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Monkeying Around with Obesity Research

January 13, 2012

A couple of days ago I found a somewhat interesting story at CBC news on a new anti-obesity drug they’re currently testing on “couch potato” monkeys. That’s right, couch potato monkeys; monkeys who, for whatever reason, choose to eat more and move less than their counterparts in the labs. This new drug starves fat cells of blood, killing them, which then lowers overall body weight. It’s unclear from the article if the CP monkeys lost 11% of their body weight in 28 days or over a longer period of time, but if that’s true, that would be like me losing nearly 40lbs in one month. That’s extreme, to say the least.

That’s just the first problem with this new anti-obesity medication, and the article itself: extreme weight loss in a short period of time. We KNOW that’s not healthy. Any doctor worth their salt will tell you that sudden, dramatic weight loss is BAD. Another problem is that it’s based on the false premise that people are fat because they eat too much and don’t move enough. I don’t think I need to spell out for anyone reading WHY that’s such a crock of bull. Also, the brain is made mostly of fat. If you make a drug that attacks fat cells, what happens to your brain? The other false premise is that being fat, by itself, is bad for you. Supposedly, fat is linked to cancer, but I’ve never seen that actually proven yet. Correlation does not equal causation. There’s mention that, of COURSE, this drug isn’t a “magic bullet” for fighting obesity; the best “cure” they have for that is prevention through diet and exercise! Oh I’m sorry, a “healthy lifestyle,” because no fat person has ever tried THAT before! I’m thinking that these doctors might’ve gotten their degrees out of a box of Cracker Jacks.

Last, but certainly not least, the lead doctor on this study holds a “financial stake in drug development companies.” Of course he does! He’s not trying to “cure” obesity out of the goodness of his heart, out of some kind of misguided, but heartfelt, concern for us poor fatties. He, like so, so many others, would like to “cure” obesity so he can get rich. And he’s happy to do it on the bodies of fat people.

I’m sorry, but I find anti-obesity drugs and surgeries to be eliminationist. I feel threatened by them because the people who’ve invented them don’t want people like me to exist. I need to disappear, to not be myself, because, well, why? Because I don’t “look” right. I’m not “healthy” (they know I’m not healthy just by looking at me, because hello! I’m fat!). I need to be fixed. But I don’t. I’m fine the way I am, and even if this drug came out on the market tomorrow, no side effects guaranteed, I’d leave it on the shelf. I’m not the one with the problem. It’s the world that’s got the problem with me, so it’s the world we need to change. Meanwhile, scientists will keep monkeying around looking for a “cure” to obesity in order to line thier pockets while the Maldives go underwater and millions are starving and sick.

47 Comments leave one →
  1. elengendros permalink
    January 13, 2012 4:27 am

    What why do you feel threatened? I would like to find a drug with not side effects that let me eat whatever I want without gaining weight. I am sure that you are fine like you are, but you can’t tell other people how they have to live.

    When a drug is dangerous I think it is fine to denounce it, but if the drug is not dangerous it is none of your bussiness. I am flat chested and I will never get a cosmetic surgery to make my boobs bigger, but I will never denounce the cosmetic surgery industry unless it is dangerous, It is none of my bussiness.

    • January 13, 2012 9:59 am

      First of all, Jen said she wouldn’t take it. She didn’t say she would stop you from taking it.

      Second, I guess you missed the story of the French breast implant company that has been using commercial grade silicone to save money then?

      There is no such thing as a drug without side effects. Even placebos can have side effects under the right conditions.


    • January 13, 2012 3:12 pm

      I would never tell someone what to do with their own body, Elengendros. Part of being grownups is making our own decisions about what we put in or on our bodies. I’m saying that FOR ME I would never take an obesity ‘cure’ (Lol almost wrote curse!). It’s taken a long time, years infact, to shuck the notions of how I ‘should’ look (ie thin) and accept me for who I am. Just like you wouldn’t get plastic surgery for your boobs, I wont take drugs, diet or get surgery to lose weight.

      • January 18, 2012 1:22 am

        Once I read the reminder that the BRAIN is made from fat I said not only no but hell no to this drug. My bipolar timebomb of a brain is already screwy enough, thanks.

    • Mulberry permalink
      January 13, 2012 9:39 pm

      “I would like to find a drug with not side effects that let me eat whatever I want without gaining weight.”

      Interesting. A lot of us here can do this without drugs. If your weight is at/near setpoint, AND you’re not having hormone problems, AND you’re not taking medicines that affect your weight AND you’re not entering puberty/menopause AND (a few other ands), you should be able to do it, too. But most people are not willing to let their weight settle at (pulls number out of butt) 100 pounds over whatever’s recommended on the BMI charts, so their weight moves around all over the place.

      About side effects: Drugs are piles of side-effects. You have to balance benefit/risk. But sometimes not taking any drugs is an even riskier course of action.

  2. Kala permalink
    January 13, 2012 9:03 am

    Regarding the brain comment:

    Fat contains a collection of different kinds of cells, the primary type being adipocytes. The brain is composed of a mixture of neurons (the workhorses) and the glilal cells (the support system).

    These are all different kinds of cells, and I would think all distinctly identifiable by the protein receptors on the cell membranes. So my personal intuition as a non-biologist is that just because you are attacking fat cells, doesn’t mean that you are touching anything to do with your brain.

    Now that doesn’t mean that I’d be on line to take this drug. What I’m most interested in, is the pathway the material from destroyed fat cells (adipocytes at their core, contain a globule of lipids) take to be excreted out of the body? When one is having a rapid breakdown of muscle tissue for example, this is what their urine will turn out like:

    The broken down muscle releases it’s contents into the blood stream, and this causes real harm in the kidneys. Where do the broken down adipocytes go, and what do they ruin along the way?

