Welcome to another episode of “10 Words or Less,” in which I ask brief questions of interesting people and request brief answers in return. Today’s participant is a professor at Tufts University in the subjects of nutrition and psychiatry, and director of the university’s Energy Metabolism Laboratory.
You probably know that I've been in conversation with Dr. Christopher Ochner, and this is probably the last installment in that conversation. I expect we'll continue to be in touch, but this exchange has been pleasingly unusual and I don't know that we'll approximate it. Please give Chris a hand for engaging on these points. I am.]
By Dr. Christopher Ochner
I foreshadowed this post last week, when I began my ripostes to Dr. Chris Ochner, a good guy and respected researcher on obesity, a particular interest of mine. I just want to emphasize, again, that this isn’t about Ochner; it’s about ideas that are well evident in public debate. Our interview, and the aftermath, have provided opportunities for further discussion.
An exchange I had on social media leads me again to discuss Health at Every Size, the very strong, very spirited movement that maintains that obesity isn’t the issue society should be concerned about.
I’m generally down with the message of self acceptance at the core of actress Jennifer Lawrence’s presentation to Yahoo employees, reported in this HuffPo post.
But to play off her phrasing, this is just dumb:
“You look how you look, you have to be comfortable. What are you going to do? Be hungry every single day to make other people happy? That's just dumb."
As if these are the only options?
Welcome to another installment of "10 Words or Less," in which I put brief questions to interesting people and ask for brief answers in return. To be blunt, today's participant failed miserably — "I told you Michael, diets of any kind, even word diets, probably not going to work with me," she said afterward — but she has interesting things to say, and I'll take form over format any time. She is a northern California psychologist who works often with clients who have eating disorders. She is a leading voice in the Health at Every Size movement, which might be considered a response to body-focused America.
Note: An unedited (considerably longer) video version of this interview is at the FatBoyThinMan YouTube channel.
Name: Deb Burgard
Born when, where "New Haven, I'm 55. I didn't live there very long, I actually grew up in St. Louis."
Any notable circumstance for that? "I was born on my dad's birthday."
Reside now "San Jose, and I work in Los Altos."
Family status "I just got married the whole way. I had been married in my state, and now, the feds recognize my marriage too."
Production deficiencies abound in this video installment of "10 Words or Less," but the content is great if you're willing to put up with my cut-off head and my amateurish lighting that fades with the rotation of the earth — how could I have seen that coming? The participant is a well-framed, well-lighted Deb Burgard, a psychotherapist in northern California who is a leader in the Health at any Size movement. She completely failed on the 10-words-or-less thing, but she's captivating, informed, and provocative.
“Grant me serenity to accept things I cannot change, courage to change things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”
It is true that much of the commercial weight-loss industry is composed of charlatans who lack evidence to back up their come-ons. But that's not the same as saying that there is no way to reduce one's body size sustainably.
As you know, I did (am doing) it, and I have lots of friends who have as well. But there's also the long-term, legitimate, National Weight Control Registry, which is coming up on 20 years and tracks more than 10,000 people who've lost significant weight and kept it off for significant time.
During my recent inquiries into Health At Every Size, one motivation I’ve heard from proponents is that “people should be able to listen to their bodies.” And again I have to say, I just don't get, or struggle to accept.
Reason 1: To me, this is akin to saying that I’m not going to wear glasses, because “I should be able to trust my eyes.”