Prejudices - Obesity

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LIWY
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Re: Prejudices - Obesity

Post by LIWY » Tue Apr 19, 2011 10:24 pm

Relevant article on BBC today..

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-13119545
A mother's diet during pregnancy can alter the DNA of her child and increase the risk of obesity, according to researchers.

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Borrowed Cone
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Re: Prejudices - Obesity

Post by Borrowed Cone » Tue Apr 19, 2011 10:28 pm

LIWY wrote:Relevant article on BBC today..

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-13119545
For those interested in the actual findings, the original article is here
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heatherb
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Re: Prejudices - Obesity

Post by heatherb » Wed Apr 20, 2011 2:21 am

That's a really interesting article - certainly makes you think about how much control we do have over our weight, and how much is predetermined in our genetic blueprint.

I just stumbled across this thread and find it really interesting. My PhD research is related to diet and nutrition, so it's really interesting to hear peoples thoughts on what seems to be an emotive issue from many perspectives. I also find it interesting that society is generally quick to socially outgroup, or villify those at the higher end of the weight spectrum. Who can imagine what would happen if as a society we so openly displayed the same prejudices against those with physical or mental impairments (yes I'm aware these prejudices do continue to exist, but I think in much more of a subtle manner... it's socially perceived as ok to discriminate against someone on the grounds of their weight as opposed to having, say, an intellectual difficulty). I think as a society we tend to blame the individual for the fact that they are overweight and attribute that to a personal failing on the persons behalf, without thinking about the social, environmental, genetic and psychological factors underlying this. I suppose as human beings have a tendency to stereotype in order to simplify the world around us - if you were to give a physical description of someone we tend to focus on the most visible attributes such as height and weight. Taken into a social context, I also think age is an important factor that is often overlooked. At certain points across the lifespan from a societal perspective it is more 'ok' to be overweight than others.

It always fascinates me how much, particularly in Western society, we use weight as a yardstick for success in so many areas of life. Attractiveness is too often dominated by the concept of 'weight', as are constructs such as intelligence, motivation and achievement - the underlying ethos being that if you are overweight then by proxy you can be none of these things. I think women particularly bear the brunt of these stereotypes, although the rise (or increased recognition) of eating disorders in young males appears to suggest that 'fat' is more than just a feminist issue.

I think that food is probably one of the most universal but culturally specific material forms, and that when, how, what and why we choose to eat what we do is guided by culture. I suppose within that culture there are certain expectations, or cultural 'norms' and those falling outside of those norms or ideals are more likely to be blamed as the perception is that weight is something that is directly under our control. It's interesting that we don't attach the same attributions to drinking excess alcohol, smoking or gambling.

Anyway apologies for the disjointed post, just a few things that the thread made me think about whilst reading. I'd be interested to learn more about this area, particularly as it is indirectly linked to the work that I'm starting on my PhD topic.

H :)

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othello
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Re: Prejudices - Obesity

Post by othello » Wed Apr 20, 2011 8:03 am

I think another factor that makes it difficult for people to loose weight is that you HAVE to eat. You can't go cold turkey or gradually cut down. And if your eating anyway well it might as well be tasty and fulfilling. Now I know there are low calorie foods that are these things but to someone not used to eating in that manner it might not seem that way. If you think how difficult it would be for an addict to have just 1 beer or just a little bit of heroin and stop there you'll see what I'm trying to get at!
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miriam
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Re: Prejudices - Obesity

Post by miriam » Wed Apr 20, 2011 4:50 pm

According to something I read recently, there are also interesting biological things that happen when you are overweight. Firstly, excess is stored in a way that is not used when there is immediate need - you feel hungry first rather than burning fat first - and this is a survival mechanism because it was rare to be able to become obese until the last few hundred years. Secondly, overeating stretches the stomach and makes it take a greater quantity of food to feel physically satiated, so it is hard to break out of over-eating. Thirdly overweight people get desensitised to leptin, the chemical that inhibits hunger, but if they eat less or lose weight they can get very strong leptin messages to eat more. Meanwhile eating processed carbs makes insulin spike and then drop off rapidly, which is perceived as a hunger signal, whilst more of the calories are stored as fat. This is one of the reasons why high protein diets are fashionable - as they reduce the insulin spikes and mean that less calories are required to feel sated, and excess calories are less immediately stored to fat.
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NeoPsych
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Re: Prejudices - Obesity

Post by NeoPsych » Thu Apr 21, 2011 9:09 am

heatherb said:
I think as a society we tend to blame the individual for the fact that they are overweight
and attribute that to a personal failing on the persons behalf, without thinking about the
social, environmental, genetic and psychological factors underlying this.
See fundamental attribution error, i.e., the tendency to attribute other people's failure
to internal, static factors (lack of positive traits, character, ability etc.) and one's own
failure to external, transient conditions (bad luck, unfavorable conditions, bad weather
etc.). (Typically, the reverse applies to success.)

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kopella
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Re: Prejudices - Obesity

Post by kopella » Thu Apr 21, 2011 2:07 pm

On a similar note to Miriam's last post on this thread, I recall from undergrad studies that the types of food which are most appealing, such as fast food, sweets, cakes act on our endogenous opioid system in much the same way drugs do and that once accustomed to eating these types of foods the body craves them in much the same way it would hardcore drugs, with withdrawal effects if they're not consumed.

