Saturday, August 13, 2011

Intolerance... not a pretty thing.

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On Being Green...

- by Neal McKenna © 

It's tough being green – even when you're Kermit the frog. In a world of round 
holes, being a square peg presents formidable challenges. Homosexuality is a 
case in point. Each of us starts out believing we are the only one who is like this. 
That beefy guy next door looks so much better to you than his sister, or vice versa. 
Because we are attracted to “wrong” gender – according to the society around us, 
we tend to keep that essential bit of information to ourselves. Going underground 
is just easier, especially when we are very young, because in a world of “should 
be's,” we're definitely the “are not's.” 
But, is sexual orientation something we are born with – like the colour of our 
eyes and skin – or is it a matter of choice or a preference? Well, the jury is in 
and apparently, there are genetic factors. – Like, in our heart of hearts, we 
didn't already know that! And, why is it we gays never ask our straight friends 
when it was they turned “that way?” – But, alas, I digress. 
Canadian scientists have uncovered new evidence indicating genetics does play 
a role in determining whether an individual is heterosexual or homosexual. 
This research was conducted by Dr Sandra Witelson, a neuroscientist at McMaster 
University, in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, and assisted by colleagues at 
Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto. Using structural Magnetic 
Resonance Imaging (MRI), researchers studied the brains of healthy, 
right-handed, homosexual and heterosexual men, aged 18 through 35. 
A little more than a decade ago, Witelson and Dr. Cheryl McCormick, 
demonstrated there was a higher proportion of “lefties” in the homo aggregation 
than in the general population. This result was replicated in subsequent studies 
and is now accepted as scientific fact. It seems handedness is a sign of how the 
brain is organized to represent different aspects of intelligence. Language, for 
example, is usually a function of the left brain; while music belongs to the right. 
In other research, Witelson and her associate, Debra Kigar, found left-handers 
to have a larger region of posterior corpus callosum than right-handers do. 
What we're talking about here is the thick band of nerve fibers connecting the 
two hemispheres of the brain. This fact raised the hypothesis for the current 
study. – Was the brain anatomy of this sub-group of right-handed gay men 
similar to that of the left-handers? Eventually, their research revealed the 
posterior portion of the corpus callosum is larger in homosexual men than in 
heterosexual men. 
Therefore, since the size of the corpus callosum is largely inherited, this 
suggests a genetic factor in sexual orientation. “Our results do not mean that 
heredity is destiny,” said Witelson, “but they do indicate environment is not 
the only player in the field.” During a correlational analysis, these researchers 
included size of the corpus callosum, in relation to test scores for language, 
visual, spatial and finger dexterity tests. By using these variables, they were 
able to predict sexual orientation in 95% of the cases. 
In a separate study, when it comes to testosterone, the sexual area of a gay 
man's brain operates more like that of a woman when exposed to a particular 
stimulus, say researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden. In 
a 2005 experiment, 82 men and heterosexual women sniffed a chemical from 
the male hormone testosterone. Homosexual men's brains responded differently 
from those of heterosexual males, and in a similar way to the women's brains. 
Confronted by a chemical from testosterone, the male hormone, portions of 
the brains active in sexual activity were activated in straight women and in 
gay men, but not in straight men, the researchers found. The response in gay 
men and straight women was concentrated in the hypothalamus with a 
maximum in the preoptic area that is active in hormonal and sensory responses 
necessary for sexual behavior, the researchers said. 
And, in yet another study, looking at response to body odors, researchers in 
Philadelphia found sharp differences between gay and straight men and women. 
“Our findings support the contention that gender preference has a biological 
component that is reflected in both the production of different body odors 
and in the perception of and response to body odors,” said neuroscientist 
Charles Wysocki, who led the study. It's hard to see how a simple choice to 
be gay or lesbian would influence the production of body odor, he said. 
They found that gay men differed from heterosexual men and women and 
from lesbian women, both in terms of which body odors gay men preferred 
and how their own body odors were regarded by the other groups. Gay men 
preferred odors from gay men, while odors from gay men were the least 
preferred by heterosexual men and women; and by lesbian women in the study. 
Their findings were published in the journal Psychological Science in September 
It is one more piece of evidence ... that is showing sexual orientation is not all 
learned,'' said Sandra Witelson, an expert on brain anatomy and sexual orientation 
at the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton, 
Canada. Witelson, who was not part of the research team, said the findings clearly 
indicate a biological involvement in sexual orientation. 
Okay! But let's get back to the actual state of “being gay.” – To be different from 
the norm is to be suspect – deviant. And, at some point in our lives, just about all 
of us has felt vulnerable. Generally, the human race doesn't deal well with glaring 
anomalies. In the best of circumstances, people still tend to possesses a full battery 
of prejudices fueled by their fears. Even in the permissive Western culture, being a 
self-identified gay is a very recent and Caucasian phenomenon. – Just think what it 
must be like, here in South Africa, to be gay and Chinese, or Indian, or Coloured, or 
Black or Muslim! Now, these are people with real issues! 
At this very moment, around the world, male homosexuality is outlawed in 78 
countries, while being a lesbian is illegal in 50 nations. In most Islamic countries, 
religious leaders still condone beating and the execution of gays. Confirmed reports of 
gays being executed by hanging, stoning, and beheading still come from Iran and Saudi 
Arabia. Being a gay male is also punishable by death in Afghanistan, Iran, Mauritania, 
Nigeria, Pakistan, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. 
And, clinging to outmoded British colonial law, India still has the power to jail homo-
sexuals when the notion strikes. “It's not a crime to be gay in India,” says Indian 
national, Navin Vasudev, who currently resides in South Africa. “It's only illegal when 
you act upon it by having sex with another man. The police often set traps – sting 
operations – in known cruising areas in New Delhi and other large cities. This archaic 
law, dating back to the Raj, allows the police to butalise and humiliate gays.” 

