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Good or Bad Science: "Fat people are diseased, so we make fun of them."

jungleroomxjungleroomx Spicy RudolphRegistered User regular
edited August 2007 in Debate and/or Discourse
The summary is that we make fun of fat people because our body's immune system does it as a sort of defense mechanism as if it were a disease.

http://news.independent.co.uk/health/article2814756.ece
Revealed: why slim people dislike the overweight
By Roger Dobson andIan Griggs
Published: 29 July 2007
From the taunting of the chubby child in the playground to cruel jibes at fat people in work and social settings, few could doubt there is widespread prejudice against the overweight. However, according to research reported in Evolution and Human Behavior some people suffer abuse because being too fat is mistaken by the brain for a sign of disease.

Researchers say the immune system can be triggered into action at the sight of obesity because it doesn't like the look of what it sees, and associates it with infection.

Just as it orchestrates attacks on viruses and bacteria and triggers nausea at the hint of bad food, so it sends out signals of disgust in some people at the sight of an obese body that is designed to encourage avoidance and survival.

The finding comes just days after research in The New England Journal of Medicine suggested that obesity is contagious, in a social rather than bacteriological sense.

"Antipathy toward obese people is a powerful and pervasive prejudice in many contemporary populations. Our results reveal, for the first time, that this prejudice may be rooted in multiple, independent mechanisms. They provide the first evidence that obesity serves as a cue for pathogen infection,'' say the University of British Columbia researchers.

They say a behavioural immune system appears to have evolved in humans that is designed to detect body signs that are related to disease, like rashes and lesions. The sight of them triggers disgust as well as negative attitudes and avoidance. The system errs in favour of over-reacting because failure to react to a real danger could be fatal.

Researchers carried out a number of experiments, including word associations and tests where they compared the reactions and views of men and women to obesity.

The results show that people who agreed with comments such as "it really bothers me when people sneeze without covering their mouths" were more likely to agree with statement such as "if I were an employer looking to hire, I might avoid hiring a fat person". The greater the fear of disease, the stronger the negative feeling about obesity.

But Clarissa Dickson Wright, the surviving half of the Two Fat Ladies cookery duo, said the research merely served to cover up the general prejudice of narrow-minded people. "In the 1960s there were a lot of bigoted people who were anti-black, anti-Jewish, anti-everything but when they couldn't get away with that any more they turned into food-Nazis instead and began attacking people who were fat," she said. "I suspect that this is what really drives people to be negative about fat people rather than an unconscious reaction.

Ms Dickson Wright said there was an aversion in America about even using the word "fat", as she found when her programme was shown there.

"Reporters asked me: 'How do you feel about the title of the show?' and I said: 'Which part? There's two of us and I hope you're not suggesting we're not ladies.' They just couldn't say the word."

"It's a way to put sexism on the agenda," said Beth Ditto, the lead singer for The Gossip.

"All this stuff completely negates what feminism stands for, and you can't act like that's not connected to other issues."

Interesting bit at the end, where one of these fat activists think that being unhealthy is something to be proud of and that "Food Nazi's" are simply just doing to be dicks.

What say you?

Make. Time.
jungleroomx on
«13456

Posts

  • The CatThe Cat Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited July 2007
    People are robots with no capability to control their actions!

    The Cat on
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  • FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD along with you if I get drunk well I know I'm gonna be gonna be the man whoRegistered User regular
    edited July 2007
    I will have trouble accepting that there is a genetic basis for this behavior until a cross-cultural experiment is designed to eliminate cultural variables.

    Feral on
    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
  • QuidQuid I don't... what... hnnng Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Feral wrote: »
    I will have trouble accepting that there is a genetic basis for this behavior until a cross-cultural experiment is designed to eliminate cultural variables.

    Quid on
  • jungleroomxjungleroomx Spicy Rudolph Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Feral wrote: »
    I will have trouble accepting that there is a genetic basis for this behavior until a cross-cultural experiment is designed to eliminate cultural variables.

    The bigger problem I see here (and that is shown in the article) is that people want other people to be obscenely overweight. It's not healthy at all.

    jungleroomx on
    Make. Time.
  • AdrienAdrien Registered User
    edited July 2007
    The Cat wrote: »
    People are robots with no capability to control their actions!

    Cow.

    Adrien on
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  • SmasherSmasher Starting to get dizzy Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Given how perceptions of fat have changed a lot even within our own culture in the past few decades, I have trouble believing this is a significant factor in discrimination against fat people.