    • January 13, 2012 10:08 am

      I don’t know enough about the brain, but I do know that the way these drug trials work is that they notice a desired side effect (such as weight loss), try to figure out its method (in this case, starving fat cells), and keep an eye out for side effects. The second and last items are where it’s sort of a “you don’t know what you can’t see” situation.

      I don’t know much about biology (don’t know much trigonometry), but from what I read, there are a number of different fatty acids in the brain, such as monounsaturated oleic acid. We don’t know if the drug in question is targeting adipocytes specifically, or all, or some, fatty acids. We don’t know much. But I think Jen raises a good point, that should be one, of many, concerns as this drugs winds its way through the trial process.

      I also think the points Kala raises are valid. We do need to distinguish between body fat and brain fat. They aren’t identical, but we don’t know enough to say brain fat is safe. Kala also raises an excellent question on the breakdown of adipocytes.

      But most importantly, we know that simply removing fat doesn’t make people healthy. They’ve done experiments where they surgically remove sections of fat, and the fat itself has nothing to do with the disease processes it supposedly causes. Simply killing fat cells doesn’t do anything. Encouraging people to eat healthy and exercise, regardless of whether it shrinks your fat cells… now that can do something.


      • Kala permalink
        January 13, 2012 10:22 am

        Well what I’m saying, is that many drugs (and viruses) that target specific cells, latch onto protein receptors that are specific to those cells, taking advantage of something your body has set up inside itself for interaction between cells and other things like hormones. If that is the case with this drug, and it targets apidocytes, then I can’t see how it would affect the brain. It makes very little sense to me that they’d make some drug that enters all cells, and targets certain fatty acids. I’d think the monkeys would die very quickly, as fat molecules of many types containing all sorts of fatty acids are in all cells. No such drug would ever make it to human trial, if that’s what it did.

        Ultimately, because the drug is up for IP rights, we won’t have any idea of what exactly it does, and how it works until they push for a patent.

        “But most importantly, we know that simply removing fat doesn’t make people healthy”

        I’m not sure there’s an ethical issue for a drug like this, even if it did work. There are plenty of drugs and treatments out there that don’t serve a medical purpose. For example, there are some legitimate medical reasons for using Botox, but the bulk of Botox use isn’t done for medical reasons. If there’s a market for it, drug companies will pander to it. Sure, we know that removing fat doesn’t make people healthy, but that doesn’t mean that you wouldn’t have people lining up in droves to get the drugs. Even if those people all knew that being thinner wouldn’t make them healthier, many of them would still line up for it. I don’t think all the HAES outreach in the world would change that.

  3. vesta44 permalink
    January 13, 2012 10:34 am

    The thing is – the body fights to hold onto its fat. Liposuction is a case in point – fat removed from one part of the body returns in another part of the body eventually. So is it really a good thing to take a drug to remove fat from one’s body? When you stop taking the drug, the fat is going to come back, and probably with a vengeance. If you take the drug for life, how much damage is it going to do to your body for it to be losing fat and fighting to keep it/get it back? People are already doing untold harm to their bodies with repeated bouts of weight loss/gain, do we really need to add something like this drug into the mix just because some researchers/doctors have the mistaken idea that the only way to be healthy is to be fat-free and thin (oh, and they can make tons of money off the drugs in the meantime)?

  4. Kala permalink
    January 13, 2012 10:46 am

    Then there’s this, which I glossed over at first read:

    “Meanwhile, scientists will keep monkeying around looking for a “cure” to obesity in order to line thier pockets while the Maldives go underwater and millions are starving and sick.”

    What does obesity research, have to do with climate change and rising sea levels, and global poverty and hunger? Someone doing the type of pharmaceutical research differs wildly from a climate scientist in training, they take very few of the same classes after the first year of some 8 odd years of schooling. Do you ask your MD to help you with your dental work?

    What, pray tell, Jen, are you doing about global poverty and climate change, that you feel like you can look at some scientist and tell them that they have bigger fish to fry? I can see how you would express your discontent with the idea that people out there develop things with hopes of getting rid of people like yourself, but I just don’t see what this last line does other than be petty.

    • vesta44 permalink
      January 13, 2012 11:11 am

      I can totally understand where Jen is coming from with that bit. It’s a matter of priorities – and researchers think getting rid of fat people is more important than figuring out how to take on global warming or how to feed starving people. If you look at all the money that is spent on trying to eradicate fat bodies, money that is wasted, and think of how many useful things could be done with it instead – well, that just boggles the mind. How much good could be done with the $60 BILLION that is wasted on diets that fail every year? And that doesn’t take into consideration all the money spent on WLS that fails, or the money spent treat complications of those failed WLS (or the complications of the WLS that worked), or all the money wasted on drugs like Alli that don’t do shit (pardon the pun) for weight loss. How much good could be accomplished with all that wasted money? But you think it’s a petty concern.

      • Kala permalink
        January 13, 2012 11:47 am

        Sure, you can be frustrated, no one is denying you your feelings.

        But your complaint has more to do with capitalism, than it has to do with science. Unless one is the poorest of the poor, we could all live more genuinely, work for the greater good, spend our money on more ethical products and services. I don’t see why that researcher should be compelled more to work on something that you feel is for the greater good, than I think you should go back to college in your 50s/60s and start working for UNICEF.

