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  #1   ^
Old Sun, Dec-17-17, 17:37
Monika4 Monika4 is offline
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Default NYTimes: Americans Blame Obesity on Willpower, Despite Evidence Itís Genetic

This title, Americans Blame Obesity on Willpower, Despite Evidence Itís Genetic, by a very respected science journalist, Gina Kolata, who used to work for Science, really upset me. This was in the NY Times in November. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/01/...study.html?_r=0

The actual report stated " Obesity Rises to Top Health Concern for Americans, but Misperceptions Persist" and didn't put nearly as much emphasis on willpower than the NYTimes.

To me, this is a disservice to everyone. If you ask those who did lose a lot and are maintaining their weight, whether they lost 10 lb, 50 lb, 100 lb, or more, wouldn't we say that diet, exercise and willpower were important ingredients? The article "blames" the surveyed people for believing in diet, exercise and will power. But aren't those necessary?
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  #2   ^
Old Sun, Dec-17-17, 18:38
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bevangel bevangel is offline
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Plan: modified adkins (sort of)
Stats: 265/176/167 Female 68.5 inches
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I have mixed feelings about the article. Having been obese myself, I tend to agree that obesity is NOT caused simply by gluttony and lack-of-will-power.

Tho the article doesn't go into this, if you think about it, I think you'll agree. A person who believes that the obese got that way because they lack will power and just want to eat to much is highly UNLIKELY to be at all sympathetic to spending public dollars to do research on obesity or on methods of assisting the obese to lose weight. And, those who feel that obese people got that way due to their own fault (lack of will power and gluttonous eating) are definitely not going to be be sympathetic to having insurance help pay for treatment because that will cause insurance premiums to rise. After all, who wants to pay more for their own insurance in order to help someone whose problems are all their own fault???

But, because almost everyone believes that cancer is caused by an unfortunate interaction between one's genetics and one's environment, we don't "blame" people who come down with cancer. Therefore, most of us are willing to see public money (i.e., tax dollars) go towards cancer treatment research. Even if we don't have cancer, almost everybody WANTS their insurance to cover cancer treatments; even tho that means our insurance premiums are higher than they would be if cancer treatment were excluded. This is true even for cancers like skin cancer (which is almost completely avoidable by not allowing oneself to be overexposed to UV radiation) and lung cancer (99+% avoidable by never smoking); etc.

As a larger and larger percentage of the population has come to believe that alcoholism and drug addiction are due to an unfortunate interaction between one's genetic heritage and one's environment, we have become more and more accepting of public dollars being spent and research into alcohol and drug addiction treatments. Even if we ourselves are not afflicted with alcohol or drug addiction, we're okay with having drug and alcohol addiction treatment covered by insurance plans... even tho having those treatments covered means we pay more in insurance premiums. And again, this is true even tho alcohol addiction is 100% avoidable by never taking the first drink of alcohol and drug addiction is 99+% avoidable by never taking the first hit of drugs known to be addictive.

Meanwhile, according to the article, most Americans still believe that obesity is the "fault" of the obese when, according to researchers, obesity (just like alcohol and drug addiction and just like cancer) is actually the result of an unfortunate interaction between one's genetic heritage and one's environment. Worse, because people DO have to eat, no one can ever be ever be anywhere close to 99% sure they can avoid obesity...because no one can 100% avoid the "environment" (FOOD) which leads to obesity.

So, because I happen to believe that the obese DID NOT get that way because of lace of will-power or simple gluttony; I am willing to see public money (my tax dollars) spent on research to understand and treat obesity. I am willing for insurance to cover obesity treatments.

If the majority of Americans believed as I do, more funding would be available for obesity research. More insurance would pay for obesity treatments. And that, I think, is the take home message that the NY Times writer was TRYING to get across.

The problem I saw with the article was that bariatric surgery seemed to be touted as THE only effective treatment for obesity. And, as many of us on this board have discovered, it is not!

