140: Mythbusting about fat and BMI with Dr. Lindo Bacon

This episode kicks off a series on the intersection of parenting and food.


We begin today with a conversation with Dr. Lindo Bacon, where we bust a LOT of myths about the obesity epidemic that is said to be plaguing people in the United States and other countries that follow a similar diet.


The messaging we get from government entities seems pretty simple: being fat is bad for you. It causes increased risk for a host of diseases as well as early death. If you’re fat, you should lose weight because then your risk of getting these diseases and dying early will be reduced.


But what if this wasn’t true?


What if this messaging had been established by people who own companies that manufacture weight loss products who sit on panels that advise international governmental entities like the World Health Organization?


What if body fat was actually protective for your health?


We dig into all these questions and more in this provocative interview.


We’ll continue this series with episodes looking specifically at sugar, as well as supporting parents who have or continue to struggle with disordered eating, and how to support children in developing eating habits that will serve them for a lifetime, not just get the vegetables into them today.


Jump to highlights:

  • (01:00) Introducing Dr. Lindo Bacon and starting our series of episodes on the intersection of parenting and food
  • (02:22) Stripping the word ‘fat’ of it’s pejorative meaning and reclaiming the term while acknowledging that it may be jarring for some people
  • (03:09) Kicking off the conversation with how we measure health using BMI and how it might not be accurate
  • (05:03) The resistance to Katherine Flegal’s seminal research in weight and longevity
  • (05:49) The development of the Body Mass Index was with scientific bias to fit the bell curve
  • (07:30) Higher body weight does not necessarily mean a person has greater risk of poor health
  • (10:59) We actually know that the research is highly exaggerated in terms on the role that it plays on health
  • (13:16) Dr. Bacon’s turning point: When they found out that BMI recommendations were created by an organization funded by pharmaceutical companies who produce weight loss drugs and products
  • (17:35) Taking the issue one step further with the American Medical Association’s recommendation whether to categorize obesity as a disease or not
  • (19:19) The Obesity Paradox is an observation in the research that people who are obese who get the same diseases as those with ‘normal’ weight are living longer
  • (21:15) The concept of dieting just doesn’t work according to the data
  • (30:33) A story of Dr. Bacon’s and their father’s knee problems
  • (34:40) Individual factors only accounts to 25% to somebody’s total health outcomes and social determinants account to about 60%
  • (42:05) It is cool right now to be your authentic self but not everyone can so easily be their authentic self when their authentic selves are not valued by society at large
  • (45:48) Improving the health of individuals is more communal than individual


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About the author, Jen

Jen Lumanlan (M.S., M.Ed.) hosts the Your Parenting Mojo podcast (www.YourParentingMojo.com), which examines scientific research related to child development through the lens of respectful parenting.

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