        You can complain about our societal values, and that a poor set of priorities puts forth a demand for something that shouldn’t be important. But I don’t think it makes sense to criticize those that seek to provide the products to sate that demand, when one lives in a capitalistic system founded in that very idea. I think by all means, we should criticize those that use misleading advertising campaigns, those that line the pockets of politicians, those that do other highly unethical things. But to be honest, if there was a fat burning pill out there tomorrow, that did none of those unethical things, you’d still have people lining up to buy it.

      • Kala permalink
        January 13, 2012 11:54 am

        There’s also this distinction between public funds and private funds. If we were talking public funding, that we were saving 60 billion a year on government spending, we could make a fair argument that those 60 billion dollars could be put towards something better. But we’re instead talking about consumer spending. If you stop consumers from spending money on diets, there’s no reason to believe that the money would be spent for the greater good. That’s why I think the whole “Look what we could do with this money if we didn’t do this” is mostly woo. It’s a nice discussion point, but it has no place in a practical discussion of what happens in reality in our society.

        • Fab@54 permalink
          January 13, 2012 1:08 pm

          You’re all fired up about someone expressing their opinion about how or what better way scientists should be spending their time and funding —
          and yet here you are, all fired up and deciding how and what is a better way for Jen to express her opinions so they are acceptable to YOU.


          • Kala permalink
            January 13, 2012 5:07 pm

            It’s a crap opinion, and I argued with it because I thought it was a crap opinion.

            Having an issue with a statement someone makes, is a bit different than making a sweeping statement of what you think is a better way for someone to spend their time. You’d have an argument if I were telling Jen not to waste her time blogging, or I was judging her career choice. It’s a little absurd to say that because I dislike some instance of someone being judgmental, that I am never allowed to judge anything anyone says at all.

        • vesta44 permalink
          January 13, 2012 1:35 pm

          Kala – But you know what – I have taken the money I would have been spending on diets and put it toward things that help people better their lives. My husband and I donate upwards of $500 a year to veterans’ organizations and animal welfare organizations. I’ve been doing that ever since I quit dieting and quit wasting money on diets that don’t work. I’ve donated money to people that are fighting fat bigotry – that’s money I would have spent on diets if I believed in them. And I’m willing to bet that I’m not the only fat person who has quit dieting, quit wasting money on diets, who has found other ways to spend that money that are altruistic and better humanity. Just because we don’t go around tooting our horns about how we are now spending the money we used to spend on diets doesn’t mean it isn’t spent in ways that better the planet and life for all of us.

          • Kala permalink
            January 13, 2012 5:08 pm

            This does not invalidate my point about the difference of public and private funds. Clearly, as a HAES advocate and a fat activist, you are a tad bit different than someone in the general portion of the population. Anyone can choose to spend their money in different ways, that doesn’t mean it’s reasonable or practical to assume or propose they would.

    • Fab@54 permalink
      January 13, 2012 11:12 am

      Kala, you asked:
      What does obesity research, have to do with climate change and rising sea levels, and global poverty and hunger? Someone doing the type of pharmaceutical research differs wildly from a climate scientist in training, they take very few of the same classes after the first year of some 8 odd years of schooling. Do you ask your MD to help you with your dental work?

      Well, You seem like a well read, smart and articulate woman…. so, why are you challenging Jen not on her IDEAS, but on the *literal* interpretation of her words?

      Do we really need to explain what she meant, or what WE think she meant, or how it could be interpreted in different ways what she meant? Really?
      You can’t put her words into the obvious context in which they were intended?

      Besides all that, Jen is relaying her OPINION to us… not any sort of literal medical debate specifically to disprove the science behind this “new pill” they are hoping to create.

      • Kala permalink
        January 13, 2012 11:27 am

        Yes, and I found her last sentence to seem deliberately anti science, and it’s a frequently espoused idea that I see all over the place. I’ve seen endless snark from people looking at what researchers do, often not understanding it very well, and then attempting to say it’s useless or pointless or the scientists could be doing something better. I just don’t see how someone who is out there, living their own life, most likely living it for themselves and not working for some greater cause, is able to look at anyone else and say that they could be doing something more meaningful with themselves.

        It’s her opinion, and she put it out in public for discussion. If she didn’t want discussion, she could have shared it among friends who know better what it is that she wants in terms of a response.

        • Fab@54 permalink
          January 13, 2012 1:04 pm

          Wow. get over it. You’re becoming very troll-ish, and taking / making this very personal.

          • Kala permalink
            January 13, 2012 5:29 pm

            Get over what?

            I had an intellectual issue with something Jen said, I was not exactly sweet, but I was hardly insulting in my post. You follow up with an ignorant comment that supposes I’m some kind of idiot. I knew exactly what she was fucking trying to say, and had something to say about both the literal and non-literal interpretations of her comment. So I reply to you, in a post that says nothing about you, not a single comment about your person, and you tell me to get over it and call me a troll. I don’t know you, I don’t even know your name, but it says you’re 54, so maybe you should grow the fuck up a little. And yes, that was directed at you, but only because you started it. You could have argued about my positions, but you’re taking it personally and making it personal.

            As it happens when I disagree with anything here, I am jumped on for it. Should I pad my criticism with praise? Should I respect and validate every single opinion I see, even when I think that opinion is based in crap? Is that what FF is, is it a sounding box for people looking solely for the validation of their opinions? I had hoped it was more along the lines of being thought provoking, but if that isn’t the case, I recommend a disclaimer be put up, so people such as myself know to keep moving on.

