Category Archives: Fat Acceptance

“Tsunami of Obesity” my (fat) arse

February 4, 2011

It is not surprising to see the media reach for the sensationalist headlines when a new study about “obesity” comes out. Today’s headlines were all on the same theme – the “Tsunami of Obesity” that is sweeping the planet. It’s an interesting use of a word which I don’t normally associate with “obesity”. So I wondered why researchers were suggesting that there was such a “Tsunami” and what evidence there was to back up this claim. Thanks to a couple of wonderful sources I managed to get a hold of the research papers related to the media frenzy, and this is my take.

The “Global Burden of Metabolic Risk Factors of Chronic Diseases Collaborating Group” released three reports today that describe global population-level changes in body-mass index (BMI), systolic blood pressure, and cholesterol over three decades. I’ll be frank: I have not read through the articles relating to blood pressure and cholesterol. Each article covers its own subject area and was then summarised in a further commentary. My review considers the research undertaken in regards to the BMI and the summary of all three reports.

The report notes that in 2008, 1.46 billion adults had a BMI of over 25, with 502 million of those with a BMI of over 30. The summary indicates that this means that “obesity” affects one in nine adults. I’m not sure that one in nine constitues a tsunami. The report also shows that the prevalence of “obesity” is nearly twice that which existed in 1980.

All of these figures sound really scary when you leave them on their own like that. There is no context. So let’s add some context.

Over the study period (1980 to 2008) the mean global BMI increased by 0.4-0.5 per decade, which is roughly 1.12-1.4. The mean BMI for women was higher at 24.1 whilst mean BMI for men was 23.8. It should be noted that men had a higher BMI than women in high-income regions, while this trend reversed in medium- and low-income regions. It’s important to note that the largest mean BMI values for both men (33.9) and women (35.0) came from Nauru. The lowest values were found in east Asia and high-income Asia-Pacific sub-regions (21.4-2.9) for women and in sub-Saharan Africa and in east. south and southeast Asia (20.6-28.1).

In the discussion, the paper looks deeper into these figures. There are two important parts that I think need to be considered by the media and the world at large:

Research is undoubtedly needed into the proximal and distal causes of the recorded trends. For example, to what extent have changes in physical activity versus increases in caloric intake or changes in dietary composition brought about BMI rise? What explains the heterogeneous BMI levels and trends, including by sex, in high income countries (Asia-Pacific vs western Europe vs Australasia and North America) or in Africa’s sub-regions?

Or in other words, why are BMI trends and levels not similar within countries with similar socio-economic levels or even in similar regions of the world? Some high-income countries to have low increases in BMI, for example France and Switzerland yet other countries with a similar socio-economic level such as Australia had larger increases.

They further point out how more research is required into the efficacy of long term weight loss benefits:

Randomised studies of diet change, some of which increase the amount of exercise, have shown moderate weight loss benefits for up to 2 years, but long-term and community effectiveness of such interventions is not clear. Simple advise and exercise alone have not been efficacious, even in trials.  Structural, regulatory and economic interventions have potential to change physical activity of dietary patterns for whole communities and populations, but few have shown effects on weight.

There goes a few of the weight loss industry myths right there. But they go further:

That interventions on metabolic mediators might partially mitigate the health effects of rising BMI is supported by results from randomised trials, and more importantly from the fact that many countries have successfully reduced blood pressure and lipids despite rising BMI, and by a larger amount in people with high BMI.

So dispite the “Tsunami of obesity” research supports the fact that increasing metabolic rates through exercise can mitigate the health effects of being fat. I take that to read that you can be fit and fat. I’m not a scientist, but that’s what I read. How about you?

As a final note, it should be noted that the research into BMI did not mention the term “Tsunami”. This was part of an overall commentary of the three pieces of research. In fact, the title of the commentary was “Stemming the global tsunami of cardiovascular disease” (my emphasis). They did mention a “Tsunami of Obesity” in passing but the main comment they are passing is that urgent attention needs to be paid to cardiovascular health. So I wonder why the media decided to focus on the “Tsunami of Obesity” instead of the “Tsunami of Cardiovascular Disease”?