I also vaguely recall seeing last on morning tv news some recent research demonstrating that once the mass body weight passed a certain point, the body's self regulatory system adjusts and works to maintain that weight, hence no amount of dieting and exercise will be effective as the body's homeostatic regulation is actively working to maintain at that weight.

I understand your view point Kieran, as I have witnessed similar eating patterns in close friends and family and it can be very frustrating when a healthier lifestyle or changed diet seems such a simple solution. In reality it seems far more complex and physiologically similar to drug addictions/lifestyle factors, if not more difficult because as has been mentioned, we have to eat to survive.

On a more personal note, if I'm feeling down, nothing makes me feel better than a nice big tub of chocolate ice-cream, I'm guessing probably because it hits the right receptors in my endogenous opioid system. :mrgreen:

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baa
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Re: Prejudices - Obesity

Post by baa » Thu Apr 21, 2011 2:11 pm

mmmm caaaaake.

Miriam, my friend was talking about the Carb Ishoo recently. It sounded quite interesting, she was mentioning the link between the fashion for low-fat products (nicely puffed up with sugar to make them taste of something) and the rise in obesity. I can find links n things to articles n things.
At least I'm not as mad as that one!

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heatherb
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Re: Prejudices - Obesity

Post by heatherb » Sun Apr 24, 2011 12:57 am

Nice one baa... any chance you could point me in the right direction for some articles? I'm looking at the implications of diet and nutrition at the latter end of the life span, and how functional foods can be potentially used as a vehicle for changes in eating patterns.

They should just bring back rations and be done with it... then we'll all be lean, healthy whippersnappers! :)

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Dr.Dot
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Re: Prejudices - Obesity

Post by Dr.Dot » Sun Apr 24, 2011 9:34 am

heatherb wrote: They should just bring back rations and be done with it... then we'll all be lean, healthy whippersnappers! :)
I am assume you are not actually serious. But tbh, I find a statement that perpetuates the prejudice towards being overwieght and the value judgments associated with it somewhat difficult to receive in a thread where the discussion is based on challenging and reflecting on those prejudices. Regardless of the intention, this statement perpetuates the discourse that thin is better and fat is only ever associated with bad health.
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baa
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Re: Prejudices - Obesity

Post by baa » Sun Apr 24, 2011 11:21 am

i'm on my phone, so don't have the links. The man's name is gary taubes though. Give him a google.
At least I'm not as mad as that one!

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Ruthie
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Re: Prejudices - Obesity

Post by Ruthie » Sun Apr 24, 2011 11:47 am

Skinny isn't necessarily healthy and fat isn't necessarily unhealthy! You can be thin and extremely unfit and being underweight and malnourished also comes with a host of health problems.

For me, one of the things that has helped me become more at peace with my body is endurance sports - because I learn what my body is capable of, see it developing strength and power and an incredible ability to just keep going. (Incidentally, I am a curvy girl and don't have the stereotypical endurance athlete's body, in case anyone thinks I'm some skinny athlete on a soapbox.)

One of the things that bothers me most about most discussions about body shape and size is that we are so focused on how our bodies look and so utterly unaware of what our bodies can do. I know people who are thin and "beautiful" by society's standards but they couldn't keep up with me for 10 minutes in the pool, on a bike or running round the park. (Although perhaps this is my prejudice about people who don't exercise coming out).

I think if we were all less hung up on criticising our bodies and those of others, it might be a lot easier to eat well, balance exercise and rest and look after ourselves.

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heatherb
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Re: Prejudices - Obesity

Post by heatherb » Mon Apr 25, 2011 3:33 am

Yes I was being ironic Dr.Dot!

Thanks Baa - will give the guy a google. Makes me wonder what we did in the times before google....

Yep I agree Ruthie... we tend to look at the body from a visual perspective as opposed to a functional one. That's one thing I'm learning doing all of this research - how diet and nutrition affect the body from a functional perspective. I do find it amazing how eating patterns seem to have changed so much in recent years. Whenever I'm out and about with my sister she seems to really notice physical things about people and will often say 'did you see his/her *insert comment*?' to which nine times out of ten I really haven't noticed. I guess I'm just not that observant when it comes to things like this. That's a really good point about exercise too Ruthie - there seems to be an assumption that if you're what society classes as 'skinny' or 'slim' then you must be physically fitter than somebody bigger than yourself... complete fallacy!

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heatherb
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Re: Prejudices - Obesity

Post by heatherb » Mon Apr 25, 2011 9:16 am

I've been doing a spot of 'googling' today and come across this article by Gary Taubes, as baa mentioned. Makes for an interesting read!

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/07/07/magaz ... t-lie.html

Enjoy :)

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baa
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Re: Prejudices - Obesity

Post by baa » Tue Apr 26, 2011 12:13 pm

huh! That is interesting! I knew my rage with low-fat food wasn't completely irrational.

Oh! And randomly, i swear i read something about someone living on a war ration diet, which was effectve, possibly because of the lack of refined carbs. And the use of lard, who knows? I freaking love lard.
At least I'm not as mad as that one!

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