This Is Why You’re Fat – And What You Should Do About It

Grasa-abdominal-cinturaGreg Stevens is a brave man. He explains why people get fat, what to do about it and why fat people should stop complaining about being ‘shamed’ by society, at The Kernel:

…If you are reading this, there’s a good chance you are obese. Over 35 per cent of Americans are, and over 23 per cent of British people. More people are getting unacceptably overweight every year. And yet the science of getting fat is not terribly complicated. People who are obese eat too much, and exercise too little. Although some people have a mild predisposition toward weight gain, obesity is not a “glandular” issue for any more than a tiny fraction of the people who are overweight, nor is it a disease.

Obesity only appears complicated because weight is tied up with self-image, politics, marketing regulations, the for-profit health industry, corporate economics, political correctness, and hosts of other cultural albatrosses. As a practical matter, however, the “issues” surrounding weight function as nothing more than dangerous distractions for a person who is unhappy about being fat.

Consider, for example, the broad and complex issue of the politics of self-esteem. It is true that our society has a strained relationship with youth idolisation and images of beauty. We simultaneously demonise “shallowness” while putting skinny, pretty people on a pedestal.

It is also true that this has a complicated and damaging psychological effect on people who may never be able to attain a “magazine cover body”, especially when they are inundated with these images from a young age.

But none of this has anything to do with obesity. An honest conversation about obesity is not about forcing people to “conform to a standard of beauty”; it is about health. An honest conversation about obesity will not focus around whether or not girls who are slightly full-figured can still be considered “sexy”. An honest conversation about obesity should not be about whether society has the “right” to dictate body-image.

In a conversation about obesity, anybody who starts foaming at the mouth about the tyranny of fashion magazines is deflecting from the real issue. Obesity is not about “standards of beauty”; it is about people who are medically and dangerously overweight.

If you are obese, then you can lose weight regardless of whether you can (or should) attain a swimsuit model body. More often than not, introducing this kind of political issue into the conversation is just a cover for laziness: it is explicitly or implicitly part of an argument that says, “Because I cannot ever look like a person one of those fashion magazines, I’m going to just eat whatever the hell I want and never exercise.”

There is no other area in life in which that kind of argument makes sense. Imagine your child coming to you and saying, “I don’t think I’m smart enough to ever get an A in maths, so I’m just never going to study it at all!”…

[continues at The Kernel]


Majestic is gadfly emeritus.

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57 Comments on "This Is Why You’re Fat – And What You Should Do About It"

  1. Ted Heistman | Oct 14, 2013 at 2:54 pm |

    This author strikes me as a being a naturally thin person, who likes to brag about how much self disciple he has, but really couldn’t get fat if he tried.

    Its actually is more complicated. First of all stress hormones can cause abdominal obesity, and also stress itself can cause people to overeat, plus Americans work longer hours and eat more fast food.

    Also our food subsidy program and low wages makes fattening foods the only thing many lower income people can afford

    • Ted Heistman | Oct 14, 2013 at 3:13 pm |

      As I suspected he is a natural ectomorph, who is into bodybuilding and has to eat a special diet in order to “bulk up” Basically the kind of person who would be thin even if he ate junk food and didn’t exercise. That’s usually the kind douche that loves to criticize others for being fat.

      • atlanticus | Oct 14, 2013 at 7:33 pm |

        I’m an ectomorph and I still think this guy’s a douche…but I never was the sort to confuse biological accidents for personal achievements.

        I once gained 20 lbs. more than I am now, but I was deliberately pushing the limit with cheeseburgers, pizza and beer every night (That’ll show you dad! How dare you raise me on granola!) but it just came right off when I started eating normally again. So, yeah.

        It’s possible that I’m an ectomorph *because* I was raised on such a healthy diet. I’ve heard it said that your weight set-point is pretty much determined by age 5. I’m also still under 30, so I imagine that has something to do with it.

        His art is indeed pretty shitty. 😐

        • Ted Heistman | Oct 14, 2013 at 7:37 pm |

          Yeah He seems to combine all the qualities of a haughty brit, a dumb jock and a catty gay guy. Its beautiful in a way. Just like his art. I mean why shouldn’t snails have abs? Those other snails are just too damn lazy!

        • Ted Heistman | Oct 14, 2013 at 7:49 pm |

          Its really shitty except for this:

          That’s a really good rendering of a male nude figure with no head or genitals and yet a tree growing out of his ass.

