When we talk about skin aging, we’re really talking about collagen—or, more accurately, a lack thereof. Pretty much every desirable characteristic of healthy skin comes down to collagen content: The more of this protein we have, the firmer, plumper, and juicier our skin looks.
But as we age—and particularly as we smoke, drink, and get UV exposure while aging—our collagen production drops off, and the collagen we already have starts to break down. This causes wrinkles, as well as a loss of plumpness or fullness. Addressing these symptoms means addressing collagen loss in one way or another.
To that end, there is a slew of collagen-rich products on the market, most of which fall into one of two categories: moisturizers (particularly creams) and oral supplements. Trendy supplements dominate today’s market, while collagen creams are a bit more old school.
But regardless of the form the product takes, the manufacturers claim that giving your skin more collagen to work with will help it replenish what it’s lost, improving everything from hydration and elasticity to fine lines and wrinkles. However, experts remain skeptical.
Can a moisturizer or supplement really help your skin cells produce more collagen?
The short answer is no. The long answer is maybe, but still probably no. To understand why, it helps to know a little bit more about collagen and how it’s made.
Collagen is the main structural protein in human connective tissues, most notably our skin. The vast majority of the collagen in our skin is found in the dermis (the second layer of skin that sits beneath the epidermis), where it’s also produced. Skin cells in the dermis (fibroblasts) synthesize the collagen that holds the rest of the dermis together, giving our skin its underlying structure.
As for the structure of collagen itself, it’s kind of like a braid or rope: Individual amino acids link up to form long chains, which bundle together to form thicker strands. Those strands then twist and coil around each other to form triple helices. Finally, those helices connect end to end and stack on top of each other to form clusters called fibrils. In other words, collagen is a pretty complex and massive molecule.
That’s why creams formulated with pure collagen simply can’t live up to their lofty claims— those huge braided molecules are just too big to penetrate your epidermis, and definitely too big to get down into the dermis where the real magic happens. So even though collagen creams feel nice and may help moisturize the skin, that’s about it in terms of benefits.
“Your skin might feel softer and smoother [or] your wrinkles might look less prominent, but that’s all an illusion—that’s just what’s happening on the surface,” Suzan Obagi, M.D., UPMC dermatologist and American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery president, tells SELF. “It’s not actually building collagen.”
To get around the sizing issue, most lotions, potions, and pills touting collagen as a main ingredient these days actually contain hydrolyzed collagen, or collagen peptides. (Fun fact: Gelatin is a form of hydrolyzed collagen!)
Essentially, hydrolyzed collagen has been broken down into smaller chains of amino acids called peptides, John Zampella, M.D., NYU Langone dermatologist, tells SELF. Some researchers and dermatologists believe these peptides “can traverse the skin cells in your outer skin barrier and make their way into the dermis, essentially [providing] the building blocks for fibroblasts to make new collagen,” Dr. Zampella says.
And it does seem plausible that applying a cream chock-full of these collagen precursors could help increase collagen production down the line, provided that those peptides do eventually make their way into the dermis. But this theory hasn’t really been tested, let alone experimentally proven.
Surprisingly enough, there is some research to suggest that oral collagen may improve skin appearance. According to at least threerecentstudies, taking collagen peptides orally is associated with improved skin hydration, elasticity, and wrinkling, as compared to placebos. However, these studies come with a few asterisks: They’re on the small side (around 60 participants) and were short-term (4 to 12 weeks), and they focused solely on women over 35.
The observed results could be due to increased collagen production, or some other mechanism. But either way, they’re mild at best and we have other options (such as retinoids) that are more likely to provide benefits. Plus, it’s important to remember that supplements aren’t FDA-regulated or tested the way drugs are, so you don’t necessarily know what you’re getting or how well it may work.
So should I just throw out all my collagen products?
A little extra collagen probably won’t make a huge difference in your skin, but it’s also pretty harmless. So if you love your collagen peptide moisturizer or enjoy the perceived benefits of supplements and aren’t experiencing any negative side effects, by all means, keep it up. But if you really want to minimize collagen loss, there are more effective options out there, starting with—what else?—sunscreen.
“The number one thing is sunscreen—you obviously want to prevent your [existing] collagen from being broken down,” says Dr. Zampella. “Number two is a retinoid, because that’s the thing we have the most evidence for to build collagen.”
Dr. Obagi agrees, especially when you consider the cost of overpriced collagen products: “You can buy products that cost hundreds of dollars—if not a thousand or two—and I don’t know that [they’re] going to be better than a prescription retinoic acid. In fact, I can pretty much guess that [they won’t].”
If you’re wondering about the best way to manage wrinkles or any other side effects of collagen loss, talk to a dermatologist to get recommendations for your specific skin.
Ron Paul exposes the dark side of the new American medical ID system which the House of Representatives voted in favor of in a Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education appropriations bill amendment.
[GreenMedInfo.com Editor’s note:one of the primary reasons mandatory vaccination can not be practically instituted is because there is, at present, no objective way to verify a citizen’s vaccine record. This medical ID system would change that, making it entirely possible to require a citizen to provide authorities the digital equivalent of their “vaccine papers,” and those who fall short forced to comply with the ever-expanding vaccine schedule, or face fines, imprisonment or quarantine.]
Last week, the House of Representatives voted in favor of a Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education appropriations bill amendment to repeal the prohibition on the use of federal funds to create a “unique patient identifier.” Unless this prohibition, which I originally sponsored in 1998, is reinstated, the federal government will have the authority to assign every American a medical ID. This ID will be used to store and track every American’s medical history.
A unique patient identifier would allow federal bureaucrats and government-favored special interests to access health information simply by entering an individual’s unique patient ID into a database. This system would also facilitate the collection of health information without a warrant by surveillance state operatives.
The health records database could easily be linked to other similar databases, such as those containing gun purchase records or education records. If mandatory E-Verify becomes law, the health records database could even be linked to it, allowing employers to examine a potential employee’s medical history.
The possibility that the unique patient identifier system may be linked to a database containing information regarding gun ownership is especially disturbing given the bipartisan support for “red flag” laws. These laws allow the government to deny respect for someone’s Second Amendment rights without due process and based solely on an allegation that the individual is mentally unstable and likely to commit an act of gun violence. Combining red flag laws with the unique patient identifier system would leave a gun owner who ever sought psychiatric help for any reason at risk of losing his ability to legally possess a gun.
Unscrupulous government officials could use medical information to harass those whose political activities challenge the status quo. Anyone who doubts this should ask themselves what a future J. Edgar Hoover or Lois Lerner would do with access to the medical information of those involved in political movements he wishes to silence.
The unique patient identifier undermines one of the foundations of quality health care: the doctor-patient relationship. Accurate diagnosis requires that patients share intimate details about their lives — ranging from details about their diet and exercise habits to their sexual history and alcohol and drug use — with their physicians. If patients legitimately fear information shared will be compromised, they will be unwilling to be completely honest with their physicians, making it impossible for physicians to effectively treat their patients.
Proponents of the unique patient identifier claim it will improve efficiency. But, in a free society, the government should never endanger privacy or liberty for efficiency. Besides, when has any government intervention in health care ever improved efficiency or increased patients’ or health care providers’ satisfaction with the system?
The unique patient identifier system puts the desires of government bureaucrats and politically powerful special interests ahead of the needs of individual patients and health care providers. Instead of further intervening in health care and further destroying our privacy and our liberties, Congress should give patients control over their health care by giving them control over health care dollars through expanding access to Health Savings Accounts and health care tax credits. In a free market, patients and doctors can and will work tighter to ensure patients’ records are maintained in a manner that provides maximum efficiency without endangering privacy or liberty.
Just a pinch of geoengineering could lessen climate change with fewer side effects.
Easy Does It
If we want to prevent the worst effects of global climate change, we probably need to stop burning fossil fuels. But in the meantime, many look to technological solutions like geoengineering to lighten the load on the Earth.
These plans, like flooding the atmosphere with a material that would reduce the amount of sunlight that reaches the planet, often come with side effects like changes to rainfall patterns and hurricane formation. But according to heartening new research, a moderate amount of goengineering — just barely nudging the sun’s dimmer switch — could help lessen climate change-related catastrophe with minimal side effects.
Toeing The Gas Pedal
That’s according to a paper published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change.
In the study, a team of Harvard, MIT, and Princeton scientists used sophisticated climate models to simulate a polluted hellscape version of Earth in which the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide is twice what it is today. Then they dimmed the simulated sun to eliminate half the global warming that the added greenhouse gases had caused.
It’s not the most relevant model for today’s world since we’re more likely to gradually add more carbon to the atmosphere than immediately double it, but the study’s findings lend evidence to the idea that geoengineering may be able to help us survive.
Best Case Scenario
More drastic geoengineering models that aim to counter the entirety of global warming predict that dimming sunlight could have catastrophic side effects, like causing droughts in parts of Africa or worsening storms, according to Earther‘s analysis. But because this study took a gentler approach, the scientists saw only a minuscule increase in side effects of the sort.
Again, the only cure for climate change is probably to decarbonize the global industry. While we work on that, though, it seems like a pinch of geoengineering efforts might help a little bit too.
The first time man set foot on the moon’s surface was on July 20, 1969. The last time was December 11, 1972, when NASA decided that Apollo 17 would be the end of the Apollo project.
Why is it that in 45 years we haven’t gone back to the moon? There are several reasons why the focus of the Space Race changed over the following four decades.
Why we put men on the moon is well documented. In the years following WWII and during the Cold War, the U.S. and the Soviet Union were in a massive military arms race, with significant gains on both sides.
The competition culminated with the development of missiles that could be fired at targets halfway around the world, according to Gizmodo.
At that point, still struggling for the advantage, both countries set their sights first on Low Earth Orbit, and then the moon, which was the literal high ground.
As this unfolded, both countries began to experiment with manned space flight.
The Soviets successfully put Yuri Gagarin into space in 1961, just a few months after launching their first satellite.
The U.S. was closely following, and as tensions between the two nations increased, their space programs became more and more urgent – status symbols representing military might.
However, by 1966, when the space race peaked, NASA’s budget was just under 4.5 percent of the entire federal budget.
According to Death by Cosmos, in today’s dollars, NASA’s budget in 1966 would be about $182 billion. The U.S. had made huge steps in their space program, but at an astronomical economic price.
By comparison, the relative cost for the space shuttle project was only about ¾ percent of the Federal budget in 1982, and around the year 2000, the costs for the International Space Station was an even smaller percentage.
By the time of the Apollo moon landing in 1969, political and economic support for the Apollo project was already starting to wane.
As the American public began to become more fiscally wary in the face of the 1973 oil crisis, priorities began to shift. Space exploration could still be done but it needed to happen in a more financially responsible way.
NASA was limited to research and scientific missions, and became involved in the Skylab and Space Shuttle programs. As the development of the space shuttles continued, NASA stopped making the massive Saturn V rockets that were needed to break free of Earth’s gravity, and the unused rockets that were left became museum displays.
The physical and technological infrastructure that was required for making more moon landings disappeared. However, the Space Shuttle Program was not without its problems, either.
Conceived as being a reusable ship — and therefore much less expensive than the needs of the Apollo program — by the time all the necessary capabilities were built in, the shuttles became much more complicated to refurbish, as well as more costly.
After the shuttle Challenger exploded in 1986, killing all of its crew, the shuttle program went on a two-and-a-half year launch hiatus. When NASA resumed shuttle flights their missions were backlogged and they were much more cautious.
In the 1990s the USSR dissolved, the Cold War ended, and suddenly NASA had a space shuttle with not much to do.
With the USSR gone, the new Russian Federal Space Agency found itself with a much smaller budget and an almost obsolete space station, and was still using the Soyuz spacecraft from the ‘60s.
NASA had always wanted a space station, but the shuttle program was so expensive that they couldn’t afford it. After the Cold War was over, the U.S. had the idea of teaming up with Russia and forming partnerships with other countries, to build an international space station and split the costs. The space shuttle could be used to create the station, and the Soyuz would be used to haul crew and cargo.
The rotating crew of international astronauts could help maintain further good relations between the countries. The first crew went to the ISS in 2000, and there are plans to keep using the station until at least 2024.
Since the urgency that pushed the race to the moon ended, we’ve been drifting a little, concerning the direction, and more limited by practical concerns of cost and technology.
In recent years, though, space exploration has started to become more of a priority again. NASA is preparing to launch the Orion capsule, which will go beyond Earth orbit to the moon, and possibly Mars.
Companies like SpaceX are making huge strides in creating technologies that are more cost effective. Maybe our wait to go back to the moon is nearly over.
So what can officials do to protect the public’s health?
The rise of vaccine-preventable diseases hits close to home for me. I have a little boy in my life who was born at just 27 weeks, spent the first three months of his life in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and has a rare disease called mast cell activation syndrome. Mast cells are master regulators of the immune system and this rare disease is caused when these cells become overactive.
Overactive mast cells can cause severe allergic reactions to triggers, including vaccines. Consequent to his disease, the two-dose measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine was contraindicated, and he did not get vaccinated. But now, at age five, as a result of the measles outbreak in New York State, he is getting pre-medication in hopes of preventing an allergic reaction when he gets the vaccine. His parents fear a major setback from the tremendous progress made in managing his rare disease but understand that getting the measles would be far worse. Large scale vaccination campaigns are meant to protect children who can’t medically be vaccinated. And today, the loopholes in the system are failing them.
We can do more, as individuals and as a nation, to help protect children like this and improve public health. And we should.
It can no longer be disputed that measles, mumps, and rubella are spreading in the United States. In addition to New York, Washington state declared a state of emergency as measles cases climbed; spectators of the Detroit Auto Show may have been exposed to rubella; and the mumps virus has infected at least seven people at a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility in Houston. The cause for these outbreaks is undisputed: decreased vaccination rates across the country have greatly reduced the required proportion of immunized individuals needed to achieve herd or community immunity. Unless the proportion of people vaccinated increases, thus eliminating susceptibility, the spread of these diseases will continue. (The proportion of the population that needs to be immunized against measles is about 93–95 percent.)
For a country that declared measles eliminated in 2000 as the result of what the CDC calls a “highly effective measles vaccine, a strong vaccination program that achieves high coverage in children, and a strong public health system for detecting and responding to measles cases and outbreaks,” it is extremely regrettable that we’re seeing a resurgence in measles, mumps and rubella.
As an infectious disease epidemiologist, I’ve always marveled at the miracle wrought by modern science and medicine in developing and scaling the delivery of the MMR vaccine. Vaccines have widely been considered one of the greatest medical achievements in history—and yet in 2019 the World Health Organization (WHO) declared vaccine hesitancy (the delay in acceptance or outright refusal of vaccines) as one of the top 10 threats to global health.
Many have attempted to address this public health emergency by addressing the other “side” of this phenomenon. Despite suggestions to the contrary, the medical and scientific community are clear and unambiguous: vaccines are safe, effective, and not harmful.
As I have read and listened to accounts of anti-vaxxers and to those of young people who are now fact-checking their parents’ choice to not vaccinate, I have been struck by how little attention is given to how the public health and scientific communities are addressing the problem. It’s our job as trained experts to speak out against those who are harming the health of our children. However, it is well documented that simply repeating scientific facts and figures rarely impacts the decision processes of those who are vaccine-hesitant.
So how can the scientific community help the U.S overcome vaccine hesitancy? Ultimately, we should focus on what works. We need communication and policy approaches to address low vaccination rates, especially as rates of vaccine exemptions rise. The narrative and specific examples below are by no means exhaustive or comprehensive, but rather an attempt at sparking discussion, and ideally subsequent action, to combat this growing public health problem:
Stronger policies. While immunizations are required in most states for children to attend school, we should consider stronger policies requiring childhood vaccination, for both the safety of the child and for public health. This has precedent: since 2016, Australia has greatly improved vaccination rates through its “No Jab, No Pay” immunization policy, which withholds child benefits and enacts punitive financial measures for parents who do not vaccinate their children (parents of children with medical vaccine exemptions are not penalized). A similar policy U.S policy admittedly would be complicated to enact. For example, vaccine access and cost can be an issue for some families. In addition, such a policy could put pressure families who receive state or federal child benefits.
Public Education Campaigns. While policy change is slow and challenging, the public health community, advocates and government should work together more effectively on large-scale public education campaigns. Fear of autism and other side effects from vaccination can be traced to a now discredited and retracted 1998 paper in The Lancet, but it is time to reframe why and how vaccines are safe. The very successful Truth Initiative has worked to increase the nation’s understanding of the dangers of tobacco use among young people. Its innovation center is dedicated to designing, building, and implementing novel Web, text, TV, and mobile campaigns about the dangers of smoking (remember the shocking ads of people speaking through electrolarynx devices?) The same must be done regarding both the health benefits of vaccination and the health risks that come with a failure to vaccinate.
On-The-Ground Public Health Programs. Online campaigns can be powerful, but they must be done in conjunction with boots-on-the-ground public forums. Public health experts and advocates should consider engaging more frequently in honest dialogues—not one-sided lectures—about parents’ fear of vaccines. We would do well to communicate the dangers of not vaccinating face-to-face, and also explain the broader positive impacts vaccines have on cognitive development and health later in life. For example, most people are probably aware that measles is highly contagious, but how many realize that the virus can live for up to two hours in the air after an infected person has coughed or sneezed? Or that those infected with measles can spread it starting four days before and lasting until four days after the appearance of the illness’s hallmark rash? People who understand the risks shouldn’t alienate those who question vaccination but should instead openly discuss the science and data—while listening to the reasons why people have concerns.
It takes a lot of effort to keep trying to dispel scientific misunderstandings about vaccines, but we should strive to do so. Personal fears of vaccination should not automatically outweigh the decades of medical gains, reduced deaths, and improved health outcomes that vaccines have brought to our country, particularly children. In some areas of science and public health, differences of opinions can be enriching, even educational—but that’s not the case with discussions about vaccination.
Decades of objective scientific research, data and medical consensus have fully demonstrated the effectiveness of vaccines. it is time for policy, education campaigns, and boots on-the-ground public health campaigns to improve vaccination rates to protect the public.
After the World Health Organization (WHO) named “vaccine hesitancy” a global health threat in 2019, vaccine compliance has become top priority for every government that is run by Big Pharma. FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb has called on the states to limit vaccine exemptions and strip parents of their rights. The war to achieve max vaccine compliance is moving into new, bold territory.
The Vaccine State is now targeting home school families. Many home school families do not follow the CDC’s full vaccine schedule and some families opt out of vaccines altogether. Iowa State Representative Mary Mascher has proposed a piece of legislation that would target them in their homes, to enforce compliance. Iowa’s HF 272 would require home school families to submit proof of their child’s vaccination record to the state, while requiring the families to submit to quarterly “health and wellness” safety checks, which may be conducted by officials from the Health and Human Services Department and accompanied by local law enforcement.
HF 272 is where the Vaccine State takes its most intrusive step to date. On lines 22-24, the bill instructs all home school parents to provide the district with evidence that the child has had the immunizations “required under section 139A.8.” Furthermore, parents would be required to submit a full portfolio of the child’s school work, including an “outline of course of study,” all subjects covered, all lesson plans, and a time log for each area of study. The bill is both intrusive and dishonest. Even parents who send their kids to public school can opt out of one or all vaccines that are recommended by the CDC. Religious and medical exemptions to vaccines still exist in the state.