        • January 13, 2012 2:42 pm

          You don’t know me at all, Kala, so let me let you into on a few things about me; I donate a lot of time, energy and resources to making the world a better place. A LOT. Not only do I blog frequently about fat and feminism, raising awareness about these things to push for equality, but I also volunteer with my local Occupy, community gardens, my son’s school, UNICEF, Amnesty International and the Vagina Monologues. MY priorities are just fine, thanks. And yes, I seriously do think that any researcher or scientist who’s working on a ‘cure’ for obesity, whether it’s a new drug or surgery, is wasting their time and our world’s resources. There are REAL problems out there that need fixing and fat is definitely NOT one of them.

          The economic and social reality of our society is that demand is created so that supply can be created, whether it’s make up, weight loss surgery, certain kinds of clothes or cars, food, whatever. Demand is created so that supply can be created in order to make money. Our entire capitalist system of economics is so incredibly broken it makes me almost literally ill to contemplate. The want of money, to ‘keep up with the Jones’, the want of STUFF, has nearly ruined our whole world, and shame on you for daring to suggest that I’M not doing my part to put an end to that.

          • Kala permalink
            January 13, 2012 5:18 pm

            Do you notice that I wasn’t attempting to have a humanitarian pissing match with you Jen? It’s also absurd that you’re saying that I’m making any judgement about you. I didn’t like one comment you made, and I put together an argument as to why. It’s wonderful that you do nice things, but I’m assuming you aren’t making snarky comments to friends and family that don’t do those nice things. Perhaps the point I was trying to make was too difficult to grasp, but to put it succinctly: everyone EVERYONE (even the fucking mother Teresa), could probably stand to live their lives in some way that serves the greater good better. I don’t think it’s in our place as individuals, to look at the careers of others and say that the world has bigger fish to fry, so they’re doing something stupid.

            The purpose of research is not solely for solving the worlds problems. That is fundamentally what motivates many scientists, but in the end science is the about the accumulation of information, and it doesn’t necessarily have any sort of moral high authority ruling over it.

            I hope you go into Walmart, and tell everyone in there that they work for a shitty company that does shitty things, and should find more greater good oriented things to do. Because I see little difference between that, and this bias against researchers.

            And I never said I supported excessive consumerism, or even that I was a capitalist. I said we live in a capitalistic society, and yes, there are benefits that most of us enjoy from living in such a society. That doesn’t mean that we aren’t enjoying benefits off of the back of someone suffering elsewhere, but that is the current state of things. And I don’t see how you could say that filling the demand for pharmaceuticals and cosmetics is any more or less ethical than filling the demand for fast fashion, or filling the demand for consumer electronics. My point was that whatever company is shilling for this pill, isn’t guilty of much more than what most other businesses are out there doing.

  5. Rowan permalink
    January 13, 2012 3:50 pm


    All matters of obesity and discrimination aside, this is just more symptom-driven medical BS.

    We don’t prevent cancer, we develop better detection and chemotherapy. We don’t prevent diabetes, we improve our dialysis machines. We don’t prevent heart disease, we build a better bypass.

    Being as active as your body’s functionality will allow is healthy. Eating a variety of foods that includes fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and fat is healthy. Being thin is neither healthy nor unhealthy. Being obese is neither healthy nor unhealthy.

    Obesity is a symptom. It says that for whatever reason, you average more calories consumed than burned. Are you a lazy overeater? Someone who really enjoys food? Someone with a thyroid condition? A weightlifter? Someone who worries less about body image than functionality? Someone who eats so little you’ve tricked your body into a starvation metabolism? I CAN’T TELL by looking at you, so I CAN’T TELL if getting thinner will make you healthier.

    What I can tell is that if you get rid of people’s fat without instilling active habits and nutritional understanding, you’re not going to make them one bit healthier. Their risks of heart disease will stay the same unless they do something to change their cardiovascular condition. Their risks of diabetes will stay the same unless they change eating habits (or, you know, the parents they were born to…). Same for cancer. Pure body weight has a *correlative* relationship with certain diseases, but the causal relationship hasn’t been consistently proven. Lifestyle, heredity, and environment play too big a role to blame body fat.

    You want to decrease the incidence of diabetes and heart disease? End corn subsidies in the US, hamstringing the HFCS juggernaut and decreasing the availability of corn-fed meats. Put full recess back into the school day, teaching children to take regular breaks for fun, unstructured activity. Offer tax incentives to companies with on-site workout facilities employees can use during their breaks. Bring better grocery options to urban food deserts. Launch a broad-based campaign to teach real nutrition, not fad diets. Give people the TOOLS to make healthy choices and then trust and respect the choices they make.

    I don’t know (and I can’t say I care) if anyone will get any skinnier doing any of that, but I know that if we shift our focus to healthy levels of activity and healthy omnivory instead of demonizing and eradicating fat people, we’ll all be in better shape whatever shape we wear.

    • jenincanada permalink
      January 13, 2012 8:55 pm

      Well said (as always) Rowan, and thank you. There are SO MANY things we can do to be healthier, as a society, than just keep trying the old ‘lose weight’ dead horse. I’m for all the things you’ve suggested here. Care to run for president someday?

    • Fab@54 permalink
      January 13, 2012 9:01 pm

      VERY good points, and very well said, Rowan…. thank you.

  6. January 13, 2012 5:45 pm

    Kala, I am going to be honest.

    You come off as extremely patronizing, and extremely self-absorbed. You appear to have nothing positive to say at ALL – while I’m certainly not going to say “please kiss my ass and butter me up”, there is a way to disagree with people without coming off as holier-than-thou in the most distasteful extreme. If you can’t handle that your tone has offended some people, I’m sorry, but I’m not interested in a discussion with you when you APPEAR to be able to dish it out but not take it.

