This is the Weight and Healthcare newsletter! If you appreciate the content here, please consider supporting the newsletter by subscribing and/or sharing! In the twenty-ish years that I’ve been studying weight science research, I’ve noticed that there are some common words that seem to mean different things in weight science research than, well, anywhere else. This is not to say that these things don’t happen in other research as well, thought it’s perhaps more common in weight loss research that these “alternative meanings” tend to create more support for the weight loss paradigm, by whose proponents the studies are often funded and/or conducted, and for whom the idea that people can succeed at significant, long-term, weight loss is crucial to their careers/profits.
This thread has been moderated to remove a troll comment, the labor of MJ who replied is preserved below. The base of the comment was the common, harmful mistake that if white women experience both weight stigma and misogyny, then it's not possible that weight stigma could be rooted in racism and that it is, in fact, racist to say it is.
I am grateful to the BIPOC who have educated me about how the fact that weight stigma is rooted in and inextricable from racism and anti-Blackness and that it disproportionately impacts those communities to this day does not mean that white fat women don't experience weight stigma - it means that we don't experience weight stigma AND its intersections with/roots in racism. When we assume that our experience as white women is the same as folks of color, it's because we aren't having the experiences of those who face both racism and weight stigma are having - that is one of the many ways that our privilege protects us, and we weaponize that privilege when we claim that our privilege doesn't exist which is, in and of itself, an act of racism.
Here are some suggested resources:
Sabrina Strings Fearing the Black Body – the Racial Origins of Fat Phobia
Da’Shaun Harrison Belly of the Beast: The Politics of Anti-Fatness as Anti-Blackness
Ijeoma Oluo: Confronting racism is not about the needs and feelings of white people
Ijeoma Oluo - So You Want To Talk About Race https://www.strandbooks.com/product/9781580058827?title=so_you_want_to_talk_about_race
Ibram X. Kendi - Anti-Racism Reading List
Here is MJ's comment to preserve their labor:
"hatred against white people." [insert facepalm here]
Over the past 100 years, 99.99999% of the narrative about fat women has been about white people. Black women and other women of color have been mostly ignored in a lot of research until relatively recently, and even when they are included, there's usually zero account for the fact that they're more likely to live with poverty and in unsafe, often polluted areas.
The history of medicine and medical research against all people of color is full of racism and bigotry. Most of medicine - from BMI to general health - is -still- based on white people. Until 5 years ago, it was believed that kidney failure test results look differently in Black people. It doesn't! This was just racism all along, and millions died thanks to this nonsense. Most of the weight loss ads for decades were based on white people - implying that white people have to be thin. Not people of color. They were who white people shouldn't look like.
White people don't experience racism in Western countries. Pay Attention: Racism Is Not The Same Thing As Discrimination. Racism is systemic. Racism is societal. Even if you're fat, you're still more likely to graduate college, be employed, have safe housing, and get treated by the law FAR more than fat POC. Do white fat people experience discrimination? Absolutely. There are people who are going to hate fat people because they're insecure scumbags with anger management issues. But society overall still treats white fat people better than they've ever treated non-white people of all sizes.
Lastly, I love how you think you're some special white snowflake who is the only person who has ever experienced discrimination. I have been stalked, had my life threatened, been assaulted, had things stolen from me and otherwise lost property, been lied to for fraud, been denied healthcare, lost and denied jobs, struggled with education issues, and much more, all because someone looked at me and equated fat with stupid or easy target. I've also experienced antisemitism and ableism in ways you cannot imagine. And I STILL HAVE IT BETTER THAN PEOPLE OF COLOR.
I think it’s also important to point out that even when we are talking about the cases where people lose some weight in the immediate short term, there are still many people who can’t lose weight on any diet. I’ve heard a lot recently that anyone can lose weight short term and that the issue is that diets just don’t last because the weight comes back. But while weight regain is very true, this erases the people who are berated, denied their lived experience, accused of lying, denied services including healthcare and employment for failure to lose even a pound and even the children who have been separated from their families because of cruel discriminatory policies around the inability to lose any weight. We absolutely need language to convey that most people don’t lose weight on diets even in the short term because it sends the wrong message about how bodies and weight fluctuations work, especially since the most common reaction to a diet study is dropping out from what I’ve seen.
Another way that "long term" fails is that in the rare cases where you do see 10+ year follow-ups, they always lose participants. You see this in other kinds of 10+ year studies, too, so it's not uncommon. I think cancer studies may be the only ones where they are most likely to know what happened to the participants after 10 years.
My point is that when you start out with 300 people but 10 years later, you only find 20 people, basing your success rate on those 20 people is statistically fraudulent. "10 years later, 60% of participants kept the weight off!" If it were 300 people, that would be 180 people. But with just 20 people, that's just 12 - which says absolutely nothing. And because they don't hear back from the other participants they have no idea what happened to them.
Thank you for this!