The (Literal) Toxic Effects of the Obsession with Body Weight
Last week I discussed the dangerous effects of the current nutritional trends, diet and “wellness” culture messages, and medical approaches that are hyper- focused on shrinking body sizes due the misleading association of “obesity” to chronic diseases. I highlighted how this viewpoint is not only psychologically damaging by its creating weight-based stigma of larger bodies, it is also keeping many people of all sizes imprisoned in dangerous disordered eating patterns. Especially concerning is that these dysfunctional dietary practices are being normalized, moralized, and even advocated for by various experts in the health field. I stated in my accompanying video to my article that this is not just creating societal harm, but the “science” and inaccurate medical associations between “obesity” and diseases are being used as medical weapons to “scare the health and forks” out of people.
More “Obesity” Associations That Are Scientifically Flawed, Yet Culturally & Medically Accepted
Although there may be a link between two factors in a study, even the most junior scientist is taught not to confuse an “association with causation.” This is due to the many unexpected and “lurking” variables that also contribute to an experiment’s results. These inaccurate claims of labeling a cause for an associative influence are common and exemplified in the recent genome association studies. Researchers are often not reporting that other environmental aspects, genetic variations, and multiple interacting cellular networks could also be accounting for the significant reports explained in their findings. (source, source, source, source, source, source)
In regard to studies on increased weight being a risk factor for more chronic diseases, it has been shown time and again that there is an “obesity paradox” which counters the accepted meme that body size determines metabolic health. For example, comparison studies have found that only when “obese” people are exposed to toxicants, metabolic symptoms emerge. Furthermore, these derangements in body systems aren’t isolated to larger bodies but are also found in thinner bodies. In fact, some studies equate being underweight as more of a risk factor in heart disease than obesity. (source, source, source, source, source)
My point is that body weight and health outcomes are not truly a “paradox.” Variations in risk for diseases in individuals exist because people and their specific environmental exposures and genetics differ based on biochemical individuality. It greatly bothers me that one version of this association is deemed more negatively based on cultural preference of idealized bodies! (source, source, source, source) . (Note that these risk factors for “obesity” of epidemiological factors are also risk factors for all diseases, not just for “fatness”!)
The Theory of Food Addiction
Many in the health field are demonizing food choices and ways of eating as the “cause” of the world’s “problem-at-large.” If food is linked to the “obesity epidemic,” it is swimming in a pool of multiple factors that contribute to body weight. Although there may be truth to the fact that the chemicals in a food are interacting with other environmental triggers, one’s microbiome, genetics, stress resilience, and other factors to trigger more health problems, many authorities in nutrition are going so far as to state that some foods are “bad” and “addictive.” (Regrettably, this includes me at one time.)
Moving beyond the negative health and ethical implications of using shame as motivation for any behavior or choice, this is pointless. It is blaming one factor on a “problem” that doesn’t even exist! (Note, if you want to discuss health outcomes and environmental factors linked to food quality, that’s a different argument.)
Followers of the “food addiction” theory believe that easier availability and access to “hyperpalatable” processed foods are the main culprits for the recent global rise in higher body mass indexes (BMIs). These foods are linked to the creation of unwelcome “rewarding” signals in the brain. This results in a “set-up” of the imbibing “victims” to become “obese” based on the binge-reward cycle these food substances perpetuate. This is accompanied by the audacity of one with a “weak willpower” to dare to seek the pleasure naturally derived from eating food!
This “food science” equates food addiction to other addictions, such as alcoholism and heroin dependency. It states genetic factors, pleasure, predispositions, and environmental influences interact with these “fake foods” to make many, if not all, “addicted” to them. (source, source, source, source)
Scientifically speaking, I already sourced the issues with associative genetic studies and observational studies above. These apply here as well.
As a comparison, this is like stating everyone who drinks alcohol will become an alcoholic. It is also inferring that sugar is equal in addictive properties to heroin. I know people who eat sugar and aren’t particularly driven to eat more, but I am not aware of a heroin addict that can “shoot up” for a day and drop it like a hot potato.
In a follow up article, I’m going to discuss the caveats to studies that I previously overlooked when I provided “evidence” that certain foods are “addictive for all.” These studies did not control for:
- the stigma associated with being in a larger body
- the effects of chronic dieting on a person’s biology and psychology
This material is for information purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prescribe for any illness. You should check with your doctor regarding implementing any new strategies into your wellness regime. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. (Affiliation link.)
Disclaimer: This information is applicable ONLY for therapeutic quality essential oils. This information DOES NOT apply to essential oils that have not been tested for purity and standardized constituents. There is no quality control in the United States, and oils labeled as “100% pure” need only to contain 5% of the actual oil. The rest of the bottle can be filled with fillers and sometimes toxic ingredients that can irritate the skin. The studies are not based solely on a specific brand of an essential oil, unless stated. Please read the full study for more information.