    You clearly have an extremely strong opinion about science and researchers, and appear to have only had good experiences with people in that field. HOWEVER. It’s ridiculous to state that there are no biased researchers. There ARE biased everything. Don’t get me started on the motivations behind autism researchers and so-called scientists who are more motivated by money than by the common good, for example. You -appear- to be taking a generalized comment to a ridiculously personal extreme, and if you can’t accept that most if not all of us have had poor experiences with scientists or researchers or medical researchers, well, you won’t last here long.

    • Kala permalink
      January 13, 2012 6:18 pm

      Wow, I wonder where I said there wasn’t biased researchers. There are plenty. But I don’t go out there supposing that researchers I don’t know are shitty people because something they do is something I don’t like. I personally have known several bad researchers, I personally know a professor that outright lied to the NSF about how he was using his funding. I have no reason to believe that there are more or less biased scientists than there are more or less unethical anything, in any profession, that do anything.

      It’s hardly a ridiculous personal extreme. I don’t make comments unless I have thought about it, and when someone comes up all angry about what I’ve said, I defend it. I don’t care that they’re offended, but I’m not generally a fan of leaving with my tail between my legs.

      But let’s be honest here. I could come at it as gently as possible and as congenial, but if it was criticism, I would still get trampled on. Not trampled on by every single person, but by some. I don’t see how I have any personal obligation to make criticism, praise, or any combination thereof, I comment where I please. And my question still stands. Is this a place for discussion, or is it a place for cheerleading? I had thought it was for the former, but I’m seeing over time that it’s more of the latter.

      • jenincanada permalink
        January 13, 2012 8:53 pm

        I suppose my arguement is then that yes, all research and science *should be* directed towards the betterment of all humankind, with an end goal of ending human suffering. Some would argue that well duh! Of course making fat people not fat would be ending thier suffering, but that’s based on the false premise that fat people are all suffering and unhappy (and unhealthy). I think that any and all research that’s aimed at superficial crap like beauty and “health” (note the scare quotes) is garbage and should stop. We need to get our priorities straight, as a species. There, have I sufficiently answered your criticism to your satisfaction? I don’t expect nonstop cheerleading but I DO expect not to have my morals questioned thanks to 1 line in 1 post.

        • Kala permalink
          January 13, 2012 10:36 pm

          Alright, if you truly think that every single person on the planet should be working towards the greater good (a rare and unexpected position), then that’s a fine and consistent position to have. I don’t agree with you in that it’s a feasible or worthwhile thing to expect or hope for, but I respect that it’s your position. It was not my intention to call into play your humanitarian-cred, the point I attempted to make repeatedly is that I personally find it very invalid to say that people that you don’t know should be doing something different with their lives. I think that it’s a position that many people here have espoused. For example, I’ve read Vesta’s blog in its entirety, and she expresses great displeasure when anyone attempts to tell her how to live her life. I tend to agree with her (I know, she’ll be surprised).

      • Fab@54 permalink
        January 13, 2012 9:15 pm

        Ahhh, now you’re just being ‘trampled’ on….. pulling the victim card. Nice. Can’t say I wasn’t expecting that move– sooner or later.

        As for your question regarding this being a place for discussion or cheer leading; I don’t see you ‘discussing’ anything. I see you nit-picking, criticizing and intentionally using literal applications to someone’s words as a form of a Challenge. And an arrogant, unnecessarily personal challenge at that. You’ve taken ONE line out of an entire blog opinion/ post and turned it into a multi-post argument -at least on your part – on at least two different far-peripheral topics.

        You’ve become quite tedious.

        • Kala permalink
          January 13, 2012 10:40 pm

          Good to see you know me so well Fab.

          I say trample, in response to multiple posts I have made, on multiple threads. And out of all of those, only Shannon was like to see anything decent in what I said, last time I checked. What I was proposing was far from controversial, when I advocated that several people not direct their extreme anger at some random PR guy that didn’t create the campaign message, who was merely the outlet for communication with CHOA.

          I’m sure you, as a fat advocate, have taken one line out of something larger someone has said, that you found fat prejudiced, and tore it to pieces. I hardly say that volume is a good indicator here. I also wrote a big long ass post first, before anything else, that was quite discussion-y. You missed it in your myopia, but you really showed me, didn’t you?

          • Fab@54 permalink
            January 14, 2012 7:52 am

            There you go again… I am not saying I know you at all. I am making observations and comments on what I *see* here on this board, in your words. Nothing more – nothing less.
            I will go back and re-read my comments to you, but as far as I remember, Not once did I sum YOU up negatively, not once did I call YOUR opinion a “crap opinion” either. If I said something more personal and negative than that, I will apologize. (Even my troll-ISH and tedius comment was referring to your argument, not you as a person…)

            It is not my goal here to bully or attack anyone. But I still stick to my observations that you chose one line out of many to nit pick and then proceeded to champion other aspects of this conversation that (in my opinion) are far flung aspects — and not the core of the original insight Jen presented “for discussion”. (motives of researchers and Jen’s “nerve” to criticize some of their priorities).

            I have just skimmed through your latest posts here, and once again, you are summing up the people behind the posts instead of just sticking to the content of the posts and agreeing or disagreeing and explaining why.

            In the last post I read, you chose Vesta and her blog and critiqued her –*personally* — and although you threw her a bone and mostly agreed with her blog content, (also while assuming she’d be surprised at that), you still managed to get a critical implication in there.