National, regional, and global trends in body-mass index since 1980: systematic analysis of health examination surveys and epidemiological studies with 960 country-years and 9·1 million participants
Mariel M Finucane AB,Gretchen A Stevens DSc,Melanie J Cowan MPH,Goodarz Danaei MD,John K Lin AB,Christopher J Paciorek PhD,Gitanjali M Singh PhD,Hialy R Gutierrez BS,Yuan Lu MSc,Adil N Bahalim MEng,Farshad Farzadfar MD,Leanne M Riley MSc,Prof Majid Ezzati PhD,on behalf of the Global Burden of Metabolic Risk Factors of Chronic Diseases Collaborating Group (Body Mass Index)
The Lancet – 4 February 2011
DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(10)62037-5

Stemming the global tsunami of cardiovascular disease
Sonia S Anand,Salim Yusuf
The Lancet – 4 February 2011
DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(10)62346-X

[Postponed] Australiasian Fat Acceptance Conference Call – Tonight

February 2, 2011

I realise this is short notice. I’m going to be hosting a conference call tonight at 8pm AEDT. That is 7:30pm ACDT, 7pm AEST, 6:30 ACST, 5pm AWST and 10pm NZDT.

Add on skype and send me an email through the Contact Form. I’ll forward you the codes later this afternoon.

I want to talk about the current state of Fat Acceptance in Australia and what we can do to move it forward.

Reason for the short notice? Well I just feel like tonight is a good night. Don’t worry if you can’t make it. We’ll do it again soon.

Notice is way too short so lets do this another night. I’ll organise it proper like.

Why are you my friend?

February 1, 2011

I’ve never been a popular person. At primary school I had a small group of friends. In high school the group stuck together for a few years but then we fell out and and I found a new group of friends. In fact I’ve been friends with those people until now. Although it might be every 3 – 6 months or more that we catch up, I know that I can count on them for advice or a helping hand.

Moving to Brisbane meant I had to find a new group of friends. My friendship groups have changed over the years as I’ve dealt with my anxiety issues and found new ways to make connections, like Facebook or Twitter or blogs. Over time I’ve met some wonderful people who I have called my friends. Sometimes we realise that it isn’t going to work and we don’t keep in touch and other times you meet great people who you keep around and would do just about anything for.

Yet right now I feel like I need to ask everyone I know a very simple question. Why are you my friend?

Someone who I thought was a friend is making fun of fat people. Or at least I think it is that person because they are hiding behind a fake Twitter Account to do it. If you are going to ridicule fat people, and then pick on particular people personally, why not come out and do it using your real name or your main account? Cowardice is the word that comes to mind.

My fight and flight response has kicked in and I want to get to Melbourne as soon as I can. I want to be in a place where nobody knows my name and nobody can hurt me. I want to feel sheltered away from all the shit flung at me and others because we are fat. Yet I know that running won’t help because the hatred will remain. People will still point and laugh.

So then the thought is what is the point? Perhaps I should become a self-sufficient hermit living in a mountainous area. No internet or phones. No contact with the outside world. Grow food and eat it. Maybe pop into town once a month for some groceries and other stuff but just never deal with people. I don’t know if i could survive like that but it feels inviting.

Solitude. Away from all the negative attitudes to my body. My body. Why do people care so much about my body? I don’t care about theirs. They can wear what they like and do what they like and no one notices. Why are they noticing me?

If I am so disgusting and awful why do they care? Surely I’m not of any interest.

Who are my friends? My friends don’t make fun of me, or my other friends. My friends don’t joke about me behind my back. My friends don’t always like what I do or think, but they let me know and we discuss it like adults. They keep my confidence if I ask them to, and I do likewise. They have their own things going on so I don’t expect them to be there all the time, but we hang out when we have time and enjoy it.

Do I have any real friends? I do. I won’t question their friendship. From now on though I will be more careful who I get close to. I won’t trust so easily. People will have to earn my trust. It isn’t their fault. It’s the fault of those who went before and wrecked me.

Feminism and clothing for me

December 29, 2010

I forget sometimes that feminism isn’t just about women. My understanding of feminism isn’t great. I do try to learn things as I go but it is something that I’ve only been presented with closely over the last few years. The way I look at it is that feminism is trying to remove injustice from society and to make people realise that there is male privilege that exists, whether you are actively trying to preserve it or not.

Therefore as a man I can be a feminist in that I agree that injustice should be stopped and that the privilege that exists must be acknowledged and dealt with. Privilege isn’t something that I can remove just because I don’t believe it should be there. It requires more of a generation of change in order to reduce the privilege. Feel free to correct me if I am wrong in the comments.

So when I mentioned the other day that fat isn’t a feminist issue, that isn’t completely correct. What I should have said is that fat is not just a female issue. It doesn’t just affect one gender. It affects all genders on the gender spectrum. Does male privilege mean that I still have some advantages because I am a fat man? Definitely.

