What Causes Obesity

a complex, chronic condition

As someone who has struggled with my weight for a good chunk of my life, I was fascinated by this article in The New York Times in November 2022. Scientists Don’t Agree on What Causes Obesity, but They Know What Doesn’t. It should be sharable.

“That’s not to say the researchers disagreed on everything. The three-day meeting was infused with an implicit understanding of what obesity is not: a personal failing.” That messaging had been pervasive most of my life.

“No presenter argued that humans collectively lost willpower around the 1980s, when obesity rates took off, first in high-income countries‌, then in much of the rest of the world. Not a single scientist said our genes changed in that short time. Laziness, gluttony‌‌ , and sloth were not referred to as obesity’s helpers.”

The stereotypes have been… unhelpful in getting most people to shed pounds. Yet it seems as though “well-meaning” people would offer unsolicited  “advice.”

Starving doesn’t work

This piece from Mount Sinai about diets for rapid weight loss is true in my experience: “People who lose weight very quickly are much more likely to regain the weight over time than people who lose weight slowly through less drastic diet changes and physical activity. The weight loss is a bigger stress for the body, and the hormonal response to the weight loss is much stronger.”

NYT: “In stark contrast to a prevailing societal view of obesity, which assumes people have full control over their body size, they didn’t blame individuals for their condition, the same way we don’t blame people suffering from the effects of undernutrition, like stunting and wasting.

“The researchers instead referred to obesity as a complex, chronic condition, and they were meeting to get to the bottom of why humans have, collectively, grown larger over the past half-century. To that end, they shared a range of mechanisms that might explain the global obesity surge.

“And their theories, however diverse, made one thing obvious: As long as we treat obesity as a personal responsibility issue, its prevalence is unlikely to decline.” In other words, fat shaming is counterproductive.

I’m happy that there has been a degree of acceptance in fashion, even in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue starting a few years back.

Thinner or fatter?


thinner or fatter
from the Cambridge dictionary

One of those EOY questions:
Thinner or fatter?

Thinner. But you really need the bigger picture. In the first two months of 2022, I lost five pounds. I’ve lost five pounds a dozen times or more. I gained it back by mid-April and lost it again.

By mid-July, I was five pounds HEAVIER than I had been at the beginning of the year. So I decided to try Noom. (Here’s the old FTC notation: I haven’t been paid to plug Noom.)

Anyway, I was back to the year’s beginning weight by the end of July. Five pounds more off at the end of August. A quick five pounds in early September; was that COVID related?

Then I stayed there in September and half of October before losing five pounds in two weeks. It’s been prolonged, but the point is that I haven’t regained the weight. So I’m 25 pounds less than at the beginning of the year and 30 pounds less than on July 16.

The great thing, and I mean this sincerely, is that almost no one noticed. Only one person other than my wife ever mentioned it, and they notice almost everything. When you are considered obese, you can achieve stealth weight loss without anyone paying attention.

The shirt’s baggy instead of tight, but it’s the same shirt. I did need to buy a new belt, though, because – TMI – my pants started slipping down. I’d keep my left hand holding them up, which quickly got old.

The system

Let me tell you what I like about Noom. It categories foods into Green (eat all you want), Yellow (have somewhat less of those), and orange (a limit to those). But it doesn’t say, “You can’t have that.” The problem with previous diets has been the feeling of deprivation. I can NEVER have ice cream? Or pizza? What’s the point of life?!

The app tells me calorie counts and categories. It contains many brand-name items, including Panera sandwiches and Trader Joe’s entrees. Trader Joe’s BBQ Chicken Teriyaki is green and delicious, while the non-BBQ version, which I’ve not had, is yellow.

Noom has daily readings tied to psychology. It’s not just food issues but broader topics such as when one feels fear. The website indicates, “What sets us apart is that we’re a highly structured program that provides the insight, education, and skill development to help you understand the ‘why’ behind your stress, so you know how to manage it now – and always.”

What I try to do at least five days a week is eat a heavily Green breakfast and/or lunch. Breakfast is often oatmeal, banana, blueberries, maybe strawberries, 1% milk (yellow), and brown sugar (orange, but I don’t care). Sometimes, lunch is fresh spinach, a five-ounce can of tuna, and light mayo (orange, but whatever.) I can eat out or go to events without thinking they’re all traps to scuttle my goal.

