There was some interesting opinion ping-pong going on between The Punch and the ABC’s The Drum opinion site this week. On The Punch, dietician Susie Burrell advised ditching friends who “drink too much, eat too much and are overweight” and who encouraged the same unhealthy habits in us.

Have this for breakfast if you want, but don't expect a round of applause…

Over on the ABC site, an outraged Lydia Jade Turner, clinical director at BodyMatters Australasia, hit back at Burrell’s take on obesity point for point.

The two made interesting reading, and I was happily making my way to the end of Turner’s piece when one sentence gave me pause. She stated: “The best thing we can do for our health is focus on health-giving behaviours, and allow our weight to fall where it will.”

I agree on the focus about health, but allow our weight “to fall where it will”? What a slippery slope.

Yes, we need to accept that healthy bodies do not just come in skinny packages, but allowing our weight to fall where it will can be a dangerous attitude if it is taken too far and tempts us to normalise what is essentially a preventable risk factor for so many diseases.

The growing rate of obesity and related illnesses - and our tendency to underestimate our true weight, and believe that we fall within a healthy BMI even when we don’t - suggests a few too many people run with the second half of that sentence and conveniently gloss over the first part.

Accepting the person you are genetically meant to be does not mean giving up on your weight.

While I’m sure this isn’t what Turner is trying to encourage, I’ve heard and read such attitudes espoused before and it has always left me a little incredulous at the laissez faire approach these people have towards their well-being.

None of this is about judging on looks.

Excess weight does not have to mean unhealthy ... though it too often does. Why else is the medical profession tearing its hair out over our obesity “epidemic”? And that is the worrying tipping point of the message.

The “big is beautiful” mantra is fine if you are active and eat well. Not so much if your internal organs are slowly choking or becoming an inflamed mess.

Someone who eats too much of the wrong foods and moves too little should not seek misguided refuge in “fat acceptance”.

Of course overweight people should never be made to feel belittled because of their size, but but by the same token it would be irresponsible, even deluded, for family and friends to think the most loving act is to ignore the kilos piling up and say I support you no matter what size you are ... let your weight fall where it will.

Love them, yes, but look away while another can of coke hisses open? No.

Because, literally, their life may be at stake.

It’s not news that diets are the tough route. There has been some fascinating research to show that the bodies of overweight people work against them shedding fat and maintaining their weight loss (and that the microbes in their gut are actually more efficient at extracting energy from food than the microbes in the guts of skinny people - talk about a double whammy!) but you can’t throw up your hands and say don’t try.

I feel I’m stating the obvious here - that obese people and those sliding towards that category need to be encouraged to shed a least some weight because there is a myriad host of health problems that come with being severely overweight. Heart disease, diabetes, cancer to start.

According to numbers crunched by the Australian Bureau of Statistics “excessive weight poses a major risk for diseases of the circulatory system, with the risk increasing the longer a person remains overweight or obese” .... so for how long should we let it “fall where it will”?

I remember a talk by SA cardiologist Stephen Worthley in which he said losing as few as 5kg or 6kg could avert the risk of a heart attack in people carrying excess body fat. A big payoff for a little extra effort.

So for well-meaning people to even tacitly suggest that it’s acceptable for the scales to fall where they will, that excess weight can go unchecked because diets don’t work, is to pretty much consign someone to an early grave and say “that’s ok”.

It’s always going to matter to your health.

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    • acotrel says:

      06:09am | 28/04/12

      ’ I remember a talk by SA cardiologist Stephen Worthley in which he said losing as few as 5kg or 6kg could avert the risk of a heart attack in people carrying excess body fat. A big payoff for a little extra effort.’

      I suggest doctors are selective about what they tell us about high cholesterol, and what causes it.  Apparently stress causes release of adrenalin which affects the liver and causes it to produce cholesterol.  I’ve heard people crap on about ‘good stress’ and ‘bad stress’ - it is all bullshit -  trained, motivated, and well led workers don’t get stressed.  Surely it is time that we legislated that middle and senior managers are educated in business administration, before they are let loose to start manipulating and bullying ? These days every base level worker in Australia must have a bullshit TAFE certificate 4 in something before getting a job - why not the managers as well ?

    • I hate pies says:

      10:49am | 28/04/12

      You really do hate the ‘bosses’ don’t you? Just for the record; how many years have you worked in private enterprise?

    • SpintheBlackCircle says:

      02:31pm | 28/04/12

      ...says the lose that couldn’t make it to medical school.

    • Gregg says:

      03:10pm | 28/04/12

      There is no question about the hate I hate pies and that’s not the hate in your Monika.

      How we got from being overweight and a talk by a cardiologist to the work place is beyond me but then I should never be too surprised with what acotrel comes out with.
      Sometimes acotrel, even the best of training, motivation and leadership will not negate the necessity of there needing to be a finger pulled out and you might want to think of people in emergency services, medical care, even maintenance people striving to get some critical power generation or transmission plant back online, all people who will likely be well motivated, very well trained and led too, perhaps all of great eating habits and they could all be under self induced stress of wanting to do the best they can.

      In those situations where outcomes rely so much on great teamwork, I’d also be very surprised if you found manipulation and bullying a factor at all.

      I doubt that you have ever associated too much with highly skilled teams acotrel for if you had, you would not be continually sprouting your own BS.

    • acotrel says:

      05:22pm | 28/04/12

      @I hate pies
      ‘You really do hate the ‘bosses’ don’t you?’

      I respect and admire competence !

    • acotrel says:

      05:28pm | 28/04/12

      I worked for a few years as quality manager, and project manager for one of the most successful engineering companies in Victoria.  It is still at the top of its sector, and has it’s management system certified to international standards due to my efforts. Most of its business in in Asia.  What has been your contribution to mankind ?

    • acotrel says:

      05:45pm | 28/04/12

      I would say one thing.  Doing the same type of work for a private company is much more enjoyable than doing it for a government business, even though the effects of nepotism and favoratism might be greater. At least you can have a win sometimes, and make a dollar for both the company and yourself.
      A while back I was asked to apply for a job near Jervis Bay at a commonwealth establishment, - you never know what you might end up carrying the can for.

    • Gregg says:

      11:32am | 29/04/12

      I’ve had my fair share of work place management which has involved both hands on and organising on various significant projects in different industries and with different organisational and workplace unionisation arrangements.
      I’ve worked with union reps and had some working against me just for the sake of it without really wanting to do the best they can for members.

