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BBC story funnier than Little Britain

Many times in the past year, my radio alarm has woken me up with BBC stories on "obesity" that have made me want to hit my head against the wall; stories full of stereotypes, incorrect assumptions, and misleading statistics, without balance or critical thought.

This morning was different. Not that different, because the BBC once again had an obesity story that was full of b.s. But this one was so incredibly stupid that I found it hilarious and have been making fun of it all morning. Even the announcer seemed a bit dubious.

You see, my fat friends, Lord McColl (a 78 year old surgeon and Conservative member of the House of Lords) has the answer. It's easy to get thin. It's amazing how so many of us, with all of our education and life experience, have been unable to figure it out. But now, it's as through the heavens have opened and the light of knowledge has shown down upon us.

Obesity 'cure is free - eat less'

Thanks, Lord McColl!! What a smart guy you are.

But Lord McColl's vast wisdom and deep insight don't end there. Oh no! Have you heard? Exercise isn't the answer! You see, we can't exercise. We're too fat!

Lord McColl said politicians refused to admit that the cause of obesity was over-eating: "In order for an obese person to lose weight - bearing in mind that most of them can't exercise because they are so overweight - all he has to do is eat less.

Why didn't anybody tell me this? Why, I was planning to walk a couple of miles and do a step workout later today, but I forgot that with a BMI of 36, that's impossible! Obviously, my massive obesity renders me immobile. Somebody had better tell Shauta and Regan, so that they'll know that they're too fat to exercise as well.

But wait! Lord McColl is right! Exercising is not making us thin. And as fat people, that should be our sacred duty and only goal in life. Being active? It makes us healthy, happy and physically capable while fat. That can't be allowed! If we fat people fail to be uniformly unfit, disease ridden, and miserable then the universe will implode.

Well, I'll just see if I can haul my massive bulk to the bathroom to take a shower now. So...hard...to...move...so...heavy...pant, pant, pant.

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For anyone who's unaware of how obesity is defined: people are classified as obese if they have a BMI of 30+. BMI is based on weight and height. 25% of Brits and 30% of Americans are classified as obese. The vast majority of obese people have BMIs under 40; the average obese Brit or American has a BMI in the mid-thirties. To get an idea of what that looks like, you can check out Kate Harding's Illustrated BMI Categories.
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Oh, and to the BBC commentator who implied that fat people are like heroin addicts? NAW! Wrong. That's not why the "just eat less" thing doesn't work. It doesn't work because fat people don't necessarily overeat in the first place - let alone have anything that could be likened to an addiction - and when we try to eat less permanently, our bodies think they're being starved and fight back by absorbing as much nutrition as they can from what we eat, using as little energy as possible, and making us preoccupied with food and eating. For Chrissakes, read up on Ancel Keyes.

Remember John Popper and Blues Traveler? | UK Government Policy encourages dieting, could be worse

Beanietude's picture
Beanietude
October 7th, 2011 | Link | What a tool... sorry, Lord

What a tool... sorry, Lord McTool. Wish I'd been told of this latest flash of brilliance before I did 45 minutes of kickboxing this morning. My bad.

richie79's picture
richie79
October 7th, 2011 | Link | The usually fat-obsessed

The usually fat-obsessed Metro apparently saw this for what it was and gave it five lines at the corner of a page buried deep within the newspaper. The BBC on the other hand clearly decided it merited a radio segment and a mention on Breakfast (I tend to use the TV, rather than the radio, for background news to my morning routine) although as yet it hasn't made it onto the website. Quelle surprise. A bit of Googling reveals that Prof. Ian McColl is a former head of surgery at the renowned Guy's Hospital in London, former research fellow at Harvard, advisor to the Thatcher / Major Govts on health matters, Conservative shadow health minister, and trustee of the Mercy Ships charity which delivers volunteer surgeons to war-torn areas of West Africa. The platform he's now using to shame fat people (a life peerage in the House of Lords) was awarded in 1989 on the basis of 'work on behalf of people with disabilities'.

In other words, he's a bloody smart cookie and until this point, otherwise 'good guy' who should know far better than to condemn an entire, diverse, section of society with a soundbite stereotype which isn't backed up by evidence. But then fat people are *different*, aren't we. We don't deserve understanding, or respect, because we bring it on ourselves, and then inflict ourselves on 'normal' society in ways too numerous to list - and that makes all the difference.

As regards advocating disordered eating, there are, frighteningly, plenty of people out these who essentially do just that, when they tell someone who despite failing to lose weight on a 500 or 1000-cal diet that they are still 'eating too much'. I have been told on numerous occasions, in response to explanations that some people are genetically inclined to store weight or do so as a side effect of other conditions or medication, that they should continue to reduce their calorific intake to what seem to me to be unsustainable levels, all to conform with their insistence that the vast range of human diversity can and must be squeezed into the ridiculously narrow, 'one-size-fits all' 'normal' bands of the BMI scale.

"What is right is not always popular and what is popular is not always right" - Albert Einstein

Colleen83 October 7th, 2011 | Link | While I can appreciate your

While I can appreciate your approach, the complete dismissal and even joking at the expensive of fat people who might have mobility issues here is appalling. It would have been great if you could have made your point without making fat people with mobility issues invisible.

vesta44's picture
vesta44
October 7th, 2011 | Link | Colleen83 - I couldn't agree

Colleen83 - I couldn't agree with you more. I'm DEATHFATZ and I have mobility issues. I happen to have difficulty taking a shower - standing there long enough to wash, rinse off, and then wash and rinse my hair I can do, but then I have to sit down long enough for my back to quit hurting before I can even think about drying off and getting dressed. So for someone to say:

Well, I'll just see if I can haul my massive bulk to the bathroom to take a shower now. So...hard...to...move...so...heavy...pant, pant, pant.

makes me feel like I shouldn't even exist, that I should be starving myself so I don't have those mobility issues that are being made fun of. Talk about being shamed in what is supposed to be a safe place.....................