And my goal is another five pounds. Then another five pounds. I’ve long found saying I’m going to get to X weight is not productive for me.

My A1C is down too, and I wasn’t even trying that hard.

May rambling #1: The Case Against Reality

I had a terrible blogging April, but because I work ahead, it wasn’t always evident.

c 19651965 edition of “Our New Age”[/caption]

The Case Against Reality. A professor of cognitive science argues that the world is nothing like the one we experience through our senses.

Song Of My Self-Help: Follow Walt Whitman’s ‘Manly Health’ Tips, appearing in the Walt Whitman Quarterly Review. It was uncovered by a University of Houston student, and includes: “The beard is a great sanitary protection to the throat.”

The Neverending Workday – A pervasive cultural norm of work devotion leaves many employees with little time for family, friends, or sleep.

In rural Maine, a life of solitude and larceny. Police say the hermit stole to survive 27 years in the woods.

What Would Happen If We Just Gave People Money?

After ‘The Biggest Loser,’ Their Bodies Fought to Regain Weight. “Contestants lost hundreds of pounds during Season 8, but gained them back. A study of their struggles helps explain why so many people fail to keep off the weight they lose.”

United Methodist Church Requires Removal of Reference to LGBTQI Christians from Worship Greetings, and, reported the next day, United Methodist clergy come out as church conference begins.


Transcending ignorance. Plus AmeriNZ weighs in, as does Funny or Die.

This isn’t just for me. It’s for everybody who needs a pep talk.

The smug style in American liberalism.

John Oliver: science reporting and Puerto Rico debt and cicadas.

Russian Insider Says State-Run Doping Fueled Olympic Gold.

Someone Put Bartolo Colon’s First Homer In The Natural, Where It Belongs.

Boston Globe: As great as David Ortiz is, Teddy Ballgame is still No. 1.

Free Comic Book Day isn’t free for everybody.

Morley Safer Stepping Down From ’60 Minutes’ After 46 Years.

President Obama delivered a commencement speech at Howard University.

WHCD: Barack Obama and Larry Wilmore. Plus An Obama Blooper Reel, from The White House Correspondents’ Association.

America operates under a crazy quilt of voting requirements, “with each state making its own laws for different populations and with challenges to those laws whipping back and forth through the courts. But if the primaries have frustrated the candidates, try being a voter in November.” Including New York.

Former NY State Assembly Speaker Sentenced to 12 Years in Prison. And former NY State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos sentenced to five years for corruption. Those were two of the three most powerful people in state government, along with Governor Andrew Cuomo.


First Listen: Bob Dylan, ‘Fallen Angels’.

Great audio/visual presentation of Billboard Top 10 songs from 1956 – 2016 (22,000 songs!)

Jaquandor: Music to write swashbucklers by.

Happy birthday to Reverend Gary Davis (April 30, 1896 – May 5, 1972) and James Brown (May 3, 1933 – December 25, 2006).

K Chuck Radio: Rare tracks.

Return of the Monkees and remembering Harry the Hipster Gibson.

What Have I Done to Deserve This? – Pet Shop Boys, with Dusty Springfield.

What does Becky mean? Here’s the history behind Beyoncé’s ‘Lemonade’ lyric that sparked a firestorm. (And me, nearly oblivious to it all.)

Keef cartoon: Nina Simone.

Local legend Ruth Pelham to close Music Mobile. Lack of funds leads the musician to close her beloved program.

Minnesota’s Broad Publicity Rights Law, The PRINCE Act, Is So Broad That It May Violate Itself.

GOOGLE alerts (me)

TWC Question Time #36: I Love You, But… Moments from your favorite comics characters you consider particularly embarrassing.

Arthur on the blog balance. I too had a terrible blogging April, but because I work ahead, it wasn’t always as evident. So we may be Blogging Twins™.

Dustbury is blogging. Chaz is my blogging hero.

AmeriNZ on Kasich dropping out of the presidential race and the REAL May Day.

Shooting Parrots is a grammar nerd.

Ted Cruz solicits me; no, that doesn’t sound right…

I goose Jaquandor; it was not painful.

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial