Let’s say you’re a doctor who learns that in WW1, munitions workers who were exposed to 2,4-dinitrophenol (DNP) began sweating profusely, experienced stomach pain, weakness, and diarrhea, yellowed skin, weight loss, fevers at and over 104 degrees Fahrenheit, confusion, agitation, unconsciousness and then death.
In a normal world, the response would be “Wow, let’s keep people the hell away from DNP!” But in 1933, overcome with diet culture, a bunch of doctors, including two physicians at Stanford, heard about this and responded: “Wait – did you say they lost weight?”
On the strength of short-term studies that showed weight loss without too many negative side effects (only three deaths!) the drug began to be prescribed widely. Turns out, there were horrific lifelong side effects and in 1938 it was ruled “too toxic for human consumption.” At that point the drug went underground, until a Russian Physician started selling it at his, wait for it, weight-loss clinics in Texas. He went to prison, where as luck would have it, he met the author of author of The Underground Steroid Handbook.
Fast forward to users in bodybuilding forums on sites like Reddit bragging about their use, more women using it in desperation to become thin, and more deaths. (I highly recommend this article by Jennifer Wapner to get the full story.)
What I want to point out is that this isn’t a unique situation. Many, many diet drugs get approved based on short-term studies, and then are found to cause great harm. The argument that killing some fat people is no big deal, if there’s a chance that we could become thin, is made by people who are our doctors and who claim to be our advocates.
Fat people cannot trust diet culture – not ever. Diet culture is built on the idea that it is ok to kill us trying to make us thin. Diet culture wants us thin or dead, and doesn’t seem to much care which it is. Refusing to buy into diet culture is an act of self-preservation.
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Like this blog? Here’s more cool stuff:
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Book and Dance Class Sale! I’m on a journey to complete an IRON-distance triathlon, and I’m having a sale on all my books, DVDs, and digital downloads to help pay for it. You get books and dance classes, I get spandex clothes and bike parts. Everybody wins! If you want, you can check it out here! (DancesWithFat Members get an even better deal, make sure to make your purchases from the Members Page!)
I’m (still!) training for an Iron-distance triathlon! You can follow my journey at www.IronFat.com .