      You seem to claim you may be gods gift to mankind and that more than enough managers are incompetent and yet claim to have been in some form of management yourself.

      All a bit weird there old son and the more you realise there are all levels of competencies in all types of occupational categories and that all organisations ultimately need to be competitive to survive or go down, taking many jobs with them, then you may get a better outlook on life.

    • Little Joe says:

      06:47am | 28/04/12

      Just introduce a Fat Tax and it would all change.

      The problem is obese people vote.

    • Stevardon says:

      02:49pm | 28/04/12

      Not while the greens are in power either -

      Fat in a KFC fillet burger = 11 grams

      Fat in one cup of tofu = 11 grams

    • Hammy The Hamster says:

      03:59pm | 28/04/12

      The pollies have it all wrong.  Instead of introducing a Fat Tax, they should introduce a tax on BEING fat.

      Watch the fatties suddenly eat better and exercise regularly.  Within a couple of years:  no more obesity problem.

    • Not Fat says:

      10:55am | 29/04/12

      You shouldn’t lie when posting because if someone takes the time you will always be found out.

      Extra Firm Silken Tofu
      Total Fat per 100 g
      1.9g, Saturated Fat 0.3g

      KFC Fillet Burger
      Total Fat per 100 g
      9.3, Saturated Fat 1.3g

      Of course you could always go for the
      KFC Original Recipe Chicken
      Total Fat per 100 g
      17.3, Saturated Fat 3.7g

      Looks a bit different when you tell the truth, doesn’t it steva?

    • Prick With a Fork says:

      07:27am | 28/04/12

      Because, of course, we must be healthy above all else, even if it makes us miserable. A “restricted calorie” diet may add years to my life, but I’m not sure it’s worth it.

    • Not Fat says:

      11:02am | 29/04/12

      You may feel different when you’re on your deathbed and your children are watching you die.
      Then again, a massive heart attack might be a godsend.

      Sounds like the lottery might be your preferred superannuation scheme. Especially if you aren’t planning on being around that long anyway.
      How many old fat bastards do you see these days. The few you do see ride around in wheelchairs with cup holders for their smoothies.

    • Liz says:

      08:26am | 29/04/12

      Thank you! Finally someone with a voice of reason and the facts to back it up commenting on this! Body weight is a complex thing, not the simple “eat less, workout more”. If it really was that simple, everyone who’s doing it would be rails, right? More people are on diets then aren’t, and yet nothing changes. But nobody is willing to look into it, they just spout the same thing over and over again. I mean, look at the other mean comments, they say that over and over. It’s like telling someone that since darker skin pigment offers more sun protection (based on race) that everyone pale should run out and sit in the sun until they’re a dark brown too, so they can have the same protective benefits (which isn’t true!). That sounds totally insane when you say it, but remember there was a time not that long ago when doctor’s were encouraging the “perfect tan” to patients, and telling them to smoke cigarettes too! There are doctor’s in 1950s cigarette ads talking about which brand they smoke and what they recommend to their patients. Eventually doctors will catch up and learn that fat does not equal health, maybe in another 60 years? P.S. My great-grandmother had “extra weight” on her, and lived to be about 96. That’s a shortened life if I’ve ever heard of one.

    • M says:

      12:42pm | 29/04/12

      Liz, your understanding of science is commically bad.

      It’s not just about diet, it’s also about excercise. Minimum 30 minutes per day.

      As to the pigment thing, that’s genetic.

    • Jeremy says:

      08:07am | 28/04/12

      I had two aunties in my family who were literally walking around with an extra me hanging around their mid-section. One maintains she is trying to lose weight, but so blatantly walks around snacking non-stop between her weight loss meal. I wonder why her diets don’t work? The other (my favourite aunt) told us all her goals each month to help us help her stick to them, she sometimes broke them but told us how much finger wagging she could take, and that kept her emotionally okay. Now she shows of how many squats she can do and has a real new energy for life.
      Closer to home I have a 21 y.o. short girlfriend whose weight fluctuates between low 40’s and low 50’s. She knows she has a eating disorder that will kill her or damage her organs of she doesn’t fix it soon. People always comment on it, which she doesn’t because she is singled out by people who can hardly walk up stairs. She has a age and size cousin who ways over 90kg who is also going to have severe long term problems, but no one comments and no one tells her its an disorder she needs to fix.
      Have a healthy Saturday, Punchers!

    • AdamC says:

      08:55am | 28/04/12

      “None of this is about judging on looks.”

      Well, for the doctors and well-meaning journos it isn’t, but for the rest of us, it is. Most of us, at the end of the day, care more about our appearance than our health. And, by and large, excess weight *is*  pretty good indicator of general health. Whilst there may be some active, healthy fatties, they are few and far between. (And how many Freddos and doughnuts are they scarfing down in between their supposedly ‘healthy eating’? Quite a few, I would wager.)

      I don’t endorse discriminating against fat people, but social pressure to be at least vaguely within the healthy weight range is a better driver of healthy eating and exercise than the most passionate campaigns of the health lobby.

      Having said that, I thought your article was great.

    • ChubbyMummy says:

      09:54am | 28/04/12

      Actually, most doctors prescribe weight loss as a cure for everything from the common cold to cancer. Most doctors when faced with a person who is obese don’t bother to look any further than what is obvious - the person they are diagnosing is overweight. The diagnosis then must be for them to lose weight and suddenly their problems will be over.

      Doctors discriminate against fat people just as much as society does and let me tell you, social pressure does nothing to drive healthy eating and exercise. Harsh judgments and social stigma will never help anyone become healthier - it’s what we call bigotry and it’s just an excuse to body police people unnecessarily.

    • SydneyGirl says:

      12:34pm | 28/04/12

      Often the doctors and nurses giving you advice are chubby!

      To be honest I think its all a beat up. I know way too many chubby people who have eaten their way into their 80s.  You can do everything right and still end up with a major illness.

      And what happened to those studies that indicate that if you sit around for hours typing comments for the Punch it matters not if you go for a run after!

    • AdamC says:

      01:12pm | 28/04/12

      I dunno, Chubby Mummy, I see overeating as a socially acceptable form of substance abuse. If people habitually take pills or drink to excess, they are deemed a junky or an alcoholic and are expected to stop, even if their health is otherwise fairly robust. Meanwhile, people will generally ignore a friend’s overeating or excessive weight, lest they damage said friend’s self-esteem or be accused of undermining their ‘body image’. So what amounts to a form of substance dependence or addiction becomes a normalised lifestyle choice.

