The Men Who Made Us Thin (3)

Interesting things from the 3rd episode:

– Firstly, hopefully we all know that your weight isn’t the only factor used to judge whether you are “healthy”. Body Mass Index (BMI) uses height and weight, it has its critics but you can’t deny how simple it is. It’s now easier than ever to calculate the health risks associated with your weight.


– It wasn’t until the mid 90s that being overweight was also associated with a lot of health risks, similar to those seen in obese individuals. The panic caused by these health risks increased significantly when the USA changed weight guidelines and overnight 29 million US citizens went from being considered “healthy” to “overweight”. Some researchers believed these changes didn’t have the research to back them up, but the changes were soon part of a global policy for obesity and they were adopted by the WHO and countries across the world. This redefinition also meant the weight loss industry suddenly had a much bigger market. The increased wide-spread weight loss panic meant the industry was worth $30b in 1997, and this doubled in the next 10 years.

– Weight loss surgery soon became available for overweight individuals, not just the obese. The ability to shrink stomachs without making an incision, in a procedure that lasted less than half an hour and could help you lose up to 70lbs opened up weight loss surgery to a whole new market. Even though the procedure doesn’t have FDA approval, people are still willing to pay $12,000 dollars for this new miracle operation.

– The introduction and success of low fat, low calorie foods all relied on one magic ingredient: artificial sweetener. This lead to the introduction of choice in many foods: to diet or not to diet. And people were finding the choice an easy one to make as you could still enjoy sweet diet foods without the calories.


– Sweeteners, they sound too good to be true, are they? Recent research in rats showed sweeteners actually made them put on weight. But is this the same in humans? Recent research suggests the brain begins to show a weaker response to sugar and may cause you to eat more calories. But this may only be the tip of the iceberg as there’s still a lot we don’t know about artificial sweeteners.

– Weight is an issue that dominates in all aspects of society, especially in the media. An exclusive photo of a “fat celebrity” can be worth £3,000-10,000. But these photos and the months of attention a celebrity gains while yoyo dieting could all be a publicity stunt. Celebrities used to sleep with footballers to increase fame, but now the front covers of magazines and websites are mainly dominated by celebrities and their weight, so people use this to their advantage.


– There’s a new way to eat what you want, when you want and still lose weight, being trialed in Sweden. (If you’re squeamish you definitely want to avoid this episode, it is MINGING!) You have a tube inserted into your stomach which you can link to a pump that you use to evacuate 30% of the food you eat at every meal. Ewwwwwwww…

– We are constantly being bombarded by the media of the health implications of being overweight, but a BMI of 25-30 is actually associated with lower mortality than a BMI in the “healthy” range. There’s only a slight difference, but it’s not the apocalyptic associations of being overweight that we see in the media and that cause such panic. So, it’s not necessarily that the slimmer you are, the longer you live.

– So how do we move on from all of this? STOP FOCUSING ON WEIGHT! AND START FOCUSING ON HEALTH AND FITNESS!!! Weight doesn’t indicate health, but weight is easy to measure and fitness isn’t. Thin people can be unhealthy. If you’re fat and fit, you’re more likely to live longer than someone who is thin and unfit. The best thing you can do is start to move more. If you’re not fit now, improvements can be seen quickly.

So guys, reject the messages that there is something wrong with your body, THERE ISN’T. Lead a healthy lifestyle specific for you.

We’re all trying to fix the wrong problem…

7 responses to “The Men Who Made Us Thin (3)

  1. So much of the problem is the perception of “healthy”. 40-50 years ago, Marilyn Monroe, a woman who was a size 12, was the ultimate goddess! Now days we have people who have to be a double O in order to be considered pretty or sexy.

    That being said, the American society is overweight. I read an article recently ( I don’t remember where ) that stated the average woman size for woman ages 30-60 was a SIZE 20! There are inherent issues with being overweight. Its harder on your heart and lungs, and generally speaking ( and this is with a VERY BROAD BRUSH that I say this ) when you carry extra pounds, you are not typically as active, thus leading to other health issues.

  2. I completely agree. “Healthy” is purely judged on appearance. It just winds me up that I don’t think people are addressing the real problems. You can’t tell people you can eat what you want if you exercise, you can’t eat low fat and expect to get magically thin. That was the problem with changing the BMI boundaries, people who were healthy suddenly began to panic that they weren’t. And once they panicked they started buying low fat which meant more sugar and more weight! And you can’t generalise a whole population and come up with just 1 solution for such a complex problem. I don’t know what the solution is, but at the moment we do just appear to be making things worse for ourselves! And like you say, it depends which way people look at “fat” people. They’re lazy so they got fat, or are they “lazy” because their weight restricts them? There are so many boundaries people have to changing their diet and levels of physical activity, not just “laziness”.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s