    Smasher on
  • Bliss 101Bliss 101 Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    It'd make more sense to me that we're programmed to see anyone who looks different as potentially diseased. For starters, it'd be a simpler mechanism to evolve: a basically abstract observation ("that guy looks different from everyone else in the cave") leading to an immunological reaction seems simpler and more straightforward than something involving an evaluation of the target's body proportions as a starting point. But what do I know; I'm not a neurologist.

    This would also reconcile the above study with the fact that obesity is treated differently in different cultures and time periods.

    Bliss 101 on
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  • The CatThe Cat Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited July 2007
    Seriously, this is on a level with those stupid evopsych 'studies' designed to prove that men are cheating whores and women are manic baby-collectors.

    The Cat on
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  • jungleroomxjungleroomx Spicy Rudolph Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    The Cat wrote: »
    Seriously, this is on a level with those stupid evopsych 'studies' designed to prove that men are cheating whores and women are manic baby-collectors.

    The idea of a real research team getting funded to find out why we make fun of fat people in itself is laughable to begin with.

    jungleroomx on
    Make. Time.
  • kaz67kaz67 Registered User
    edited July 2007
    Feral wrote: »
    I will have trouble accepting that there is a genetic basis for this behavior until a cross-cultural experiment is designed to eliminate cultural variables.

    The bigger problem I see here (and that is shown in the article) is that people want other people to be obscenely overweight. It's not healthy at all.

    I didn't get that from the article at all. Got more of a don't attack people because they are different vibe from it. If anything of late the trend seems to be getting people to develop healthier habits.

    kaz67 on
  • Bliss 101Bliss 101 Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    The Cat wrote: »
    Seriously, this is on a level with those stupid evopsych 'studies' designed to prove that men are cheating whores and women are manic baby-collectors.

    I think the retardedness comes in when people start applying these findings to justify fucked up behavior. Studying the biological basis for social behavior in and of itself is perfectly fine I think, and pretty fascinating too.

    Bliss 101 on
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  • jungleroomxjungleroomx Spicy Rudolph Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    kaz67 wrote: »
    Feral wrote: »
    I will have trouble accepting that there is a genetic basis for this behavior until a cross-cultural experiment is designed to eliminate cultural variables.

    The bigger problem I see here (and that is shown in the article) is that people want other people to be obscenely overweight. It's not healthy at all.

    I didn't get that from the article at all. Got more of a don't attack people because they are different vibe from it. If anything, of late the trend seems to be getting people to develop healthier habits.

    They use the word "food nazi's" and compare being overweight to racism and anti-semitism.

    jungleroomx on
    Make. Time.
  • kaz67kaz67 Registered User
    edited July 2007
    I think that goes back to the whole not judging people by their appearance thing. I agree is not really the best comparison but at the same time I don't think they are telling readers to go out and eat cheese burgers.

    kaz67 on
  • jungleroomxjungleroomx Spicy Rudolph Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    kaz67 wrote: »
    I think that goes back to the whole not judging people by their appearance thing. I agree is not really the best comparison but at the same time I don't think they are telling readers to go out and eat cheese burgers.

    Fair enough. I just think promoting being overweight as "Okay!" is very irresponsible. It's a condition you don't want to be in, and unlike race or body frame, it's something you can change.

    jungleroomx on
    Make. Time.
  • FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD along with you if I get drunk well I know I'm gonna be gonna be the man whoRegistered User regular
    edited July 2007
    I just think promoting being overweight as "Okay!" is very irresponsible.

    Not everybody who looks overweight is overweight and vice versa.

    Feral on
    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
  • jungleroomxjungleroomx Spicy Rudolph Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Feral wrote: »
    I just think promoting being overweight as "Okay!" is very irresponsible.

    Not everybody who looks overweight is overweight and vice versa.

    I understand this. I get that not everyone is this way, and some people can't help it.

    But there ARE people who can help it, and very well goddamn should help it, but don't and hide behind discrimination or some load about "glands" (A small portion of people who are overweight because of their thyroid can tell you its their thyroid, the rest use "glands"). There may be some psychological issues behind it, but whatever it may be obesity is extraordinarily bad for you and should be either treated as a symptom or a condition of something else, psychological or physiological.

    jungleroomx on
    Make. Time.
  • kaz67kaz67 Registered User
    edited July 2007
    Well I think the main thing is to try and treat everyone with respect regardless of what they look like. That isn't to say bad eating habits should be encouraged but you aren't doing people any favors by destroying their self esteem. Doing so probably just compounds the problem and creates a backlash.

    kaz67 on
  • FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD along with you if I get drunk well I know I'm gonna be gonna be the man whoRegistered User regular
    edited July 2007
    But there ARE people who can help it, and very well goddamn should help it, but don't and hide behind discrimination or some load about "glands" (A small portion of people who are overweight because of their thyroid can tell you its their thyroid, the rest use "glands"). There may be some psychological issues behind it, but whatever it may be obesity is extraordinarily bad for you and should be either treated as a symptom or a condition of something else, psychological or physiological.