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School districts to “conduct quarterly health and safety home visits” and may enlist law enforcement if parents don’t give consent
To enforce the new rules, the bill instructs the board of directors of the school district to “conduct quarterly home visits to check on the health and safety” of children within the district. The bill provides adequate funding for the school district to police home school families in the area. The visits are to be conducted within the home and include an observation of the child and an interview with the child. If the parent does not consent, then the district can obtain probable cause from the juvenile court to forcefully enter the home and conduct the observation and the interview. The superintendent of the school district shall “designate a person to carry out the duties.” This person is designated as the “mandatory reporter.” Most sickening, the school district may collaborate with the department of human services and “local, county and service area officers” to enter the home and conduct the checkup.
Since officers are required to “do their job,” they will be critical for intimidating parents to open their doors and submit their kid to the intrusive interview and the vaccine requirements. If parents do not cooperate and hand over proof of vaccination records, it will be very easy for Child Protective Services to take the child from the home, have them vaccinated, and sent away to live with another family.
In Oregon, lawmakers want to enforce vaccine compliance as soon as parents take their newborns home from the hospital. Under a proposal in Oregon, every new parent, including adoptions, would be visited two or three times by a nurse or health care practitioner. The visits are intended to connect parents with primary care physicians, screen them, and schedule their myriad of vaccinations.
These intrusive bills are a glimpse of how far the authoritarian Vaccine State will go to achieve vaccine compliance and force people to obey. Home school families must be ready to hold their elected representatives accountable, as to not permit pharmaceutical companies the ability to create laws and turn law enforcement against good people.
The political Left in America today now openly advocates the murder of living human babies, even after they’re born. This is part of the new abortion legislation that has been passed and signed into law in both New York and Vermont… and the entire idea of killing human babies in the name of “women’s rights” is spreading to more states, much to the applause of Democrats who cheer the new “right” to kill babies with your bare hands.
One abortionist recently told a former patient they would, “break the baby’s neck” if it survived an abortion attempt, reports LifeSiteNews:
The woman said she asked the two abortionists, “If you guys were to take him out right now while he’s still, his heart rate is still, you know, going, what would you guys do?”
She said one of the abortionists looked at the other one, then looked back at her, “and she told me that we don’t tell women this, and a lot of women don’t even ask this question, but if we was to proceed with the abortion and the baby was to come out still alive and active, most likely we would break the baby’s neck.”
The very same people who are gleeful about breaking the raw necks of newborn human babies in the name of “women’s health” also claim they “care” about all your other children that you didn’t, for some reason, decide to murder immediately after birth. In fact, according to Democrats, they are so concerned about the health of your children that they demand to come to your private home with a team of armed vaccine enforcers and violate your child’s body with a dangerous, toxic medical intervention that is documented by the U.S. government itself to harm, maim and kill over a thousand U.S. children every year. (Source: VAERS data, HHS)
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Iowa State Representative Mary Mascher has proposed a piece of legislation that would target them in their homes, to enforce compliance. Iowa’s HF 272 would require home school families to submit proof of their child’s vaccination record to the state, while requiring the families to submit to quarterly “health and wellness” safety checks, which may be conducted by officials from the Health and Human Services Department and accompanied by local law enforcement.
If the parent does not consent, then the district can obtain probable cause from the juvenile court to forcefully enter the home and conduct the observation and the interview. The superintendent of the school district shall “designate a person to carry out the duties.” This person is designated as the “mandatory reporter.” Most sickening, the school district may collaborate with the department of human services and “local, county and service area officers” to enter the home and conduct the checkup.
This means the vaccine industry is about to recruit gun-toting police to enforce mandatory medical interventions against people who are rationally refusing to give consent to the procedure. There are a huge number of rational reasons to say no to vaccines, including the fact that many vaccine insert sheets openly admit they cause atrocious reactions which may include seizures, comas and even death in certain cases.
Read the language in the following photo of the FLULAVAL vaccine insert sheet.
FLULAVAL is a vaccine indicated for active immunization against influenza disease… but doesn’t ever claim the vaccine actually works.
In the very next bullet point, the vaccine insert admits:
…there have been no controlled trials adequately demonstrating a decrease in influenza disease after vaccination with FLULAVAL.
In other words, GlaxoSmithKline confirms there is no evidence to back this flu shot.
There’s even more. If you keep reading the FLULAVAL insert, it says in black and white text, “Safety and effectiveness of FLULAVAL in pediatric patients have not been established.”
The same insert also says, “FLULAVAL has not been evaluated for carcinogenic or mutagenic potential, or for impairment of fertility.”
As you can also see, this same insert also explains that when you’re being injected with a flu shot, you’re also being injected with mercury, formaldehyde and other toxic ingredients:
“Thimerosal, a mercury derivative, is added as a preservative. Each … dose contains 50 mcg thimerosal. Each dose may also contain residual amounts of ovalbumin, formaldehyde, and sodium deoxycholate from the manufacturing process.”
Just some of the adverse effects experienced after flu shot vaccines include:
• Eye pain and chest pain
• Dizziness, tremors and losing consciousness (syncope)
• Convulsions and seizures
• Gullain-Barre Syndrome
• Cranial nerve paralysis or limb paralysis
• Swelling of the brain
• Partial facial paralysis
… and much more. See the text yourself:
Here’s a more complete list of some of the adverse effects typically listed on flu shot vaccine insert sheets:
Blood and Lymphatic System Disorders: Lymphadenopathy.
Eye Disorders: Eye pain, photophobia.
Gastrointestinal Disorders: Dysphagia.
General Disorders and Administration Site Conditions: Chest pain, injection site inflammation, asthenia, injection site rash, abnormal gait, injection site bruising, injection site sterile abscess.
Immune System Disorders: Allergic reactions including anaphylaxis, angioedema.
Infections and Infestations: Rhinitis, laryngitis, cellulitis.
Musculoskeletal and Connective Tissue Disorders: Muscle weakness, arthritis.
Respiratory, Thoracic, and Mediastinal Disorders: Dyspnea, dysphonia, bronchospasm, throat tightness.
Skin and Subcutaneous Tissue Disorders: Urticaria, pruritus, sweating.
Vascular Disorders: Flushing, pallor.
Knowing all this, imagine a local vaccine enforcer holding down a screaming child by force, jabbing it with an autism-causing toxic brew of aluminum, mercury, formaldehyde and squalene (all ingredients in modern vaccines) while a police officer holds the mother at gunpoint.
This scenario is about to become a reality in America. The vaccine industry is about to unleash “death squads” across the nation, and if you resist, you may be arrested or shot.
Do parents have the right to protect their children from violent assaults carried out in the name of medicine?
The right of a parent to protect her child from a violent assault is inherently understood across America, and that right is enshrined both in common law and specific state law almost everywhere. If a unscrupulous person attempts to stab your child with a knife, or penetrate your child in an act of pedophilia rape, or harm your child by kidnapping or assaulting them, you as the parent have every right to deploy all means of self-defense, including, where legal, firearms.
This right to protect children from violent assaults is not nullified by the false authority of the vaccine deep state, which is steeped in felony crimes, scientific fraud, the abuse of children as human guinea pigs for medical experiments, and a long history of cover-ups to bury the truth about vaccine injuries. Regardless of the false claims of “safety” by the vaccine industry, such claims do not overrule the basic human right of self-defense. Even if vaccines had a perfect safety record and killed no children at all, no medical intervention is justified without informed consent. This fundamental principle of western medicine is enshrined by the American Medical Association, which insists that doctors must inform potential patients about both the possible benefits and risks of any given intervention, then allow the patient (or the parent) to decide whether to consent to the intervention.
Informed consent to medical treatment is fundamental in both ethics and law. Patients have the right to receive information and ask questions about recommended treatments so that they can make well-considered decisions about care.
In seeking a patient’s informed consent… physicians should … Present relevant information accurately and sensitively, in keeping with the patient’s preferences for receiving medical information. The physician should include information about:
1. The diagnosis (when known) 2. The nature and purpose of recommended interventions 3. The burdens, risks, and expected benefits of all options, including forgoing treatment
While exceptions are made for cases in which the patient is unconscious from a serious injury and therefore unable to consent to a lifesaving procedure, there is no medical ethics argument that says children and mothers should be held at gunpoint while they are injected with substances that are known to carry significant risks of harm and even death. Yet this is exactly what is now being proposed in Iowa and California, all under the guise of “public health” by the very same people who claim executing living human babies is not an act of violence against children.
Forced immunization with a potentially deadly substance is a felony assault
To force an immunization jab onto a person without their consent is, by any sensible definition, a felony assault. There is no getting around this. To invade, pierce and contaminate the body of another human being against their wishes or consent is an act of violence (or “medical rape”), even when carried out by so-called “authorities.”
The very idea of such vaccine enforcer teams holding mothers at gunpoint while their children are violated in the name of Big Pharma’s false promises is abhorrent to every last pillar of a free society. No civil society can allow the mandatory vaccine injections of children who are essentially kidnapped at gunpoint by state authorities. And any vaccine enforcer attempting to carry out such an act of medical kidnapping and felony assault against a child may be forcefully resisted and stopped using every legal means available.
In Texas and many other states, it is within the legal right of any gun owner to deploy a firearm to stop the commission of a felony crime, including crimes of violence against children. Thus, in Texas, if a vaccine enforcement team trespasses on your property, invades your home, attempts to kidnap and assault your child, any reasonable parent would seem to be both morally and legally within their rights to engage those vaccine enforcers with lethal force in order to stop them carrying out a crime of violence against innocent children. I’m not calling for violence, by the way: I’m calling for an end to medical violence against children. I’m also not an attorney, so I cannot advise you on particular actions you might take in your own circumstances, so do your homework first (and get competent legal advice).
Always act within your local laws, of course, and try to avoid violence wherever possible. Do not initiate violence against anyone, but always be ready to stop violence when it is imminent. A medical assault of a child with a potentially deadly substance is a form of felony assault by any reasonable definition. Concealed carry permits are granted to adults precisely for the purpose of allowing those adults to deploy such tools to halt violence and protect the lives of the innocent. That’s also why the pro-vaccine zealots are also the anti-gun whackos who want all parents to be disarmed. It makes it so much easier to medically assault and penetrate your children when you have no means to stop such acts of violence from being carried out in your own home while you are being held at gunpoint by a pharma-controlled coercive government thug who works for the medical police state.
