4 Myths About Morbidly Obese Women

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morbidly obese women

Myth #1: Morbidly obese women lack will-power and self control.

Most take it on faith that extremely overweight people “get that way” because they lack discipline or an instinct for self-preservation. Likewise, it is believed that morbidly obese women “stay that way” because they cannot give up the foods they love, and, for whatever reason, they refuse to hop on the treadmill and make other lifestyle changes to lose weight and get healthier.

But this “will-power” argument is belied by evidence. Not all lazy people are overweight and obese, for instance. Many lazy people are as skinny as string beans. Conversely, many overweight women boast tenacity, strength, and extraordinary self-control. For the conventional wisdom to make any sense, one must explain why some lazy women stay thin and why some hyper-disciplined women stay overweight.

The conventional argument, in other words, doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

Blaming morbid obesity on will-power (or lack thereof) alone leads to a hornet’s nest of logic problems.

Myth #2: Morbidly obese women need to eat fewer calories.

Calorie control appears to be less important than sugar/carb control. Here’s a brief explanation why. Think about what a “calorie” is. A calorie is simply a unit of heat. It is the amount of heat it takes to raise a gram of water by a single degree Celsius. Calories can come from any energy source: food, sunshine, or burning coals, for instance.

The quality of calories matters more than the quantity. Eating certain calories (such as carb/sugar calories) can cause fat to accumulate in the fat tissue. Obesity thus results. Avoiding these bad calories can allow fat to get released from the fat tissue to be burned by the body for fuel, thus correcting obesity.

Myth #3: Morbidly obese women need to exercise more.

It has been well demonstrated that sedentary activity correlates with obesity and other diseases. Similarly, it has been shown that people who are more active tend to be thinner and healthier. But the cause and effect with respect to these phenomena is debatable.

  1. It could be that exercise leads to weight loss and that lack of exercise leads to weight gain.
  2. Or it could be that some primary factor drives both obesity and sedentary behavior.

If the second case is correct, unless the primary factor--such as too many carbohydrates in the diet and other insulinogenic factors--is fixed, obesity can persist even in the face of a vigorous exercise campaign.

Myth #4: Morbidly obese women need to eat less fat

Public health authorities insist that dietary fat is a primary driver of heart disease and obesity. But ample evidence shows that dietary fat cannot be the villain:

  • As science writer Gary Taubes points out in his book, Good Calories Bad Calories, Americans consume far less fat today than they did before the obesity epidemic.
  • Taubes also shows that the research underlying the dietary fat heart disease connection is shoddy at best.
  • People who go on low carb (high fat) diets tend to lose weight and feel better and be at less risk for diseases.
  • All of this evidence suggests that dietary fat is not the problem.

Dangerous misinformation about diets abounds

The conventional medical opinion about obesity is as follows:
  • Fat people lack willpower and self-control.
  • Fat people should cut calories to lose weight.
  • Fat people should exercise more to lose weight.
  • Dietary fat makes people fat and puts them at risk for heart disease and high cholesterol.

But as self-evident as they appear, these four assertions fall apart upon closer examination of the scientific evidence.

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