UPDATE: February 26, 2012 

Homosexuality has been decriminalised in India but the topic remains very controversial. 
However, progress is being made in the most unlikely of quadrants. In 2007, Muslim 
director, Parvez Sharma and producer Sandi DuBowski, released their film “A Jihad for 
Love.” It is now doing the rounds on the international Gay/Lesbian film circuit. With 
unprecedented access and depth, the movie brings to light the hidden lives of gay, 
lesbian, bisexual and transgendered Muslims. 
It goes where the silence has been loudest – in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, 
Egypt, Bangladesh and India as well as less obvious locales such as France, Turkey, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States. “Those gay, lesbian, and transgendered Muslims brought together by this film,” says Sharma, “do not seek to vilify or reject Islam. Rather, they are endeavouring to negotiate a new relationship with it.” 
On the home front in South Africa, being gay and of colour is a mixed bag of 
the good, the bad and the ugly. Being gay in a straight world is challenge enough but 
add the issue of colour or religion, and the ante is upped dramatically. Here are some 
interesting insights from people who live their lives on that particular street. 

Bram Tu 

Yen-Wu Tu, better known as Bram, is a South African of Taiwanese descent. He is 27 
years old and a banker in Johannesburg. Tu came out of the closet when he was just 
17. “That was when I admitted to myself that my being gay was here to stay. – I was 
very lucky,” he confesses. “All my friends were very positive, and supported me 
despite the fact that some of them were from extremely religious backgrounds. They 
didn't treat me any differently after I came out to them, which was quite a relief. 
However, my grandmother, who raised me, was a little apprehensive when I came out 
to her by mistake. It was difficult for her to understand the idea of my being gay 
because there is such a huge age gap between us. Now, she is 86 and very forgetful. So, 
I have the joy of coming out to her over and over and over again. 
Tu admits “coming out” has been life-changing. “Today, I feel a sense of freedom. I no 
longer need to be ashamed and hide the gay aspect of me. I am proud of who I am and 
what I have achieved. Being gay has made me a stronger and better person. Of course, 
not everyone is fortunate enough to come out in a safe environment. I believe, no matter what, you need to remain true to yourself, and only come out when you are ready to do so. Anyway, by coming out, I have learned to embrace other people’s cultures and values, and to be more accepting of the world around me. On the other hand, I have received strange looks from some people when I held my partner’s hand in public. Others just laughed or snickered. but honestly, I do not go out of my way to advertise it, but I will not deny my being gay if people ask me.” 
He also believes he has been fortunate. “Since I came out, I have never encountered any violence or hostility in terms of homophobia. Of course, my colleagues and I often make jokes about my being gay.” Conversely, he has experienced incidents of exclusion within the gay community. “Unfortunately racism and other forms of discrimination exist within the gay community just as much as with our heterosexual counterparts. ...I have heard reports that some gay clubs have, in the past, indirectly prevented entry to people of colour. Gay people, like everybody else, have their own preferences when it comes to choosing a partner – or a friend. I have encountered people on the Internet who would not want to meet me in person, simply because I am Asian. – But, they don't know what they're missing.” 

Muhsin Hendricks 

Muhsin Hendricks is a Cape Townian Muslim, classified in the apartheid era as “Cape-Malay.” He is 40 years old and the founder as well as president of The Inner Circle, a support group for gay and lesbian Muslims and their friends. He describes himself as “a human rights activist/spiritualist and religious leader.” There is absolutely no doubt that he is out in his workplace! That deed was done when he was 29. 