      It is amazing how commonplace excessive weight is in our society. Most people who are described as ‘fat’ are actually obese, not merely overweight. A majority of white Australian women I meet in their thirties are overweight, so are about half of middle-aged men. And I believe the statistics broadly correspond with my personal experience. And there is no secret as to why. Have you been into a petrol station recently? Small children could be excused for assuming their primary function is to dispense confectionery rather than fuel for cars.

      People should stop beating around the bush. If you - and I mean general person ‘you’ here, not anyone in particular - appear ‘rotund’, ‘stocky’ or ‘husky’, you are almost certainly overweight. If you are overweight, you almost certainly overeat. You need to stop doing that. I know everyone says that such advice is unhelpful, as many people find it hard to stop overeating. But of course it is hard, just as it is for a drunk or drug addict to reduce their consumption. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it do it, though.

    • ChubbyMummy says:

      05:24pm | 28/04/12

      AdamC, I think you may enjoy reading this article - - Weight Science, Evaluating the Evidence for a Paradigm Shift.

      Just one excerpt for you: “Evidence: Long-term follow-up studies document that the majority of individuals regain virtually all of the weight that was lost during treatment, regardless of whether they maintain their diet or exercise program “

      And in response to your statement that active, healthy fatties are few and far between, spend a little time in the Size Acceptance movement, read some blogs. You’ll find a lot of evidence in the form of healthy, active fatties that your statement is misguided.

    • Angry Fat Bitch says:

      08:15pm | 28/04/12

      Actually plenty of doctors judge on looks.

      During my first pregnancy I had an obstetrician look me up and down, tell me my BMI was “rather high” (without weighing me) then sent me for a heap of totally unnecessary appointments and tests. Based on looks alone he was convinced I would have gestational diabetes (wrong), and I wouldn’t be able to have an epidural (wrong) and would end up needing a c-section (wrong).

      All of which my GP agreed was ludicrous, because she actually knew my medical history, and knew that although yes, I did need to lose weight, I was surprisingly healthy for someone of my size.

      I’ve lost quite a bit since then, but don’t (and probably never will) fit into the “normal” BMI range. And I’m geniunely hoping that obstetrician has moved to another hospital in time for me to have baby number 2.

    • Kheiron says:

      09:03am | 28/04/12

      I grew up in a family full of obese people. I’m not as thin as I used to be, of course, but I’m a large 27 year old male and my 18 year old little sister matches my weight. There’s also my other sister who is about 25 and about 150kg. Heavy enough to break her own ankle trying to play sports.
      I remember watching ‘Biggest Loser’ with them and hearing a litany of excuses during the ad breaks.
      “That’s all well and good if you have a personal trainer”
      “Real people can’t afford to eat healthy”
      “No-one has that much time to exercise”

      I’ve made my peace with the issue. If people want to kill themselves by 40 and take up three burial plots so be it. You can’t help people who wont help themselves. I’m just concerned about the amount of tax payer money going into propping this people up for a few extra years.

    • Ragen Chastain says:

      09:15am | 28/04/12

      It doesn’t matter what benefits being thin might afford, all of the studies that exist say what a panel of experts from the NIH has already admitted - almost everyone who diets gains back their weight. Suggesting that weight loss is a worthy endeavor is telling people to try something that will have the opposite of the intended effect more than 95% of the time. There is no other medical intervention with that kind of failure rate that is recommended.

      However, studies, including those by Wei et. al,, the Cooper Institute, and most recently Matheson et. that people (including the obese) who participate in healthy behaviors mitigate most or all of the health risks that are correlated with their weight.

      Per Steven Blair of the Cooper Institute “We’ve studied this from many perspectives in women and in men and we get the same answer: It’s not the obesity - it’s the fitness.”

      It’s time for evidence instead of just “everybody knows”.

      Fear mongering about “early graves” is unwarranted as you have provided only anecdotal evidence that there is correlation between weight and health and have failed to provide evidence of a causal link, or any evidence that the intervention that you are suggesting works.  Saying that anyone who tries hard enough can successfully lose weight is like saying that any woman who tries hard enough can take thalidomide but avoid birth defects - that is not what the evidence tells us. We know that the body goes through a multitude of physiological changes (some irreversible) during the dieting process for the express purpose of re=gaining weight.  We also know that weight cycling (yo yo dieing) as experienced by 95% of people who attempt your recommended solution comes with its own health issues.

      While Susie Burrel is trying to add to the stigma and shame heaped upon fat people using a study that has already been widely criticized in peer-reviewed articles (,

      and you are suggesting that we all focus on an intervention that has a 95% chance of inducting the opposite of the desired results,

      Lydia Jade Turner is the only person recommending a solution that is based on actual evidence of efficacy.

      The time for conflation of weight loss with health or healthy behaviors is over - the evidence simply does not support it.  It’s time for evidence based interventions - focus on health and let your body size fall where it may..

      Ragen Chastain

    • Richard says:

      11:21am | 28/04/12

      Dieters only regain all their weight again because they go back to eating a high calorie diet. If fat people were to incorporate two 24 hour periods of complete fasting into their lives every week, habitually, they would lose excess weight and would not regain it. Being fat is not healthy, and having your body being constantly in the fed state for every day of your entire life is not healthy either. Stop trying to normalise and pathetic spectacle and glorify a disease just to protect fat people’s egos.

    • Kate says:

      11:34am | 28/04/12

      Thank you Ragen for injecting some sense into this. I’m a HAES advocate and the fat shaming going on here sickens me.

    • Gregg says:

      03:41pm | 28/04/12

      @Kate and Raegan,
      It is not so much about shaming people Kate but perhaps that is what you feel some posters want to do.
      I myself have always been a big lad and having been 13 lb. 4 oz. at birth and big boned and all, I was probably always destined to be somewhere up around 100 kilo or too good a bit above it at times, even when being what I would call a reasonably healthy eater.

