Seriously, youse guys, I haven’t been following Tara Parker-Pope’s Well blog for the New York Times super-closely or anything, but on several occasions now it’s been hard for me to ignore the fact that her reporting keeps taking a remarkably reasonable view of health and weight, most recently in a post that’s, well, downright critical of the all-too-popular misconception that weight changes are a simple function of calories consumed and burnedâ€”especially for a mainstream publication like the Times (albeit only on one of the paper’s blogs, not in its printed pages, but still). Here’s my favorite part, with boldface emphasis from me on the ideas that were SO EXCITING to see:
â€œIâ€™m not saying throw up your hands and forget about it,â€ Dr. Friedman [Jeffrey Friedman, head of Rockefeller Universityâ€™s molecular genetics lab] said. â€œInstead of focusing on weight or appearance, focus on peopleâ€™s health. There are things people can do to improve their health significantly that donâ€™t require normalizing your weight.â€
What, you mean there might be more to health than body weight? That people might not be bomb calorimeters? That metabolism might be, oh, I don’t know, insanely complicated and not actually all that well understood? But that none of those things are really all that important because the point is we can take good care of ourselves no matter how fat or thin we are, and that said good care is way better for us than freaking out about our failure to conform to arbitrary statistical measures that don’t actually correlate all that well to fatness, which in turn doesn’t correlate all that well to wellness or lack thereof? And that maybe acknowledging those facts, pesky and contrary to popular belief though they might be, still won’t make everybody go out and develop binge eating disorders fixated on consuming only mass quantities of the most limited possible selections of calorie-dense, nutrient-poor foods? Because that might actually be unhealthy (though, I would argue, not as unhealthy as self-starvation in the name of “health”) and nobody really wants to be unhealthy even if the world is full of messages that tells us we will never be well, no matter what? Be still, my heart!