    None of this justifies nasty treatment of fat people. The pro-fat movement exists as a response to perceived cultural and personal discrimination.

    Feral on
    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
  • The Muffin ManThe Muffin Man Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    The Cat wrote: »
    People are robots with no capability to control their actions!

    Shut up, no one asked you. GOD.

    I'm sorry. I see someone I normally disagree with and don't know how to react, so my body insults her.
    Because this is science.
    Not finding a way to be an insensitive douchebag.

    For those not in the know, I agree with Cat entirely on this point with her sarcastic remark.
    Not everybody who looks overweight is overweight and vice versa.
    Seriously.
    Ever seen a weightlifter? They look like they're completely obese and out of shape, but I think setting world records for strength kind of means they're at least in SOME decent shape, considering the training they have to do.

    The Muffin Man on
  • GlalGlal Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    The Cat wrote: »
    Seriously, this is on a level with those stupid evopsych 'studies' designed to prove that men are cheating whores and women are manic baby-collectors.
    Yeah! Babies EVERYWHERE!

    Glal on
  • AdrienAdrien Registered User
    edited July 2007
    Yes.

    Adrien on
    tmkm.jpg
  • TastyfishTastyfish Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    They aren't exactly normal though, wouldn't suprise me if they weren't all that healthy (though more due to putting wierd and unnatural strains on the body as much as things you'd generally associate with being overweight).

    If we're going the evo-pysch route anyway, I'd guess that its more due to people just being complete dicks since if I make you seem completely unbreedable with the more attractive I start to look. Its more 'just making stuff up' than 'science' though.

    On a final note, I'm sure Beth Ditto has got more fame and media coverage for being fat than her music the number of times she's gets rolled out whenever these articles come around.

    Tastyfish on
  • GorakGorak Registered User
    edited July 2007
    Not everybody who looks overweight is overweight and vice versa.
    Seriously.
    Ever seen a weightlifter? They look like they're completely obese and out of shape, but I think setting world records for strength kind of means they're at least in SOME decent shape, considering the training they have to do.

    Weight lifters do not look obese unless this is some strange new definition of obese tht I've not come across before.

    Gorak on
  • Bliss 101Bliss 101 Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Gorak wrote: »
    Not everybody who looks overweight is overweight and vice versa.
    Seriously.
    Ever seen a weightlifter? They look like they're completely obese and out of shape, but I think setting world records for strength kind of means they're at least in SOME decent shape, considering the training they have to do.

    Weight lifters do not look obese unless this is some strange new definition of obese tht I've not come across before.

    Those with barrel-shaped midsections kind of do, depending on the clothes they're wearing.

    Bliss 101 on
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  • ege02ege02 __BANNED USERS
    edited July 2007
    I think more research is needed before any definite conclusions are reached, but the premise is pretty interesting and worth looking into. Especially their comparison to how people have evolved to be disgusted by rashes and whatnot makes sense.

    ege02 on
    Medopine wrote: »
    Fuck that woman going "oh god oh no!!"

    It's nature, bitch
  • jungleroomxjungleroomx Spicy Rudolph Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Bliss 101 wrote: »
    Gorak wrote: »
    Not everybody who looks overweight is overweight and vice versa.
    Seriously.
    Ever seen a weightlifter? They look like they're completely obese and out of shape, but I think setting world records for strength kind of means they're at least in SOME decent shape, considering the training they have to do.

    Weight lifters do not look obese unless this is some strange new definition of obese tht I've not come across before.

    Those with barrel-shaped midsections kind of do, depending on the clothes they're wearing.

    Well, yeah, they look stout.

    The fat guy from Lost looks fat.

    jungleroomx on
    Make. Time.
  • LibrarianThorneLibrarianThorne Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    As a fat guy, I've come to understand and deal with the fact that my body is pretty much always going to be roughly pear shaped. I'm not horribly obese, nor will I be, but I'm not approaching healthy either. My weight doesn't really impact anything I do (games, posting on the webs, that sort of stuff), but I'm looking forward to moving to a large city where I can walk most places. Whilst I was in Japan (and, thusly, walking most places) I lost quite a lot of weight. Then again, I was eating much better than I do while I'm here.

    Bah. To the study, totally ridiculous. Fat was seen as a sign of wealth and good standing until, oh, about 80 years or so ago. Genetic predisposition my ass (which yes, is rather large).