      I do not subscribe to Raegan’s thoughts re it is being fit and not to be so concerned about fat for I can tell you from experience that you will feel one hell of a lot fitter when you are not carrying around excess baggage.
      And yes, I’ve been through the yo yoing a few times, not so much from crash or strict diets at all but more a realisation that shit, I’m just too fat for my own good again and then being more careful about portion sizes and being more committed to exercise, sometimes a bit hard too but it is really a case of deciding how you ought to do both eating and exercise and realising whether or not it affects your actual health, you will likely feel considerably better for it.

      Most people I would suspect do not need a real diet unless they are just hopeless in what they should not be consuming too much of, and it is just more deciding how they want to live and get more enjoyment out of life.
      You’ll feel extra pleased when people start saying gee, you’ve lost a bit of weight or you’re looking good etc.

    • Chrisso says:

      06:12pm | 28/04/12

      Richard- I think the reason people gain weight back after crash dieting is more physiologically based than behavourial. 

      When calorie intake is severely restricted, the body attempts to protect itself by getting rid of the tissue that it sees as most “expensive” to maintain- muscle. 

      The resulting muscle loss means that the body no longer burns as many calories at rest (this is the desired result if the body is trying to survive the “threat” of calorie restriction).

      It also means that for the same amount of calorie intake, more gets converted to fat than before the muscle loss took place.  The muscles aren’t consuming as much of that incoming energy, so there’s more of an energy surplus and it gets stored as fat.   

      Fasting as you suggest is the worst thing that someone can do.  The key is to have a very slight calorie deficit- not a big one, so that muscle mass is maintained and fat is burned off slowly.

    • Richard says:

      10:47pm | 28/04/12

      Well, you’re right Chrisso, which is why its imperative to do both intermittent fasting AND heavy weight training (to preserve muscle mass). But you’re just plain wrong if you think that intermittent fasting and heavy weight training is unhealthy, I mean, just look at this guy:

      Does he look unhealthy to you? Especially considering how chubby he was to begin with…

    • cameowalkin says:

      10:54pm | 28/04/12

      @Richard: I think your fasting advice is doable and sensible. 
      Your logic is excellent. However, your last sentence was judgmental (not helpful to dieters).

      Dieters will avoid plateauing if they fast 3 days; eat under 1000 cal. on day 4; and eat under 1500 cal. on day 5.  Then repeat if you wish to lose it quicker. Days 4 & 5 trick the brain to reset to burn fat.  If you consistently diet, the brain goes into “famine mode”, and starts conserving fat.

      You can attempt the 14-day or 21-day fast.  The 14-day usually results in a 25-lb. weight loss.  I haven’t been able to make it 21 days yet fasting (only when sick, I’ve done it).  But Richard’s method is more doable, because you’re less likely to give up.  I think his method is a great way to start, and a great maintenance plan, once you’ve lost your weight.

      You need tools.  Hoodia, Rooibos, Bitter Melon, Coral Calcium, Astragalus, MSM, Boswellia & Glucosamine supplements should take care of hunger and pain sensations (obesity causes inflammation).  Ample juicing (fresh, raw veggies), herbal teas, and lots of ice water will take the edge off, and give you the sense of preparing “meals” (use a sugar substitute for the tea).

      And long walks, good company, stretching, and getting to bed early helps.  Freeze anything that might tempt you (not having it around is even better).  Give yourself pleasurable, constructive distractions that have nothing to do with eating.

      Listen to weight-loss subliminals or tapes of the Word, giving you encouragement and empowerment.  It works. You can play them while doing housework, or laundry, or walking in the park, or while stretching & meditating; but do it daily.  You need to make your mind your servant in this endeavor (or it’ll try to sabotage you).

      Good luck everyone!  This is the year you get your body back!

    • Rebecca Weinstein, Esq, MSW says:

      09:17am | 28/04/12

      You are entitled to your opinion, but if I lived by your rules I would be long dead.  Since being first put on a diet at six years old, I had been yo-yoing up and down for 30 years.  Every time I would lose weight my metabolism would respond and I would gain it back plus more.  Additionally the obsession with food and my body led to eating disorders and emotional turmoil.  What came first, the weight or the emotional issues?  Who knows, I was six when it started.  Did I have resulting health problems?  Yes, but mostly from the enormous pressure I put myself under every single minute of every single day.  Did my weight contribute to my health problems?  Of course, but it wasn’t the weight itself, it was the years and years of straining my body losing and gaining weight.  Was I a failure at maintaining weight loss?  Absolutely.  But I saw weight loss doctors, therapist, nutritionists, tried every plan and potion, joined gyms, got home exercise equipment, took dance class, got a personal.  The more I tried to lose weight and keep it off the fatter I got.  About five years ago I STARTED the process of weening off of diets.  Now I am nearly eating disorder free.  My health is improving.  My mental health and body imagine is in pretty good shape.  I can speak openly about this life-long struggle without shame and I am not afraid to stand up to people like you.  Am I still fat?  You bet.  Obese in fact.  Would I prefer to be smaller?  Honestly, yes.  But if 30 years isn’t enough time to learn what doesn’t work, and if all those people and potions only made things worse, and allowing my weight to “fall where it will” is helping to save my life—despite your judgment about people like me—so be it.  If you have some brilliant ideas for me that no one else has had in 30 years, please feel free to share them.  Otherwise, until you are a 45 year old obese woman who worked at this “problem” since she was six years old, I don’t think you have the slight clue what you are talking about, no matter what some cardiologist you remember may have said.

    • Kerry says:

      10:04am | 28/04/12

      Thanks for sharing. I hear many of these stories which is motivating me to be part of the voice for change. To use inclusive language, to shift from weight to health which includes, mind and body. To ensure that this madness ends in my lifetime. I trust your journey has become easier and happier for you.

    • Hoss says:

      11:27am | 28/04/12

      From the comments here it sounds like the tuba players will be living in clover for many years to come.

    • Kate says:

      11:37am | 28/04/12

      Thank you Rebecca for your honesty and strength, and and for not being afraid to stand up to bullies.

    • Richard the Lionheart says:

      09:49am | 28/04/12

      Puritan propaganda! We have government departments and their professional hackers determined to make our lives less enjoyable and treat everything a sin. It started with smoking labels, wearing crucifixes on the job, then alcohol, then fat food labels, fast food and now fat people. The PC patrols will not give up once they enjoy small successes. Green police will be next, targeting big cars, roofs without solar panels and homes with swimming pools and large lawns.

