Ridiculous Researchers Run Rampant

WTF are you doingThe Lancet published a piece by Stuart W. Flint and Sophie Reale called “Obesity Stigmatisation From Obesity Researchers”   The authors attended the Association for the Study for Obesity conference and were “surprised at the stigmatising comments of some of the presenters”

So-called “renowned” “professional” researchers in the field of “obesity” presenting to their peers and making fat jokes from the stage. Jokes about fat people and sex, public transportation, and all manner of stereotypes and stigma that the research they are involved in has shown to be rampant, and harmful.

The authors were surprised by this, but I am not. There is no way that  “researchers” who do not hold their subjects in complete contempt could possibly produce the type of drivel that comes off the “obesity” research line:

A study of the fuel costs of fat people that uses body size information from the 1960s and doesn’t have any information about how many fat people have driver’s licenses or what kinds of cars we drive.

A “study” of the cost of fat people to businesses that so debauches research methods in general, the scientific method in specific, and statistics, that it would get a first semester freshmen banned from taking any future classes on research or statistics.

Dietetic literature on weight management [that] fails to meet the standards of evidence based medicine. Research in the field is characterised by speculative claims that fail to accurately represent the available data.

The incessant use of a number (BMI) that has been shown to be deeply problematic, not to mentioned lowered at the recommendation a committee driven by people with financial ties to the diet industry.

Not to mention the massive conflict of interest that happens when most of this highly questionable research is funded by companies that profit from the highly questionable conclusions. Pair this delightful group with a media that wants eyeballs and is willing to stereotype and stigmatize fat people to get them, and you have a perfect storm to create the fatphobic, sizeist society in which we now live. Where billions of dollars are made off our backs.

Where the government encourages appearance based bullying from not just government entities, but employers, individuals and healthcare practitioners – in fact waging “War” on every citizen whose weight in pounds times 703 divided by our height in inches squared is greater than 35. Where the FDA and pharmaceutical companies want to eradicate obesity by either making fat people thin, or killing us and they don’t seem to care which, where political groups that received hundreds of thousands of dollars from companies that profit from weight loss actually think they can fool us into supporting them by suggesting that they want to eradicate fat people from the Earth, but are against stigmatizing us while they do it, and they say it with a straight face.

I live in this world and deal with the consequences of it each and every day so imagine my complete lack of shock that the so-called researchers who purport this shaming, stigma, bullying and oppression hold appearance-based prejudice against the people on whom they focus . My appreciation goes out to Stuart W. Flint and Sophie Reale for publicizing the truth about this and reminding us that sunlight is the best disinfectant.  I only wish they had named names.

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27 thoughts on “Ridiculous Researchers Run Rampant

  1. You want names?
    I googled the conference, the Lancet-Article named, and the website which opened up showed at least 4 contributors:
    One of which was
    Professor John Blundell, University of Leeds on “Exercise and Appetite: casualties of the energy balance wars”. From the Lancet-article: “Another renowned researcher, when speaking about media sources that have reported that exercise is bad in general for health, commented that “exercise is rubbish. That is precisely the message obese people want to hear”, reinforcing the stereotype that obese people are lazy” I think they meant this man.
    The other 3 contributors named on the website were also exclusively male and – if you ask me – beyond their prime (hey, it is fair to judge them by looks if they do the same to me, isn’t it? Similia similibus).

    1. Just took a look at that programme, and they have exhibitions there too, including Weight Watchers and Slimming World. Totally objective here. (not)

      It seems like these guys get high on their work, and if anyone goes contrary to them, then they get angry and throw a tantrum.

  2. How is it that all I can think of is Casablanca?

    Louis: I’m shocked, shocked to discover there’s gambling at Rick’s!

    Waiter: Your winnings, sir.

    Louis: (blandly) Oh thank you.

    When every study goes in with huge assumptions, massages results to pretend those assumptions hold true, throws out or considers meaningless any evidence that can’t be rammed into the premise, and is funded by people with huge financial stakes in the result, what can one expect?

  3. These guys are being paid six-plus digits a year to eradicate us. How much respect did the Lancet expect them to have for a group of people they’ve gotten rich attempting to eliminate?

  4. Yeah, I’m guessing they weren’t really shocked either 🙂

    Stuart Flint is a UK stigma researcher who presented at the 1st Weight Stigma Conference in 2013. At the ASO conference Stuart is talking about in the letter, anti-stigma proponent (but as yet, still anti-obesity; I know, I’m working on her) researcher Judy Swift set up a ‘debate’ against health psychology professor Jane Ogden (both of whom also presented at the 1st WSC) about whether or not stigma could ever be a useful tool in promoting behaviour change. Despite being a highly respected academic and practitioner, the quality of Jane’s presentation at the conference just beggared belief, because when science is not on your side, let’s go with anecdotes and personal biases. I’m guessing at least one of those quotes came from Jane. Judy set up the ‘debate’ at this bastion of weight shaming (ASO conference) with the aim of shifting opinions. I’m not sure it worked.

    Despite wanting to support Judy, nothing would have persuaded me to pay a few hundred pounds to attend this hate fest at my own university and I didn’t attend. Obviously a sensible decision!

