Why are we fat?

I Find Karma (adam@cs.caltech.edu)
Sat, 6 Sep 1997 02:06:36 -0700 (PDT)

It seems to go hand-in-hand that we geeks are terribly self-conscious
about how others perceive us. Either we feel hideously underweight
or hideously overweight or we shutter at all those 4-eyes jokes or
we're shy and introverted or we have problems with society's emphasis on
superficial beauty because as geeks we obsess on every little detail of
our own superficialities...

But let's stick to fat for this post. An interesting read is at The
Science of Obesity and Weight Control:




> Why are we Fat?
> It is not our fault that we are overweight. 90% of our obesity comes at
> the direction of our genes (the latest researchers are saying).
> We were taught by our parents and the culture we live in that we were
> "bad" or "weak" or flawed because we "refused to push away from the
> table like most real people can do". Well all this is bunk. I once quit
> eating for 6 months and lost 155 pounds. I have done six other Protein
> Sparing Modified Fasts involving months of not eating and have lost
> about 100 pounds each time.
> I am sure all of you could give your own examples of our cultures
> bigotry against the overweight. It is a myth that overweight people
> are "weak willed". I have regained most of my weight each time. I am now
> controlling my set-point thermostat using the phentermine/fenfluramine
> combination which affects our brain's neurotransmitters. For more
> information please check my web site. I have put my own information plus
> 100 links to other internet obesity information (some of these being
> search engines with 125 obesity articles at the end on one of my links).
> Remember, IT'S NOT OUR FAULT WE ARE FAT, yet it is unhealthy and we
> need to use any method we need to in order to lose weight. With the
> phen/fen program there is NO DIET. My patients are able to relax and eat
> only what they want. They just want less. I had a lady come in
> yesterday at her 120 day visit and she weighed in at 55 pounds less
> than when she started, and she is not dieting.
> Using "Will-Power" to stay on a diet is like trying to hold your
> breath THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. Hold your breath for one minute and you
> WANT to take a breath. Continue to hold your breath out to two minutes
> and you will become DESPERATE to take a breath. Where did these
> emotional drives come from to make you crave a breath. This is the way
> our body is built to make us do something we are genetically designed to
> do. A similar set up is present in the 30 to 40 genes governing our weight.
> Eventually you tire of the effort and relax and your set-point
> thermostat takes over again and you eat more. I strongly believe in
> medicines to reset the set-point thermostat so we can relax and live a
> normal live and not have to diet.

Of course, fen-phen ain't so great, as Slate recently told us:


> We've learned much in the last few years about the role that hunger
> plays in obesity. Drug companies have capitalized on that knowledge to
> create powerful new appetite suppressants. But these "cures" come with
> serious risks. Researchers linked the popular diet-drug combination
> "fen-phen" to a rare heart disease a year ago. But doctors continued to
> prescribe it to millions, arguing that the health risks associated with
> obesity justified fen-phen's wide use. Now reports of new heart
> abnormalities in women on fen-phen raise fresh questions about using
> pills for obesity before all the facts are in.
> ...
> The big breakthrough in understanding obesity came in 1994, when
> experiments on lab mice revealed that the hormone leptin controls the
> setpoint by controlling satiety. When your weight falls, leptin
> decreases, hunger increases, and you eat more--until you return to your
> weight setpoint. This year, researchers in Cambridge, England, found an
> inbred family whose members all lacked the gene for producing
> leptin. Without leptin to signal satiety, the children in this family
> eat ravenously. The 2-year-old weighs 64 pounds and the 8-year-old, 189
> pounds.
> ...
> Fen-phen consumption began to fall only this month, when the
> New England Journal of Medicine essentially withdrew its
> earlier cost-benefit argument with the emergency release of
> startling new fen-phen findings. Researchers in Minnesota and
> Nebraska documented 24 cases of unusual heart-valve
> abnormalities in women taking fen-phen. The average age of the
> patients was 43, and five required valve-replacement surgery.
> This week, the FDA reported 58 new cases of abnormal heart
> valves in patients on fen-phen, and the Journal of the American
> Medical Association reported animal evidence linking both
> dexfenfluramine and fenfluramine to toxic brain effects.
> There are three reasons why nobody should have bought the
> obesity-is-deadlier argument. 1) Obesity's risks come from high
> blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and heart disease, each
> of which can be controlled with safe medicines. 2) The mildly
> overweight don't run these health risks, yet drug companies are
> using results from 300 pounders to sell drugs to 140 pounders who
> want to look good at the beach. 3) Even in the seriously obese, we
> don't know that these drugs really will save more than they kill,
> because no studies have been done. (Meanwhile, the drug lobby is
> blocking the FDA from monitoring for bad outcomes after it
> approves drugs.)

Well, I'm numbed into a sense of apathy. I don't know which way is up

> Fen-phen isn't our first go-round with a miracle cure for
> obesity, and it isn't likely to be our last. In the late '80s, doctors
> inflated a balloon device in obese patients' stomachs. Because
> patients couldn't eat nearly as much, they lost weight and kept it
> off. But some of the balloons deflated and got stuck in the
> intestines. Only after several people died was the device pulled
> off the market. The dieters' craving for something to quiet their
> hunger is almost as great as their craving for food.

We now return you to your consumption-obsessed society, already in


When your pet bird sees you reading the newspaper, does he wonder why
you're just sitting there, staring at carpeting?