    • Condor says:

      10:15am | 28/04/12

      There is no way you can truly have a healthy diet and active lifestyle and be overweight. People that think that are lying to themselves. Those love handles aren’t healthy and they’re not attractive. That pizza isn’t part of a balanced diet and if your idea of a good time is getting drunk or eating crap then you need to get a life.

      There is no excuse for being overweight. Healthy living is a lifestyle choice not a diet you do for a few weeks just to achieve some arbitrary measurement on a set of scales.

    • Kerry says:

      10:56am | 28/04/12

      Condor really????!!! And your supporting evidence for this massive generalisation comes from where exactly, what studies? How do you also rationalise that people have always come in different shapes and sizes before pizza, getting drunk and eating crap as you phrases it and I’ll add in tv + couches (you missed that one)?

    • Fatso says:

      11:07am | 28/04/12

      I always thought the exact same thing as you Condor. Then I developed hypothyroidism. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. I prepare all my own extremely healthy food, with the help of a dietitian, go to the gym 5 days a week and walk every evening, take my thyroxine pill and drink nothing but water.
      And I’m obese. Six years ago I was 49 kg. Must be karma from criticising fatties when I was skinny, especially the ones who blamed their glands.

    • The Free says:

      11:22am | 28/04/12


      Cue all the excuses and rationalization mixed in with more excuses.

      Deep down y’all know that placing another 30 kilos of weight on your heart is not good for you.

      If you eat right and don’t slob around your whole life then 99% of you will be healthy and not overweight.

    • ChubbyMum says:

      11:24am | 28/04/12

      Here, have some truth:

      Your calorie is not my calorie. In addition to the ones above, read the research on how twins consuming the same amount of calories and doing the same exercise have two different weights. It’s there if you want to Google it.

      What is true is that no two people are the same and a healthy lifestyle is only ONE aspect in the soup of medical, physiological, mental and genetic factors that can contribute to a person’s weight. To say that it is as easy as calorie in<calorie out is an outdated perspective that scientists and medical professionals disproved a decade ago (or more).

      I have been overweight my entire life (since I was 8 years old) and the only time I have been able to lose weight is when I was critically ill and couldn’t consume any more calories than they could fit in an IV. This is despite years of a healthy lifestyle (multiple sports, daily exercise, a healthy, non-processed, mostly vegetarian diet).

      Weight is indeed an arbitrary measurement on a set of scales, but the true statement would have been:  the way to health is through a healthy lifestyle. Your first and last statements are otherwise contradictory.

    • willie says:

      06:59pm | 28/04/12

      “To say that it is as easy as calorie in<calorie out is an outdated perspective that scientists and medical professionals disproved a decade ago (or more).”

      Holy shit, the laws of thermodynamics were disproven over a decade ago. This is amazing, I cant wait for my perpetual motion machine.

      I’ve nothing against fat people just as I have nothing against stupid people. As long as your actions don’t affect others you can eat all the cake you like. Just don’t try to make other people do the same.

    • DragonLass says:

      07:22pm | 28/04/12

      “if your idea of a good time is getting drunk or eating crap then you need to get a life.”

      So Condor what’s your idea of a “life”?
      for me, having a nice meal and a few bottles of wine with friends is thoroughly enjoyable.  Pray tell, what should I be doing instead in order to get this “life” of which you speak?

    • Lenny says:

      10:52am | 29/04/12

      ChubbyMum, I am a medical research scientist and briefly read the article “a calorie is not a calorie”. Have you considered that the difference in weight loss between the Low Carb group and the Low Fat group is that the low carb group dropped water weight? We hold 3g of water for every 1g of carbohydrate that we eat. It’s why people lost so much in the first week of Atkins (after that, ketosis takes over). Something to think about anyway.

    • cshock says:

      10:31am | 28/04/12

      “preventable risk”—Please make some citations of scientific evidence that:

      1. Permanent and/or long term (5 years +) is achievable.

      2. Weight loss improves health in and of itself. And please don’t cite research that compares risks among people with different weights—this demonstrates a correlation of size to certain co-morbidities, but does not demonstrate that taking the larger person and turning that same individual into a smaller person will automatically reduce the co-morbidities. No explanation of these co-morbidities are being tested in these studies and therefore cause and effect is far from established.

      3. Show me the research that examines alternative explanations for these co-morbidities other than body fat. If you want to assert it is the fat, you must eliminate alternative explanations such as what people eat, exercise people take, stigma people face, genetic factors and so forth.

      4. Fat acceptance is not about health, it is about treating people with basic dignity. It is about their rights as individuals to have full participation in society and to not have their life chances cut short because of the privileges of thinner people. The headline to this article is abysmal. Your alternative is to shame people for their own good?

      You’ve offered a knee-jerk reaction, couched in concern and is basically bigotry. In short, you’ve added nothing to the discussion.

    • Mike says:

      10:44am | 28/04/12

      I would eat that for breakfast, but not every day, because DAMN, it looks tasty as, but saying that, I just went and shifted a load of steel RSJs and firewood around my back yard BEFORE breakfast, so right now, I am starving and believe I earned the above, thanks to all the calories I just burned in what is the prelude to winter.

      If you earn it, what is the big deal ?  People in Victorian England were usually hard, physical workers and used to have bacon, eggs, dripping toast etc for breakfast every day.

      Nigella eats butter, chocolate, cream, eggs and look at her smile

    • Richard says:

      10:44am | 28/04/12

      Funnily enough, when Jade Turner says to ” focus on health-giving behaviours, and allow our weight to fall where it will”, I wonder if she’s aware that one of the most beneficial ‘health-giving behaviours’, as scientific trails have confirmed, is intermittent fasting:

      In our modern society our bodies spend 100% of the time in a “fed” state, actively digesting and storing food away, 100% of the time, never ever leaving the fed state and entering the fasted state, when in fact our bodies were never evolved to handle such eating behaviour.

      We NEED to fast, refusal to fast is absolute opposite of Turner’s “health-giving behaviours”, but how many of her fatties she’s defended have even spent half a day in a fasted state? Regular intermittent fasting, for a maximum of 24 hours, once or twice a week, makes it EXTREMELY DIFFICULT for the body to become obese.

      But why isn’t this being taught? Well, the answer’s simple. No body can make money out of selling you “Health Products” when the most beneficial “Health Product” is actually the complete abstinence of ALL PRODUCTS (“health” or otherwise) for short periods on a regular basis. No body can make money out of you while you’re fasting, isn’t that the rub?