  5. During the Holocaust and Eugenics before that, the “researchers” held their “subjects” in contempt too. Their whole purpose was to find a way to make humanity not like who they were studying.

    More and more I see that the medical profession is still running based on Nazi principles. They say obstetrical practice is 75 yrs behind the most advanced science (scientia = knowledge) and technology, I think this applies across the board for all medicine. That means they are operating as though using 1939 as their base year. Pretty scary business.

  6. You know … I’m more and more befuddled all the time by the “fat people don’t have sex” trope. (If you look at the article, one of the researchers says something about how if fat people would lose weight they’d get some sex, which would be good because they obviously haven’t had any in a long time since they’re so faaaaaaat.)

    What planet are these researchers living on, that they’ve never met fat people in loving, happy, passionate relationships? Not wanting to give y’all “too much information,” but my husband and I have an intensely passionate relationship, even though we’re “too old”, I’m fat, and he’s tubby. Apparently, in these researchers’ minds, we can’t possibly be physically attracted to each other. Well … WRONG. And just from reading this blog and its comments, I know that we are not at all unusual.

    1. Good for you, Sister! (Coincidentally, I actually have a sister named Elizabeth.) I hope it’s not out of line for me to suggest you that you show him some love tonight with a spontaneous batch of the good stuff.

    2. Wait, “fat people don’t have sex” is actually a thing in people who have presumably outgrown the “Golly, I’ve got gonads just like the socially acceptably thin naked people in those movies my parents pretend they don’t watch!” age?

    3. Solipsism – I don’t find X-type of person attractive, therefore nobody in the entire world could possibly find X-type of person attractive, and if anyone actually does find X-type of person attractive, they are sick and perverted, and need to undergo psychiatric treatment.

      Fatties have sex? Aaaahhh! Break out the electro-shock therapy!

  7. Can you tell me HOW to handle my doctor’s insistance that I continue to show a loss in weight every month? He has told me that unless I show a loss every month he will no longer give me my pain meds. I weigh 310. and no I don’t like it, but I also have metabolic syndrome, fibromyalgia, and degenerative spine disease. the pain meds are for my spine. If i don’t control that pain, it triggers the fibro and i end up in bed for days. Losing weight will not get rid of any of these problems, but of course the medical field insists that if i didn’t have so much pressure on my spine from the excess weight then i would not be in so much pain. sorry but that isn’t true! my knees and feet do hurt from carrying so much weight, but my spine is DEGENERATING and that started BEFORE i got this heavy, and there is NO WAY EVER that this degeneration can be reversed or slowed down! I think it is unfair and UNETHICAL for this doctor to threaten me like this. BUT i don’t have the choice to choose another doctor because my health care is provided by the county hospital because i don’t have an income with which to by my own insurance! He is a pretty nice guy and he works well me about all the other issues I have, but he is very harsh about my weight. I don’t know what to say to him!

    1. Can you request records showing that when you weighed X pounds you already had the spinal condition? And then report this doctor, with copies of the records attached?

    2. Don’t forget Ragen’s post “What to Say at the Doc’s Office”. Lots of pointers, and some cards to print out.

    3. I was going to say find a new doctor. But since that’s not an option right now (unless you can maybe find a different doctor at the same place?), I would have a very honest conversation with him in which you tell him that you feel like he’s threatening you with intolerable pain if you are unable to lose weight and that is causing you a lot of anxiety and fear. Hopefully this will make him feel like a giant asshole and he’ll reconsider.

      1. i did tell him on the next visit that i did not appreciate the way he approached me about this, that he didn’t say how much loss he is expecting and that he hurt my feelings. he never admitted to being wrong or make an actual apology, but he did say that I was right, that WE should have talked about expectations. but still…

    4. This is outrageous! A friend needs a knee replacement, and has also been told she “needs to lose weight”. She has tried the “I find it really hard to exercise” bit, because she does, because her knee is painful. He has said it’s not that she can’t exercise, it’s what she eats. He didn’t even ask her about her diet, let alone even try to advise her what she should or shouldn’t be eating (in “everyone should be at a BMI of 25” world of course, not the real world). I see this as a threat, and your own situation, too. It’s as good as saying, “See – if you don’t buckle down and stop being a greedy glutton lard ass, you’ll have to suffer a load of pain – ALL YOUR FAULT”. My friend’s knee will give way, one day, and the operation will have to be done regardless of her weight (which it should be, anyway). Your poor spine will not stop degenerating, as you’ve said, at 310lbs or 110lbs, and neither will the pain stop. I’ve suggested my friend seek a second and even third opinion, as I don’t see why she should have to struggle around, taking regular painkillers, if there is a solution to her problem. I know it’s a bit different here in the UK, as we do have the NHS, and she has perhaps more choice in that respect, but the attitude is exactly the same. Your doctor is implying that you simply don’t want to help yourself, and proof of this theory is if you don’t show a weight loss each month, in his opinion. I would also recommend Ragen’s blog about what to say to doctors, and really gathering up all your courage and putting your case to your doctor clearly, simply and confidently. You are not a child, nor a simpleton, and do not deserve to be treated like this.

      1. no, i sure don’t! i will figure out how to stop letting him bully me. i don’t know if switching doctor’s will work or not since it would be in the same clinic and they see each other’s notes. something to think about.

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