To say things went well, when he came out, would be someone else's story. “Mother fainted,” he laughs. “It took her a while to understand homosexuality. Friends were supportive but had so many questions.” Naturally, there were religious implications and conflicts as a result of his coming out. “I was asked to resign as a teacher from two Muslim schools,” he explains. “Because it was now open and known to everyone, I was faced with many challenges. I had lots of verbal abuse hurled at me through the media, but never any physical attempts of harming me, or any confrontation. “Being out, I feel less hypocritical and more spiritual. It has always been important for me to be myself.” 
As stated before, Hendricks is president of The Inner Circle, an organization fighting against homophobia in Muslim contexts. It’s also an organization mandated to re-educating and creating awareness around issues of sexuality and sexual diversity within the Muslim community. One very creative venue for achieving this was appearing in the documentary film, “A Jihad for Love.” 
At first I was unsure whether I should be a part of this movie. – Was it going to reinforce the stereotype that gay people are flamboyant and promiscuous as the other movies had portrayed them? But after speaking to the director and letting him in on my vision for social change, he assured me its purpose would be to show the struggle many queer Muslims must face. – That is, the conflict between the acceptance of their own sexuality and Islam. – I knew that my personal journey is something most queer Muslims could identify with. And, I knew it would give them strength and encouragement to continue towards becoming a fulfilled and whole human being.” 

Danilo da Silva 

Danilo da Silva Mussagy Ibraimo is 28 years old and lives in Maputo, the capital of Mozambique. He describes himself as a Chuabo boy. “I was born in Zambezia province,” he says, “in the north of the country which has strong Islamic influences.” Da Silva's mother is Muslim and, in true crusader fashion, he decided to tell her first about his sexuality. “The only question my mother asked was if I was happy with the way I chose to live my life. I said “yes,” and she said, “if that is so, then for me, it’s OK too.” ...I think when your close family, especially your parents, are not well educated, and are very religious, then you can have problems. She cried a bit. I know she was disappointed, but now I’m good with my family. 
For this young Mozambican, religion has never been an issue. “I don't believe in religion. I believe in God, but I don’t believe in religions. They oppress people.” As for his work as an IT technician, he has been out for quite some time. Since I have “come out,” my life has changed for the better. I feel that I have been reborn. I can be myself now. I feel free! I did lose some “friends” during that time but also I gained many true friends, ones who love me just the way I am.” 
Along the way, da Silva has borne the brunt of daunting homophobia. “Most black people won’t accept that a black guy can be gay. They say it’s a shame. Shame of what, I don’t know! Definitely Africans should talk more about sexuality. They spend lots of time having sex, but never talk about it. In Mozambique, they say gays choose to be “this way” because of money, or witchcraft. – But, I don't dabble in witchcraft and I have little extra money. However, I am happy to say I have never experienced any kind of exclusion within the local gay community.” 
Currently, he is involved with Lambda-Mozambique as the national coordinator, and in Pan Africa ILGA, he is the co-Chair. Lambda is the first LGBTI organization in the country, based in Maputo City, it operates all around Mozambique. “In 2006, because I was – and still am – leading the Mozambican LGBTI movement, I came out on public TV, following a national conference. 
“...There is still so much to do in Africa,” da Silva concludes. “But we are not going to change the minds of grown-up Africans who hold on to their rigid ideas about homosexuality. All we can do is to provide the new generation with better education.. We must teach them that the rainbow needs all its colours to look beautiful.” 