    • Kerry says:

      12:00pm | 28/04/12

      Richard, clearly you’re not an academic or have any knd of science training at all as you would know that no one in their right mind would ever reference wikipedia! Inetermittant fasting, along with any other diet method of eating is just an idea, all fall way short in providing any evidence that they work for the majority or people, let alone meet a 5 year baseline with a greater than 5% success rate….If these ideas work for you then great, but that is the evdience to impose it on others. You have also articulated the biggest objection the fat acceptance and health at every size movements have with the focus on health, that is the focus on health because it makes money. It creates a never-ending stream of income for those companies, business and people who sell this idea. It does not however improve health outcomes. It does not recognise health is seperate from weight. As for the idea of intermittent fasting, we fast between meals and overnight. To go on extended fast creates cahnges in metabolism that may or may not be useful to health. Most of what you are reading are theories that sound impressive but so far lack any kind of substantial long-term research on significant numbers. And every person’s metabolism will respond differently depending on their mental, emotional, physical and genetic makeup combined with environmental factors. Eating is a complex interaction of all those and so much more. If your choices make you happy and bring you the kind of health you want then awesome, I support you in doign that. But please allow others to decide for themselves what works for them.

    • Richard says:

      10:49pm | 28/04/12

      Kerry, I linked to wikipedia, not for the article itself, but for the list of academic references at the bottom, which ARE scientifically and academically valid, and which PROVE that intermittent fasting works, not just for the majority of people, but for EVERYONE.

    • Kelly says:

      10:57am | 28/04/12

      I feel you’ve missed the point of Lydia’s article.

      The point of Lydia’s article is that health is not a number on the scale. Focussing on the number on the scale is the enemy of health. Weight loss diets are the enemy of health.  If obesity is an ‘epidemic’ diets are certainly not the answer since they fail 95% of the time and they cause so much damage to our bodies (even causing people to end up even heavier than they were before they started their diet).

      A holistic and inclusive approach to health is eating well and exercise, regardless of size. This approach benefits all people. The weight loss approach ‘benefits’ 5% of people.  Lydia said eating well and enjoyable exercise is beneficial and then said let your weight fall where it will.’ This means that following this approach, some people will lose weight, some people’s weight will stay the same. But all of them will have improved health.

      I like Lydia’s advice because it is positive, inclusive and benefits all. I do not believe that pushing health advice that fails 95% of the time (diets) , to 100% of the population is the ‘solution’ to poor health.

    • HealthyWeight says:

      11:02am | 28/04/12

      The term “diet” is bullshit. It’s a lie for fat people to believe that undertaking a certain “diet” will help them lose weight. If you want a donut, have a bloody donut! But be aware of what you’re eating, and be prepared to work it off. Have your diet meal or shake for lunch, having a chocolate eclair for a snack will make any gains from that void. 

      It isn’t about restricting foods, it’s about knowing that a maccas burger is not healthy for you all the time, you’re much better off making it yourself.

      “Carrying excess weight” and “being healthy” is just a massive oxymoron to me

    • Kathy says:

      11:51am | 28/04/12

      I started dieting from around age 12. Some diets were effective-temporarily. I panicked when the weight began to come back on, and started to take more drastic measures. I would fast for the majority of the day, and skip meals. I would cut out entire food groups.

      Then I began binge-eating. I didn’t even have to be hungry, I could feel full and sick and I would just continue to eat food I didn’t even really want. It was something I did when I felt miserable and out of control. Then I would purge with intense exercise or by making myself vomit. Afterwards, I felt disgusted with myself and more determined than ever to starve myself for days after to fix up the mess I had made. It wreaked havoc on my academic performance, and looking back, who knows what else it stuffed up for my developing body.

      These were my attempts to lose weight. I was trapped in a cycle that just made me feel weak and unable to stop.

      For me, dieting lead to extreme dieting, and that became about punishing my body and obsessive behaviors that were not healthy and have caused me years of suffering.

    • Tia says:

      12:06pm | 28/04/12

      I think Lydia Jade Turner’s article is being misrepresented. Lydia Jade Turner encouraged healthy behaviors and attitudes towards food and exercise.

      Maria M says, “The “big is beautiful” mantra is fine if you are active and eat well. Not so much if your internal organs are slowly choking or becoming an inflamed mess.” Being active and eating well is just what LJT encourages- so where is Maria going with this?

      We can’t make judgments on other people’s health just by looking at them. How can anyone know what someone else’s internal organs are doing?

    • Lauren says:

      12:13pm | 28/04/12

      I think Lydia Turner’s suggestions make a lot of sense. Shaming fat people does not motivate them to lose weight. A far better goal than weight loss is to improve health. I exercise because it makes me feel good, because I like to challenge myself and feel strong. I eat good foods because I like myself and I want to nourish my body. These attitudes are far more helpful in practicing healthy habits than “You’re fat, you need to lose weight.” If looking after my body means I lose a couple of kg, fine. If I put on a couple of kg, that’s fine too. I will let my body do what it is supposed to do while I am taking care of it.

      Why does that idea disturb Maria Moscaritolo so much?

    • Macca says:

      01:39pm | 28/04/12

      I was very fit in High-school, it was probably the only time I’ve ever been in a healthy weight range. Once Uni hit and the wonders of 11am beers and Chicken Parmies with the Engineering and Arts students commenced, it was a bit of a downhill slide.

      When I started working fulltime, the routine gave me an opportunity to get my health back in order. I dropped 15 Kg, and whilst I’m stil 10% - 15% above my Highschool weight, I’m at the point where a month of good exercise and eating can have me (briefly) fall back into the healthy weight range.

      I still flirt with the overweight border on most days, but that is a reflection of poor eating and drinking habits and life at a desk for 50+ hours a week. I’m happy with the balance now, but I could be doing more. And there is no-one else I can blame for my long-term health other than myself

    • Adriana says:

      01:39pm | 28/04/12

      Maria, your article grossly misrepresents what Turner’s article was about. Please read it again

      You said: “Of course overweight people should never be made to feel belittled because of their size,... Love them, yes, but look away while another can of coke hisses open? “

      What you have done is promote the stereotype that all overweight people are overweight due to unhealthy behaviours, which is simply NOT true - and not supported by the research.

      Turner’s article did NOT call for people to ignore unhealthy behaviours- actually the opposite. She is calling for people to practise healthy behaviours whether or not it leads to changes in size. This article of yours is just one big contradiction.

