Another Diet Broker Hits The Streets

In a recent web article, published here, one more diet broker has come forward to tell everyone why his diet will work, and no other diet has. Not surprisingly, he helps to feed the prejudice and bigotry against fat people that are the keys to the diet industry's success. To quote the web article,

SM: Enter Michael Fumento....he tells overweight Americans -- 'fat blobs on legs' -- to get off their butts and stop using biology as an excuse for their corpulent shapes.

(Note: SM is Salon Magazine, who published the article online. MF are long quotes from Fumento, the diet broker. I'm quoting the article for purposes of review and discussion, but, to be fair, you should go read the original article).

Standard procedure for the diet industry. First, discredit all other diets (after all, you have to show that you are different, because the dieter knows all other diets have failed). Then, make the dieter feel as bad as possible about themselves. Then, tell them why *YOUR* diet is different. But, don't give them any meaningful guarantees.

I could rest my case right here. But, let's have some fun debunking the bigot.

SM: Fumento himself has battled the bulge. Though he doesn't reveal his weight, he admits he tried dozens of diet books; but only when he began research for his book did he lose the 25 pounds that had saddled him for years.

If I had the chance to speak directly to someone who has recently lost a measly 25 pounds, and then gone a crusade to tell other people how effective his method is, I'd say this:

I did this too. Several times. So has every fat person I know, whether or not they are involved now with fat acceptance, and whether or not they are trying to lose weight at this time.

The point that you are missing is that it is trivial to lose weight. Anyone can do it. I believe my record for intentional weight loss was a little over a hundred pounds in six months.

The reality is that this weight will return to you.

There is no proven method for permanent weight loss. The results that you describe are very typical of someone attempting to lose weight, but only about 2% of the people who make this attempt keep the weight off for more than five years.

Basically, you have admitted that you just now lost this weight. Your experience will not become significant until five years from now. If you have not regained your weight, consider yourself triumphant! Only one out of fifty people can achieve this.

If you are one of the other 49 out of 50 people--well, keep this e-mail until you are certain (2002). If you are still 25 pounds thinner by then, I'd be delighted to hear from you. I only know one person who has ever done this (and I know a *LOT* of fat people).

What I am saying is confirmed by all of the anecdotal evidence I have ever found, as well as all of the scientific evidence that is available. You especially need to return to my web page, and reference the study by the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the Rockefeller University study.

Fundamentally, this unrealistic belief that you can maintain an artificially-low weight results from a lack of understanding of how the body maintains it's weight. The body's weight is one of many variables which the body controls through a closed-loop feedback system. Somewhere in your genetic code is stored the weight which is natural for you (referred to as your "set point"). Although you can disturb the system and alter your weight, this disturbance is referred to by control engineers as a "transient". Your body will again seek your natural weight. The entire time that you are at an unnatural weight, your internal systems will maintain pressure to attempt to force you back to your natural weight. This pressure is not healthy. Just as being too hot or too cold for a long period of time stresses your temperature control system, maintaining an unnatural weight stresses your weight control system. There are some researchers who think that this will damage your system, and cause your setpoint to be adjusted *UPWARDS*!

The real point here is that losing weight--perturbing the system--is easy. Keeping the weight off means a constant struggle against ever-increasing pressure by your body to return to normal. Very few people can win that struggle (and many fail the attempt with permanent damage to their health as a result of the fight).

MF: Because what happens is this. You buy Susan Powter's "Stop the Insanity." But it doesn't work. You buy "The Zone." It doesn't work. You buy Dr. Atkins' book. It doesn't work, so you buy another book that doesn't work. You have now bought 15 books. Then along comes somebody from NAAFA (The National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance) and they say, guess what? Diets don't work! It is impossible to lose weight! And you believe it because you have tried the 15 top-selling books.

Wow, I agree with this! you buy book after book, and try diet after diet, and not a one of them works! The diet industry just keeps making money by passing victims from one diet to another. Than along comes Michael Fumento with another diet book, explaining why all of the other diets don't work. And you buy that one to. Welcome to the club, Mike!

Here's the rub: every diet book tells you why the other diets don't work. That's standard procedure. Of course, Mr. Fumento's book will do the same thing.

MF: I'm not sure that we can eliminate obesity. Can we drop it by half? Yes, possibly. Can we at least stop it from increasing? I should like to think so.

And the reason that he says this is.....???? All anecdotal and credible scientific evidence, including the opinion of the National Institute of Health, disagrees with this "Can we drop it by half?" nonsense. Maybe we can cut it by 2%, but at what cost?

MF: Yet in the last year, four books have come out that I know of, saying it's OK to be fat!

Of course it's OK to be fat! A lot more than four books have come out, BTW. Mike needs to read more.