          • Ted Heistman | Oct 14, 2013 at 8:04 pm |

            Here tries his hand at fiction:

            “Personality and History:
            Princess Fluffikins began her life a your typical pampered, spoiled long-haired white Persian house cat. She purred and chased butterflies, and children put ribbons in her hair.

            Until The Bird arrived. It began one spring, at 4:49 am every morning, the bird would chirp:

            Tooooooot, tooooot! Tip tip tip tip tip!
            Tooooooot, tooooot! Tip tip tip tip tip!

            At first Princess Fluffikins was merely irritated, being woken up each morning so early. She would climb onto the windowsill and look angrily at the bird perched outside, and put a paw on the window.

            But then, The Bird changed its song.

            One morning, it would say,

            Tooooooot, tooooot! Tip tip tip tip tip tip tip tip!

            Another, it would say,

            Tooooooot, tooooot! Tip tip!

            And Princess Fluffikins thought, “What is it trying to say? What is the pattern? Is it a code of some sort?”

            So Princess Fluffikins became obsessed. She lost sleep, became irritable and angry all the time. She began to hiss at the butterflies. She would scratch the number sequences into fabric of the sofa, like a prisoner counting days with scratches on the stone wall, trying to discern what the pattern was.

            “Why do you torment me with your meaningless numbers?” she would howl at the bird.

            She began to become unable to function day to day, spinning into a deep, dark pit of madness. She would claw aimlessly at carpet fuzz, and spend hours trying to lick the back of her own head.

            Eventually, Princess Fluffikins became so filled with pain and hatred for The Bird that….


            Now, she spends her days, lurking through the tall grass, feeding on the souls of small rodents who have lost their faith in Gaia, and seeking eternally, of course, to hunt and slay The Bird.”


          • atlanticus | Oct 14, 2013 at 8:14 pm |


            ……………………….it’s………………….almost brilliantly horrible….the punch line is just like when a 5 year old tries to tell a joke, but it doesn’t actually make sense…

          • Ted Heistman | Oct 14, 2013 at 8:20 pm |

            I know right? He probably is bright and multi talented and has a big blind spot for what he sucks at.

          • atlanticus | Oct 14, 2013 at 8:29 pm |

            I mean, he’s British, right? Maybe it’s an attempt at absurdist humor…maybe he’d just watched a Monty Python marathon?

            I’m not saying it’s even as good as Monty Python’s worst, but I’m trying to find a reasonable explanation…

          • Ted Heistman | Oct 14, 2013 at 8:33 pm |


          • atlanticus | Oct 14, 2013 at 10:12 pm |

            …hm…maybe I should keep going with art school, after all…I have more talent than *that* guy, at least…

    • Greenleaf Stickybud | Oct 14, 2013 at 6:57 pm |

      No, actually healthy foods (fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes) are considerably CHEAPER than high fat content foods like meats and cheeses. nobody is forced to eat garbage food. It is a conscious choice. Nobody is forced to over eat, that also is a conscious choice. Not exercising, is something that lazy people choose to do. Obesity is caused by gluttony, poor diet, and laziness. And denial of those three things…

      • Ted Heistman | Oct 15, 2013 at 9:22 am |

        um actually no. Yes, steak is expensive. People don’t get fat from eating steak. People get fat from eating chips, cookies, soda pop and greasy fast food hamburgers all of which are dirt cheap compared to fruits and vegetables.

  2. BuzzCoastin | Oct 14, 2013 at 2:55 pm |

    obesity is a byproduct of modernity
    GMO food, processed food devoid of nutrition & a sedentary life
    my own experience has shown me that at least 3 hours a day
    of vigorous physical activity
    can cut my “normal” weight by at least 10% in a few weeks
    that and
    avioding the empty calories of modernity’s food

  3. emperorreagan | Oct 14, 2013 at 3:12 pm |

    Let’s turn all systemic issues into issues of personal responsibility. It’s the American (and British) way!

    Just yesterday my wife and I were reading about how poverty is poor people’s fault because they’re simply too lazy to start businesses and invest properly.

    • While I totally agree with your that there are indeed systemic issues that affect a lot of people, shitty additives like HFCS in just about everything, food deserts in our poor neighborhoods, advertising, etc. I still think that people are not totally helpless and can indeed find ways to eat healthier and get some exercise. Personal responsibility is not just for the middle class and above.

      • emperorreagan | Oct 14, 2013 at 7:04 pm |

        Oops! Two times during maintenance.