    • AdamC says:

      02:18pm | 28/04/12

      Adriana, which research are you referring to when you argue that many fat people are not overweight due to overeating?

      I am certainly willing to be convinced otherwise but, in my experience, most fat people eat huge amounts of food.

    • Maria says:

      03:05pm | 28/04/12

      As someone who grew up as a chubby teen due to a household with a relaxed attitude to junk food (but has since lost the weight and is healthy) all I can say is its too easy to be fat. I was at the supermarket yesterday looking for a chocolate bar (yes, chocolate sometimes eg once a week is ok) and my head nearly exploded from the 100’s of choices in the entire aisle in took up. It’s disgusting. I don’t bring junk food into the house (just buy an occasional small treat). Why? Because at 9pm after a rough day at work I will eat it, for no good reason other than its there. We need to get rid of the easy access to junk food. It may sound harsh, but if sugar/fat is your poison (just like alcohol is to others) than it is just too easy to consume it. I’m not sure what the answer is other than to scale back the availability of the stuff. Surely 100 years ago their wasn’t 50 kinds of chocolate bars? Sounds simplistic but if you don’t buy it you can’t eat it.

    • MotherR says:

      11:25am | 29/04/12

      It’s true, Maria, supermarket aisles are so full of ‘weazels and deazels’ that there is hardly any food left. If you took everything out of the supermarket that wasn’t a basic food product, such as fruit, veg, meat, oats, flour, butter, milk, cocoa and so on, whole aisles would be empty.

      But, you can train your palate to actually reject this rubbish over time if you only eat good food. And that doesn’t mean no chocolate or ice cream - it means small amounts of good quality versions of these foods. You say your head nearly exploded because of the choices, but if you only eat quality foods you will find that the average supermarket only has a few choices of these products, which makes deciding so much simpler. Read the ingredients and compare those on a bar of organic chocolate with nuts for example, and those on a commercial chocolate bar. Sometimes you will find that the major ingredient isn’t actually even chocolate!

      By doing this, you will not only avoid risking becoming fat but also dodge the artificial additives. For example, did you know that on certain mint products, including very popular long-standing ones, ‘colour’ is listed on the ingredients?! They are white!! Does this mean it’s a kind of bleach?

      Trying to deny yourself any of these things will make the brain work in reverse because the craving centres of the brain only compute ‘ice cream’ when you are chanting, ‘I will not eat ice cream’.

    • Maria says:

      01:37pm | 29/04/12

      So true MotherR. I have been switching to dark chocolate (for example) when I need a chocolate hit, as it has less sugar than milk. I am celiac so I don’t have too many choices to start with when it comes to processed foods, which can be a blessing in disguise. It gets me out of eating all the work morning teas we seem to have every second or third day at work. The peer pressure to co-gorge is surprisingly high. It’s appaulling how ingrained “sometimes” foods are in our everyday lives.

    • Jamie says:

      03:25pm | 28/04/12

      ... I was happily making my way to the end of Turner’s piece when one sentence gave me pause. She stated: “The best thing we can do for our health is focus on health-giving behaviours, and allow our weight to fall where it will.”

      I agree on the focus about health, but allow our weight “to fall where it will”? What a slippery slope.

      Well, less a ‘slippery slope’ than a deliberate excision of the key part of Turner’s argument in order to give yourself a nice little strawman to attack. Unbelievable.

    • June Alexander says:

      03:38pm | 28/04/12

      Diets work only for the companies that market them to vulnerable people - and even they get heavier as their pockets overflow with money. I support Lydia Jade Turner’s article at every point. As someone who developed anorexia at age 11 and transitioned into decades of bulimia before being diagnosed in my 30s - and then starting a 20-year long recovery of my lost identity, I can tell you: diets don’t work, and worse, the feed eating disorders. They sabotage people’s lives to the point where they live a part-life only. I’ve been free of my illness for six beautiful years and guess what my medicine is: 3 meals and 3 snacks a day, every day. It works wonders. Tend to your feelings, pursue a healthy lifestyle - regular meals, exercise and sleep - and your body size will settle where it is meant to be.

    • Alex H says:

      04:41pm | 28/04/12

      I actually read Lydia Jade Turner’s article, this is a misrepresentation of it.

    • nostradamus says:

      05:17pm | 28/04/12

      Regardless of what you eat, drink or exercise , Most people now die between 40 years old and 120 years old with the average about 80 years.
      Regardless of what you eat, drink or exercise, Very few of today’s people will see the 22nd Century !
      Living until 150 is a science fiction pipe dream regardless of how you eat, drink or exercise !

    • Sereena says:

      05:54am | 29/04/12

      Wise words Nostradamus, I couldn’t agree more.

    • nostradamus says:

      05:20pm | 28/04/12

      only future medecine and future technologic advances can lengthen life span of human beings from 120 years to 150 years old and can increase the average life span of human beings from 80 years old to become 100 years old.

    • dak8 says:

      11:11pm | 28/04/12

      The writer says: “I agree on the focus about health, but allow our weight “to fall where it will”? What a slippery slope.”

      It’s a slippery slope to focus on health-giving behaviors? So how does she recommend loosing weight if not with health-giving behaviors? There is real circular reasoning here. First she says weight correlated diseases are “preventable” but “focusing on health-giving behavior” is not enough? Well how else do you fight disease but through healthy activities? Does she suggest that loosing weight through unhealthy means is a good idea? Or bizarrely, good for your health?

      If she thinks that even if you are engaging in health-giving behaviors but are getting fat, your weight is still “your fault” (preventable she says) and you should fix it by… what?... You are already focusing on health-giving behaviors?

      If being healthy is a slippery slope, I think most medical professionals would say it is a slope to be on and if you can get really fat being healthy doesn’t that call into question the idea that fat is unhealthy? You seem to be wagging the dog here.

    • Iva Ghauri says:

      01:37am | 29/04/12

      I cannot help but note that most of the anti-fat comments here came from men. I also note that most misspellings came from men.

      Food for

    • Paige says:

      11:28am | 01/05/12

      I hear the most anti-thin/slim comments come from women, as well as the most excuses.