Gun control is the first step to mandatory vaccines, forced euthanasia, eugenics and depopulation injections carried out by the state. The minute you give up your guns, you and your children will be assaulted and forcefully penetrated by the armed narco-pharma state, probably with the help of the same armed FBI thugs who raided the home of Roger Stone.
Even at the federal level, the right of self-defense against a violent assault of an innocent child is widely recognized. That’s why I’m seriously asking at what point the tyranny and medical fascism of the vaccine industry collides with the basic human right of self-defense. Sooner or later, it seems, one of these vaccine enforcers is going to encounter a parent who knows her rights and isn’t afraid to assert them, even in the face of outright vaccine tyranny by the state itself.
Parents have an obligation to protect their children from violence, including medical violence and chemical violence
Just because intruders and trespassers are carrying vaccines does not grant them some supreme power to override the individual right of self-defense. Although I do not have children, if I did have children, and if a vaccine enforcer were attempting to commit a crime of felony assault against my child, I would of course defend my child without hesitation. Any loving parent would do the same thing.
That’s because all parents have an obligation to protect their children from all forms of violence, including medical violence and chemical violence. Mandatory vaccines encompass both forms of violence at the same time, subjecting children to an unsafe piercing of their skin and the injection of foreign RNA, foreign chemicals and foreign substances into their body. By any definition, this is a felony assault.
If you don’t believe me, try running around your local town with a needle and jabbing people with it to see what happens. I say this in jest, of course, because if you were stupid enough to carry out such an act of lunacy, you would be immediately arrested and charged with felony assault.
So why is it somehow okay when a corrupt, paid-off shill of the vaccine industry orders health workers or the local police to do the very same thing? Health workers are not granted immunity from all other laws in society, and if a health worker assaults you with a potentially harmful or deadly substance — which is exactly what vaccines are — you have the right to defend yourself against such an assault using every legal means available.
Good parents, it might be stated, stop bad people who attempt to harm their children. And if the vaccine jihadis are running around society trying to assault homeschooled children, it seems to be only a matter of time before some of them are engaged and stopped by parents who decide to stand their ground.
The Vaccine Jihadis are part of a fanatical cult that sacrifices children to appease the pharma gods
That’s why I encourage all the vaccine zealots and vaccine jihadis — I use the term “Jihadi” because the vaccine cult is carrying out a kind of religious fanaticism war against humanity — to think very carefully about what they may encounter across America if they attempt to force risky medical inventions onto children and parents who do not consent to the procedure. No person has any right to force another person to undergo a potentially deadly medical intervention without their consent… this is true even if those carrying out the assault claim to be acting for “the greater good.”
Remember, it was under Nazi Germany that mass euthanasia, eugenics and depopulation programs were carried out “for the greater good,” too. Six million Jews were exterminated under that dogma, and the only way that crime against humanity was stopped was through the use of (Allied) rifles, bullets and bombs. In other words, what the Allies learned in World War II is that the only way to stop an insane, deranged national cult of violent authoritarians is to shoot them dead. You cannot reason with them or negotiate a settlement that respects human life. You simply have to exterminate them at gunpoint, which is exactly what America, France and Russia achieved during that horrific war that saw tens of millions of human exterminated in the name of “the greater good.”
Now the vaccine industry is at war with humanity. In particular, it is at war with human children, much like the abortion industry which is now steeped in infanticide. The vaccine industry cannot be reasoned with, because they censor and block all opposing views. They cannot be negotiated with, because they claim supremacy in the name of “science” while rejecting all evidence that contradicts their cult-like religion of vaccinism. They cannot be made to respect medical ethics, since they believe that their “cause” supersedes all ethics. They actually tell themselves that they must save you against yourself, even if that means injecting you at gunpoint or kidnapping your children in the name of “medical science.”
No, the vaccine jihadis cannot be reasoned with. They are not operating in good faith and they are not swayed by scientific evidence or even the exploding cases of autism across America, many of which occur mere hours after vaccines are injected into children. The vaccine jihadis must be defeated and stopped using all available legal means, including lawsuits and criminal indictments leveled against them by local prosecutors.
When they come for your children, call the police and report a felony assault and kidnapping in progress
When they come for your children, will you protect your children against medical violence, or will you surrender them to the tyranny of the medical police state that demands you sacrifice your children to the will of the pharma cartels in order to appease your government “god” controllers?
My advice is that when they come for your children in your own home, you call the police, report a felony assault and medical kidnapping in progress, demand the criminal prosecution of those carrying it out, and prepare to defend the lives of your children using every legally available tool at your disposal. Then again, I’m not an attorney, so I can’t officially give you legal advice. Do your own research based on local laws and make your own best decision considering your capabilities, finances and circumstances.
Personally, if I had children, any person who invaded my home and attempted to commit felony violence against my child would be engaged and halted. At some point, I might even call 911 and report the resulting mess to the local sheriff. This seems to be the only reasonable response when living in a world ruled by unreasonable vaccine zealots who have never been told, “No!”
Sooner or later, someone is going to stop these perpetrators of medical violence and felony assault against children. It might happen soon in Iowa.
Stay informed on this issue and be ready to defend your children, because the vaccine police state is quite literally coming for you. Read John W. Whitehead’s excellent book, “Battleground America,” and visit his website, the Rutherford Institute, at Rutherford.org. Read Tyranny.news and Vaccines.news to stay informed on the important issues.
See vaccine videos at Brighteon.com, which is rapidly becoming the go-to video site for vaccine truth. See the “Vaxxed” channel there, which now features over 800 vaccine videos, including heartbreaking testimony from parents whose children have been permanently maimed (and even killed, in some cases) by vaccines.
Also, check out the upcoming documentary film “Vaxxed2” at Vaxxed2.com, where you can even donate to the production costs and help this film get finished in 2019.
Up until recently, chemotherapy and radiation have been the only two approved treatment methods for treating cancer by mainstream medicine, but as more research emerges, light is being shed on just how damaging these treatment methods can be and how often they are the cause of death and not the cancer itself. Upon this discovery, many doctors are starting to see how this is not always the best treatment method.
Researchers from Public Health England and Cancer Research UK recently performed a groundbreaking study, which examined the number of cancer patients who died within 30 days of beginning chemotherapy showing how the treatment, and not the cancer itself, was the cause of death.
When looking at those death rates across hospitals in the U.K., the researchers found an alarming mortality rate that was directly associated with the chemotherapy treatment.
“England around 8.4 per cent of patients with lung cancer, and 2.4 per cent of breast cancer patients died within a month,” the Telegraphreported.
“But in some hospitals the figure was far higher. In Milton Keynes the death rate for lung cancer treatment was 50.9 per cent, although it was based on a very small number of patients.”
Results of the study showed the one-month mortality rate at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals for those undergoing palliative, rather than curative chemotherapy was 28%. One in five patients receiving palliative care for breast cancer at Cambridge University Hospitals died from treatment.
In other areas including, Blackpool, Coventry, Derby, South Tyneside, Surrey, and Sussex, saw that deaths from lung cancer patients receiving chemotherapy were much higher than the national average.
Cancer Lead for Public Health England, Dr. Jem Rashbass, requested the study and said, according to the Telegraph: “Chemotherapy is a vital part of cancer treatment and is a large reason behind the improved survival rates over the last four decades.”
“However, it is powerful medication with significant side effects and often getting the balance right on which patients to treat aggressively can be hard.”
“Those hospitals whose death rates are outside the expected range have had the findings shared with them and we have asked them to review their practice and data.”
“All women with breast cancer and all men and women with lung cancer residing in England, who were 24 years older and who started a cycle” of chemotherapy in 2014 were included in the analysis by the researchers of the study.
Could This Signify The End Of Chemo?
Finally, chemotherapy has been looked at with a skeptical eye, had this been studied sooner, it is easy to see how this method of treatment cannot distinguish between healthy cells and cancerous cells, therefore there are more ideal patients for this method of treatment and less ideal patients. The study published by the Lancet shows how the cell destroying property of chemo can eventually lead to death as there aren’t enough healthy cells to survive.
Because of these important findings, researchers have now advised physicians to exercise more caution in the process of vetting which patients should in fact receive chemotherapy and which, ideally should not. Older, infirm patients could potentially be better off without receiving palliative care.
“The statistics don’t suggest bad practice overall but there are some outliers,” noted Professor David Dodwell of the Institute of Oncology at St. James Hospital in Leeds.
“It could be data problems, and figures skewed because of just a few deaths, but nevertheless it could also be down to problems with clinical practice,” he continued.
“I think it’s important to make patients aware that there are potentially life threatening downsides to chemotherapy. And doctors should be more careful about who they treat with chemotherapy.”
It’s important to realize that doctors aren’t intending to harm their patients by prescribing this method of treatment, this is what they have been taught during their extensive years of schooling and education, this is the curriculum, so it’s the widely accepted treatment method for cancer even though it often doesn’t help at all and can make things worse as mentioned above.
The hospitals involved maintain their stance, after reviewing the information that chemotherapy is safe, with the caveat patient selection for the treatment should be more discretionary. Chemo does seem to work for many, but there is a more ideal patient for this method and it shouldn’t be prescribed to every cancer patient that walks through the door.
Professor David Cameron of the Edinburgh Cancer Centre at West General Hospital in Edinburgh, Scotland, noted,
“The concern is that with some of the patients dying within 30 days of being given chemo probably shouldn’t have been given the chemo. But how many? There is no easy way to answer that, but perhaps looking at those places/hospitals where the death rate was higher might help. Furthermore, if we give less chemo then some patients will die because they didn’t get enough chemo. It’s a fine balance and the more data we have the better we can be t making sure we get the balance right. “
U.S. Doctors, Take Note
Unfortunately, in the United States many patients are forced to undergo chemotherapy despite what they want for themselves. This has happened with many children whose parents are opting to seek out alternative cancer treatments.
