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[icon] Another small fat rant - Patti
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Subject:Another small fat rant
Time:10:06 am
I just read a translation of a Dutch newspaper article. The article starts with,
Every pound goes through the mouth. So whoever is too fat, should simply eat less and exercise more. Is what they say. But thanks to science, we now know so much more about obesity that we can no longer avoid the obvious: losing weight is just impossible.

Sensationalism anyone? I should have stopped reading right about the word "impossible", because the untruth of that word taints the rest of the article.

I'll grant you that most people who try to lose weight do not succeed over the long term. I don't think that "is impossible" is a logical conclusion to draw from "has failed", though.

An analogy. Imagine that I want to build a house. I happen to be in a town with a soap factory, and I can get factory imperfect soap bars for next to nothing. Cool, soap is square like bricks, right? I'll build a house out of soap. It'll be cheap. It'll be great! In the spring, I get a couple tons of soap, take it to my building site, and construct a humble yet comfortable abode. It even smells pleasantly of lavender, an unexpected benefit of my building material. Isn't this great?

And then come the fall rains. To nobody's surprise but my own, my house melts. Whoops! Well, gee, I failed. I'll just build another one. This time I'll use double-soap-wall construction for extra sturdiness. Guess what? Come fall, I once again have a pile of goo where my house was, only this time it's clove-scented. Strangely, no matter how many times I build a house out of soap, it doesn't last. I guess building houses that last is impossible.
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gunga_galunga
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Time:2010-10-12 08:28 pm (UTC)
I suspect there is a lot lost in translation and all it would take is an adjective or two to completely change that sentence. I ran it through babelfish and it was basically incomprehensible.

Personally, I prefer a cheese house to a soup house. Then you can eat the cheese when the rain melts it.
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wild_irises
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Time:2010-10-12 08:43 pm (UTC)
Of course losing weight is not impossible.
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fich
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Time:2010-10-12 08:44 pm (UTC)
Are you claiming fat people smell like lavender?
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dd_b
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Time:2010-10-12 09:10 pm (UTC)
I would incline, perhaps overly generously, to guessing that "losing weight is just impossible" is a bad attempt at idiomatic translation of something that wasn't that totally stupid in the original.
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whipartist
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Time:2010-10-12 09:50 pm (UTC)
The translation was done by a native speaker, and I had a brief discussion with her about that word. I think she would have mentioned it if it was a loose translation.

Google translate says "simply impossible" rather than "just impossible".
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dd_b
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Time:2010-10-12 10:00 pm (UTC)
And both of those are idiomatic phrases that don't mean exactly what the words say, as I understand them.
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jpmassar
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Time:2010-10-13 12:03 am (UTC)
Perhaps the translation is closer to "all but impossible."

In any case, I've been seeing some interesting very recent articles about a strong link between obesity and certain cold virus antigens. Apparently, these antigens (which some people have and some don't) cause lots more fat cells to get created, making it much more difficult for such people to either not put on weight or lose it.
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whipartist
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Time:2010-10-13 07:03 am (UTC)
That's the latest in a long line of similar theories, I believe.

Americans as a whole are significantly larger than we were a couple of generations ago. It seems obvious to me that there has to be some systemic flaw in something (our biology, our lifestyles, our food supply) that explains this. OK, probably multiple somethings. I've seen a pretty convincing case made that it has to do with the cheap, plentiful, highly-processed carbs that are a dietary staple, and that Nixon's agriculture policies had a lot to do with getting us into this boat. That argument certainly passes the sniff test for me.
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brec
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Time:2010-10-13 06:42 pm (UTC)
For some interesting history of the U.S. Govt's anti-fat, pro-grains influence: Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes. This book changed a lot of lives, including mine.
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whipartist
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Time:2010-10-14 05:58 am (UTC)
It's been on my list of things to read.
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essaying
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Time:2010-10-14 05:52 pm (UTC)
I'm a little torn on this one. I know too many people who are fanatical about preparing and eating only high-quality food from excellent ingredients, and who are still very large, to think that crappy processed food is the sole villain here. And the people I know who have succeeded in losing large amounts of weight and keeping it off have, without exception, undergone major lifestyle changes (in one case, becoming a marathon runner and a vegan; in another, recovering from serious alcoholism; in a third, taking on the Weight Watchers lifestyle of counting points every single day for the rest of her life... well, you get the idea).

I certainly think that the American way of eating/moving is a big part of the problem -- one friend of mine hosts a Japanese exchange student every year, and tells me that without exception these girls gain roughly 20 lbs. during their stay in the U.S. I don't think it's all about processed food, though; I think portion size is a big part of it, and constant snacking a much larger part.

But I don't think any of that is the whole story. There are genetic, prenatal, toxicological and immunological issues of which we're just beginning to get hold of a tiny corner.

It's interesting to me to see the ways in which the debate over obesity parallels the debate over homosexuality: how much of it is inborn vs. acquired, whether it's realistic to expect people to spend their lives struggling every day with desires that they can't fulfill, whether it's "sinful" or "decadent" or "natural" or whatever.

But, clearly, it's not "impossible" to lose weight and keep it off -- all it takes is one person to disprove that theory, and there are more than one. Not *lots* more, mind you, but more.
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whipartist
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Time:2010-10-14 06:12 pm (UTC)
Yes on all counts.

Mostly I was ranting about the illogic in the impossible argument. Whenever someone has a goal and tries to get there, they adopt some process for getting from point A to their goal. Sometimes they get there, sometimes they don't. If they don't, it's logical to conclude that (the processed they used) did not work for getting to my goal. It's *not* logical to conclude that getting to the goal is impossible-- it's often likely that some other process would work better.

I also agree that some people have a natural predisposition to being larger. However, I have a reasonably good memory of what people looked like 30-35 years ago, and I see a significant difference between that and what people look like today in the US. We can't blame genetic changes for a dramatic single-generation change, so we need to look for environmental differences. Portion sizes and processed foods/empty calories seem to be the smoking guns right now.
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[icon] Another small fat rant - Patti
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