            I see very clearly how your style of ‘discussion’ works, Kala.

            As for other discussions here in FFF, either I was involved or I wasn’t– for my own reasons. YOU being involved (or not) in those discussions had no bearing on that at all. But since you feel so ‘victimized’, I’ll bow out of this one now.

  7. Kala permalink
    January 13, 2012 10:42 pm


    I dislike being called a troll (someone who makes unprovoked attacks at others for the sake of seeing them squirm), and I dislike being called holier than thou, although that’s been primarily one person. Is it holier than thou to say that it doesn’t make any sense to hurl insults at CHOA PR employees, or to gripe about how these PR people belong on the lowest rungs of hell? Is it holier than thou to think that claims that someone’s research is unethical or pointless, without anything even close to full knowledge of the situation, is unwarranted? These are the types of things I’ve complained about here in the past, and every single one was taken very very poorly. I would hardly call that fair.

    If anyone here wants a better explanation of how my comments are motivated, I’ll give full disclosure. I am a 21 year old woman. I am not what would be considered fat, I have had issues with disordered eating when I was a teenager, but it was outgrown and I have no lasting problems with it and it didn’t affect me strongly psychologically. I am in good health, have no handicaps, and take no medications. I am pursuing graduate education in science. I have never been a target of prejudice as an adult in any sort of significant way, and although there was some of it when I was a child, it’s not something that deeply affects me.

    I read fiercefatties, and a number of other fat acceptance related blogs, because I am interested in social movements. Fat acceptance is not the only movement I follow, and I don’t comment everywhere that I do follow, and I follow movements I both do and don’t support. When I write my comments, they are honestly almost always neutral. Often critical, but neutral. In my head, I read them in a deadpan. I am not angry when writing them, unless I’ve been insulted first. I have no personal investment nor particular emotional attachment to this movement, it’s something that I would like to see succeed because I think that at its core it’s an unassailable correct position and I push for equality everywhere, but in the end my personal life remains the same regardless of how things go. I think it’s pretty hard for me to be holier than thou, when this is not something that I participate in. I am not sitting here saying that I am doing anything better than you are. I am commenting where I feel compelled to, as an observer. I understand the struggles that a lot of people have had in an intellectual way, but I will never relate on the visceral level.

    So with that, here’s my flounce. The consensus is that people here don’t care for my tone (real or imagined because I very rarely use emotional language), and don’t care for the comments I make. I respect that, but at the same time can’t see myself delivering differently, so I am choosing to no longer comment here. I’m sure I’ll still read occasionally, and for those that particularly dislike me, you can pretend I was an ugly blight on the blog that is now gone away (Fab, CC, I never existed at all, poof!).

    What I have done, is piped along a few dozen research papers to Shannon over the last few months, each of which would have cost him anywhere from 10-30 dollars a paper to get as someone unaffiliated with a research institution. If someone has a paper that they would like to get their hands on, I’m sure Shannon could direct your request to me. Where I see fat prejudice in my life, I offer the same dry criticism you see here, but directed towards others. I purchased vitamins for a blogger requesting financial help that I originally found through something Vesta, and if I see other such requests in the future, I’m like to fill them. I do my best to make small charitable donations throughout the year even though I don’t have high income as a student. I donate blood regularly even though I have an extreme anxiety for needles. I have several rescue cats that I pulled off the street and out of garbage myself, including multiple cats with special needs. And believe it or not, my educational motivations are inspired for a greater good. I might not be nice, or what you care for, but I am hardly all negative, tedious, or a troll. Adios.

    • jenincanada permalink
      January 13, 2012 11:00 pm

      So you’re commenting from a position of tremendous privilege and dont’ like being challenged on it. Got it. While I think the troll comment is out of line (a troll is someone who’d deliberately trying to start shit), I do think that you need to check yourself a bit and realize that for us, this isn’t just rhetorical or scientific. It’s personal. The personal is political, which is why we do what we do (blog, advocacy, make petitions, call people, etc). For you it seems more like a thought experiment though you’re supportive of the movement. I appreciate your comment on the difference in brain fat vs. body fat and am glad you made the distinction. I’m thinking that the researchers might’ve noticed a sudden change in mental capability if their drug was harming the monkeys but you never know. People are willing to overlook death as a potential side effect of weight loss surgery, so there you go.

      • Kala permalink
        January 13, 2012 11:23 pm

        Let me clarify something:

        Am I privileged in that I am considered conventionally attractive enough that I’ve received no problems from it? Of course.

        Did I grow up poor in a house that for years didn’t have any hot water in a northeastern state, that had black mold and a hole in the roof, that was dirty and disgusting because no one cleaned it except myself? Was I tormented in grade school because I came to school smelling of kerosene, because there was no heat in my home except for a kerosene space heater? Did I have a mentally ill mother, and an sexually and mentally abusive father? Did I have to grow up as a child with my father being in love with me, rather than loving me like a father would? Was my own home my prison, where I was allowed to leave without my mother, or ever visit a friend? Did my father bribe my mother into buying excessive junk food that I liked, in hopes of making me fat so other men wouldn’t look at me? Was I forced to wear clothes multiple sizes too big to school and be a spectacle, because I was told I was fat because I had large breasts and a big behind? Did I have family members attempting to set up an arranged marriage for me when I was a teenager? Was I forced to read countless hours of religious dreck I didn’t believe in as punishment? Did I leave home at 16? Did I put myself through college? Have I ever been homeless? Just because I don’t air all my baggage on some blog for everyone to see, doesn’t mean that you can make assumptions about my privilege, how petty of you.