One example involves, 17-year-old Cassandra C., who has Hodgkin lymphoma, has been denied her desire to pursue alternative treatment methods when it comes to her cancer treatment. The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled, on January 8th, that Cassandra (who declined chemotherapy treatment) will be forced to undergo the treatment anyway. She cited chemotherapy’s adverse health effects as her main reason for refusing.
Cassandra expressed that being forced into surgery and chemo has traumatized her, that it should be a given human right to decide what you want and don’t want for your own body.
The most frustrating part about this whole thing is that there are in fact many alternative methods to treating cancer that are not recognized, accepted or provided with enough funding for thorough studies to be considered as an option in the first place.
Successful alternative methods that have been used to treat cancer is an entirely separate topic that involves a lot of research, but success has been reported using vegan methods, fasting methods, and more. Clinical trials have been conducted in these areas, but we don’t hear much about it. The science on this that’s emerging is fascinating, and we encourage all who are interested to look into it a little deeper if interested.
Below is a great clip from The THRIVE movement that gives us all something to thing about.
Controversial new research suggests that the Alzheimer’s disease protein amyloid-beta (above) may be transmissible via surgical instruments or other medical procedures
Beginning in 1958, roughly 30,000 people worldwide—mostly children—received injections of human growth hormone extracted from the pituitary glands of human cadavers to treat their short stature. The procedure was halted in 1985, when researchers found that a small percentage of recipients had received contaminated injections and were developing Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), a fatal neurodegenerative condition caused by misfolded proteins called prions.
Now, a new study of the brains of eight deceased people who contracted CJD from such injections suggests that the injections may also have spread amyloid-β, the neuron-clogging protein that is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. The study is the first evidence in humans that amyloid-β might be transmissible through medical procedures such as brain surgery—according to the researchers. Skeptics, however, note that the CJD prion itself often triggers unusual amyloid deposits; epidemiological studies, they say, find no connection between the injections and increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Aside from CJD and the related mad cow disease, kuru is perhaps the most famous prion disease. Endemic to Papua New Guinea and now essentially eradicated, kuru is transmitted through the ritual consumption of human brain tissue at funerals. Increasingly, however, scientists are recognizing that a number of other neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s, Huntington disease, and Parkinson’s disease, also involve aberrant proteins that act like “seeds” in the brain. They convert otherwise normal proteins into fibers that “break, form more seeds, break, and form more seeds,” says John Collinge, a neuropathologist at University College London and lead author of the new study.
Still unknown in Alzheimer’s is what role misfolded proteins such as amyloid-β and tau play in the disease, and whether they are transmissible through direct contact with or consumption of contaminated brain tissue. Although scientists have successfully induced amyloid-β transmission in rodents, these experiments relied on “massive” overexpression of the protein, says Samuel Gandy, a neuropathologist at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. “Exhaustive” attempts to reproduce such transmission in primates have failed, he says, leading many to doubt whether such propagation is possible.
In the current study, Collinge and colleagues examined the brain tissue of eight people, aged 36 to 51, who died of CJD roughly 30 to 40 years after they received the growth hormone injections. Four had a pattern of amyloid-β that pathologists consider moderate-to-severe in people with Alzheimer’s, though they lacked a second type of protein, tau, that is considered an important hallmark of the disease as well, the team reports online today in Nature. Two had milder, more patchy deposits; one was amyloid-free. “It’s a highly unusual finding,” Collinge says. “In that age group, you really don’t see this kind of pathology unless you have a genetic predisposition to Alzheimer’s,” which none of them did, he says.
Still, scientists have known since the 1990s that the prion protein that causes CJD can “cross-seed” amyloid-β, causing abnormal deposits to form, and vice versa, Gandy says. In such a small, observational study, it is impossible to determine whether CJD itself caused the amyloid-β seen in the deceased subjects’ brain tissue, or seeds of the protein were transmitted via injection, he argues. None of the subjects showed signs of tau, the other protein associated with Alzheimer’s disease, he and others point out.
To explore the possibility that CJD, and not amyloid-β seeds, was the culprit, Collinge and colleagues also examined the brains of 116 people with a range of prion diseases unrelated to the hormone injections. They found little to no β amyloid pathology in that group, suggesting that CJD alone was not responsible for the pathology, they say. That’s a “strong argument” in the group’s favor, says Claudio Soto, a neuroscientist at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. Given that prions come in many different forms, however, it’s still possible that the β-amyloid deposits found in the brains of the injection recipients were indeed caused by CJD, whereas the controls remained plaque-free, he notes.
Next, Collinge’s team plans to test vials of archived growth hormone from the original treatments to see whether they can detect amyloid-β protein “seeds.” One obstacle, however, is that scientists don’t know precisely what constitutes such seeds on a molecular level, Collinge says.
Although provocative, the new study cannot answer the question of whether pathogenic amyloid-β “seeds” can be transmitted from person to person through contaminated surgical instruments or blood, Collinge and Soto agree. There is no epidemiological evidence to support that possibility, and any alarm over Alzheimer’s infectiousness is premature, they emphasize. Still, “that’s something that needs to be investigated,” Soto says.
For decades, the medical community has ignored mountains of evidence to wage a cruel and futile war on fat people, poisoning public perception and ruining millions of lives.
It’s time for a new paradigm.
From the 16th century to the 19th, scurvy killed around 2 million sailors, more than warfare, shipwrecks and syphilis combined. It was an ugly, smelly death, too, beginning with rattling teeth and ending with a body so rotted out from the inside that its victims could literally be startled to death by a loud noise. Just as horrifying as the disease itself, though, is that for most of those 300 years, medical experts knew how to prevent it and simply failed to.
In the 1600s, some sea captains distributed lemons, limes and oranges to sailors, driven by the belief that a daily dose of citrus fruit would stave off scurvy’s progress. The British Navy, wary of the cost of expanding the treatment, turned to malt wort, a mashed and cooked byproduct of barley which had the advantage of being cheaper but the disadvantage of doing nothing whatsoever to cure scurvy. In 1747, a British doctor named James Lind conducted an experiment where he gave one group of sailors citrus slices and the others vinegar or seawater or cider. The results couldn’t have been clearer. The crewmen who ate fruit improved so quickly that they were able to help care for the others as they languished. Lind published his findings, but died before anyone got around to implementing them nearly 50 years later.
This kind of myopia repeats throughout history. Seat belts were invented long before the automobile but weren’t mandatory in cars until the 1960s. The first confirmed death from asbestos exposure was recorded in 1906, but the U.S. didn’t start banning the substance until 1973. Every discovery in public health, no matter how significant, must compete with the traditions, assumptions and financial incentives of the society implementing it.
Which brings us to one of the largest gaps between science and practice in our own time. Years from now, we will look back in horror at the counterproductive ways we addressed the obesity epidemic and the barbaric ways we treated fat people—long after we knew there was a better path.
I have never written a story where so many of my sources cried during interviews, where they shook with anger describing their interactions with doctors and strangers and their own families.
About 40 years ago, Americans started getting much larger. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 80 percent of adults and about one-third of children now meet the clinical definition of overweight or obese. More Americans live with “extreme obesity“ than with breast cancer, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and HIV put together.
And the medical community’s primary response to this shift has been to blame fat people for being fat. Obesity, we are told, is a personal failing that strains our health care system, shrinks our GDP and saps our military strength. It is also an excuse to bully fat people in one sentence and then inform them in the next that you are doing it for their own good. That’s why the fear of becoming fat, or staying that way, drives Americans to spend more on dieting every year than we spend on video games or movies. Forty-five percent of adults say they’re preoccupied with their weight some or all of the time—an 11-point rise since 1990. Nearly half of 3- to 6- year old girls say they worry about being fat.
The emotional costs are incalculable. I have never written a story where so many of my sources cried during interviews, where they double- and triple-checked that I would not reveal their names, where they shook with anger describing their interactions with doctors and strangers and their own families. One remembered kids singing “Baby Beluga” as she boarded the school bus, another said she has tried diets so extreme she has passed out and yet another described the elaborate measures he takes to keep his spouse from seeing him naked in the light. A medical technician I’ll call Sam (he asked me to change his name so his wife wouldn’t find out he spoke to me) said that one glimpse of himself in a mirror can destroy his mood for days. “I have this sense I’m fat and I shouldn’t be,” he says. “It feels like the worst kind of weakness.”
My interest in this issue is slightly more than journalistic. Growing up, my mother’s weight was the uncredited co-star of every family drama, the obvious, unspoken reason why she never got out of the car when she picked me up from school, why she disappeared from the family photo album for years at a time, why she spent hours making meatloaf then sat beside us eating a bowl of carrots. Last year, for the first time, we talked about her weight in detail. When I asked if she was ever bullied, she recalled some guy calling her a “fat slob” as she biked past him years ago. “But that was rare,” she says. “The bigger way my weight affected my life was that I waited to do things because I thought fat people couldn’t do them.” She got her master’s degree at 38, her Ph.D. at 55. “I avoided so many activities where I thought my weight would discredit me.”
Chances of a woman classified as obese achieving a “normal” weight:0.8%Source: American Journal of Public Health, 2015But my mother’s story, like Sam’s, like everyone’s, didn’t have to turn out like this. For 60 years, doctors and researchers have known two things that could have improved, or even saved, millions of lives. The first is that diets do not work. Not just paleo or Atkins or Weight Watchers or Goop, but all diets. Since 1959, research has shown that 95 to 98 percent of attempts to lose weight fail and that two-thirds of dieters gain back more than they lost. The reasons are biological and irreversible. As early as 1969, research showed that losing just 3 percent of your body weight resulted in a 17 percent slowdown in your metabolism—a body-wide starvation response that blasts you with hunger hormones and drops your internal temperature until you rise back to your highest weight. Keeping weight off means fighting your body’s energy-regulation system and battling hunger all day, every day, for the rest of your life.