Having lost 90 lbs and having kept it off for almost three years now, I would NOT agree with you that "diet, exercise and willpower" were important ingredients...at least not in the sense that those terms are traditionally used and understood by most people.

I DID NOT lose weight by dieting it off or by exercising it off or by suddenly discovering a fountain of will-power that I had lacked for 30 years. I lost weight by lucking into a way of eating that allowed me to eat as much as I wanted of wonderful tasting foods. WILL-POWER was simply not really necessary. And, while I did start exercising more after I'd lost a significant amount of weight, the desire to exercise was a RESULT of having lost weight. Exercise WAS NOT an ingredient (cause) of the weight loss.

Yes, I did go on a "diet" in the sense that that word means simply that I changed the kinds of foods I ate. But, most people hear the word diet and think "eat less and learn to live with being hungry" (which is exactly WHY they think willpower to stay on the diet is a necessary ingredient.)

My new way of eating put a STOP to my former gluttony. I quit being ravenously hungry all the time. But, I am not a better person since losing weight. I GOT LUCKY! Wonderfully amazingly LUCKY! I happened upon a treatment (low carb eating) that cured my obesity. I can no more take credit for my weight loss than the person whose cancer is cured by medical treatment can take credit for having be cured of cancer.

So why should I shoulder any more blame for having been obese in the first place than the person who comes down with cancer should shoulder blame for having come down with cancer in the first place.

Yes, perhaps once everyone fully understands what cause some folk's bodies to get out of whack so that they become obese, then MAYBE, if those factors are 100% avoidable, we should blame those who become obese in spite of knowing how to avoid the condition. But, we're not willing to blame alcoholics so, maybe not even then.
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  #3   ^
Old Mon, Dec-18-17, 07:22
teaser's Avatar
teaser teaser is offline
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One problem with willpower is that it's poorly defined, and poorly definable. How is it measured? Researchers attempt to measure it objectively. One measure is plunging a subject's hand into icewater, the longer they tolerate it, the greater the measure of willpower. But it doesn't really measure willpower, it measures tolerance of ice water. Two people could feel the exact same measure of discomfort, although that's subjective and can't really be measured, in which case maybe the person who stays in the water longer has more willpower but since you can't measure the actual discomfort--the person with the higher tolerance to the ice water might feel less discomfort in the first place. People with depression are said to have a lower tolerance to pain, and given the same painful stimulus, complain that it hurts more. Are they wusses? Or do they actually feel more pain?

Two people could be applying willpower for weight loss, whether it's taking calories head on, or avoiding certain types of calories. Both are fighting an urge to break the diet, if one breaks, and the other doesn't, you can't really say how hard they fought--one may have fought harder, because their drive to break the diet was stronger, but still broke their diet first. Even if you see somebody who doesn't seem to bother--are they showing a lack of willpower? Or has going up against the beast 15, 20 times, only to fall, taught them helplessness? This is a risk of saying it's all genetics, it feeds into this idea of helplessness.

People might need to take responsibility, to do so they're going to need to know that there are some effective responses. And to look for what's personally effective. If something works for you and I try it, and it doesn't work for me, have I failed? Maybe. Maybe it's just too hard for me, and I should try something else. Plenty of people keep a jar of nuts around to have a small handful as the ideal snack now and again, or a jar of peanut butter and eat the odd tablespoon. Won't work for some people, they'll just binge. For the first group, having these snacks around helps them, decreases the amount of willpower necessary to stay on track. I'm in the second group, nuts and peanuts are a challenge instead of a supplement to willpower. In another context they can be helpful even for me--overdoing it on nuts at Christmas, maybe I'll gain weight that day, but I'm still better off than if I gave in to cookies etc. Understanding that my willpower is limited allows me leverage what I do have.

