Seriously Guardian? Seriously?

There’s nothing complex about it, scoffs someone (we’ll call him Slim Jim) every time the topic of weight loss comes up in the media: eat less and exercise more. If I’d lost a pound every time I’d heard that, my struggles would be over. Again, the implication is that fat people are stupid, lazy or lacking in self-discipline, and probably all three.

I don’t think I am lazy. I’ve climbed to 18,000 feet, run a half-marathon (OK, jogged) and written three novels (one published). I can be lazy certainly, but surely all of us can.

I don’t think I lack self-discipline. It was arguably an excess of self-discipline that enabled me to starve myself in my 20s until my BMI dropped to below 15. It is more than double that now, but I don’t believe my character has fundamentally changed.

“But that’s an eating disorder!” cries Slim Jim. “It’s different for most people!” And it’s true, I have been diagnosed with an eating disorder, but then I’ve been diagnosed with lots of things.

This the prelude to insisting that obesity is about deprivation etc. At which point:

Author Clare Allan spent 10 years in a mental health institution.

So we do rather know that the lady isn’t representative of the average land whale. So why the use of the lady as the exemplar of how complicated it all is?

29 thoughts on “Seriously Guardian? Seriously?”

  1. Getting down to a BMI of 15 kind of gives it away too.

    It’s fair to say though that obesity does correlate with lack of activity/intelligence is etc.

  2. I think she eludes to using food as ‘an emotional crutch’ in much the same way people resort to booze and drugs … to religion. Life is hard and then you die – though I’d rather live and die a skinny runt than a land whale.

  3. The Meissen Bison

    Eleven lines of text and fourteen instances of pronouns and adjectives in the first person singular.

    That gives us an ABMI (All ‘Bout Me Index) of 1.27

  4. “So why the use of the lady as the exemplar of how complicated it all is?”

    Because the Guardian, without fail, will always use an awful example.

  5. No comments allowed on the article.
    She doesn’t say she ever actually tried Slim Jom’s advice, or even any sort of self-discipline.

  6. It’s not just the Guardian. You are every bit as likely to find this type of drivel in the online Telegraph these days.

  7. To be fair, it is very hard to lose weight on the ‘official’ high carb/low saturated fat diets that the medical profession are still telling everyone to stick to, despite all the available evidence showing that there is no link between saturated fat intake and heart disease, and carbs are linked to obesity and diabetes. Diets based on carbs are incredibly hard to stick to, the body has no ‘off switch’ for carb intake, you can gorge on them as much as you like and never feel full. Fat and protein on the other had rapidly create a ‘I’ve had enough now’ feeling.

    You can’t ask the average person to lose weight on a high carb/low fat diet, they just don’t have the will power. So none of this ‘lose weight to save the NHS’ shtick will work one jot, while the medical profession continues to worship at the altar of their fallen idol Ancel Keyes.

  8. “(I’ve) written three novels”

    Not sure that helps to knock points off your BMI, unless you use a rusty typewriter.

  9. Commander Jameson

    In the past, that mental institution would have been the cause of many cases of elevated BMI. They used to use “insulin shock therapy”, which left patients monstrously obese.

  10. “written three novels (one published)”

    That doesn’t really suggest self-discipline. Writing three publishable novels might (making the effort to produce what other people actually want), but unpublished ones look more like self-indulgent narcissism.

  11. RichardT: I get the impression that not many authors get published with their first novel, let alone rake in the shekels with it (pardon my privilege – is that anti-semitic now?). However there is probably a lot of narcissism around – the dinner party statement: “I feel I definitely have a novel in me”.

    A guy I know has written several books in his professional field but he’s also writing thriller novels. I read the first one and it really didn’t compare with the other thriller writers that I read.

  12. @ Jim
    The point is that the body *needs* protein so a normal human being will feel hungry if he/she hasn’t got enough. Fat and carbohydrates each have their uses but I can manage with very little of one or the other. Fad diets quite often supply too little protein so the victim feels hungry and eats too much low-protein food, hence too many calories.

  13. eat less and exercise more. If I’d lost a pound every time I’d heard that, my struggles would be over. Again, the implication is that fat people are stupid, lazy or lacking in self-discipline, and probably all three.

    No, that’s not the implication. The implication is that there is no barrier between you and weight loss except those you put there yourself. I know. I’ve ‘struggled’ with my weight for along time. Through most of my military career and post. When I’ve put forth the work, the pounds come off. Because I ate less and exercised more. When I didn’t, the pounds came back. No secrets. And that’s with me being hypothyroidic. Sure, as such I probably won’t ever be able to get into full fighting trim (being near 50 than 40 doesn’t help either) but I could drop 20 pounds any time I felt like getting off my arse to do so.

    I’m overweight now not because I’m lazy – but because, at the core, I simply don’t care enough to put forth the effort required. That doesn’t mean you’re lazy, it means you have other priorities. Simply wishing the weight to go away with no effort on your part is childish.

    Recognizing *that* is an important part of growing up.

  14. “Simply wishing the weight to go away with no effort on your part is childish.”

    Every one who sees a porky sees a choice. They have chosen their food over their appearance.

    Fine. Their choice to make.

    ‘Again, the implication is that fat people are stupid, lazy or lacking in self-discipline, and probably all three.’

    Others don’t know why they made their choice.

    ‘While NHS bike schemes are a positive step, the government’s language operates on the premise that overweight people are overweight because they don’t care enough.’

    This is the literal truth. Overweight people have made a choice.

    ‘The government’s strategy ignores the complex causes of obesity, so it will fail.’

    There is no complexity at all.

    ‘I can’t be shamed into losing weight – I’m not lazy or lacking in self-discipline’

    You choose to be fat. The government can’t have a strategy for your choosing to be fat. Nor should it even be concerned. So this “Lose weigh for the NHS” is amusing.

  15. Circumstances can make weight management more difficult at times, breaking an ankle and having surgery tends to make life difficult, same as shutting down all the swimming pools for 6months when using swimming as a low impact exercise for recovery

  16. @Jim
    Lockdown and preparing for second wave Gov strategy

    Die to save the NHS

    @Agammamon, Gamecock
    Spot on

  17. @john77: it might be wise to ensure you have enough fat with your protein. Rural poor people used sometimes to suffer malnutrition from a diet too high in rabbit – lots of protein but very little fat. Or so they say.

  18. There’s a show called Alone that dumps a bunch of survival experts off in various places (latest is arctic) to survive for as long as they can.
    One thing that becomes very clear is the variety of food needed to survive longer term and the effort involved in gaining and then protecting a food supply when everything else around you wants to steal it.
    A lot of reliance on snaring rabbit but it’s noticeable the difference it makes for the ones that do well fishing to have the varied sources of fats and proteins.

  19. Tractor Gent: ’ However there is probably a lot of narcissism around – the dinner party statement: “I feel I definitely have a novel in me”.’

    If she had to get DOWN to a BMI of 15, it’s pretty obvious she had a whole library in her…

  20. @ dearieme
    If they ate only rabbit and no pork, I suppose so. I never found a way to completely exclude fat from my diet.

  21. @john77

    Fat free diet: sugar and water – give it a try. Add onions & celery as trace of fat – <0.2%

  22. @ Pcar
    I not only like but need protein-rich foods.
    And I never said I wanted a completely fat-free diet: I said I could manage with very little of either fat or carbohydrates.

  23. @ Pcar
    I did, many years ago, follow a diet plan with reduced fat and looked for ways to minimise fat but I never found a way to completely eliminate fat – and if I had I should not have stuck to it because I liked sausages for breakfast.
    I don’t drink milk so thanks for the suggestion but .

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