Colin Roopnarain 

Colin and his partner Darren
Colin Roopnarain is a 24-year-old South African-born Indian who lives in Durban. He works as an Arts and Entertainment Writer at Drum Magazine. He came out “ages ago” and is “most definitely” out at work. Reaction from friends was mainly positive. “I have to admit, though,” he says, “it was really tough with the family. – Being Indian makes them a lot more conservative than the average family. And, right now, there's a hell of a lot of denial going on. 
As an Indian, I can say – coming out is a really tough barrier to get through. To be sure, not all Indian families are conservative or narrow minded – but a lot of them are traditionalists. – Breaking free of that is seen as a betrayal. Indian families – and this is a generalisation, here – are not the best communicators. Emotionally, they are bottled up and talking about feelings is a rare thing. It’s tough, but then is it ever not? ...But for me, life is much, much better since I have come out. I feel more free – more me – happier. I am more at peace with myself. 
As far as challenges go, I think I've lived a pretty sheltered life – so far – in terms of homophobia. But that's not to say I haven't experienced it. – There was lots of bullying when I was in school. Then, a few sneers and snickers in college and the occasional name calling. Most recently, this happened while walking with my partner. We were yelled at and sworn at, and threatened by a bunch of guys driving by, but it didn't amount to anything.” 
However, Roopnarain has not experienced any kind of exclusion within the gay community. “But then again,” he shrugs, “I haven't exactly opened myself to the gay world either. I'm proudly gay – but I don't adhere to a set of rules that have been pre-set and prescribed to me just because I'm gay. I don't club and I don't do a lot of things that I should, “as a gay man,” stereotypically do. Racism and snobbery does exist within the gay community though. That much I know, but generally, it's a great open-minded community. 
Ultimately though, life is what you make of it. – You can complain, cry or sulk and even be angry. But what good is that going to do? You're not gonna stop being gay. If people cannot accept it – let them deal with their own issues. Do what you can. That's really all anyone can do.” 

Heinrich Abrahams 

Heinrich Abrahams lives in Johannesburg and identifies himself as “Coloured.” He came out to family and the immediate world 12 years ago, when he was 26. “I grew up in a conservative Christian home,” he explains, “so initially, it was daunting, but I was accepted as my family's love for me was greater than the Pentecostal Church.” Although he is now self-employed, he was a member of the regular workforce when he came out. “Having a gay boss helped.” Abrahams smiles. “I remember him saying: 'We always knew but it – but it was just for you to find out!'” 
As for religious implications and conflicts, there were several. “Coming from a Pentecostal background, the idea of being gay was, in itself, a sin. At that stage, my biggest conflict was one of self-acceptance, and reconciling my own Spirituality, and not that of an Institution. ...But since I have been “out,” my life – including my spiritual life – has been much fuller. It has been a beautiful, life-changing experience.” Currently, Abrahams is a member of GAP, a Christian based, nondenominational discussion group. “It basically bridges the gap between being gay and having a loving relationship with the Lord,” he explains. “Most Churches still marginalise Gay/straight/Pink/Blue/ Black/Purple or whoever else that doesn't fit their “little box” view of Christianity.” 
As far as exclusion within the gay community goes, Abrahams has encountered one of quite a different sort. “This may sound very controversial,” he confides, “but my experience in South Africa is this: I meet a nice white guy and all is great in the beginning. But as soon as things get a bit serious, the issue of colour becomes a major obstacle. The way it seems to me is – white guys only date guys of colour for the physical aspect – but deep down, they really want to settle down with another white guy. Well, that's been my experience. I'm sure there are exceptions to the above, but in general, if you look around, how many long-term multiracial relationships do you see?” 
As stated earlier, being self-identified as gay is mostly associated – at least in Africa – as a distinctly Caucasian occurrence. However, ethnicity really has to do with a person's cultural/racial makeup, so no matter who we are, we are all “ethnic.” Being white is merely another colour of the ethnic rainbow. So, in order to touch all the bases, it made sense to get some comments from a “white boy.” 