      • emperorreagan | Oct 14, 2013 at 7:11 pm |

        I didn’t mean my comment to tie obesity to income, because it’s not just low income people who have seen a jump in obesity rates: or to imply that personal responsibility isn’t a factor at all.

        Obesity has increased across the board, at all income levels and education levels. While there is variation across groups when you categorize by race/income/education, the overall trend is up.

        In the case of this article, I would expect someone who is supposedly a “science correspondent” to take a look at the research and make a balanced argument. Perhaps one could make a good argument that it really does boil down to personal responsibility – he doesn’t, though. It’s a piece that reads like “you shouldn’t have worn that dress.”

        This is one of those times where the hour I spent skimming publicly available research after reading an article is 50 minutes longer than spent on the entire piece from inception to publication.

      • kowalityjesus | Oct 17, 2013 at 6:17 am |

        One day, obesity will be a thing of the past when we invent robots that
        prevent a person from moving their hands to their mouths when they are carrying superfluous calories.

        • emperorreagan | Oct 17, 2013 at 8:04 am |


          I was thinking more about re-evaluating how we condition people through advertisements, food engineering, etc. and how we impact our hormonal systems with careless use of chemical additives, our assumptions that novelty is good or neutral rather than something to be carefully analyzed in light of what understanding we do have of environmental & biological feedback loops…

    • kowalityjesus | Oct 17, 2013 at 6:46 am |

      whoops, nevermind

    • Amy White | Oct 21, 2013 at 5:58 pm |

      And those are just two of the issues some use and distort-they need to believe that they’re better off because they’re better so they prefer stereotyping and blaming to being empathic!

  4. Ted Heistman | Oct 14, 2013 at 3:19 pm |

    Here is the author going blue steel with the duck face: For some reason this is the picture I had in my head as I read the article. I must be psychic.

  5. Eating healthy is not easy, if it’s not what you are used to. I made it about 3 months eating turkey burgers, turkey brats, and cutting out the sugar. Sure I dialed in my glycogen index, but I didn’t enjoy what I ate. I yearned for burgers, cheese, Juice, and Mountain Dew. Being active was tough for me as well.

    Sure I rode 20 miles per day, and used a resistance band to build muscle mass. Once I was no longer forced to ride though, I chose not to deal with getting rained on, flat tires, or risking getting hit by cars. As noted by Ted, it’s easy for a fit person to say, stopping being fat and lazy.

    Drew Manning learned the hard way, through experience.

    The hard truth is that most “fit” people hear “food addiction” and roll their eyes. I admit, even I was that closed-minded once. Until I embarked on a journey that showed me just how real food addiction really is.

    Fit2Fat2Fit in a nutshell is my journey of going from fit (which I had been my entire life) to fat (gaining 75 lbs.) back to fit (in a year’s time). For 6 months I allowed myself to eat an unrestricted diet and stop exercising in my attempt to see a different perspective. My clients kept telling me I didn’t understand their struggles. They’d mention late night snacking and food addiction, and I felt they were just being lazy and making poor choices. Until I walked (a small ways) in their shoes…

    Food became a comfort, a friend and an escape within a few short months. I’d get headaches without my Mountain Dew and I found myself emotionally eating as my relationships, job and self-esteem struggled during my journey. When it was time to go back to a healthy lifestyle, giving up these addictive foods was not just a challenge but required a detox (just like a drug). In fact, most studies show that food is just as addictive as drugs.

    Drew Manning, writer of Fit 2 Fat 2 Fit

    • Greenleaf Stickybud | Oct 14, 2013 at 7:03 pm |

      “Eating healthy” is actually really easy – Dont eat anything frozen, and dont eat anything that comes in a box. And dont anything that makes you feel sick afterwards. Simple.

  6. Earthstar | Oct 14, 2013 at 3:32 pm |

    A big part of the problem is estrogen mimicking and endocrine disrupting chemicals are not constant throughout our environment. This was just on disinfo 2 months ago:

  7. “People who are obese eat too much, and exercise too little.”

    Had to stop reading. This has been the gospel forever and the problems have gotten worse. Calories in, calories out. As if all foodstuffs were created equal. As if it has nothing to do with the quality of food. Sigh.

    • Quality of your calories is important. But I don’t care what anyone says, you can eat only candy bars and as long as that brings a calorie deficit, you will lose weight.

    • Some problems:
      The Calorie is a Calorie myth.
      The varied addictiveness of certain foods (commonly the worse for you, calorie for calorie).

