We Just Don’t Know.

By | May 7, 2008

I generally avoid discussing medical studies and/or “BUT FAT WILL KILL YOU!” type media here. This is for a few reasons. One is that I vigorously believe that my health is nobody’s business but my own, and that other folks’ health is no business of mine. So I tend to just shrug and turn the electronic page when these endless “Obesity Epidemic” screaming-and-running-in-circles articles do cross my path. At the end of the day, all I can really know is my own body, and my own health, so I keep my attentions there, regardless of these studies’ assertions of the Zillion Gruesome Ways that my fat is supposed to spontaneously try to kill me, any minute now.

Another reason is that, in my totally nonmedical and unauthoritative opinion, these studies are mostly a lot of crap. Most are funded by drug companies, or individuals on the payroll of the behemoth diet industry – both of which groups have an obvious interest in reaching certain conclusions. (DAMN Y’ALL, did I just allege widespread bias in medical research? DID I GO THERE? Yes, I certainly did.)

That’s why articles like this one, on msnbc.com – Got a big bottom? Now a reason to be glad – do get my attention, however briefly.

“I think it’s an important result because not only does it say that not all fat is bad, but I think it points to a special aspect of fat where we need to do more research,” [study author Dr. Ronald Kahn of Harvard Medical School in Boston] said.

I don’t pay attention to this article not because I think OH YAY, NOW FAT IS OKAY! I think fat’s effect on health is wholly subjective and dependent on the individual. It’s not because I fall into the so-called “big bottomed” category of primarily-subcutaneous-fat-havers, because I am just as skeptical of this study as I am of the ones that hysterically warn of my impending fat-imposed death.

I pay attention to this article because it’s another example of how much we really don’t know. We really don’t know what fat does, how it affects our overall health and longevity, whether it actively causes things like cancer or is merely associated with them (which is a huge difference, incidentally), or why it is that some fat folks spend their entire lives healthy as a proverbial fat horse, while others have significant fat-associated (notice I did not say causal) illnesses. We just don’t know.

I’m interested in this sort of article because it contributes to ambiguity in the conventional wisdom of how fat impacts health. And that’s a refreshing change.

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