I also think that fat women have a better selection of clothes available to them than fat men. At least that is my experience. It is no where near the privilege experienced by those who fit into straight sizes and is often out of the price range of many socio-economic classes. It is still there and available whereas sometimes I think there is almost nothing available.

I’ve recently found a few sites which have some male fat clothing or custom made garments so I am really looking forward to trying them out. I’ve heard that one of them, Casual Male, only accepts US credit card. I have to follow this up with them but if this is the case then it is very disappointing that I’m so close to getting some awesome clothes and yet so far.

Anyway I just thought I’d get that off my chest since after thinking back over my last post I realised that I’d put that forward in a clumsy way.

On a completely unrelated point to the rest of this post, Muzza’s Pies make the best pies. Seriously. The Best!

Fat is a humanist issue

December 27, 2010

Sometimes I feel like a minority within the fat acceptance movement. I feel like I’m a tiny voice trying to be heard but being drowned out by the other voices around me. Men are under-represented in the fatosphere for what is likely a multitude of reasons.

I think that many men don’t feel like they can voice their opinion on being fat. Or perhaps they don’t feel a major desire to voice their concerns. Maybe it is because men like to talk about other subjects more, and that talking about being fat feels shameful or triggers some emotion that as a man they don’t feel ready to deal with.

I know I struggle with the way that being fat makes me feel. I’m lucky to have grown up in an evironment where dealing with your feelings was ok and having a wife who has shown me how to talk about how I feel and even write about it. I can’t imagine what it must be like for a guy who feels that they can’t talk about how they feel to their loved ones, let alone the whole world through a blog. It must be difficult carrying around that feeling of guilt and perhaps sadness, which can even lead to anger and self-loathing. I know I feel that way sometimes but at least I have an outlet.

This is why I feel disappointed when I don’t get the chance to let my voice be heard. It isn’t about me wanting to be out there and being popular or what have you. I’ll admit that I enjoy working with the media, doing interviews and the like. But for me it is about getting the message out there and showing other men that it is ok to love yourself as a fat man. There is no need to bottle up feelings of anger and sadness and having them explode on you without warning. I know what that is like and it isn’t pleasant.

I want to help other men feel included. I want other men to feel empowered enough that they can perhaps talk about this with their mates or start writing things down in a blog, even if just for personal reflection. One day I’d love to see the number of men represented in the fatosphere increase to a point where I no longer feel like a minority. I don’t want to be the majority, but I want to feel like my voice is represented.

Fat is not a feminist issue. Fat is a humanist issue.

A cry for self acceptance

December 17, 2010

Trigger warning: Talking about weight loss and cutting. Not actual cutting mind you. It’s more a figurative thing.

I’ve been pretty much hating on myself today. I’ve started to feel like my weight is getting in the way of my life. I suppose a lot of fat people feel that, but I feel like I should be able to accept who I am. Today I haven’t. I’ve felt pretty useless and unhappy and my gut has been the focal point of that.

Now that I understand how weight management works, in that the body does its own weight management, I’ve come to realise a few things. The first is that no matter how much I like my weight, I’m not likely to be getting too much smaller. Secondly is that the reason I am as large as I am now, and not the size I was in my 20s is due to all the dieting I’ve done over the years.

I’ve started to hate myself over dieting that I did over 10 years ago, or even earlier. I’ve come to this point where I figure it’s all my fault that I ended up this way because I tried to force my body to be a weight it didn’t want to be and it fought back by going higher and higher and higher. It has only done what it was designed to do. If I didn’t push the issue then maybe it would have left me where I was.

Then I read about people who have lost so many kilos in so many months and it is as tempting as another piece of pie, or cake, or whatever. “Hell, they did it. I can too.” I still desire thinness. I have to admit that a part of me desires something that I cannot ever have. And it is really hard to tell yourself “No, you know you can’t do it. You know it isn’t healthy to try and do that. Just eat well and be healthy.”

It’s hard to tell yourself that when you have to order your shirts specially made over the Internet. It’s hard to tell yourself that when you can’t walk into a store and get casual clothes – I have three pairs of shorts that I wear on a rotating basis. A few more shirts thankfully but it really isn’t confidence building.

Some times I imagine just grabbing a knife and cutting away my gut. The rest is fine. Just that gut sticking out there for the world to see and me to feel. Thankfully I’m in a space where I know that would be REALLY BLOODY STUPID. But there are times where I just feel like that I should do whatever I can to get rid of it and yet I know it will always be with me.

