Thursday, October 11, 2007

I Should Probably Get Back on DDR

Mark H. at Denialism posts about obesity, and people who deny that it's a risk. Since he went through the trouble to find supportive literature, you should probably head over there and give it a look. Common wisdom seems to come out ahead in the science: Too much fatty and/or sugary food is bad. Exercise is good.

Some people object, though, and I find it weird on the conspiracy angle:
What is most amazing is how long it has been known that body fat doesn't cause heart disease or premature death, yet how vehemently people hold onto this belief. "The notion that body fat is a toxic substance is now firmly a part of folk wisdom: many people perversely consider eating to be a suicidal act," wrote Dr. William Bennett, M.D., former editor of The Harvard Medical School Health Letter and author of The Dieter's Dilemma. "Indeed, the modern belief that body fat is a mortal threat to its owner is mainly due to the fact that, for many decades, the insurance companies had the sole evidence, and if it was wrong they would presumably have had to close their doors." That can still be said today, although the obesity interests have since grown considerably larger.
What would the insurance companies have to gain by suppressing health information? Last time I checked, insurance companies generally make money by getting people who will live long, healthy, and safe lives onto their policy. Those people still pay premiums, and if they don't have to collect on claims, they're essentially giving their money to the insurance company for nothing. It seems to me that insurance companies have a vested interest in spreading the best available health information. If they were worried the data they had were wrong, that's all the more reason to give it freely: So that scientists can attempt replication and peer review, potentially correcting mistakes or raising confidence.

If anyone can give me a solid reason against all that, I'm right here.

Anyway, being obese can't be easy. I have no problem with them asking to be treated with respect or with them raging against discrimination. Culturally, we should be more accepting of them. I can restrain myself from making insensitive fat jokes.

But if everything we know about biology and medicine says it's bad for you, take it up with the universe.

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