Today there was a big NPR headline smack in the middle of my Facebook home page. I usually ignore intrusions by companies into my Facebook page on principle, but in this case I smelled a blog post topic, so I clicked away. I have a good nose!

Now, studies that discover new things about what different cells do in our body are great, and interesting. I’m glad scientists are studying what brown fat cells do in adult bodies. I also know, as a scientist, that to some extent everyone pads their conclusions to be relevant to hot topics where possible (origin of life and paleoclimate have been hot ones in geoscience for a while), because it increases the chances of getting funding. Hot topics are usually where the money is. So I’m not entirely surprised that the scientists who discovered brown fat cells are related to metabolism included some conclusions about the implications for weight loss. There is money in that these days.

Weight loss sounding like the whole motivation for the study (and implied follow-ups) bothers me more. Weight loss as a goal is bad for people. And the results of this study are a little bit terrifying. Next up: The Biggest Loser: Antarctica! Where contestants have to work out with their insane trainer in the miserable cold to activate what little brown fat cell activity they have!* And if that doesn’t work, well, by getting so damn fat they must have lost those cells, so it’s their own fucking fault. And everyone is getting fatter, so that’s a problem. Don’t you dare lecture me on causation, either, that’s a perfectly logical argument! Don’t talk to me about how fatness is inherited so there’s no blame to place, either. LALALALALA.

(Injecting people with fat cells sounds pretty risky to me. The article doesn’t talk about any of the potential risks. As a non-biologist and non-doctor, I’d like that information. That’s the kind of thing these articles always lack – you know, Science and stuff. But that would be boring. We have to tell people about weight loss!! Weight loss sells!)

Anyway, I’m being silly. After all, if people sit in cold rooms, they’re just going to eat more, and we all know that fat people just eat more and worse, and that’s why they got fat. Consumption totally correlates with body size. And cold. Everyone eats more when they’re cold. THAT’s at least true.

GAH. The stupid, it burns.

* I say that as a JOKE, but let’s just watch and see what comes out next season.


3 Responses

  1. Yeah. The feed on that story made me want to scream, and the comments were just depressing. Eight hundred variations on “Oh, I’ll turn down the heat!” and two hundred on “If the fatties would just eat less and work out more, they’d be skinny too!” Gah.

  2. But have you ever tried diet and exercise? ;-)

  3. I didn’t understand what heavy meat and dairy consumption was until I moved to the Midwest. Now I understand. And I understand why the pioneers here ate lots of meat and cheese – it was what could be grown and stored over the winter, and what could keep you alive. Strangely, the settlers did not go so much for winter lettuce (although plenty of sauerkraut was laid by for that handy non-scurvy.)

    Having made it through several nasty winters by taking mass transit, I can tell you that the cold does not de facto make people, including me, thin. Also, the urge to eat/drink something calorific after an hour of slogging through 20 inch snow drifts in a blizzard with howling wind because the bus has slid into the gutter and is stuck – that urge is beyond all reason. All you want is hot chocolate, along with french onion soup or maybe clam chowder, followed by cheesecake and a nap. This is an entirely sane desire, probably driven by the body’s desire to not die, coupled with the tremendous calorific output required to slog through giant snowdrifts and stay semi-conscious.

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