And I cry and I yell and I scream and I wish and I dream. None of it makes it go away. None of it stops the pain. None of it makes it any easier. Yet I fight on and dream of the day when the fight will be over. I will love myself and I will love my body just as it is and I will be able to get the clothes I want and do the things I want to do and not have to be ‘held back’ by my weight.

This isn’t a cry for weight loss. This is a cry for self acceptance.

Fatty nirvana not yet achieved

December 15, 2010

The road to fat acceptance nirvana is a long and arduous one

Trigger warning: I will be talking about weight loss concepts. If this triggers, look away now.
As a fat activist I often think that people look at me and think I have hit fat nirvana. That place where I’m always happy with my body and I never think about losing weight and never wish I was a different shape. That place where I am confident and happy in my skin all the time and I’m always ready for the enslaught of negative media and social pressure because I’m there, man. I’m at total nirvana.


I struggle on a daily basis with my body. I sometimes think that my body would be better, and I would be happier, if I lost a couple of kilos or if my gut wasn’t so big or if this or if that. I sometimes think that life would be so much easier if I could lose some weight. Not all my weight mind you, because I’m a fat activist and therefore I’m happy being fat. Just not this fat.

So as you can see, even I can fall into the trap of negative body talk and body shaming and thinking I’d be so much happier if. Just if. Thankfully I also know that really my body weight doesn’t affect my happiness and that my body is at this weight because that’s where it is happy to be and no amount of moving or eating less or whatever else is going to change that.

I also have issues with my level of fitness. I can at least disconnect this from weight and realise that I can be very fit and still fat. I just know that at the moment my fitness isn’t as good as I want it to be. I think recognising that is perfectly fine and nothing to be ashamed of.

Something I have started doing as well is decanting larger packs of snacks into smaller ones to take to work. A few reasons I do this—the first is that I can just grab a couple of packets of whatever in the morning when pulling together my lunch stuff and put it in my bag; it’s much cheaper than buying other stuff when I’m at work; if I took the whole packet of nuts/chocolate bullets/whatever to work I’d eat the lot in the first day and be left with nothing by the end of the week.

I recognise that when it comes to certain things I really will eat them until they are gone. Chocolate, snacky things like those muti-coloured soy flavoured rice cracker things, nuts and other assorted snacks just go very quickly. What I have found though is that I generally feel quite sick afterwards. Since I have reflux, I have to have smaller amounts of food more often. Since I often don’t feel that fullness feeling, I go for what works for me – bagging up serves.

Some people will consider this problematic because I’m controlling my food intake and I’m one step away from a diet. Even I’m a little conflicted when I think about it. But I do think that it is ok to do this. Firstly I could just buy smaller sized snack packs, but they are so much more expensive than doing it myself. Secondly it’s hard to find wholesome foods in these snackpacks – I don’t need a packet of chips at work (it’ll just give m e reflux anyway). Anyway, quite often I’ll grab two or three bags and have them all at once because that’s what I feel like.

But I am still actively controlling my food by doing this, so I see that it might be seen as problematic by some. At the end of the day, this is what works for me. I think we all have some foods that we know can be an issue and there are ways in which we incorporate them into our life without them taking control.

What I would love to know though is what you think. At the end of the day I’m on a steep learning curve in fat acceptance land. So your input is always welcomed. Whether I change my ways though is totally up to me.

Remove the headless fatties from our media

December 9, 2010

It is high time that mainstream media around the world stopped using headless fatty shots with every article or video piece about fat people. I think there are a few reasons why they do this.

  • They know that if they asked people, they would say no.
  • If they have faces, it makes it harder to use them in generalised negative news pieces
  • If the fatty looks happy or really well dressed, they don’t suit a doom and gloom story
  • They won’t get sued for humiliating someone if you can’t identify them by their face

Yet when that person sees this footage of them being used in this way, it can cause pain and anguish become compare. It also dehumanises fat people and gives people power to pick on and attack fat people.

Are you a fatty? Would you like to be a non-headless fatty?

I’m starting a drive to find fat people around Australia who would be happy to be approached by media companies to appear as stock fatty content. Only certain people will feel comfortable about this, so I’m sure that only a few will be happy to do it. But would you like to?