    LibrarianThorne on
  • MrMisterMrMister A pup must first get in the water to be successful as a seal!Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    The Cat wrote: »
    Seriously, this is on a level with those stupid evopsych 'studies' designed to prove that men are cheating whores and women are manic baby-collectors.

    Evo Psych is a bankrupt field; yeah, women love purses because the weight is similar to having a baby slung under your arm.

    MrMister on
  • Apothe0sisApothe0sis Have you ever questioned the nature of your reality? Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    I find that an entirely plausible explanation.

    Apothe0sis on
    Tide goes in. Tide goes out.
    Es-annon NEVA 4GET
  • Loren MichaelLoren Michael Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Ehh. I'm reading my way through The Moral Animal right now.

    From that perspective, I'm not seeing the problems with evolutionary psych.

    Loren Michael on
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  • The CatThe Cat Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited July 2007
    Glal wrote: »
    The Cat wrote: »
    Seriously, this is on a level with those stupid evopsych 'studies' designed to prove that men are cheating whores and women are manic baby-collectors.
    Yeah! Babies EVERYWHERE!

    I love that ad.

    t bliss: I wouldn't be so rabid if it wasn't for the fact that most evopsych researchers themselves are falling into the trap you mention.

    The Cat on
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  • OctoparrotOctoparrot Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    But there ARE people who can help it, and very well goddamn should help it, but don't and hide behind discrimination or some load about "glands" (A small portion of people who are overweight because of their thyroid can tell you its their thyroid, the rest use "glands"). There may be some psychological issues behind it, but whatever it may be obesity is extraordinarily bad for you and should be either treated as a symptom or a condition of something else, psychological or physiological.

    Yes, Hypothyroidism is pretty fucking obvious.

    Octoparrot on
    the GOP shouldn't give a rats ass about them since they won't vote for them. If someone won't vote for you they might as well not exist.
  • MalkorMalkor Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Wait, in the past wasn't a full body (not necessarily fat though) a sign of not starving/wealth and privalege?

    Malkor on
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  • jungleroomxjungleroomx Spicy Rudolph Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Shit, personally I've gone from almost 300 pounds to the 175 where I'm at now. Took a few years, and it helps I'm doing a heavy labor job while attending college (10 pounds a month as of late) . Biggest thing is I just put down the Snickers and went outside once in a while.

    Losing weight isn't hard, it's changing your habits.

    jungleroomx on
    Make. Time.
  • Loren MichaelLoren Michael Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Yeah, I almost never eat candystuff any more. I almost never have soft drinks either. And I like eating a lot of foods that are good for me.

    Loren Michael on
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  • The CatThe Cat Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited July 2007
    Malkor wrote: »
    Wait, in the past wasn't a full body (not necessarily fat though) a sign of not starving/wealth and privalege?

    Same as it is now anywhere where Vogue hasn't wormed its way into people's lives :P

    The Cat on
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  • ViolentChemistryViolentChemistry __BANNED USERS
    edited July 2007
    So wait, are we talking about whether or not people have evolved to be genetically predisposed to make fun of fat people or are we just talking about "ololz stoopid fatties"?

    ViolentChemistry on
    DAMM
    Drunks Against Mad Mothers
  • NeedleNeedle Registered User
    edited July 2007
    Last time I checked people ganged up on everything that diverts from the norm. Law of the schoolyard.

    Needle on
  • SnarfmasterSnarfmaster Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    Bliss 101 wrote: »
    Gorak wrote: »
    Not everybody who looks overweight is overweight and vice versa.
    Seriously.
    Ever seen a weightlifter? They look like they're completely obese and out of shape, but I think setting world records for strength kind of means they're at least in SOME decent shape, considering the training they have to do.

    Weight lifters do not look obese unless this is some strange new definition of obese tht I've not come across before.

    Those with barrel-shaped midsections kind of do, depending on the clothes they're wearing.

    Well, yeah, they look stout.

    The fat guy from Lost looks fat.

    No, what he's talking about is in powerlifting and olympic weightlifting the heaviest weight classes. Typically in weight controlled classes the lifters are lean. But in a unrestricted weight class the guys don't care so much, since having greater mass is only to their advantage.

    for example here's one of the best olympic weightlifters ever.
    reza210_lg.jpg

    and here are some of the best powerlifters, with a competitive bench press of over 1000 lbs
    lattigene.jpg

    They might be strong as hell and be able to carry their weight because of their size but they certainly aren't what the average person classifies "a healthy weight".

    Snarfmaster on
  • geckahngeckahn Registered User regular
    edited July 2007
    The very serious powerlifting and oly-lifting communities are small enough to completely write them off when talking about this shit.

    geckahn on
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