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"There Are No Fat People In Paris," by Ta-Nehisi Coates in The Atlantic Monthly


DonRocks
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This actually conforms with my belief that modern Americans don't get nearly enough exercise.  When you look at pictures of ordinary people during the 1940s and 50s, you rarely see fat people in them.  When I was growing up, the "fat kids" were few and far between.  The rise of suburbia made the car(s) a necessity and also made walking to anyplace nearly impossible. When most of us travel to places like Rome or Paris, we think nothing of walking all day--with the occasional ride on a bus or subway.  And have to climb stairs all the time.  We've mostly gotten away from all that--thus the need for gym memberships. Once I learned to ride a bike, I would take off in the mornings and ride around all day. I don't think most parents these days would allow that.

David Baldacci is known for his mystery/thriller novels; however, years ago, he published the lovely novel Wish You Well. This took place in the 1930s (IIRC) and concerned a young boy visiting his Great-Grandmother in rural Virginia when his young parents were killed in a car crash. The description of their daily lives was one of unending labor from sunup to sundown, just to sustain themselves. Anybody who read Cold Mountain also realized how difficult food was to come by for somebody travelling on foot through sparsely-populated areas and the difficulties of living on a farm when you were clueless. I've heard that travelling through large parts of Africa poses similar problems.  Here, you can't pass more that a door or two without finding places that sell pizzas, cupcakes, ice cream, burgers and fries, etc.  All those things used to be only for special treats when I was a kid and I ate in one of the earliest McDonald's in California only on rare occasions.

Sermon over.

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Go spend a couple weeks in Asia and then spend a couple hours at JFK waiting for your connection back to DC...that's an eye opening experience. Or save yourself some money and drive down to Barefoot Landing in N. Myrtle Beach during the summer...scary.

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This article is a load of BS. An observational study seeking to confirm a predetermined hypothesis with an n of 1. French obesity rates are increasing at a similar rate to the rest of the OECD and mirror trends in the rest of the OECD. Globally, urban dwellers, those with more education and those who are wealthier tend to be thinner. But all are getting fatter. Hence you go to NYC and everyone looks thinner, go to Texas and they look fatter. You want a real shock check out Disney World or the Mall of America. Also, physical activity and this trendy new theory of "discomfort" has less impact on obesity than intake, although physical activity is beneficial for a host of other reasons and inactivity is bad for all the obvious ones. It is very difficult to exercise pounds away without a concurrent change in diet. Weight is all about what and most importantly how much you eat. The traditional French diet simply included less food, albeit often rich food in small portions, plain and simple. No magic, just thermodynamics.

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This article is a load of BS. An observational study seeking to confirm a predetermined hypothesis with an n of 1. French obesity rates are increasing at a similar rate to the rest of the OECD and mirror trends in the rest of the OECD. Globally, urban dwellers, those with more education and those who are wealthier tend to be thinner. But all are getting fatter. Hence you go to NYC and everyone looks thinner, go to Texas and they look fatter. You want a real shock check out Disney World or the Mall of America. Also, physical activity and this trendy new theory of "discomfort" has less impact on obesity than intake, although physical activity is beneficial for a host of other reasons and inactivity is bad for all the obvious ones. It is very difficult to exercise pounds away without a concurrent change in diet. Weight is all about what and most importantly how much you eat. The traditional French diet simply included less food, albeit often rich food in small portions, plain and simple. No magic, just thermodynamics.

Yes!

What is sad is to see entire obese families, shoving Flintstonian turkey thighs in their greasy maws. At least my generation had childhoods of freedom to roam, play, run and bike to our hearts content, only curbed by the sun setting or the ring of the dinner bell.

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This article is a load of BS. An observational study seeking to confirm a predetermined hypothesis with an n of 1. French obesity rates are increasing at a similar rate to the rest of the OECD and mirror trends in the rest of the OECD. Globally, urban dwellers, those with more education and those who are wealthier tend to be thinner. But all are getting fatter. Hence you go to NYC and everyone looks thinner, go to Texas and they look fatter. You want a real shock check out Disney World or the Mall of America. Also, physical activity and this trendy new theory of "discomfort" has less impact on obesity than intake, although physical activity is beneficial for a host of other reasons and inactivity is bad for all the obvious ones. It is very difficult to exercise pounds away without a concurrent change in diet. Weight is all about what and most importantly how much you eat. The traditional French diet simply included less food, albeit often rich food in small portions, plain and simple. No magic, just thermodynamics.

My (French) MIL is appalled at how France has declined in terms of "eating habits." The introduction of cheap, fast food has produced young people 'walking around on the sidewalk, stuffing their faces like pigs while they walk,' she told me, years ago. And although I can't prove it, I think she's right, and I also think that you'll notice it more in France since their baseline was at a much better level than ours.

lekkerwijn has a vastly superior knowledge than I do on the subject, but I can say with supreme confidence that a cessation of exercise without a compensatory change in diet can have a dramatic impact on a person's well-being.