Eugene Mouton 

Eugene Mouton isn't your typical white guy. Because of his swarthy complexion, people get confused. “Ever since I was a little boy,” he says wryly, “I have had to endure racial slurs because people thought I was Indian, Coloured or Asian – and at the same time, they hurled homophobic abuse at me. This persisted even into high school, where my nickname was “Bruce Lee.” 
Whatever colour Mouton appears to be, he has a true African background. His father is originally from Kenya and his mother, the DRC. However, familial roots reach back to Belgium and the Netherlands. “Actually,” he laughs, “there's a Scottish, German and French connection as well. I guess I'm a mongrel.” He came “out” nine years ago, at age 20 – and it didn't go well. 
My family's first reaction was very negative,” he recounts. “My parents disowned me. They kicked me out, but later on, they came around. My sister and my late brother were always very supportive. The rest of the family found out when a national newspaper ran a story about me. – But they were really more angry about the publicity surrounding it all, rather than me being gay. Friends from school were very supportive, but I lost all but two of my friends from church when I came out. Moving to Johannesburg forced me to get on with making new friends. 
Honestly, my life has changed in so many ways since I have come out,” he continues. “I feel liberated and I feel more in control of my own destiny. And, it's interesting that all this rejection from religious authorities has since lead to a renewal of my own spiritual life. I have reinvented myself as person with a holistic view of life and spirituality. I now see myself as a holist. However, I still think our society is one that focuses too much on dividing factors like race, gender and sexual orientation.” Currently, Mouton works at the University of Johannesburg as a Human Resources Information Systems Administrator, which is an amalgam of IT and HR duties. He is out in his workplace and everyone is “very cool” about it. 
So, in conclusion, it is agreed. – When you're gay, it isn't easy being green, the colour of coffee 'n' cream, black, or even plain-old white. However, it does seem to be getting somewhat better out there, in spite of the fact that homophobia and xenophobia can merge into a nasty double-edged dagger. Greater acceptance of gays, lesbians and bisexuals is slowly coming from all facets of South African society. The operative word is “slowly.” In the meantime, members of our “family” are finding the courage to speak up and do it proudly. Perhaps, with a little more work and understanding, we square pegs will learn to be a bit more accepting of the many shades of ourselves.

in·tol·er·ant (n-tlr-nt) adj.

Not tolerant, especially:
1. Unwilling to tolerate differences in opinions, practices, or beliefs
2. Lacking respect for practices and beliefs other than one's own
3. (postpositive; foll by of) Not able or willing to tolerate or endure
intolerance n
intolerantly adv                           Via The Free Dictionary
bigot [ˈbɪgət] n
A person who is intolerant of any ideas other than his or her own, esp on religion, politics, or race [from Old French: name applied contemptuously to the Normans by the
French, of obscure origin] From the 15th century on Old French bigot meant "an excessively devoted or hypocritical person."Bigot is first recorded in English in 1598 with the sense "a superstitious hypocrite."  Bigoted adj Via The Free Dictionary