WLS - Sorry, not my preferred way of dying. *glares at doctor recommending it*

DeeLeigh's picture
DeeLeigh
October 7th, 2011 | Link | Look guys, I've had mobility

Look guys, I've had mobility issues. I have an artificial hip. There have been times when I've struggled to take a shower, too, and if you are stuck in that situation indefinitely then my heart goes out to you. However, having trouble taking a shower isn't caused by having a 30+ BMI. My point was that most people who are classified as obese are not immobilized by their weight.

But I can see how that was insensitive, and I'm sorry if I hurt anyone's feelings. I shouldn't have joked about being disabled.

vesta44's picture
vesta44
October 8th, 2011 | Link | Dee - I don't think I would

Dee - I don't think I would have taken it so badly if I hadn't been told for years by doctors that my mobility issues are caused by my weight and that if I would just visit ELMM Street every day for the rest of my life, I wouldn't be fat and I wouldn't have mobility issues - and that they refuse to look for any other cause(s), they blame it all on my fat, even tho those issues are getting worse every year in spite of the fact that my weight has been stable for the last 14 years (and the fact that every diet, diet pill, and even my failed WLS has made matters worse doesn't seem to matter to them). I dread the day when I won't be able to drag myself to the shower because doctors insist that nothing is wrong with me that losing 200 lbs yesterday won't cure.

WLS - Sorry, not my preferred way of dying. *glares at doctor recommending it*

DeeLeigh's picture
DeeLeigh
October 9th, 2011 | Link | Vesta, I'm fortunate that i

Vesta, I'm fortunate that i was able to get doctors to take the problem I was having seriously and to disassociate it from my weight. Actually, when I first had my hips x-rayed, my primary care doctor did try to tell me that the damaged left hip was because of my size. I said "Wait I minute. That's the hip that was broken and dislocated in a car accident 20 years ago. The other hip is fine. If it was because of my weight, both hips would be in equally bad shape, wouldn't they? My right hip wouldn't look perfect while my left hip was a horrible mess."

She couldn't argue with that, and she gave me the referrals I needed. And, from there through to the hip replacement, I'm sure I benefitted from size (BMI under 40) and shape privilege. In fact throughout the process, only my primary care doctor knew my BMI. Nobody else weighed me until right before the surgery. I've never been treated so well by medical professionals. I can't help but suspect that they wouldn't have been so respectful and sympathetic if they'd been thinking of me as "obese" (although I am, by a wide margin). Also, my BMI is/was over the cutoff for joint replacements in places that deny joint surgery based on BMI. I was lucky I didn't live in one of those places. The surgery worked beautifully. I was fortunate in that too. I had an excellent surgeon and a relatively quick, complete and uncomplicated recovery.

If I'd been denied treatment because of my weight, I'd be in the same boat you are. However, that wouldn't magically have made the problem into a result of my weight. It would still have been a car accident injury, and it would have been left untreated because of size discrimination, pure and simple. But even problems that don't have a clear, primary explanation besides weight should be treated, and without blaming and shaming. Osteoarthritis is osteoarthritis regardless of the causes (which can be complex). Nobody refuses to treat a runner's injuries because they chose to put extra strain on their joints, and while runners clearly choose to run, fat people rarely choose to be fat. It's unconscionable that you're having trouble getting the care you need because doctors think that weight loss in the only answer to your problems. It just makes me so angry.

rebelle October 7th, 2011 | Link | Hello, Lord ****wit: I am

Hello, Lord ****wit: I am fat. I exercise. I like it. I am fine. Thanks for asking. I mean, you WERE asking after my health, right, and not sneering down your nose in judgment, like a tacky commoner? In a way and with comments that have been done time and again? Right?
Just checking.

richie79's picture
richie79
October 9th, 2011 | Link | Lord McColl just popped up

Lord McColl just popped up to defend his position on a BBC 'Sunday Morning Live' debate titled 'is it irresponsible to be fat?' (a typically leading question which for once was actually called out by one of the text contributors). He painted himself as a victim of the 'typically British tradition of shooting the messenger' and claimed that he wasn't trying to blame or shame anyone but 'tell it as it is'. The defence was represented by formerly fat writer Amy Lame, who put together an excellent video short against the demonisation of fat in current discourse, and Rob Lyons of Spiked magazine, who writes articles critiquing the 'obesity epidemic' model (and has just published a book on the topic). The other two panellists (and to an extent, presenter Susanna Reid) took the prosecution's position, advocating a fat tax and the withdrawal of NHS treatments for 'obesity'. All in all it was more balanced than previous similar BBC debates on the topic, with some of the text and email messages from the public showing disquiet at the 'moral crusade' and 'bullying by the powers that be' against fat people in recent years.

"What is right is not always popular and what is popular is not always right" - Albert Einstein

DeeLeigh's picture
DeeLeigh
October 9th, 2011 | Link | Thanks Richie. It's series

Thanks Richie. It's series 2, episode 15, here (although I don't know if everyone is going to be able to link to it):

24:00 - the beginning of the segment
34:00 - Lord McColl

richie79's picture
richie79
October 9th, 2011 | Link | Thanks for the links

Thanks for the links Deeleigh. As I can't edit my original comment for some reason, here's the direct link to Amy's 1.21 minute segment - usually available for 7 days after broadcast

"What is right is not always popular and what is popular is not always right" - Albert Einstein

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