SM: But what if someone is active, healthy, happy and large?

MF: This happy stuff -- I'm really skeptical about it.

That's right all you people out there who think you are happy! Listen to this guy! He knows whether you are happy or not! What do you know?

MF: I cite a study in my book where researchers talked to former obese people. They say stuff like, "I would rather go blind than be fat" and "I'd rather have both my legs cut off than be fat." People don't want to be fat.

People who are trying to lose weight don't want to be fat. Duh! Anyone who you refer to as "formerly obese" I would call "on a diet". Because once they go off that diet (or even before they go off that diet in most cases), they will again be fat. For someone born fat, thin is temporary. Of course, anyone on the diet roller coaster is unhappy about being fat. Otherwise, they'd simply quit dieting.

Besides which, the reason that people don't want to be fat is that a $30 Billion propaganda machine has told them it is bad for them.

SM: You disagree with the fat acceptance books that say it's possible to be fit and fat?

MF: What do they mean when they say they fat and fit? To the medical establishment being fit means their cholesterol level is good, their triglyceride level is good, their blood pressure is not high and that they have a normal EKG.

OK, so first he admits that someone can have good medical readings, even if they are fat. But this is the good part...

MF: But there are all sorts of things going on inside that body that cannot be measured through any test that is yet available.

This is too funny for words!!! Let's analyze this logic. "There is no scientific test that can prove being fat is bad for you, but we better all lose weight just in case".

Simply substitute any other concept for being fat, and we'll see how logical this is:

"There is no scientific test that proves using computers is bad for you, but we better ban their use in the home, just in case."


SM: You write that "obese people are made, not hatched." Haven't medical researchers found there is an obesity gene and many people are born with the physical makeup of their parents?

MF: The latest obesity gene study I have seen looked at black women, compared to white women.

Both you and the people who conducted this study have missed the point. There is no correlation between a person's weight and their metabolic level. Nor should you expect to find one, if you understand how homeostatic control mechanisms work. These mechanisms (such as the one that regulates human body weight) produce a feedback control signal that depends upon the difference between the output variable and the preset or input variable. In this case, it is not the person's weight that is important, it is the difference between their weight and their natural weight (set by their unique genetic code). Thus, people who are fat but not dieting will have the same metabolic level as people who are thin and not dieting. But, when either person tries to lose weight, their body reacts to this attempt by lowering their metabolic weight, in an attempt to stabilize their weight.

The Rockefeller University study looked for this correlation, and demonstrated it in controlled laboratory conditions (not sloppy field study conditions) beyond any doubt. Any attempt to gain or lose weight is met by the body adjusting the metabolic rate in the opposite direction. The results were reported in the September 95 issue of The New England Journal Of Medicine.

The studies cited on my home pageare a lot harder to ignore.

SM: You cite examples of how Americans are actually becoming more tolerant of the obese and less tolerant of the thin. Yet it seems there is intense disdain towards the obese -- and certainly more job discrimination.

MF: Fat people are to some extent discriminated against. But I could say that every time I don't get a job, it's because I am 5-6.

But, have you ever been told that you didn't get the job because you were too short? This is an everyday occurrence for fat people. Have you ever had your height brought up by your supervisor at a salary review or harped on by your doctor when you went in to be treated for a sinus infection? Have you ever been unable to go to a movie or a baseball game because you were too short, and the seats wouldn't accommodate you? Have you ever been charged double on an airplane for being too short? Have you ever...

Why do you think "people don't want to be fat?" Isn't it obvious that the reason is that fat people are treated like second-class citizens? That, coupled with diet industry hysteria about the alleged health hazards of being fat. If we removed the propaganda and the prejudice people would realize that it is OK to be fat, and accept themselves as they are, with the body nature gave them. Hence the term, "fat acceptance."

MF: Because it is genetically ingrained into us to favor attractive looking people.

Ah, so fat people are unattractive. Standard diet industry rhetoric. What about the dating services springing up all over the net that cater exclusively to fat people and their admirers? What about the evidence of history (study some classical painting, if you don't mind) that this thin obsession is a late-twentieth-century phenomenon, and that fat women have traditionally been more desired? It is genetic to prefer thin people, and to treat fat people as second-class citizens? Are you out of your mind? Or are you just trying to sell something?

MF: It's interesting the way the fat acceptance people reacted to this case. One of them said, "It's not a crime to have a fat child." In my mind it is a crime.

So, now it's a crime to be fat. Sieg Heil, man!

SM: So, to sum up what you're saying: Eat less, move more and don't believe everything you read.

Yeah, especially in diet books.

The simple fact of the matter is that "Eat less, move more" is all that anyone has ever said. And it has been proven, over and over and over again, both scientifically and allegorically, to not work.

It's not going to work this time either.

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