The second big lesson the medical establishment has learned and rejected over and over again is that weight and health are not perfect synonyms. Yes, nearly every population-level study finds that fat people have worse cardiovascular health than thin people. But individuals are not averages: Studies have found that anywhere from one-third to three-quarters of people classified as obese are metabolically healthy. They show no signs of elevated blood pressure, insulin resistance or high cholesterol. Meanwhile, about a quarter of non-overweight people are what epidemiologists call “the lean unhealthy.” A 2016 study that followed participants for an average of 19 years found that unfit skinny people were twice as likely to get diabetes as fit fat people. Habits, no matter your size, are what really matter. Dozens of indicators, from vegetable consumption to regular exercise to grip strength, provide a better snapshot of someone’s health than looking at her from across a room.
The terrible irony is that for 60 years, we’ve approached the obesity epidemic like a fad dieter: If we just try the exact same thing one more time, we’ll get a different result. And so it’s time for a paradigm shift. We’re not going to become a skinnier country. But we still have a chance to become a healthier one.
A NOTE ABOUT OUR PHOTOGRAPHSSo many images you see in articles about obesity strip fat people of their strength and personality. According to a recent study, only 11 percent of large people depicted in news reports were wearing professional clothing. Nearly 60 percent were headless torsos. So, we asked our interview subjects to take full creative control of the photos in this piece. This is how they want to present themselves to the world.
“As a kid, I thought that fat people were just lonely and sad—almost like these pathetic lost causes. So I want to show that we get to experience love, too. I’m not some ‘fat friend’ or some dude’s chubby chasing dream. I’m genuinely happy. I just wish I’d known how possible that was when I was a kiddo.”— CORISSA ENNEKING
This is Corissa Enneking at her lightest: She wakes up, showers and smokes a cigarette to keep her appetite down. She drives to her job at a furniture store, she stands in four-inch heels all day, she eats a cup of yogurt alone in her car on her lunch break. After work, lightheaded, her feet throbbing, she counts out three Ritz crackers, eats them at her kitchen counter and writes down the calories in her food journal.
Or not. Some days she comes home and goes straight to bed, exhausted and dizzy from hunger, shivering in the Kansas heat. She rouses herself around dinnertime and drinks some orange juice or eats half a granola bar. Occasionally she’ll just sleep through the night, waking up the next day to start all over again.
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The last time she lived like this, a few years ago, her mother marched her to the hospital. “My daughter is sick,” she told the doctor. “She’s not eating.” He looked Enneking up and down. Despite six months of starvation, she was still wearing plus sizes, still couldn’t shop at J. Crew, still got unsolicited diet advice from colleagues and customers.
Enneking told the doctor that she used to be larger, that she’d lost some weight the same way she had lost it three or four times before—seeing how far she could get through the day without eating, trading solids for liquids, food for sleep. She was hungry all the time, but she was learning to like it. When she did eat, she got panic attacks. Her boss was starting to notice her erratic behavior.
“Well, whatever you’re doing now,” the doctor said, “it’s working.” He urged her to keep it up and assured her that once she got small enough, her body would start to process food differently. She could add a few hundred calories to her diet. Her period would come back. She would stay small, but without as much effort.
“If you looked at anything other than my weight,” Enneking says now, “I had an eating disorder. And my doctor was congratulating me.”
Ask almost any fat person about her interactions with the health care system and you will hear a story, sometimes three, the same as Enneking’s: rolled eyes, skeptical questions, treatments denied or delayed or revoked. Doctors are supposed to be trusted authorities, a patient’s primary gateway to healing. But for fat people, they are a source of unique and persistent trauma. No matter what you go in for or how much you’re hurting, the first thing you will be told is that it would all get better if you could just put down the Cheetos.
Emily went to a gynecological surgeon to have an ovarian cyst removed. The physician pointed out her body fat on the MRI, then said, “Look at that skinny woman in there trying to get out.”This phenomenon is not merely anecdotal. Doctors have shorter appointments with fat patients and show less emotional rapport in the minutes they do have. Negative words—“noncompliant,” “overindulgent,” “weak willed”—pop up in their medical histories with higher frequency. In one study, researchers presented doctors with case histories of patients suffering from migraines. With everything else being equal, the doctors reported that the patients who were also classified as fat had a worse attitude and were less likely to follow their advice. And that’s when they see fat patients at all: In 2011, the Sun-Sentinel polled OB-GYNs in South Florida and discovered that 14 percent had barred all new patients weighing more than 200 pounds.
Some of these doctors are simply applying the same presumptions as the society around them. An anesthesiologist on the West Coast tells me that as soon as a larger patient goes under, the surgeons start trading “high school insults” about her body over the operating table. Janice O’Keefe, a former nurse in Boston, tells me a doctor once looked at her, paused, then asked, “How could you do this to yourself?” Emily, a counselor in Eastern Washington, went to a gynecological surgeon to have an ovarian cyst removed. The physician pointed out her body fat on the MRI, then said, “Look at that skinny woman in there trying to get out.”
“I was worried I had cancer,” Emily says, “and she was turning it into a teachable moment about my weight.”
Other physicians sincerely believe that shaming fat people is the best way to motivate them to lose weight. “It’s the last area of medicine where we prescribe tough love,” says Mayo Clinic researcher Sean Phelan.
In a 2013 journal article, bioethicist Daniel Callahan argued for more stigma against fat people. “People don’t realize that they are obese or if they do realize it, it’s not enough to stir them to do anything about it,” he tells me. Shame helped him kick his cigarette habit, he argues, so it should work for obesity too.
This belief is cartoonishly out of step with a generation of research into obesity and human behavior. As one of the (many) stigma researchers who responded to Callahan’s article pointed out, shaming smokers and drug users with D.A.R.E.-style “just say no” messages may have actually increased substance abuse by making addicts less likely to bring up their habit with their doctors and family members.
Plus, rather obviously, smoking is a behavior; being fat is not. Jody Dushay, an endocrinologist and obesity specialist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, says most of her patients have tried dozens of diets and have lost and regained hundreds of pounds before they come to her. Telling them to try again, but in harsher terms, only sets them up to fail and then blame themselves.
89%of obese adults have been bullied by their romantic partnersSource: University of Connecticut, 2017Not all physicians set out to denigrate their fat patients, of course; some of them do damage because of subtler, more unconscious biases. Most doctors, for example, are fit—“If you go to an obesity conference, good luck trying to get a treadmill at 5 a.m.,” Dushay says—and have spent more than a decade of their lives in the high-stakes, high-stress bubble of medical schools. According to several studies, thin doctors are more confident in their recommendations, expect their patients to lose more weight and are more likely to think dieting is easy. Sarah (not her real name), a tech CEO in New England, once told her doctor that she was having trouble eating less throughout the day. “Look at me,” her doctor said. “I had one egg for breakfast and I feel fine.”
Then there are the glaring cultural differences. Kenneth Resnicow, a consultant who trains physicians to build rapport with their patients, says white, wealthy, skinny doctors will often try to bond with their low-income patients by telling them, “I know what it’s like not to have time to cook.” Their patients, who might be single mothers with three kids and two jobs, immediately think “No, you don’t,” and the relationship is irretrievably soured.
When Joy Cox, an academic in New Jersey, was 16, she went to the hospital with stomach pains. The doctor didn’t diagnose her dangerously inflamed bile duct, but he did, out of nowhere, suggest that she’d get better if she stopped eating so much fried chicken. “He managed to denigrate my fatness and my blackness in the same sentence,” she says.
“There is so much agency taken from marginalized groups to mute their voices and mask their existence. Being depicted as a female CEO—one who is also black and fat—means so much to me. It is a representation of the reclamation of power in the boardroom, classroom and living room of my body. I own all of this.”— JOY COX
Many of the financial and administrative structures doctors work within help reinforce this bad behavior. The problem starts in medical school, where, according to a 2015 survey, students receive an average of just 19 hours of nutrition education over four years of instruction—five hours fewer than they got in 2006. Then the trouble compounds once doctors get into daily practice. Primary care physicians only get 15 minutes for each appointment, barely enough time to ask patients what they ate today, much less during all the years leading up to it. And a more empathic approach to treatment simply doesn’t pay: While procedures like blood tests and CT scans command reimbursement rates from hundreds to thousands of dollars, doctors receive as little as $24 to provide a session of diet and nutrition counseling.
Lesley Williams, a family medicine doctor in Phoenix, tells me she gets an alert from her electronic health records software every time she’s about to see a patient who is above the “overweight” threshold. The reason for this is that physicians are often required, in writing, to prove to hospital administrators and insurance providers that they have brought up their patient’s weight and formulated a plan to bring it down—regardless of whether that patient came in with arthritis or a broken arm or a bad sunburn. Failing to do that could result in poor performance reviews, low ratings from insurance companies or being denied reimbursement if they refer patients to specialized care.
Another issue, says Kimberly Gudzune, an obesity specialist at Johns Hopkins, is that many doctors, no matter their specialty, think weight falls under their authority. Gudzune often spends months working with patients to set realistic goals—playing with their grandkids longer, going off a cholesterol medication—only to have other doctors threaten it all. One of her patients was making significant progress until she went to a cardiologist who told her to lose 100 pounds. “All of a sudden she goes back to feeling like a failure and we have to start over,” Gudzune says. “Or maybe she just never comes back at all.”
60%of the calories Americans consume come from “ultra-processed foods”Source: British Medical Journal, 2016And so, working within a system that neither trains nor encourages them to meaningfully engage with their higher-weight patients, doctors fall back on recommending fad diets and delivering bland motivational platitudes. Ron Kirk, an electrician in Boston, says that for years, his doctor’s first resort was to put him on some diet he couldn’t maintain for more than a few weeks. “They told me lettuce was a ‘free’ food,” he says—and he’d find himself carving up a head of romaine for dinner.