I remember Gary Taubes responding to a question after a talk on Youtube, I don't remember the exact question. But he said that one thing he worries about, if there ever were a paradigm change, and the carbohydrate/insulin hypothesis came to dominate--instead of assuming a general gluttony, people who remained obese might be accused of a more specific carbohydrate gluttony. Jimmy Moore gets accused of this all the time, who knows, it could be true--but I have far less propensity to obesity, clearly, than he does, and I'm quite capable of becoming overweight, if not obese, while eating a very low carb diet. Atkins got me to barely overweight instead of barely obese, it takes a more ketogenic approach to maintain a "normal" bmi. (I know bmi isn't perfect, but the mirror/tape measure/degree or absence of exercise-induced asthma show that it's a reasonable proxy for me as an individual). I can get fairly lean on a higher protein approach with restricted calories, but I'm hungrier and the leaner I get, the more I'll tend to binge. I went most of a decade without any carb cheats, dieted down to 154 and wound up binging on things like honey and maple syrup--things that hadn't even tempted me, for all that time. Switching to ketogenic ratios flipped a switch, it was remarkable. Was it easier to resist cravings? Hard to tell, since cravings stopped.
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  #4   ^
Old Mon, Dec-18-17, 10:28
M Levac M Levac is offline
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False dichotomy. The possible choice of causes is not merely either willpower or genetics, nor are these cited causes the most probable. To wit, when anybody goes LC, they benefit at least in some fashion regardless of their willpower or genetics.

I do not respect Gina Kolata in the least. Here's an article she wrote about TMAO: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/25/h...heart-risk.html The wiki page for TMAO cites that arcticle: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trimethylamine_N-oxide

I remember well how it all happened. The very same day (literally within hours of publication) the article was published, the wiki page got updated with the citation. Indeed, several other wiki pages related to TMAO got updated that same day with the same citation. I emailed Gina about that, asking her about the unlikely possibility of such prompt editing of wiki with her article on the same day. She denied any involvement with that, of course. I also commented on the talk page for carnitine: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Carnitine

So, willpower and genetics, Gina Kolata? Complete and total BS.
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  #5   ^
Old Mon, Dec-18-17, 10:36
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teaser teaser is offline
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I tend to believe Gina Kolata that she didn't edit the Wiki. There's a whole army of vegan trolls ready to make sure that any bit of data that makes meat look bad will make it into wiki.
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  #6   ^
Old Mon, Dec-18-17, 10:46
M Levac M Levac is offline
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OK, never mind Gina. Let's go with willpower and genetics. With willpower, it's simple - LC makes it stronger. With genetics, it's not so simple - we're dealing with epigenetics, and LC improves that too by removing or reducing the external pressure, i.e. carbs. This means that neither willpower nor genetics can be described as primary causes of anything.

Consider the famous "bet you can't eat just one". The obvious implication is that how many crisps we eat - once we've eaten just one - is out of our control, this ain't willpower. The second implication is that our genetics work just fine, until we eat just one, so this ain't genetics either.
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  #7   ^
Old Mon, Dec-18-17, 11:09
teaser's Avatar
teaser teaser is offline
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Willpower could be applied to eating just one, or to not eating the one, or to not taking the bag of chips out of the cupboard, or to not buying the things. Obviously we can make decisions, some are easier to make than others. Or it could be, once you're a quarter of the way into the bag, flushing the rest or tossing it in the fire. Asking "why don't I have any self control," invites the answer "because I'm weak." I think a better question is, what can I control? What is the path of least resistance that actually takes me where I want to go? We're capable of exertion, it's not unlimited.

As far as genetics go--if your twin is schizophrenic, you have something like a fifty percent chance of being schizophrenic yourself. This gives a high probability that some non-genetic factor might decide things even when the genetic background is established. But 50 percent is still 50 times the preponderance in the general population. If it were 10 percent, that would still be ten times general rates. Set up the dominoes, if I flick them with my finger, they'll go down. Lock them up in a controlled environment, you can make it exceedingly unlikely for them to fall. Which is the primary cause, the trigger, or the finger that pulls it? What is the sound of one hand clapping? Which hand is the "primary" cause?
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  #8   ^
Old Mon, Dec-18-17, 14:32
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bkloots bkloots is offline
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Is it lack of willpower that makes fat accumulate primarily on my thighs--more so as I get older? I've been stewing over this difficulty for about fifty years so far.