  8. Ted Heistman | Oct 14, 2013 at 3:56 pm |

    Why you can’t draw:

    basically because you are a douche; You have no soul.

    • Ted Heistman | Oct 14, 2013 at 4:12 pm |

      Here is a drawing of lucifer with buns and two swan wings sprouting inexplicably from his left shoulder blade.

      He looks like a “gay artist.” Gay artists are people who can’t draw and who put buns and abs on everything. a gay artist who can actually draw is called simply “an artist”

    • what if that is his only link back to one that you are destroying?

      • Ted Heistman | Oct 15, 2013 at 7:47 am |

        could you explain? Am I being too mean? Are saying he may develop compassion for people through his art? I guess, maybe. Here is what he seems to be aspiring to-Two muscled up guys looking at a Sand castle made of dicks:

        that’s an art trade he did with somebody.

        • too mean? i don’t know, his art says to me he seems as much a prisoner as any of us (i focused on the picture of the man with the wings – cramped), and different strokes for different folks (i also was not one of the downvoters for this reason). i know it’s not like he hasn’t spread an unbelievable amount of bad feeling with an article like that (i reeled as i came into closer proximity to the article + thread). what i meant about his thread to the soul was that he seems to be talking to himself very loudly about something he’s not quite seeing. maybe i did speak hastily, my own insecurities became mixed in quickly after seeing this and feeling empathy for his position.

          • Calypso_1 | Oct 15, 2013 at 12:47 pm |

            you have a keen awareness of transference

          • probably because i spent so much of my teenage years freaked out over the fact i fancied guys who looked like my dead father *sweatdrop*

          • Ted Heistman | Oct 15, 2013 at 12:58 pm |

            Yeah, I guess he struck me as a bully so I went immediately for his weak spots.

          • Calypso_1 | Oct 15, 2013 at 1:04 pm |

            shadow boxing can be an excellent method for enhanced somatic awareness

          • not really questioning your judgement on that one, i tend to be very unattuned to when a situation requires a fist rather than a feather.

  9. InfvoCuernos | Oct 14, 2013 at 5:45 pm |

    All you skinny fuckers are going to be screwed when the shit hits the fan. I got at least an extra week’s rations packed away on my ass, just in case.

    • maybe we’ll eat you… are you polyunsaturated?

      or maybe this article has just traded the “distract and conquer” gambit for the “divide and conquer” gambit

      • InfvoCuernos | Oct 15, 2013 at 5:52 pm |

        LOL who’s gonna eat who? If you aren’t already looking forward to the opportunity to eat other humans, you’re going to be behind me in the cannibal game. I think this article is definitely a case of a disinfo contributor trolling.

  10. Greed has a lot to do with it. Ritualized hyper eating.
    Most people are hopeless about portion control and self deceptive about the amounts they eat.

  11. It’s actually not a settled question that being overweight = being unhealthy. This is from a review of a couple books on the topic by J. Eric Oliver and Paul Campos:

    “Nearly all the warnings about obesity are based on little more than loose statistical conjecture,” says Oliver, adding that there is no plausible biological explanation for most of the asserted causal links between fatness and disease. “The health risks associated with increasing weight are generally small,” says Campos, and “these risks tend to disappear altogether when factors other than weight are taken into account.” For example, “a moderately active larger person is likely to be far healthier than someone who is svelte but sedentary.” Campos cites research finding that obese people “who engage in at least moderate levels of physical activity have around one half the mortality rate of sedentary people who maintain supposedly ideal weight levels.”


    I’m surprised the other 65% of us aren’t obese. To afford, plan, shop for, and cook a healthy meal AND get your needed exercise, requires total single-mindedness. Equally absurd is spending “all” of your 2.5 hours of daily leisure time trying to cancel out the 8.8 hours a day you’re forced to be sedentary. I especially feel for night shift workers, who only have gas stations and fast food to choose from.

    • emperorreagan | Oct 14, 2013 at 9:22 pm |

      Don’t forget – standard break is 30 minutes. If you don’t have a car, you’re not even getting to a gas station or McDonalds.

      I worked the night shift at Target, doing inventory at various stores, and at a place packing tools over various summers when I was younger. Leaving at all during the break was strongly discouraged, even if you had a car.

      Just being able to sit in a McDonalds and have a coffee with other people was fantastic after spending all night locked up in a store, walking up and down aisles moving stuff from one box to another or one shelf or another in silence. And I was fortunate that I wasn’t on the run to another job, or home to kids.