        • Fab@54 permalink
          January 14, 2012 8:11 am

          Once again, the topic is OBESITY – and a society that believes fat people would be better off dead (or risking death) than “choosing” to remain fat.

          But really, it’s all about YOU, isn’t it Kala? All about you and what YOU think of the others here, and how you are so much better than the rest of us because well, you’re such an “intellectual thinker” and scientific and all….

          Not all up in arms and ’emotional’ (and wrong about everything) like the rest of us fatties are, and you know, being “conventionally attractive” certainly raises your score, too. Lucky girl.
          And BTW, how many times have you called Jen “petty” now?

          Any other fallacy arguments you want to toss around?

        • jenincanada permalink
          January 14, 2012 2:31 pm

          Privileged doesn’t necessarily mean rich, for those who may not be familiar with the term. Privilege refers to all the ways in which a person’s qualities work for them and give them an advantage over people who dont’ have such qualities. In our current society, the privilges to have are maleness, being thin and/or able-bodied or some variation on ‘healthy’, mentally sound, white/Caucasian, wealthy and a few others. These things are, generally, not things in our control, but they still affect our lives all day every day. As a white woman, I don’t have to worry about being pulled over for the crime while driving a nice car while black and male, or followed around in a store for the crime of being a Native Canadian woman. I came from a middle class family but have had my share of bad times in poverty. My privilege is knowing that my middle class family can and will help me out in those times. I’m able bodied, average sized (small fat), intelligent and as far as anyone who looks at me knows, mentally sound. These are my privileges that work in my favour in every interaction I have face to face every day. That’s what I mean by privilege. I work hard to check that privilege when I talk with and listen to people who have different experiences from me, people of colour or who are physically disabled or mentally unwell. I’m not perfect. I fuck up and make assumptions but what I THINK vs. what comes out o fmy mouth or across my keyboard is what matters. We all grow up steeped in the kyriarchy; some of us have had the benefit of learning about it and how to dismantle it. Others haven’t.

    • Mulberry permalink
      January 14, 2012 12:12 am

      FWIW, Kala, I never thought of you as a troll. And I thank you for telling us where you’re coming from. Thanks also for getting hold of the research papers for Shannon.
      It is hard to explain prejudice to someone who hasn’t felt it herself. You can read or hear about the blatant stuff easily enough, but a lot of it is subtle. And it’s cumulative. It’s difficult to see if you’re not the subject of it. That’s why some people (not saying you’re one) think that fat people are being “coddled”, or “just need to be reminded they’re too fat”.

    • January 14, 2012 10:19 am

      Kala, if I came across in thinking you were a ‘troll’, I apologize, because that was not my intention. I take strong exception to some of the ways you’ve phrased your thoughts, but I don’t personally think you’re evil. I think personally that you’ve missed the point that Jen has made – for us, this is ridiculously personal and really, in a lot of ways, this affects our quality of life. For better or worse, someone who doesn’t have the same intimate stake is not going to see things the same way.

      I truly do wish you well, but I think there’s a fundamental disconnect here.

  8. Mulberry permalink
    January 13, 2012 10:43 pm

    Kala does have a point about the real problem being with capitalism and not science itself.
    Kala, you should see Marilyn Wann’s list of things we could spend money on if we weren’t dieting. I’ve seen the list in the book Fat?So!, maybe someone knows where it is online.
    But such lists are for rhetorical effect; I learned that years ago. Remember the space program in the 60’s? People would say that we were wasting all this money on outer space when we could be feeding the poor instead. All right, the budget was slashed, and we still have all these hungry poor people. Now what?

    I do commend folks here trying to make the world a better place, with their time and cash.

    I also believe that some doctors on the project might be BOTH trying to make a few bucks and also feel they are helping those poor suffering obese people. Doing well by doing good, as it were. Quacks don’t always know they’re quacks.

    I thought Kala’s speculation about possible excretion problems regarding adipocytes to be at least as interesting as Rowan’s comments about obesity. I may even have bristled a little more about the idea of obesity being a symptom, but there’s enough bristling going on here already.

  9. Kala permalink
    January 14, 2012 10:34 am

    Hey Fab,

    I wrote my Flounce, as a general Flounce (google it if you aren’t aware of what that means), and it wasn’t connected to a specific article. I think my language makes it pretty clear.

    I had attempted to offer some perspective, because my comments and style of writing are atypical and not taken well here. I wanted people to know that as I left, that I have done some positive things for this community (and positive things in general for those that think I’m simply a troll), but that it isn’t something I generally write about. If you want to see me as the enemy, because I do certain things that you dislike, but support the community in more ways than one, and will continue to support it, that is your right. I didn’t care for being called privileged, as I have real cognizance of where I have and haven’t been privileged in my life, and it is something that I am consistently aware of.

    It seems that it bothers you that I’m not considered unattractive, given your above comment. I don’t sit around thinking too hard on my own attractiveness, but I can fully admit that I am attractive enough that I’ve never been called anything rude because of how I look by some random person as an adult, which is something a lot of other people have happen to them often. This was an attempt to illustrate to you, why certain things don’t make my blood boil like they do for others, because I haven’t had the experiences. I don’t begrudge anyone their emotions and their way of expressing them, but I don’t support in any way accusations and personal attacks at people that have no evidence behind them, nor am I the fan of attempts of managing the life choices of other people. I don’t argue or put down people, although Fab you really tempt me, and I do my best to attack rhetoric that I don’t think is valid when it particularly irks me.

