by Marion Nestle
Sep 21 2007

Debate: Is overweight a problem or not?

I am indebted to Joel Moskowitz of UC Berkeley’s Center for Family and Community Health for passing along this amazing series of debates from the L.A. Times. This week, Kelly Brownell (a psychologist at Yale) and Paul Campos (a lawyer from Colorado) debate whether rising rates of obesity even exist let alone constitute a cause for concern. The debates were published over the course of a week: September 17, September 18, September 19, September 20. Enjoy (?). Decide for yourself.

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  • Mark D.

    Continually baffling studies and opinions on this as I see it. If one were just take observation and common sense as initial indicators, it is hard not to see the changes going on — consuming more food, exercising less (relative to the food consumption increases). I don’t need research to confirm this, go into any store, restaurant, or cafe and notice the size of portions. As for the exercise part, only my gut, but I know I exercise less than I used to and most of my friends do to…just my little world, but I think I am seeing these trends and living them, unfortunately, in many cases.

  • Hrm… well, there was 20 minutes of my life I’d like to have back. One of them (Kelley, I believe) seemed to be speaking more or less sense, but the other one used some of the worst rhetorical tactics I’ve ever seen. I am sick to death of the “Not One Scientific Study Showing X” claim. Do we really NEED rigorous scientific studies to show us that our portions are bigger than ever? Do we need a scientific study to “prove” that we’re more sedentary than ever? Good grief, people, what a red herring! And do we have a longer life expectancy than ever? Yes, we do, thanks to massive improvements in *treatment*, not due to better health overall. Oy vey.

    Does obesity cause/correlate with all kinds of terrible health risks? I dunno–signs point to yes, as far as I can see, but I’ve not surveyed the literature carefully here. But the proponent of “The Obesity Myth” used such terrible argumentation that I’m unlikely to trust *anything* he claims, no matter how reasonable it might sound. Barring any useful evidence to the contrary, I’ll stick with my usual methods: eat whole foods, not too much of them, enjoy what I eat, and exercise (look familiar, Ms. Nestle?) =)