Eat This Way

 
Is a new study labeling all fat people as eating disordered? Author and fat activist Kim Brittingham shares her thoughts.


I’m all in favor of research designed to stamp out disease.  But from a steady diet of university studies, academia spits out the occasional item of junk food.

Such is the study led by Jennifer Temple of the University at Buffalo as detailed in the August issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Temple’s study administered portions of snack foods high in combinations of sugar, fat and/or salt to female subjects.  Subjects were divided into two groups: the obese, and the non-obese.  The subjects’ tendency to overeat the snack foods was studied and the eating habits of the two groups compared.

The study concluded, in the simplest terms, that non-obese women were more likely than obese women to abandon a snack food after two straight weeks of consuming it, even if it was their favorite.  In other words, after two weeks, thin women “don’t ever want to see a potato chip again”, whereas fat women keep on eating–sometimes even with the awareness that they were no longer enjoying the food.

Maybe Temple was hoping to uncover a platinum nugget that would lead to a fat-free world.  But is it me, or is there something incredibly irresponsible about approaching a scientific study with such transparent prejudice from the get-go? 

Temple didn’t study one group of random female subjects.  She corralled them into categories of fat and non-fat before studying them, revealing her deep-seated assumption that fat people patently eat differently than thin people.

Temple’s approach attempts to draw conclusions that sweep thin overeaters under the rug and that unjustly label all fat people as eating disordered.

I’ve been in group therapy with fellow compulsive overeaters, some of whom were slim.  I’ve known women from genetically stout families who were not routine overeaters.  There are plenty of binge-eaters who are so terrified of fat phobia, they vomit to maintain an “acceptable” weight.  Some people got fat by yo-yo dieting after a moderate pregnancy weight gain.

With all these possible exceptions to Temple’s “rule”, how scientifically responsible is her study?  And how applicable the results to anything?

Furthermore, her experiment is a waste of time and resources used to uncover what is already better understood by more broad-minded scholars, who’ve taken their research to a more helpful degree of study.  Says Temple,

“We’re trying… to see if obese people might be more susceptible to having an increased response to repeated food administration.”

If you read Dr. David Kessler’s book The End of Overeating, you’re already aware of the existing evidence that certain people–whether they’re currently obese or not–may be predisposed to developing “the more you eat, the more you want to eat” tendencies via the brain. 

Ms. Temple’s study does nothing to add to such research.  It introduces nothing groundbreaking and new to the masses of obese overeaters.  It does nothing to aid the struggles of non-obese overeaters, or to ease the burdens of obese people who don’t overeat. 

Why, then, do our universities put money behind such wasteful, sloppy research?

Kim Brittingham is a fat activist and author of the forthcoming book Read My Hips. Read more of her writing at blog.kimwrites.com.

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