Obesity – the Unforgivable Sin

– by JoAnn Turner, Canada
Thoughtless comments from "the average Joe" touch me less than the doctor
who says nothing and curls a lip when I explain that I DO, in fact, know how
much I eat and it genuinely is not normal for me to gain this much weight so
In this case, this one time, I was vindicated by my blood test results. However, 
that doesn't change the many years I've had to struggle with my weight, the 
inner judgements I've placed upon myself, or how much greater the pressure 
has been for people who are less self-aware. I am talking about people who 
have, killed themselves because of cruel remarks about their weight. Or anorexics 
or girls who smoke because it takes away their hunger.
Prejudice against fat people is another form of bullying, but it's so ingrained 
in our society most don't even see it. People believe there's science behind it, 
but much of the "science" has been driven by a shared mindset already distorted 
by prejudice. I would go farther and say that much of the savage hatred of fatness 
in our society is beyond bullying, it's violent and abusive. And absolutely, it 
serves nobody.
A person who is very vocal about bullying or prejudice in other settings will 
think nothing about NOT hiring a fat person, and will justify it by saying the 
person is "not fit" or even that they "can't be very smart." Or simply "that's not 
the image we want in our office." Being fat today in North America is as much 
of a social handicap and an impediment to success as having visibly bad teeth 
or a serious facial disfigurement. It is more of a handicap than having 
a physical disability or belonging to a visible minority. We protect those people 
with laws; there is no such protection for the obese.
And the supreme irony, of course, is that the rate of obesity is vastly greater in 
North America than anywhere else in the world, even as our standard of beauty 
gets ever-more distorted toward artificial notions of thinness. 
In closing, I want to make one point crystal clear – anybody who passes up a 
chance to get to know another just because of their body type is an idiot. 

– Laureen Bertin, South Africa
In my view, it comes down to that generic meanness which seems to be overtaking 
our world. My Gran told me – "if you cant say something nice, then don't say anything 
at all." Good rule, not sufficiently followed these days! It's also that thing of people feeling entitled to comment/judge/interfere in anything they damn well please! It's extraordinary, like there are no personal boundaries anymore!

What lies beneath sits very close to the surface today...

Behind the Anti-Obesity Veil: 

Fat Bashing as ‘Science’

 Behind the Anti-Obesity Veil: Fat Bashing as ‘Science’

Anti-Obesity. The phrase is so common in my circles I barely even see it any more. And yet, when I get blogged without my permission by an anti-obesity website, I am forced to pay attention. I cringe to have my work or words characterized under a paradigm that I believe has done as much to harm to a generation of American eaters as food marketers and food deserts combined. We are not just preyed upon by junk food advertisers and fast food peddlers, we are also plagued by a national eating disorder of epic proportions predicated on the faulty belief that no one can be fat and healthy, and that fat kids in particular are suffering an “epidemic” while thin kids are just fine –regardless of their food choices. 

