Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Making healthy choices

Found this video from America's surgeon general, Dr. Regina Benjamin fascinating.
It's very short so I tried to transcribe it verbatim;

Hello I'm Dr. Regina Benjamin United States surgeon general Two thirds of all adults and nearly one in three children are overweight or obese. As a result our nation has high rates of diabetes and other chronic illnesses. The good news is we can be healthy and fit at any size or any weight. As America's family doctor I want to change the national conversation from a negative one about obesity and illness to a positive conversation about being healthy and being fit. So let's start with making healthy choices. Eat nutritious foods exercise regularly and have fun doing it.

For such a short speech, it feels as if its in two parts that don't match. The first one being the disclaimer. The next is the hopeful bit she felt more at home with it, she got positively conspiratorial when she said "fun". Almost as if she was recommending some kind of subversion and was definitely more at home with that.

The clear disconnect comes after the set up of the US obesity/overweight stats; 2/3 of adults, 1 in 3 children, then the payoff "As a result our nation has high rates of diabetes and other chronic illnesses." That doesn't go with the following HAES message as it locates weight the issue rather firmly as that of weight not habits (lifestyle).

Her heart appears more in the latter than the former so it will be interesting to see if the other camp will be sidelined in time. It's a welcome change that someone so high up in the US government recommends fat people treating themselves as valuable now as is, rather than being in waiting room waiting for the slim train that has been cancelled to come in.

The selfish lack of consideration of fat people's reality has been indulged for way too long and only got going due to the meanness of those who are more interested in neat associations of fat v thin, which simply won't be without invasive social engineering.

That's a weird thing about the whole conflation of weight and healthy habits, ever since the slimming industry bolted health on to ballast their shaky empire of mythical attainable thinness its created a bit of a puzzle.

It boils down to what are the true effects of healthy eating. If it is supposed to be healthy and so is slimness this diet should make everyone slim, right? That logic is why the slimming industry thought they had died and gone to heaven.

Certainly plenty of people are fat on recommended type diets and thin on demonized ones. I say type because there is no one perfect diet, nutritionists tend to look at people's actual diets and pick them to pieces. They don't tend to draft in the real world examples of the type of diet they feel should be eaten.

First off it would be too prescriptive, like Weight Watchers before their "points" scheme which is why they invented it (I wonder if they'd still be in business without it).

This lack of a perfect healthy diet in action does suggests a certain lack of conviction in the premise as much as it points up the impracticality of a diet consciously structured by favoured nutrients. Which doesn't reflect how humans tend to eat, as a rule.

A lot of fat healthists have concluded that as healthy eating creates/preserves health and they eat healthily and remain fat, they must be fat and healthy. It's the conclusion of healthism itself that makes them feel this way. Healthy eating leads people to feel that they are healthy and a demonized diet to feel they are unhealthy.

I would love to get to the bottom of just how healthy, healthy eating and lifestyle really is, and just how much it is just an extension of an already good and protected existence where the demands on your body and mind do not lend themselves toward the demonized foods and you can tolerate the unpleasant feelings generated by exercise, because they are not joining a whole lifetime of stored ones.

Or whether eating fresh produce and gritting your teeth through exercise can mitigate the effects of your position in society. A lot of people are counting on this.

Maybe this change of direction at the top will help to pin down the full truth. That would be as much fun as Dr. Benjamin can be; on her days off.

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