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This article is a load of BS. An observational study seeking to confirm a predetermined hypothesis with an n of 1. French obesity rates are increasing at a similar rate to the rest of the OECD and mirror trends in the rest of the OECD. Globally, urban dwellers, those with more education and those who are wealthier tend to be thinner. But all are getting fatter. Hence you go to NYC and everyone looks thinner, go to Texas and they look fatter. You want a real shock check out Disney World or the Mall of America. Also, physical activity and this trendy new theory of "discomfort" has less impact on obesity than intake, although physical activity is beneficial for a host of other reasons and inactivity is bad for all the obvious ones. It is very difficult to exercise pounds away without a concurrent change in diet. Weight is all about what and most importantly how much you eat. The traditional French diet simply included less food, albeit often rich food in small portions, plain and simple. No magic, just thermodynamics.

I couldn't agree with this sentiment more. My own evidence being a study with a sample size of 1 ;) but having been unable to exercise for the past 4 months due to a crappy rib injury, I have been able to maintain my weight or in some cases actually continue to lose weight just sticking with eating the way I've found to work for me. The only time I've seen a little of that weight come back is when I've gone on vacation and gone off the rails in terms of what I'm eating and drinking. Exercise is incredibly important for so many reasons, but it's not as simple as calories in/calories out as what you eat affects how your body metabolizes.

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Exercise is incredibly important for so many reasons, but it's not as simple as calories in/calories out as what you eat affects how your body metabolizes.

But if you don't exercise, your body metabolism slows down, and eventually, it will slow down dramatically.

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I find this thread quite mean*.  Yes, there are obese people in the US.  Yes, the US has crappy eating habits.  Yes, our nationa as a whole needs to exercise more. Yes, many of you are lucky to not have an obesity problem.  What gives us the right to virtually gasp and make disparaging comments about those with a weight problem?  It's off topic from the article and a conversation like this does nothing but hurt people and prove that this board can be elitist.

*Barbara's post not included.  

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My (French) MIL is appalled at how France has declined in terms of "eating habits." The introduction of cheap, fast food has produced young people 'walking around on the sidewalk, stuffing their faces like pigs while they walk,' she told me, years ago. And although I can't prove it, I think she's right, and I also think that you'll notice it more in France since their baseline was at a much better level than ours.

lekkerwijn has a vastly superior knowledge than I do on the subject, but I can say with supreme confidence that a cessation of exercise without a compensatory change in diet can have a dramatic impact on a person's well-being.

You flatter me.  Well-being and weight are two different things that are neither necessary nor specific.  Decreasing exercise without decreasing intake will certainly lead to weight gain.  Decreasing exercise while also decreasing intake may keep your weight stable, but will also likely lead to a deterioration of well-being.  The most powerful way to lose weight is to eat less.  More exercise without a change in intake is not a gaurantee of weight loss.  The energy balance equation is not a 1:1 as we previously thought.

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I find this thread quite mean*.  Yes, there are obese people in the US.  Yes, the US has crappy eating habits.  Yes, our nationa as a whole needs to exercise more. Yes, many of you are lucky to not have an obesity problem.  What gives us the right to virtually gasp and make disparaging comments about those with a weight problem?  It's off topic from the article and a conversation like this does nothing but hurt people and prove that this board can be elitist.

*Barbara's post not included.  

I have a guess, and I'm not claiming a "right" as much as suggesting an explanation.  I have personally observed resentment by those who care for their bodies as they subsidize increasing health care costs that are the result of treating preventable diseases incurred by those who abuse their bodies.  I think obesity has become the new smoking, and until we can figure out a way to have a serious conversation about the related health care costs without having it deteriorate into a volley of shaming vs. defensiveness, there will be mean-spirited things said.

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My gut reaction seeing the headline was thinking it would be an anti-fat rant, but it's not.  The article is about culture as a whole

 
 He also makes the point that there are few/no super fit athletes walking down the streets either, because the French are not obsessed (in general) with perfect abs and going to the gym.  The huge dichotomy between couch potato and gym fanatic is an American thing.
 
The headline gets more clicks than something bland about French vs. American culture, but that's what the piece is really about.  And as French culture changes and may emphasize less exercise as part of daily life, more mindless eating, and American-type traits, the observations would also change.
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My gut reaction seeing the headline was thinking it would be an anti-fat rant, but it's not.  The article is about culture as a whole

 
He also makes the point that there are few/no super fit athletes walking down the streets either, because the French are not obsessed (in general) with perfect abs and going to the gym.  The huge dichotomy between couch potato and gym fanatic is an American thing.
 
The headline gets more clicks than something bland about French vs. American culture, but that's what the piece is really about.  And as French culture changes and may emphasize less exercise as part of daily life, more mindless eating, and American-type traits, the observations would also change.