Drop me a line in my contact form and we can go from there. We can start a list of people happy to be contacted by media for this sort of thing. Perhaps you’re also happy to speak to the media on fat acceptance issuse or on how you find being fat in a world that discriminates against you? Let me know – we often get requests through Axis of Fat for people to talk to the media.

All information would be held confidentially and I would contact you to ask you if you were interested and you would contact them. The other thing is I would set up an email list so you could be emailed about things coming up.

Don’t feel pressured to do this. Only a few people will feel comfortable about this, but for those people there needs to be a way to band together and try to get the media to change their ways.

My relationship with food is on the rocks

September 24, 2010

Warning: I mention weight loss diets. I’m certainly not advocating them though. I also mention the word diet in the context that it is meant, that is “Course of living or nourishment; what is eaten and drunk habitually; food; victuals; fare”.

I have always been a fast eater. For some reason it is as if there is a competition to finish my meal as fast as possible. I remember as a kid going to Sizzler, which is an all-you-can-eat buffet restaurant. I’d be so happy to finish my meals as quickly as possible because it meant I could go back and get more, and more and more. I’d always make myself sick and feel overfull by the time I finished and went home with my parents.

Then there were the times when I’d be on Weight Watchers or other diets. The most successful time for me on WW was in 1999 and 2000. I lost a heap of weight, but it was my mum who was monitoring what I was eating for me. She’d make my lunches and dinner to be compliant with the plan. It worked until such time as I had to take control of my own food management and it all fell over.

All these sorts of experiences have shaped how I deal with food today. I still know the points value for some foods, not that I use them any more. I still know that certain things would be approved on WW and can sometimes see myself move away from something I want to something I think I should have. I also have the other side where I think “I’m fat, it doesn’t matter what I eat” and I just grab anything I feel like.

You know, there are times where I eat things and I feel guilty about it before I eat it. So I’ll go and hide myself away to eat it so I don’t get seen eating it. The fact that eating makes me feel guilty shows me that I have an unhealthy relationship with food.

I suffer from reflux, so I’m not meant to eat things with caffeine in them, like coffee and chocolate. Curry isn’t a good idea, nor is fatty food, tomatoes and a few other things that will set me off. Eating fast isn’t good either, and as mentioned I’ve always been a fast eater. I have learned that a little bit here and there is OK, so like most things it’s about moderation, not complete removal.

When I first was told this, it wasn’t moderation. It was nothing at all. Now instead I’ve had “real” coffee for breakfast, not decaf. I had curry last night for dinner. I had baked beans for dinner (contains tomato sauce). I had Red Rooster for lunch. I had a chocolate later on this evening. If I had just had one or two of these things, I’d be OK but instead I’m now suffering a massive reflux attack (I’m writing this at 1am for that reason). So I’ve gone from one extreme to the other, and this is what I used to do when I was stuck in the weight loss diet round-a-bout.

A real diet is about learning what makes your body happy. It means I am only restricted by what I think works best for me. I won’t give up chocolate, but I just need to remember to moderate it and listen to my body. By eating slower and taking the time to listen to my body, I get the chance to hear my body say “hey, back up. I’m full”, or “OK, this is making you feel sick, you might want to reconsider.”

A real diet is about feeling good about food and not denying yourself something because of some arbitrary “good” or “bad” label. Some foods I won’t touch because I know the moment I do, I’ll feel crook. For example, I avoid pastry if I can tell my stomach is a bit dodgy today.

Learning to understand food is important to me, and I think it is something that everyone has to deal with at some stage. My relationship with food has been on the rocks for years, but I can’t file for divorce. I’ve got to fight a good fight and get it back on track. Fat or otherwise, food is something that everyone has to deal with. Learning about how my body works and what foods make it feel good and bad (rather than being labelled “good” and “bad”) is something I think has to be a priority.

Nicholosophy: A man in the Fat-o-Sphere

September 13, 2010

I had the honour to speak at the Fat Studies: A Critical Dialogue conference held in Sydney on 10 and 11th September. This was unexpected and therefore my talk was an impromptu discussion about a man’s perspective of the Fat-o-Sphere. I don’t have a transcript or paper to post, so the best I can do is to show you what I had to say. Please forgive me if you can’t watch the video. Transcribing this would take half a day and I just don’t have that time spare. Next time I will put together a paper first so that I can post that online instead.

It was titled “Nicholosophy: A man in the Fat-o-Sphere”. Big thanks to Natalie for her video editing skills.

So, without further ado…

Get the Flash Player to see this video.

If you do have any questions, drop me a comment and I’m happy to discuss further.

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