Recently, nutrition researcher Linda Bacon was accused of being “in denial” on a major food-focused listserv for proposing the radical notion that both thin AND fat kids are harmed by a diet of nutritionally devoid, industrial food. Well, wipe my jaw off the floor. Are we so stuck in this rhetoric that we can’t see how manipulated we are by the food and diet industries? As long as we keep raising our kids with a need to ‘diet’ to be ‘perfect’ the food & diet industry will have a firm foothold in this country. Our yo-yo diets (and soon, our children’s) translate to a better first quarter. Jenny Craig is owned by Nestle, and Weight Watchers is owned by the same multinational conglomerate that owns Keebler Foods. So who is really in denial here?
Acknowledging the emotional harm caused to real people by our words and beliefs is not denial. Acknowledging that the focus on fatness does NOT help anyone get healthier – and that this has been quantified over and over again – is not denial.
To understand, you have to unveil the history behind the use of fatness as a measure of health: BMI was developed as an epidemiological tool. It was not intended to measure individual health. Human adiposity exists on a bell curve – the thinnest folks being on the far left, the very fat folks on the far right and the majority in the ‘bell’ in-between. There will ALWAYS be people ‘at the tails’ who are ultra-thin or ultra-fat but naturally so. Yes, that bell curve is skewed to the right by our industrial food system — but the THIN people eating industrial food, those on the left of the curve, they are also suffering ill health effects. The skinny kid living on cheetos and soda is going to be just as screwed as an adult as the fat kid who does (and even more screwed than the fat kid who eats well). We’re just not focused on him because we can’t SEE the harm being done.
In the meantime, all the screeching about obese kids is doing more harm than good. Fat kids that are made to feel subhuman because of what the scale says don’t get thinner, they get messed up in the head. They’re not reading about obesity prevention in the medical journals, they’re getting stuffed in dumpsters by their peers for being “made wrong.” And well-meaning adults reinforce that message on a daily basis. Fat kids spiral – many of them perfectly healthy to begin with (those naturally on the right end of the curve) – into social isolation, eating disorders, and a cycle of failed diets that sets them up for a LIFETIME of struggle.
We need to recreate the way we talk about sustainable food. Farms and gardens have an ability to reach ALL kids, regardless of size – and create life-long emotional bonds with healthy food straight from the plant. It’s these bonds that create health later in life, not messages of fear, hate, and doom and gloom.
We have a unique opportunity in this field to break the cycle of our nation’s collective eating disorder. I hope we actually come down from our anti-obesity rhetoric long enough to take that opportunity.
Say it with me...  Jenny Craig can kiss my asparagus!

Via Care 2

A Better Way to Understand Obesity’s Impact

by Cathryn Wellner August 18, 2011
 A Better Way to Understand Obesity’s Impact

My mother always fussed at her oldest sister. Aunt Grace was big-boned, with the kind of padding that made her lap a safe haven for a child. Mother worried she would die early if she did not slim down. Aunt Grace died at 84, Mother at 75.
Though both women inherited the same genes, they did not lead the same lives. Aunt Grace was more physically active, ate more fruits and vegetables and experienced far less stress than her slim younger sister. New studies shed some light on why one lived so much longer than the other.
The research challenges conventional wisdom that obese automatically equals unhealthy. Both studies used the Edmonton Obesity Staging System (EOSS) to rank obesity as a series of stages rather than one number. Higher stages mean higher risks.
CBC News reports “The new scale includes five stages of obesity based on traditional measurements such as body mass index and waist-to-hip ratios, as well as clinical measurements of medical conditions tied to obesity, such as Type 2 diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.”
What scientists discovered, in studies published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal and in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, was a more nuanced picture of the consequences of obesity. Physicians using the scoring system will find it easier to prescribe appropriate treatments. Patients with higher EOSS scores, for example, are more likely candidates for bariatric surgery. Those with low scores are unlikely to need it.

Obesity does not always equal unhealthy

What both studies show is that many factors account for health or disease in obese patients. The yo-yo dieting that often accompanies obesity appears to be a significant negative factor, with a connection to stress, body image and body dissatisfaction. Furthermore, people with healthy diets and high levels of cardiovascular fitness are less likely to develop complications such as diabetes and heart disease.
Dr. Arya Sharma, who was involved in both studies, writes, “it is certainly clear from this study [in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism] that there are a significant number of people who meet the BMI criteria of obesity, but do not appear to have any of the health problems that most overweight and obese folks tend to have. It is certainly unclear whether or not these individuals will experience any health benefits from attempting to lower their body weights, given that most people, who lose weight, will simply put it back on.”
While some reports of the study imply we can stop worrying about the epidemic of obesity, Dr. Sharma insists, “This by no means implies that it is now ‘OK to be fat’, as some media has [sic] chosen to report on this study. At best, it means that for some people, it may well be OK to be fat, but these people certainly become rarer at higher ranges of BMI.”
So the studies in no way mean we should stop addressing the health issues that accompany overweight and obesity, nor studying the environmental and social contributors. Still, the stereotyping and shaming of fat people is wrong and counterproductive. These studies remind us body weight is only one factor in good health.

Via Care 2

Via Imgfave

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