I read it as an anti-extremes, pro-moderation rant.  Although it wasn't really ranty, which I suppose was the point.

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I read it as an anti-extremes, pro-moderation rant.  Although it wasn't really ranty, which I suppose was the point. 

Yes, it was pro-moderation.  The headline was provocative and predisposed people to think ranty.  It got people in an anti-obesity mindset from the start.

That kind of thing drives me crazy, as people often look at the headline and may scan just a bit of the article (or not at all) and then post comments (I'm talking about the original article, not here).  Reading comments on anything has become unbearable because of this.   The headlines have taken over discourse (or the headlines and first paragraphs).  Argh!

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Yes, it was pro-moderation.  The headline was provocative and predisposed people to think ranty.  It got people in an anti-obesity mindset from the start.

That kind of thing drives me crazy, as people often look at the headline and may scan just a bit of the article (or not at all) and then post comments (I'm talking about the original article, not here).  Reading comments on anything has become unbearable because of this.   The headlines have taken over discourse (or the headlines and first paragraphs).  Argh!

All true, but Ta-Nehisi's comment section is one the best moderated on the web with a strong, educated community of contributors. He is an active participant and there are many interesting exchanges. It is an exception. Also, he has struggled with weight issues most of his life and often writes about it.

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All true, but Ta-Nehisi's comment section is one the best moderated on the web with a strong, educated community of contributors. He is an active participant and there are many interesting exchanges. It is an exception. Also, he has struggled with weight issues most of his life and often writes about it.

That's good to know.  I've gotten so turned off (even the NY Times comments section can be insane now) that I often don't even look at comments, which was the case with this article.

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I find this thread quite mean*.  Yes, there are obese people in the US.  Yes, the US has crappy eating habits.  Yes, our nationa as a whole needs to exercise more. Yes, many of you are lucky to not have an obesity problem.  What gives us the right to virtually gasp and make disparaging comments about those with a weight problem?  It's off topic from the article and a conversation like this does nothing but hurt people and prove that this board can be elitist.

*Barbara's post not included.

I've thought about replying to this post, then not replying; then replying, then not replying. I've decided it merits a reply.

I can't speak for others, so I'm only going to speak for myself. I have written 11,515 posts on this community, and I challenge anyone to go through and find one where I disparage someone for being obese. (Don't waste your time; you won't). Specifically, in this thread:

The title of the piece is, by design, controversial. It is standard practice of mine to put the title in quotes, then list the author, then the publication, in that order - that's all I did here.

My (French) MIL is appalled at how France has declined in terms of "eating habits." The introduction of cheap, fast food has produced young people 'walking around on the sidewalk, stuffing their faces like pigs while they walk,' she told me, years ago. And although I can't prove it, I think she's right, and I also think that you'll notice it more in France since their baseline was at a much better level than ours.

lekkerwijn has a vastly superior knowledge than I do on the subject, but I can say with supreme confidence that a cessation of exercise without a compensatory change in diet can have a dramatic impact on a person's well-being.

My French MIL was certainly being judgmental, but not about anyone obese; rather, the culture of French youth - 12, 13 years old, walking down the sidewalk scarfing down socca instead of having real meals. This decline in culture will *lead* to obesity one day, but hasn't yet.

My comment about cessation of exercise dealt with "well-being" and not "obesity."

But if you don't exercise, your body metabolism slows down, and eventually, it will slow down dramatically.

Same here, just on a longer-term basis.

Exhibit A: Serena Williams.

Serena Williams is the best example I could think of that a mesomorphic-endomorphic body type could also be one of the world's greatest athletes.

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My concern isn't about physical aesthetics.  If there were no consequences to obesity, then Hillvalley's comments would have a great deal of merit. It wouldn't be anybody's business if somebody were overweight or not and would be/is rude to comment on that fact. I, for one, fervently hope that she writes here about what she finds in Switzerland, among other places, regarding the food culture there and what is changing or not. We might learn something.

Underlying most of our concerns are the costs to individuals and to society as a whole for the problem of obesity.  These concerns include the growing rates of high blood pressure and the precursors of Type 2 diabetes seen among American teenagers--for a start. The answers aren't nearly so simple as the smoking problem--just stop what you are doing (and there are a whole bunch of ex-smokers in this community, including me). Since most of us, except Rocks, know how to cook and how to read nutrition labels, we are also aware of how much time, money, and effort goes into buying and preparing the most nutritious food. I dare say none of us lives in a "food desert" and even if we did, we have transportation to the H Mart or the Great Wall or Costco. We are all also literate--and the percentage of people in DC who are not is just shocking--and freely exchange all kinds of info among ourselves.

This is a very complicated problem.  One that involves big business, government, and the way our country has evolved (or devolved) geographically--not to mention the culture.

Hamburger Helper, anyone?

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