I did like seeing the news article (I think in Washington Post online) about the addictive qualities of sugar. A calorie is not a calorie??? Who knew?!
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  #9   ^
Old Mon, Dec-18-17, 14:39
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cotonpal cotonpal is offline
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If memory serves me Gina Kolata wrote a book some years back in which she concluded that losing weight long term was a virtual impossibility. Seems she still holds onto this notion. It's a complicated business, weight loss, but for there to be any chance of understanding obesity people need to try to shed all their assumptions and take as objective a look at things as possible. I don't think Gina Kolata has done that. My conclusion has been, for quite some time, it's the carbs, but what do I know? The New York Times doesn't ask me to write articles for them.

Jean
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  #10   ^
Old Mon, Dec-18-17, 14:40
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cotonpal cotonpal is offline
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Plan: very low carb real food
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bkloots
Is it lack of willpower that makes fat accumulate primarily on my thighs--more so as I get older? I've been stewing over this difficulty for about fifty years so far.

I did like seeing the news article (I think in Washington Post online) about the addictive qualities of sugar. A calorie is not a calorie??? Who knew?!


If your thighs had more willpower, Barbara, they would be thin .

Jean
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  #11   ^
Old Tue, Dec-19-17, 07:51
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WereBear WereBear is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cotonpal
If your thighs had more willpower, Barbara, they would be thin .

Jean




Gina Kolata is a hack, even if she does write for the NYT.

Genetic? Sure, I likely inherited this pancreas which responds to the first bite of whatever with TANKER CAR OF INSULIN. Now that I know, using larger and less frequent meals of low carb foods does wonders for me controlling my weight without using nearly the willpower I used to have to exert, constantly.

What about decades of bad nutritional advice? Who is responsible for that?
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  #12   ^
Old Tue, Dec-19-17, 08:17
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khrussva khrussva is offline
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Plan: My own - < 30 net carbs
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WereBear

What about decades of bad nutritional advice? Who is responsible for that?

Not who... What. It is undoubtedly caused by bad genes. When one spews out nonsensical dietary advice like they actually know what they are talking about, then they must have been born with some bad genes. It could be any number of bad genes that make one predisposed to being arrogant 'know it alls', too big for their britches (but only metaphorically, of course), holier than thou experts on the subject.

If I've learned anything these past four years... Be skeptical of expert opinion. It is mostly just opinion, snatched from their be-hind or last nights evening news.
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  #13   ^
Old Tue, Dec-19-17, 10:28
dcc0455 dcc0455 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by teaser
I can get fairly lean on a higher protein approach with restricted calories, but I'm hungrier and the leaner I get, the more I'll tend to binge. on things like honey and maple syrup--things that hadn't even tempted me, for all that time. Switching to ketogenic ratios flipped a switch, it was remarkable. Was it easier to resist cravings? Hard to tell, since cravings stopped.


Teaser,

I've been around 65% fat, 25%, protein, 5% net carbs, and I have experienced the occasional binges. What were the ratios that flipped your switch?
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  #14   ^
Old Tue, Dec-19-17, 10:47
teaser's Avatar
teaser teaser is offline
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Plan: ketosis/IF
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Something like 80, 15, 5, sometimes more like 85, 10, 5.

I've actually just started a couple weeks eating closer to what you describe. I get mood benefits from a more ketogenic approach, but they diminish a little with time--I have to bring protein lower to get the same effect.
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  #15   ^
Old Fri, Dec-22-17, 06:04
64dodger 64dodger is offline
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Plan: Atkins
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Anything coming from the NY Slimes is suspect.
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