In a study that recorded 461 interactions with doctors, only 13 percent of patients got any specific plan for diet or exercise and only 5 percent got help arranging a follow-up visit. “It can be stressful when [patients] start asking a lot of specific questions” about diet and weight loss, one doctor told researchers in 2012. “I don’t feel like I have the time to sit there and give them private counseling on basics. I say, ‘Here’s some websites, look at this.’” A 2016 survey found that nearly twice as many higher-weight Americans have tried meal-replacement diets—the kind most likely to fail—than have ever received counseling from a dietician.
“It borders on medical malpractice,” says Andrew (not his real name), a consultant and musician who has been large his whole life. A few years ago, on a routine visit, Andrew’s doctor weighed him, announced that he was “dangerously overweight” and told him to diet and exercise, offering no further specifics. Should he go on a low-fat diet? Low-carb? Become a vegetarian? Should he do Crossfit? Yoga? Should he buy a fucking ThighMaster?
“She didn’t even ask me what I was already doing for exercise,” he says. “At the time, I was training for serious winter mountaineering trips, hiking every weekend and going to the gym four times a week. Instead of a conversation, I got a sound bite. It felt like shaming me was the entire purpose.”
All of this makes higher-weight patients more likely to avoid doctors. Three separate studies have found that fat women are more likely to die from breast and cervical cancers than non-fat women, a result partially attributed to their reluctance to see doctors and get screenings. Erin Harrop, a researcher at the University of Washington, studies higher-weight women with anorexia, who, contrary to the size-zero stereotype of most media depictions, are twice as likely to report vomiting, using laxatives and abusing diet pills. Thin women, Harrop discovered, take around three years to get into treatment, while her participants spent an average of 13 and a half years waiting for their disorders to be addressed.
“A lot of my job is helping people heal from the trauma of interacting with the medical system,” says Ginette Lenham, a counselor who specializes in obesity. The rest of it, she says, is helping them heal from the trauma of interacting with everyone else.
“My weight makes me anxious. I’m constantly sucking my stomach in when I stand, and if I’m sitting, I always grab a pillow or couch cushion to hold in front of it. I’m most comfortable in my bathrobe, alone. At the same time, my brain starves for attention. I want to be onstage. I want to be the one holding a microphone. So, I decided to split the difference with this photograph: to perform and to obscure. The worst part is that intellectually I know that I have worth beyond pounds and waist inches and stereotypes. But I still feel like I have to hide.”— SAM (NOT HIS REAL NAME)
If Sonya ever forgets that she is fat, the world will remind her. She has stopped taking the bus, she tells me, because she can sense the aggravation of the passengers squeezing past her. Sarah, the tech CEO, tenses up when anyone brings bagels to a work meeting. If she reaches for one, are her employees thinking, “There goes the fat boss”? If she doesn’t, are they silently congratulating her for showing some restraint?
Emily says it’s the do-gooders who get to her, the women who stop her on the street and tell her how brave she is for wearing a sleeveless dress on a 95-degree day. Sam, the medical technician, avoids the subject of weight altogether. “Men aren’t supposed to think about this stuff—and I think about it constantly,” he admits. “So I never let myself talk about it. Which is weird because it’s the most visible thing about me.”
Again and again I hear stories of how the pressure to be a “good fatty” in public builds up and explodes. Jessica has four kids. Every week is a birthday party or family reunion or swimming pool social, another opportunity to stand around platters of spare ribs and dinner rolls with her fellow moms.
“Your conscious mind is busy the whole day with how many calories is in everything, what you can eat and who’s watching,” she says. After a few intrusive comments over the years—should you be eating that?—she has learned to be careful, to perform the role of the impeccable fat person. She nibbles on cherry tomatoes, drinks tap water, stays on her feet, ignores the dessert end of the buffet.
Then, as the gathering winds down, Jessica and the other parents divvy up the leftovers. She wraps up burgers or pasta salad or birthday cake, drives her children home and waits for the moment when they are finally in bed. Then, when she’s alone, she eats all the leftovers by herself, in the dark.
“It’s always hidden,” she says. “I buy a package of ice cream, then eat it all. Then I have to go to the store to buy it again. For a week my family thinks there’s a thing of ice cream in the fridge—but it’s actually five different ones.”
Ratio of soda and candy ads seen by black children compared to white children:2:1Source: UConn Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, 2015This is how fat-shaming works: It is visible and invisible, public and private, hidden and everywhere at the same time. Research consistently finds that larger Americans (especially larger women) earn lower salaries and are less likely to be hired and promoted. In a 2017 survey, 500 hiring managers were given a photo of an overweight female applicant. Twenty-one percent of them described her as unprofessional despite having no other information about her. What’s worse, only a few cities and one state (nice work, Michigan) officially prohibit workplace discrimination on the basis of weight.
Paradoxically, as the number of larger Americans has risen, the biases against them have become more severe. More than 40 percent of Americans classified as obese now say they experience stigma on a daily basis, a rate far higher than any other minority group. And this does terrible things to their bodies. According to a 2015 study, fat people who feel discriminated against have shorter life expectancies than fat people who don’t. “These findings suggest the possibility that the stigma associated with being overweight,” the study concluded, “is more harmful than actually being overweight.”
And, in a cruel twist, one effect of weight bias is that it actually makes you eat more. The stress hormone cortisol—the one evolution designed to kick in when you’re being chased by a tiger or, it turns out, rejected for your looks—increases appetite, reduces the will to exercise and even improves the taste of food. Sam, echoing so many of the other people I spoke with, says that he drove straight to Jack in the Box last year after someone yelled, “Eat less!” at him across a parking lot.
“I don’t want to be portrayed; this is not about me. It’s about that guy you always see on the far treadmill at the gym. Or the lady who brings the most beautiful salads to work every day for lunch. It’s about the little girl who got bullied because of her size, and the little boy who was told he wasn’t man enough. It’s not about me, but had it been about me when I was that chubby little girl, maybe I wouldn’t be standing here, head against the door, wondering if I’m enough.”— ERIKA
There’s a grim caveman logic to our nastiness toward fat people. “We’re attuned to bodies that look different,” says Janet Tomiyama, a stigma researcher at UCLA. “In our evolutionary past, that might have meant disease risk and been seen as a threat to your tribe.” These biological breadcrumbs help explain why stigma begins so early. Kids as young as 3 describe their larger classmates with words like “mean,” “stupid” and “lazy.”
And yet, despite weight being the number one reason children are bullied at school, America’s institutions of public health continue to pursue policies perfectly designed to inflame the cruelty. TV and billboard campaigns still use slogans like “Too much screen time, too much kid” and “Being fat takes the fun out of being a kid.” Cat Pausé, a researcher at Massey University in New Zealand, spent months looking for a single public health campaign, worldwide, that attempted to reduce stigma against fat people and came up empty. In an incendiary case of good intentions gone bad, about a dozen states now send children home with “BMI report cards,” an intervention unlikely to have any effect on their weight but almost certain to increase bullying from the people closest to them.
This is not an abstract concern: Surveys of higher-weight adults find that their worst experiences of discrimination come from their own families. Erika, a health educator in Washington, can still recite the word her father used to describe her: “husky.” Her grandfather preferred “stocky.” Her mother never said anything about Erika’s body, but she didn’t have to. She obsessed over her own, calling herself “enormous” despite being two sizes smaller than her daughter. By the time Erika was 11, she was sneaking into the woods behind her house and vomiting into the creek whenever social occasions made starving herself impossible.
And the abuse from loved ones continues well into adulthood. A 2017 survey found that 89 percent of obese adults had been bullied by their romantic partners. Emily, the counselor, says she spent her teens and 20s “sleeping with guys I wasn’t interested in because they wanted to sleep with me.” In her head, a guy being into her was a rare and depletable resource she couldn’t afford to waste: “I was desperate for men to give me attention. Sex was a good way to do that.”
Eventually, she ended up with someone abusive. He told her during sex that her body was beautiful and then, in the daylight, that it was revolting. “Whenever I tried to leave him, he would say, ‘Where are you gonna find someone who will put up with your disgusting body?’” she remembers.
Emily finally managed to get away from him, but she is aware that her love life will always be fraught. The guy she’s dating now is thin—“think Tony Hawk,” she says—and she notices the looks they get when they hold hands in public. “That never used to happen when I dated fat dudes,” she says. “Thin men are not allowed to be attracted to fat women.”
The effects of weight bias get worse when they’re layered on top of other types of discrimination. A 2012 study found that African-American women are more likely to become depressed after internalizing weight stigma than white women. Hispanic and black teenagers also have significantly higher rates of bulimia. And, in a remarkable finding, rich people of color have higher rates of cardiovascular disease than poor people of color—the opposite of what happens with white people. One explanation is that navigating increasingly white spaces, and increasingly higher stakes, exerts stress on racial minorities that, over time, makes them more susceptible to heart problems.
But perhaps the most unique aspect of weight stigma is how it isolates its victims from one another. For most minority groups, discrimination contributes to a sense of belongingness, a community in opposition to a majority. Gay people like other gay people; Mormons root for other Mormons. Surveys of higher-weight people, however, reveal that they hold many of the same biases as the people discriminating against them. In a 2005 study, the words obese participants used to classify other obese people included gluttonous, unclean and sluggish.
Andrea, a retired nurse in Boston, has been on commercial diets since she was 10 years old. She knows how hard it is to slim down, knows what women larger than her are going through, but she still struggles not to pass judgment when she sees them in public. “I think, ‘How did they let it happen?’” she says. “It’s more like fear. Because if I let myself go, I’ll be that big too.”
Her position is all-too understandable. As young as 9 or 10, I knew that coming out of the closet is what gay people do, even if it took me another decade to actually do it. Fat people, though, never get a moment of declaring their identity, of marking themselves as part of a distinct group. They still live in a society that believes weight is temporary, that losing it is urgent and achievable, that being comfortable in their bodies is merely “glorifying obesity.” This limbo, this lie, is why it’s so hard for fat people to discover one another or even themselves. “No one believes our It Gets Better story,” says Tigress Osborn, the director of community outreach for the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance. “You can’t claim an identity if everyone around you is saying it doesn’t or shouldn’t exist.”