    The bulk of your comment, was ironically wrong, because it’d be pretty silly to believe that I think everything everyone writes here is incorrect, as I have written some <10 critical statements and some comments to back up my statements when others argued. I hope you realize that I've read every single article put up on this website for close to a year. So you're really one to speak of fallacy here. I don't know if Jen is a petty person because I don't know her, but I did think her snarky comment about my percieved privilege and how that makes what I say invalid, was petty. It's just like when I told you to grow the fuck up, that was pretty petty, although with your continued comments, I'm feeling pretty vindicated about that. I sometimes wonder if people like you sit there, and read my comments in this angry sort of voice in your head, and that's why you get so particularly offended by them, but I digress.

    I have no interest in continuing to argue with you in a public space. So feel free to get your last incredulous word out after this and let it be done, you win Fab.

  10. January 14, 2012 3:18 pm

    Okay, I’ve stayed out of this because I’ve been ridiculously busy, plus it didn’t really involve me personally, but I have a few observations.

    First, the last sentence of Jen’s post seems more like a sigh of exasperation about the focus of scientific research that is (largely) for personal gain. Just look at the number of people in these obesity health organizations who are also pitching fat reducing cremes and cellulite removers, and it can be difficult to look at researchers whose entire life’s work is spent developing thinning drugs, rather than something medically useful. Jen’s comment was a personal attack on a faceless researcher, and I can’t blame her for expressing that disgust in the way she did. Especially since it wasn’t directed at a specific person, but at the kind of people who dedicate their time and energy on developing weight loss products. There is very little ethical or moral grounds for a researcher in this field to justify working on a shortcut weight loss pill *except* profit because, as we all know, if someone invented the silver bullet, they would be billionaires, and they know it.

    That’s not to say that they’re terrible people or that they hate children and puppies. But I feel the same way about these people as I do about investment bankers or anyone whose professional focus is primarily on making more wealth.

    That being said, Kala’s observations have some validity as well. The fact that weight loss research is profitable and that some researchers pursue it is a symptom of our culture, which is what we should really be working to change, not the minds of any individual researcher. Change the culture and you can change a thousand researchers. But, let’s face it, that isn’t going to happen. However, Kala, your beef was that Jen’s opinion was a personal attack on researchers who aren’t purely altruistic, yet your first comment calls Jen petty. Now, that’s your opinion, but just as you argued for appropriate tone when attempting to persuade people, you can’t tell people they’re being too personal and then get personal. And several of your other comments were fairly personal too, including calling Jen’s opinion crap and suggesting that someone, like Jen, who criticizes weight loss profiteering doesn’t have a leg to stand on because they are “most likely living it for themselves and not working for some greater cause.”

    That being said, Kala is most certainly not a troll, and I hope she will reconsider flouncing because we need critics like her, ones who are not hostile to our cause, but genuinely want us to present intellectually honest content. Again, Kala’s criticism of Jen’s comment is valid, but turning it around on Jen and challenging her to defend her own ethics seems a little personal as well. Kala could definitely question whether the ethical argument of profiteering fit into Jen’s overall piece without making ethical arguments about Jen.

    Kala, it has seemed like, at times, you’re kind of mad at or frustrated with some of our bloggers for not writing the blog post that you were hoping to read. I’m thinking of some of the things you’ve written about vesta’s post in particular. I don’t think you should refrain from criticizing flaws in peoples’ logic, but if you make it about the bloggers, rather than *just* the opinions they present, then you have to expect people to bristle. And if you want to continue presenting your opinion the way that you currently are without getting “trampled” then it seems to contradict your comments to me the other day about the importance of tone in these discussions.

    For two years now, we’ve maintained an amazing community here, and I pride myself on welcoming critics from all angles, but the one thing I have consistently emphasized is respecting each other while disagreeing. One thing to note about this particular disagreement is that nobody called asshole on anyone, nobody attempted to silence the other. Yeah, people are pissed and some feelings were hurt, but nobody chose to silence anyone else. That is good.

    One of the strengths of this community is our diversity of opinions and backgrounds. But that can also be a weakness, if we are incapable of respecting the diversity of opinions. Personally, I hope Kala stays and continues questioning us, but I hope that both those who criticize and those who are criticized can continue to work together respectfully and without resorting to personal attacks.

    I hope we continue to be a place where the free flow of opinions on obesity and health are welcomed, and that we will also be a place where our bloggers are held to the highest expectations and, more often than not, exceed them.


    • Fab@54 permalink
      January 15, 2012 1:09 pm

      Hi Shannon and everyone-

      The only thing I would change (if I could) would be my choice of the word “troll-ish”.

      I see that particular word seems to have bothered a few others here, prompting some to apologize for it’s use or any implied agreement with it. OK, that’s understandable, because the word itself can have different meanings among us.

      So let me take back my use of the “T-word”. Consider it rescinded.

      To Kala;
      I regret using the term troll-ish to describe some of your postings. I never realized it (the word) would cause that kind of discomfort for others. And even though you claim you don’t care about being called a troll, I’ll still say “Sorry”.
      However I’m not changing my mind / impressions regarding your posts, their tone, or attitude you showed towards me, Jen or the conversation in general. I didn’t like it …
      but I’ll refrain from any specific terminology in labeling it.

  11. January 18, 2012 1:34 am

    I think that perhaps all of us here are used to being attacked so we tend to go on the defensive. I know that is the case for me. Maybe that’s what happened here. I am currently having to learn to tone down the snark that has served as armor for me over the years. At my age it’s very hard to teach an old dog new tricks, so it’s coming slowly!

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