them. This eventually leads to malnutrition.

I want to ask too, did the people bringing in produce match it to the culture of the people it is meant for? It’s pretty patronizing to say the poor don’t eat well because they can’t cook. All subcultures have vegetable dishes, but people aren’t going to buy odd, unfamiliar vegetables. This is the error of thinking what poor people really need is a Whole Foods in their neighborhood. Actually what they need is a supermarket supplying what people really cook.
 

GoblinCampFollower

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I want to ask too, did the people bringing in produce match it to the culture of the people it is meant for?
It's a very fair concern. Something I mentioned very briefly earlier in the thread is that food is a HUGE part of people's cultures. One of the best things that can happen to your health is to be born in a place like Okinawa, where the traditional diet of the culture is extremely healthy. It's also very socially isolating to not eat like your local culture. Part of why Mississippi struggles so much with some of these issues is just because the traditional diet of the region happens to be terrible for you. They didn't know that when that culture was forming, and obviously traditional diets are often based on what was available.
 
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