Harrop, the eating disorders researcher, realized several years ago that her university had clubs for trans students, immigrant students, Republican students, but none for fat students. So she started one—and it has been a resounding, unmitigated failure. Only a handful of fat people have ever showed up; most of the time, thin folks sit around brainstorming about how to be better allies.
I ask Harrop why she thinks the group has been such a bust. It’s simple, she says: “Fat people grow up in the same fat-hating culture that non-fat people do.”
“I think some folks are genuinely surprised that a man who looks like him is with a woman like me. As a fat person, I’m very aware of when I’m being stared at—and I have never been looked at this much before. So I thought that taking the photo in public would be a good idea. It feels subversive to show my fat body doing regular stuff the world believes I don’t or can’t do.”— EMILY
Since 1980, the obesity rate has doubled in 73 countries and increased in 113 others. And in all that time, no nation has reduced its obesity rate. Not one.
The problem is that in America, like everywhere else, our institutions of public health have become so obsessed with body weight that they have overlooked what is really killing us: our food supply. Diet is the leading cause of death in the United States, responsible for more than five times the fatalities of gun violence and car accidents combined. But it’s not how much we’re eating—Americans actually consume fewer calories now than we did in 2003. It’s what we’re eating.
For more than a decade now, researchers have found that the quality of our food affects disease risk independently of its effect on weight. Fructose, for example, appears to damage insulin sensitivity and liver function more than other sweeteners with the same number of calories. People who eat nuts four times a week have 12 percent lower diabetes incidence and a 13 percent lower mortality rate regardless of their weight. All of our biological systems for regulating energy, hunger and satiety get thrown off by eating foods that are high in sugar, low in fiber and injected with additives. And which now, shockingly, make up 60 percent of the calories we eat.
Draining this poison from our trillion-dollar food system is not going to happen quickly or easily. Every link in the chain, from factory farms to school lunches, is dominated by a Mars or a Monsanto or a McDonald’s, each working tirelessly to lower its costs and raise its profits. But that’s still no reason to despair. There’s a lot we can do right now to improve fat people’s lives—to shift our focus for the first time from weight to health and from shame to support.
The place to start is at the doctor’s office. The central failure of the medical system when it comes to obesity is that it treats every patient exactly the same: If you’re fat, lose some weight. If you’re skinny, keep up the good work. Stephanie Sogg, a psychologist at the Mass General Weight Center, tells me she has clients who start eating compulsively after a sexual assault, others who starve themselves all day before bingeing on the commute home and others who eat 1,000 calories a day, work out five times a week and still insist that they’re fat because they “have no willpower.”
Acknowledging the infinite complexity of each person’s relationship to food, exercise and body image is at the center of her treatment, not a footnote to it. “Eighty percent of my patients cry in the first appointment,” Sogg says. “For something as emotional as weight, you have to listen for a long time before you give any advice. Telling someone, ‘Lay off the cheeseburgers’ is never going to work if you don’t know what those cheeseburgers are doing for them.”
4%of all agricultural subsidies go to fruits and vegetablesSource: Environmental Working Group, 2014-16The medical benefits of this approach—being nicer to her patients than they are to themselves, is how Sogg describes it—are unimpeachable. In 2017, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, the expert panel that decides which treatments should be offered for free under Obamacare, found that the decisive factor in obesity care was not the diet patients went on, but how much attention and support they received while they were on it. Participants who got more than 12 sessions with a dietician saw significant reductions in their rates of prediabetes and cardiovascular risk. Those who got less personalized care showed almost no improvement at all.
Still, despite the Task Force’s explicit recommendation of “intensive, multicomponent behavioral counseling” for higher-weight patients, the vast majority of insurance companies and state health care programs define this term to mean just a session or two—exactly the superficial approach that years of research says won’t work. “Health plans refuse to treat this as anything other than a personal problem,” says Chris Gallagher, a policy consultant at the Obesity Action Coalition.
The same scurvy-ish negligence shows up at every level of government. From marketing rules to antitrust regulations to international trade agreements, U.S. policy has created a food system that excels at producing flour, sugar and oil but struggles to deliver nutrients at anywhere near the same scale. The United States spends $1.5 billion on nutrition research every year compared to around $60 billion on drug research. Just 4 percent of agricultural subsidies go to fruits and vegetables. No wonder that the healthiest foods can cost up to eight times more, calorie for calorie, than the unhealthiest—or that the gap gets wider every year.
It’s the same with exercise. The cardiovascular risks of sedentary lifestyles, suburban sprawl and long commutes are well-documented. But rather than help mitigate these risks—and their disproportionate impact on the poor—our institutions have exacerbated them. Only 13 percent of American children walk or bike to school; once they arrive, less than a third of them will take part in a daily gym class. Among adults, the number of workers commuting more than 90 minutes each way grew by more than 15 percent from 2005 to 2016, a predictable outgrowth of America’s underinvestment in public transportation and over-investment in freeways, parking and strip malls. For 40 years, as politicians have told us to eat more vegetables and take the stairs instead of the elevator, they have presided over a country where daily exercise has become a luxury and eating well has become extortionate.
“My son and I both like to play the hero. There wasn’t necessarily any intentional symbolism in the costumes we chose, but I am definitely a member of the rebellion, and I see my role as an eating disorders researcher as trying to fight for justice and a better world. Also, I like that I’m sweaty, dirty and messy, not done up with makeup or with my hair down in this picture. I like that I’m not hiding my stomach, thighs or arms. Not because I’m comfortable being photographed like that, but because I want to be—and I want others to feel free to be like that, too.”— ERIN HARROP
The good news is that the best ideas for reversing these trends have already been tested. Many “failed” obesity interventions are, in fact, successful eat-healthier-and-exercise-more interventions. A review of 44 international studies found that school-based activity programs didn’t affect kids’ weight, but improved their athletic ability, tripled the amount of time they spent exercising and reduced their daily TV consumption by up to an hour. Another survey showed that two years of getting kids to exercise and eat better didn’t noticeably affect their size but did improve their math scores—an effect that was greater for black kids than white kids.
You see this in so much of the research: The most effective health interventions aren’t actually health interventions—they are policies that ease the hardship of poverty and free up time for movement and play and parenting. Developing countries with higher wages for women have lower obesity rates, and lives are transformed when healthy food is made cheaper. A pilot program in Massachusetts that gave food stamp recipients an extra 30 cents for every $1 they spent on healthy food increased fruit and vegetable consumption by 26 percent. Policies like this are unlikely to affect our weight. They are almost certain, however, to significantly improve our health.
Which brings us to the most hard-wired problem of all: Our shitty attitudes toward fat people. According to Patrick Corrigan, the editor of the journal Stigma and Health, even the most well-intentioned efforts to reduce stigma break down in the face of reality. In one study, researchers told 10- to 12-year-olds all the genetic and medical factors that contribute to obesity. Afterward, the kids could recite back the message they received—fat kids didn’t get that way by choice—but they still had the same negative attitudes about the bigger kids sitting next to them. A similar approach with fifth- and sixth-graders actually increased their intention of bullying their fat classmates. Celebrity representation, meanwhile, can result in what Corrigan calls the “Thurgood Marshall effect”: Instead of updating our stereotypes (maybe fat people aren’t so bad), we just see prominent minorities as isolated exceptions to them (well, he’s not like those other fat people).
What does work, Corrigan says, is for fat people to make it clear to everyone they interact with that their size is nothing to apologize for. “When you pity someone, you think they’re less effective, less competent, more hurt,” he says. “You don’t see them as capable. The only way to get rid of stigma is from power.”
This has always been the great hope of the fat-acceptance movement. (“We’re here, we’re spheres, get used to it” was one of the slogans in the 1990s.) But this radical message has long since been co-opted by clothing brands, diet companies and soap corporations. Weight Watchers has rebranded as a “lifestyle program,” but still promises that its members can shrink their way to happiness. Mainstream apparel companies market themselves as “body positive” but refuse to make clothes that fit the plus-size models on their own billboards. Social media, too, has provided a platform for positive representations of fat people and formed communities that make it easier to find each other. But it has also contributed to an anodyne, narrow, Dr. Phil-approved form of progress that celebrates the female entrepreneur who sells “fatkinis” on Instagram, while ignoring the woman who (true story) gets fired from her management position after reportedly gaining 100 pounds over three years.
“Fat activism isn’t about making people feel better about themselves,” Pausé says. “It’s about not being denied your civil rights and not dying because a doctor misdiagnoses you.”
And so, in a world that refuses to change, it is still up to every fat person, alone, to decide how to endure. Emily, the counselor in Eastern Washington, says she made a choice about three years ago to assert herself. The first time she asked for a table instead of a booth at a restaurant, she says, she was sweating, flushed, her chest heaving. It felt like saying the words—“I can’t fit”—would dry up in her mouth as she said them.
But now, she says, “It’s just something I do.” Last month, she was at a conference and asked one of the other participants if he would trade chairs because his didn’t have arms. Like most of these requests, it was no big deal. “A tall person wouldn’t feel weird asking that, so why should I?” she says. Her skinny friends have started to inquire about the seating at restaurants before Emily even gets the chance.
Hearing about Emily’s progress reminds me of a conversation I had with Ginette Lenham, the diet counselor. Her patients, she says, often live in the past or the future with their weight. They tell her they are waiting until they are smaller to go back to school or apply for a new job. They beg her to return them to their high school or wedding or first triathlon weight, the one that will bring back their former life.
And then Lenham must explain that these dreams are a trap. Because there is no magical cure. There is no time machine. There is only the revolutionary act of being fat and happy in a world that tells you that’s impossible.
“We all have to do our best with the body that we have,” she says. “And leave everyone else’s alone.”