Regarding the article I recently posted: The Fat Trap, I am one of those people who believes that saying “weight-loss and maintenance is easy” is an unhelpful lie, and that telling people the Truth about weight-loss and maintenance is what is Helpful.
Below are a couple of follow-up questions and answers about the article that I think are worth posting at here at DietHobby.
Were you at all worried that by writing a high-profile article about this research you would discourage people who are unhealthily overweight from trying to lose weight?
Answer from Auther, Tara Parker Pope:
I was really worried that the story would be discouraging to people, but I have been so pleased by the hundreds of e-mails and comments sent by readers. So many readers said to me, “Finally, my life made sense….” and “Now that I understand what’s happening, I’m really encouraged to try again…” One reader wrote that she found the article to be “sobering, challenging, and comforting all at the same time.” We don’t do dieters any favors by telling them that it’s easy and simple. I think telling people the truth about weight loss leaves them far better equipped to tackle the problem.
A fascinating and disturbing part of this article is the section where you detail the extremely regimented lives of a few formerly obese people who have managed to keep off the weight. These rare individuals, as you quote a Yale scholar saying, “never don’t think about their weight.” A Slate article on your piece argues that the mentality of these people “resembles the symptoms of an eating disorder.” They suggested that our fat problem is not obesity but that we encourage people to adopt an eating-disorder mentality to fight obesity. How would you respond to this?
Answer from Auther, Tara Parker Pope
I think if a person had epilepsy and needed to adopt a very regimented diet to control that disease, nobody would accuse them of having an eating disorder. A person with high blood pressure might cut back on salt and take medication, and we don’t judge him. A person with Type 1 diabetes has to be very careful about what they eat and constantly monitor blood sugar to stay well. Again, we don’t question this behavior or call it disordered eating. But a person with obesity as a medical condition is ridiculed for gaining the weight in the first place and then they are criticized for being hypervigilant about maintaining a healthy weight. That said, I thought the Slate article made a good point, concluding “that a society that stigmatizes people for a physical attribute that they can’t change is the real fat trap we ought to be trying to escape.”
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