    • Man if you get 2.5 hours of down time I envy you.

      • Yeah, that survey makes me a little angry. Who are these jerks who get over 7.6 hrs of sleep and work less than 8.8 hrs?! I’ve never even met one, but there’s apparently enough of them to screw up the average.

  13. Conspiracy Carrot | Oct 14, 2013 at 9:22 pm |

    “Because I cannot ever look like a person one of those fashion
    magazines, I’m going to just eat whatever the hell I want and never

    A small number of fat people think that way, I know I once did, but that wasn’t the reason why I was, or am, fat. Some people are just born that way. We almost never had junk food or soda in the house when I was growing up and were fairly physically active as a family, yet I was always the fat kid.

    Right now I’m in better shape and weight less than I did in high school, but I have to bust my ass just to stay fitting in these size 34 jeans & size large t-shirt. I have friends who could be models, yet eat garbage all day long and simply don’t get any exercise.

    Even when I was bigger I was plenty active. I spent a lot of time backpacking. Walked a lot. In fact I could out-hike and out-bike a lot of thinner people. You don’t need to be a toothpick to be healthy.

    Being a dick on the internet isn’t going to inspire anyone to lose weight. Especially when you don’t know the struggle.

    • Matt Staggs | Oct 15, 2013 at 9:38 am |

      Yeah, I agree with you. Personal responsibility is an important part of maintaining a healthy weight, but it’s only one part, and treating people like garbage won’t help them. I think leading by example and offering information and encouragement is a better approach.

  14. Ted Heistman | Oct 15, 2013 at 9:45 am |

    I might be stuck at 200 lbs for life. I really doubt the average person gets as much exercise and eats as healthy as I ate this past summer. I ate nearly 100 percent organic all summer, and got massive exercise digging ditches and building raised garden beds, weeding and doing contstruction, plus going on hikes and running and doing tabata calisthenic work out sessions. I lost a measly 5 lbs and felt crappy after a while. I over trained. I also wasn’t eating as much protein as I would have liked. I was eating vegetarian with mostly eggs and fresh homemade yogurt as protein with free range grass fed organic pork beef or chicken a few times a week as a treat.

    My portions were large at times but I mean I ate mostly salads. Its damn frustrating. I am sure if I had been a couch potato junk food junkie at the beginning of the summer, I would have lost weight, but the fact is, in the Spring I was eating salads every day and biking 100 miles a week.
    I basically have 20-30 lbs of fat that I just can’t seem to lose. The last time I could see my abs was when I was a college wrestler in the 1990’s. I weighed 172 and cut down to 155. Maybe that is what fucked me up.

  15. therealjeaniebeanie | Oct 16, 2013 at 4:14 pm |

    It’s curious to me that the Disinformation site is peddling the same conventional
    “wisdom” that the government and all mainstream media sources have done for 40 years.

    If the history of the weight loss industry and millions of people’s personal experience is any indication, it’s clear by now that obesity is not simply a matter of too much food consumed and too little exercise. Any anecdote you can come up with about someone that lost weight by cutting back and taking up jogging can be counterbalanced by twice or more as many people who did that and didn’t lose a pound, or lost a little but stalled far from their goal, or lost but then regained it all and more.

    It’s WHAT you eat, the ratio of macronutrients and mainly food quality, more than anything else, but other factors enter in: medications, amount of sleep (indeed, many people find that they start to lose weight when they simply get more sleep), stress levels, etc. It’s not the simplistic “calories in = calories out” model. It’s also not “cut the fat” and all is well. Low-calorie and low-fat dieting have proved disastrous for America’s health. Since that advice was pushed by the U.S. government and the establishment since about the late 1970s, obesity rates have climbed, along with heart disease, diabetes, and related disorders. Americans have in fact reduced fat intake, but it has not reduced their body fat. The simplistic notion that eating fat in and of itself makes people fat is provably nonsense. The types of food consumed have hormonal effects in the body that are not accounted for by mere calorie-counting.

    I suggest educating yourself by reading “Good Calories, Bad Calories” by Gary Taubes, or his less-sciency, more reader-friendly book, “We We Get Fat and What to Do About It.” Not that Taubes necessarily has *all* the answers, but he’s largely right, and has documented this area of science and public policy better than any single person I can think of. There are many, many others out there with good information in the form of books, blogs and podcasts, but Taubes is a very good start.

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