International No Diet Day is May 6. I know some of my readers practice “No Diet Day” every day, and I mean them no offense by this post. I recognize that there is a small minority of people — mostly people with a decades long history of dieting and failing and/or people recovering from eating disorders — for whom dieting is a detrimental if not downright pathological activity.
I first learned of the existence of this day from this defacement of their Wikipedia entry. As a result, I took a look at their website. It makes my brain hurt. From it’s whimsical use of Comic Sans in a serious document to it’s chronic misuse of scientific information, I just can’t imagine taking International No Diet Day seriously.
One of the goals of the occasion is to “Recognize how dieting perpetuates violence against women”. Excuse me? There are people who assault women over the issue of dieting? Failing to “recognize” that, here! I’m sorry for the narrow-minded viewpoint that “violence” implies “physically hurting someone,” but Merriam-Webster’s got my back on this one. Am I seriously missing news stories about women being beaten up for eating a donut? For not eating a donut?? To add insult to imagined injury, I can’t find any information on their site that would support or clarify this goal. If they want to argue that there are people who make fun of dieters and people who make fun of fat people, I can agree with that. Calling it “violence” undermines their movement.
Let’s move on to their “facts” and figures about dieting. Between “90 and 99%” of diets don’t work forever? Pretty big range there! Sure would have been nice to link to a study or two, preferably ones that use those numbers. There’s reasons for diet failure, of course, and most of them can be controlled. Then “virtually all” dieters gain it back? That’s a big shock to me, my family, my friends, and many people on the internet.
Yes, it’s true that the “diet industry” and diet scams earn a lot of money from people who desperately want to get thin, but can’t get the hang of eating healthy foods in reasonable quantities and engaging in physical activity. Want to have a “Boycott Diet Industry Vultures Day”? A “Say No To Crappy Diet Food Day,” or “No Diet Shakes for Me Day”? Perhaps just simply a “Don’t Waste Money On Stuff That Doesn’t Work Day”? I’m there.
In the end, the “facts” and figures section has a lot of statistics and mentions studies, but provides no data or links or actual scientific papers to back them up. 5% of college aged women are anorexic or bulimic? Seriously? Based on what information? Almost a third of women in their 20s and early 30s have bone mass problems? Really? Tell me, did the makers of Boniva do that study? Where did the data on 9 and 10 year olds dieting come from, a child modeling agency? How hard is it to find citations online? There’s these miracle things called “search engines” now. An English teacher would have a “Field Day” with “International No Diet Day.”
There is one more “goal” that needs mentioning, one apparently too controversial for the frontpage of their site or the Wikipedia entry: “To educate the public about the dangers of weight-loss surgery, diet drugs, and size-biased medical treatment.” By “size-biased medical treatment,” they mean the idea that your doctor thinks you will be healthier in the long run if you lose some weight and keep it off. Here’s the facts: study after study shows that obese people are at higher risk for a variety of cancers (oh look, I used a search engine to find a gaggle of studies!); obesity is a major risk factor for heart disease; obesity is a risk factor for osteoarthritis in the joints of the lower body; obesity is a risk factor for diabetes (at least one doctor I know insists that if you are overweight, you will eventually become diabetic. Sobering stuff). If it is “size-biased medical treatment” to point these things out, I hope all doctors are so biased.
In Closing: TV ownership in America on the decline, both due to poverty and internet delivery of video; FDA getting ability to do something about food safety; flashmob robbery; waaah; small business hiring disappointing; we’ve all gone crazy; Orwell would be proud indeed; propaganda; “Dude, I need, like, about 250 sliders, man”; thank you, anti-vax morons; and an interesting view of 2012.