      Food for thought…

    • Linda Bacon says:

      02:27am | 29/04/12

      Wow, a headline that screams that Fat Acceptance can kill you!?! Hard to believe you can be so clueless about how your article is much more likely to cause damage than self-acceptance! This article is just riddled with unchallenged assumptions that don’t measure up to the evidence. Accepting one’s body does not mean giving up on health behaviors - which is one thing we do have power to change, regardless of weight outcome. Please do educate yourself - what you express here is really quite misguided and harmful. Perhaps you want to start here, plenty of other links to follow up on:

    • MotherR says:

      09:44am | 29/04/12

      It is not ‘a myriad of’, it’s ‘myriad choices’ or ‘myriad options’. But, ‘a myriad host of” - good gosh!! That’s the worst use of the word I have seen. Not to mention that I am so tired of journalists’ use of the term ‘a host of’, which is in the same league as ‘in a bid to…’.

    • Susan says:

      10:21am | 29/04/12

      What blows me away re so many critics is those who verbally attack larger people who ARE out exercising.  If you were a size 24 for example and you are now a size 20, you will be considered grossly overweight by many, but you’ve lost two clothes sizes already and you are aiming for a whole lot more.  You’re probably doing 2 hours of direct exercise a day at least and you will take about three years to lose what you need to, safely.

      When you SEE bigger people, don’t assume they are lazy slobs doing nothing at all…because for all you know, they are already doing a great deal.  Compassion is lacking from so many posters here and recognising that what they actually ‘see’ with their eyes may not be anywhere near the whole truth.

      I worked for a large weight loss company and, trust me, people who are in for the long haul WILL draw critique and hurtful comment from Mr and Ms Public even after they have lost 15 kg and are still hard at their programs. 

      ASSUMPTIONS are hurtful. How about giving the next bigger person you see who is out walking or active, a big smile. Encouragement and broader social acceptance does a great deal more than assumptive snarky holier than though comments.

    • Susan says:

      10:40am | 29/04/12

      “critics ARE those”..before the grammar police grab me. smile

    • Kath says:

      11:38am | 29/04/12

      You killed your argument by using the term “healthy BMI”.  It is well known that there is no such thing as a healthy BMI (or an unhealthy one).  BMI has been discredited as a useful reading for individual bodies YEARS ago - this isn’t new information.  It is for the purpose of gathering the average body weights across a population for statistical records.  Using it for individual health markers is absolute quackery.  A quick Google scholar search and 10 minutes reading will educate you.  I suggest you do it.

      Here’s the thing.  You worry about your body and your health.  But when it comes to anyone else’s, shut the hell up and mind your own damn business.

    • Melissa Raven says:

      12:11pm | 29/04/12

      Maria, you quoted Lydia Jade Turner’s advice that “The best thing we can do for our health is focus on health-giving behaviours, and allow our weight to fall where it will.” But then, as Jamie noted, you basically amputated the first half of the sentence and criticised the second half out of context. You criticise people who ‘run with the second half of that sentence and conveniently gloss over the first part’ – precisely what you did in your criticism. Turner does not advise ‘giving up on your weight’; she advises shifting the focus to health-giving behaviours, and accepting the weight that results from those health-giving behaviours.
      Jamie and dak8 have both pointed out that you do not seem to understand the meaning of ‘slippery slope’. Nor do you seem to understand ‘tipping point’. You clearly know how to use a straw-man argument, but seem not to be aware of how amateurish such arguments are.

    • Robert says:

      12:36pm | 29/04/12

      mayhap one of the, usually, self-styled “Experts” can explain this sutuation & how to address it.
      Relatively young man (44) with wife & 9-year-old child.
      He is currently 140 kilos & rising. he has been told:
      Type II Diabetes is just around the corne -( probably now already in place)
      Heart Disease is around the corner & there is a family history of it.
      Respiratory problems already in place
      The possiblity of developing Cancer due to obesity to which must be added a family history which is riddled with it (his father, grandparents on both sides, uncles, aunts & cousins all gone).
      The solution:
      Exercise, die
      Only eat what is put on the table at home.
      Cut out the driving to the local shop & walk (it is 500 metres away)
      Don’t buy any junk food whilst there & gobble it down before you get home.
      It makes absolutely no difference. How in tha name of everything do those know-it-all ‘experts” propose they will deal with it?

    • Halla says:

      09:15pm | 30/04/12

      To the author of this piece: You said you agreed on the ‘focus on health’ part, but you then go on to indulge in lots of fat shaming - where is the focus on health in that behaviour? Weight and health are seperate things. It is not possible to judge one simply by looking at the other. It is possible to be fat and healthy.

      Out of interest, if someone fat behaves in a way that you deem to be healthy and they remain fat, what will your response be? Will you advocate that they adopt unhealthy behaviours to attempt weight loss? If so, why?

      I think you’ll find that most people have a set weight that, if they are healthy and happy, they will stay at or around. These weights will not all be in the slim or thin range, since not everyone is the same. I feel really condescending having to explain that to a group of adults, but it’s a basic fact that seems to slip by a lot of people.

    • Halla says:

      10:35pm | 30/04/12

      “If fat people were to incorporate two 24 hour periods of complete fasting into their lives every week, habitually, they would lose excess weight and would not regain it.”

      I assume, since this is health-based advice, you fast as well? If it is health advice and healthy behaviour why would it only apply to one group of people? Also, I once spent a week deathly ill in hospital, sustained only by a drip. Didn’t lose an ounce of weight. I assume the weight I have is not, then, excess.

      ” Being fat is not healthy, and having your body being constantly in the fed state for every day of your entire life is not healthy either. Stop trying to normalise and pathetic spectacle and glorify a disease just to protect fat people’s egos.”

      Being fat is not a disease, it’s a body size. If you find that anyone is a ‘pathetic spectacle’ feel free to look away as the problem is yours, not ours.

      We aren’t here to protect egos, we’re here to speak against the ‘lazy fatties’ untruth that springs up everywhere. Why not try and encourage *everyone* towards health, regardless of body size.

    • Rquick says:

      03:28pm | 01/05/12

      This post is all over the place. Bottom line people are people. Why are fat people being condemned? Is the author of this post an MD because she seems to be doing an awful lot of diagnosing. The only thing you can tell from a persons size is their size. Fat does not equal unhealthy and skinny doesent equal healthy. No person skinny or fat needs faux concern about their size or eating habits. You don’t see people pulling cigs out of peoples mouth or pouring peoples drinks on the floor at bars out of “concern” so why project that onto fat people?


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