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tigtog (aka Viv) is the founder of this blog. She lives in Sydney, Australia: husband, 2 kids, cat, house, garden, just enough wine-racks and (sigh) far too few bookshelves.

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8 responses to “Your friends make you fat”

  1. kate

    Even if you buy into the idea of fat being a problem (when actually being obsessed with fat, diet & exercise is a far bigger problem) the conclusion that men tend to have friends who look the same is hardly revolutionary. People generally have friends from the same ethnic background (hello shared genes!), they often work in similar environments (with similar levels of work-related activity), and then they tend to hang out together (because they enjoy each other’s company) so they eat together, and they do activities together (anyone for golf?). So whatever shared genetic tendencies they have are encouraged along by shared diet & exercise regimes.

    Why that doesn’t happen with women is interesting, but I don’t know why it would be. A friend and I got in the habit of refusing to engage in any talk of weight with our friends many years ago. The fact that we felt it necessary to formulate a policy on that is indicative of how much energy women waste thinking and talking about their efforts to ‘perfect’ their bodies.

  2. tigtog

    There’s more cheerful news from a different study:Fitness is less belly fat at any weight

    The higher a man’s cardiorespiratory fitness, the less fat he has in his abdominal cavity, Dr Jean-Pierre Despres of Hopital Laval Research Centre in Quebec and colleagues found. The relationship held true regardless of body mass index (BMI), a ratio of weight to height typically used to gauge overweight and obesity.
    [...]
    High waist circumference combined with high triglyceride levels signal a substantially increased risk of heart disease and diabetes, he explained.

    Evidence shows fit people are at reduced risk of heart disease, even though they may be overweight or even obese based on their BMI, Despres and his team note in the Archives of Internal Medicine. At the same time, people of normal weight with bulging bellies risk heart disease.

    I note that the emphasis on how “fat people can too be healthy!” does tend to cast fat people who are unhealthy as outsiders and lesser, and that’s still a problem, because they’re still humans deserving dignity. Maybe if we can demolish some of the most pervasive fat-hating myths though the unhealthy fat people will also be subjected to less fat-hatred.

  3. MatildaZQ

    Heh, I’d noticed the “gaps” in the reporting on this, as well. Yes, media reports on science are always painful, but what’s being left out of this seems more than coincidental.

    On a related note, I have noticed that since I’ve lost weight over the last two years, people almost always comment that both I and the Zombie King have really slimmed down. He’s lost a bit of weight, just because I’m cooking with less calorie-dense foods, and so on, but he’s only lost maybe 3% of his body weight or so, whereas I’ve lost more like 33%. It’s more than just politeness to him, too, as they will often keep remarking on it to me when he’s not around. Not that I care, I love my doughy guy and I didn’t lose weight for anyone but myself, but it’s happened a remarkable number of times.

  4. Mindy

    BMI is pretty unreliable I think. On TJ’s blog some time ago she was talking about BMI and one of the fitness instructors who is a tall, very heavily muscled man with less than 10% body fat, but his BMI puts him the the obese category. I don’t think it adequately allows for bone density either. As a woman with size 14 shoulder bones, hip bones and size 10 feet I don’t think that I should share a BMI with someone of the same height but much slighter build.

  5. tigtog

    BMI is notoriously unreliable. It was developed as a rough and ready reckoner for adiposity in sedentary adults over a century ago. Significant muscle mass confounds BMI totally, as do childhood growth spurts.

  6. tigtog

    Sorry, for clarity this clause should have an added phrase:

    Significant muscle mass confounds BMI totally as an indicator of adiposity.

    Every front row in either code of rugby is technically obese according to the BMI. Of course by other measures of adiposity they have low levels of subcutaneous fat and when their cardiovascular fitness is tested it is superior to most people with a much lower BMI.

    BMI is an arbitrary number which has been elevated into this almost holy signifier of health, just because calculating BMI is easy whereas taking other more rigorous measurements of adiposity and actual fitness take time and money.

  7. tigtog

    Three in a row!

    Yeah, Mindy: bone density and body type (ecto/meso/endomorph) are confounders for BMI reliability as well. I’m only medium height but I’ve always been about 10kg heavier in actuality than what people estimate me to be – I just have heavy bones and dense muscle mass.

    That said, I am currently well overweight and not just according to BMI either, as a result of illness and medication side effects combining to make me sedentary (gradually improving). But if anyone tried to say my fat was making me unhealthy I’d point out that they’ve put the cart before the horse – my ill-health is what made me fat.

  8. Pandagon :: Having fat friends does not hurt your standing in the patriarchy :: July :: 2007

    [...] What was not emphasized in most reports: The correlation between fat friends and gaining weight only held for men. [...]

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