Ragen Chastain

"I don't consider fatness a problem."

Welcome to another installment of "10 Words or Less," in which I put brief questions to interesting people and ask for brief answers in return. To be blunt, today's participant failed miserably — "I told you Michael, diets of any kind, even word diets, probably not going to work with me," she said afterward — but she has interesting things to say, and I'll take form over format any time. She is a northern California psychologist who works often with clients who have eating disorders.


Diets don't work, but weight loss is possible

It is true that much of the commercial weight-loss industry is composed of charlatans who lack evidence to back up their come-ons. But that's not the same as saying that there is no way to reduce one's body size sustainably.

As you know, I did (am doing) it, and I have lots of friends who have as well. But there's also the long-term, legitimate, National Weight Control Registry, which is coming up on 20 years and tracks more than 10,000 people who've lost significant weight and kept it off for significant time.


Against obesity, not obese people

I used to skewer the brazen flaks at the "Center for Consumer Freedom" a lot more than I do now — or perhaps I just think that's true because of all the times I feel moved to expose their flabby logic, and then allow my cooler self to prevail. How many times can I link to an organ I want to disappear before I realize I'm making them more visible?


Correlation isn't causality, but it's enough to act

Taxonomy upgrade extras: 

I often score the ugly mouthpieces of Big Food for faulty logic, especially when they recast reasonable positions as absolutes, so they can then “prove” their falsity. (Example: “There is no evidence that sugary soda is the sole cause of obesity, so soda taxes or other curbs are unreasonable.” Except, no one (except them) says it’s the sole cause. Just that it’s an egregious, unredeemable cause, and therefore a good place to begin attacking the obesity problem.)


Still struggling with "Health At Every Size"

Perhaps it’s only self-flattery when I say that one of the ways in which I contribute most to discourse is my honesty. Believe me, there’s enough I don’t disclose, but I believe in the power of disclosure to move myself and others forward, even when I don’t look great in the process.

I’m going to test that again in this post.

As a result of attending the Binge Eating Disorder Association’s national conference over the weekend in Bethesda, Md., I’m revisiting some of my biases, which include:


Dr. Lustig's miniseries

It's almost impossible to be in my line of work — commenting on how we eat, with the goal of increasing respect for, and interest in, healthy nutrition — and not admire what Dr. Robert Lustig is accomplishing. His appearance on "60 Minutes" a couple of weeks ago was the the latest wild success he has achieved in bringing attention to primary causes of in the world's obesity pandemic.


"Obesity," by some other name


   If your doctor wants to address the excess weight you’re carrying, she’s being advised not to use loaded words such as “obesity” – even if it’s the proper medical term.
    According to a new study of 390 obese patients, certain phrases can lead people to clam up and stop talking about the issue with their physician.


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