Maintenance Phase: Is Being Fat Bad For You?
November 17, 2021 3:01 PM - Subscribe

For nearly four decades, Americans have heard a simple story about health, longevity and obesity. This week, we learn it’s a little more complicated.  Thanks to Katherine Flegal, Paul Campos, Jeff Hunger and Jason Salemi for helping us research and fact-check this episode!
posted by bq (12 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
Show notes and many many reference links available here.
posted by bq at 3:40 PM on November 17


Aubrey Gordon's book on FanFare

Michael Hobbes on obesity for HuffPo and on the front page

The podcast in the NY Times and on the front page

Katherine Flegal's article, link broken in show notes, about Willett's behavior.


I love this podcast, this episode was delayed a week and I was checking for it every day. Aubrey and Michael have a great rapport.

I was NOT expecting Walter Willett's name to appear in this episode! I'm familiar with him as the steward of the Nurses Health Study, one of the most influential pieces of epidemiology in existence. I bought his book for my grandmother in the early 2000s after she had a heart attack. He's also one of the pillars of the plant-based eating movement.

I was expecting this episode to be more of a 'examination of the science' episode than a 'blow-by-blow of academic gossip' episode, but I fully enjoyed the gossip.
posted by bq at 4:03 PM on November 17 [1 favorite]


Ooh thank you for starting a FanFare thread for this podcast, I would love to chat about episodes with other MeFites who listen. I wish this show came out EVERY WEEK. I haven't listened yet but will check back when I do!
posted by rogerroger at 6:19 PM on November 17


Oh gosh me too. I’ve never ever done patreon and I think I’m going to bite the bullet and pay them for the extra content.
posted by bq at 6:48 PM on November 17 [1 favorite]


bq, thank you for the nudge, I keep meaning to do that and forget. Signing up for their Patreon tonight!!
posted by rogerroger at 7:02 PM on November 17 [1 favorite]


Just did, and for some reason I'd had it in my head that it was $10/month but it's way cheaper than that (if you choose)! Can't wait to snarf up the bonus content.
posted by rogerroger at 8:01 PM on November 17 [1 favorite]


This is a very good podcast, planning on listening to this episode today. I've been working my way through the archives, Gordon and Hobbes have a great rapport.
posted by skewed at 9:37 AM on November 18 [2 favorites]


This was a really good listen. This issue is such a huge and complex one, and this area of study so fraught, that I always wish the podcasts could be 6 hours long, or that they could write a textbook, because there's just so much I feel I'm missing.

A few thoughts:
- they addressed it briefly but I was wondering how much gender played a role here. It really seemed like sexism that an established male researcher seemed to spend years of his life targeting a female researcher and using ad hominem attacks, but I don't know enough about the larger context to know if this is true.
- I wanted to know more about how this "feud"/"controversy" was viewed in the larger field. There was a lot of focus on the conflict between the 2 researchers, which was interesting and dramatic, but I wanted to know more about the results of that symposium set up to take down the researcher's work, etc. I think this is where having outside experts speak would come in handy.
- It was a point well made that BMI is so problematic but in order to have your research be in dialogue with other research in the field of weight/body size, you have to use it.
- I was kind of down after listening to this! Usually I find a lot of funny things in their podcasts but this one was just kinda depressing to me. It sucked that this researcher seemed to have her career damaged by a moralizing, fatphobic blowhard.
posted by rogerroger at 6:03 PM on November 19 [1 favorite]


I was also down after listening to this, but I knew I would be. It definitely triggered some of my own internalized fatphobia. Which is something that happens sometimes with this show - but I stick with it because it’s really worth it in the end for me to have this info.

I was honestly relieved when Mike announced there was a protagonist. This is a really tough subject and I was glad to have a story to follow through it, and even a villain.
posted by lunasol at 7:43 PM on November 19 [1 favorite]


I just love this podcast. This was a tough episode, but they do manage to make it entertaining for sure.
posted by BlahLaLa at 10:36 AM on November 20 [1 favorite]


I listened to the Oprah episode about the wagon of fat this weekend, very interesting, i remember what a huge deal that was at the time, but only dimly remembered any of the details.
posted by skewed at 7:58 AM on November 22


I have to give a shout-out to their Patreon (which I joined earlier in the thread, sorry for spamming I'm just excited to talk about MP) - I just listened to the July bonus episode about fad diets submitted by listeners, and it did NOT disappoint. I was expecting the bonus episodes to be lower-caliber and just chatty but they seem well-crafted to me, if a bit less in-depth. Also, you'll never guess the one weird fad diet Michael tried in the '90s!
posted by rogerroger at 10:15 AM on November 23 [1 favorite]


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