My friends hate me…

Because they send me stuff like this in the morning:

Obese teenage girls are in denial about their weight, a new study shows.

Nearly half of the girls who had high body fat in the Auckland University of Technology (AUT) study thought they were normal or underweight.

OH, FUCK ME.

Point to note:  There is no further reference to obesity in the entire article, nor any assessment of how many of the girls studied were, in fact, obese.

No, what they looked at was high body fat.

That shouldn’t be a problem, right?

The AUT study, led by Elizabeth Duncan, followed 954 girls aged 11 to 15 who were randomly selected from 11 intermediate and secondary schools in Auckland.

You have got to be fucking kidding me.  Also note, no actual specification of how many of these girls had “high body fat”, or even what “high body fat” entails.

GEE, I WONDER IF THERE’S SOME KIND OF EXPLANATION FOR GIRLS AGED 11 TO 15 TO HAVE HIGH BODY FAT, LIKE, STILL GOING THROUGH PUBERTY OR NOT EVEN HAVING HIT FUCKING PUBERTY YET.

Who am I kidding, right? They must be total porkers. Science says so.

Duncan said that while many overweight girls were underestimating their size, there were also many who overestimated.

Of course, that bit didn’t make the headlines, because then we might have to confront things like our fucked-up perception of and attitudes to weight, or something.

But keep that bit in mind, because it gets better.

“In our sample, 23 per cent of girls considered themselves overweight, whereas around 46 per cent are trying to lose weight,” the study said.

The “relatively high degree of weight misclassification” was of concern.

Now, this seems good, right?  The “concern” is that girls who aren’t “overweight” are trying to lose weight.  After all,

Girls who incorrectly perceived themselves to be overweight might face a higher risk of eating disorders, the study said.

So what am I complaining about? Besides, of course, the assumption that it’s totally okay for 11 to 15-year old girls who have vaguely-defined “high body fat” to be dieting.  Maybe I should give these guys the benefit of the doubt…

“Conversely, overweight girls who are unable to recognise their condition are unlikely to initiate the lifestyle changes required to obtain a healthy body weight.”

THE HOLY GRAIL!  The fatties just don’t know they’re fat! Not only do they not know, they’re unable to recognise their condition! Jesus Christ on a pogo stick, seriously? Our issue is that preteens with “high” body fat haven’t yet developed a paranoid obsession with weight and appearance? THAT’S A FUCKING PROBLEM?

Oh, right, sorry. Health.

While both situations were bad, underestimating “excessive body fat” was a greater public health risk.

Interventions and educational campaigns to help girls recognise a state of excess body fat should be a priority, the study said.

So … not knowing you’re a fattie is a greater public health risk than the number of young women who are already on the happy cycle of weight-loss-obsessed-dieting, or who might already be developing eating disorders? Those disorders that people in NZ have to fly to fucking Australia to get treatment for?

Sorry, sorry, I forgot, being fat is an automatic death sentence, and contagious, too.

[Christchurch public health dietitian Bronwen King said]“Any education would have to be very carefully thought through as it could trigger negative body image and dieting and eating disorders,” she said. “What we need is an across-society approach where healthy eating and exercise behaviour is made the more attractive, affordable, accessible and available choice.”

Now, points for the “affordable, accessible, available”, I guess. But here’s the thing, Ms King:

YEAH, WHAT WE *REALLY* NEED IS SOME KIND OF SOCIETAL MESSAGES CONSTANTLY BROADCAST ABOUT THE NEED TO WORK OUT AND EAT LESS, and above all, that BEING FAT IS GROSS AND BAD AND WRONG AND STUFF. MAYBE WE SHOULD HARNESS THE POWERS OF INFOMERCIALS, BEAUTY STANDARDS, WOMEN’S MAGAZINES AND POP CULTURE TO OUR CAUSE. THIS IS A BREATHTAKING AND ORIGINAL IDEA.

Ms King, you’re being quoted in an article which is fucking HEADLINED “Obese teenage girls are in denial about their weight”.  You’re being quoted on a study which is more worried that ADOLESCENT GIRLS have HIGH BODY FAT and don’t perceive themselves as gross burdens on the public health system than it is about the “normal”-sized girls who are ALREADY FUCKING DIETING.

A study which doesn’t address real health issues, hasn’t examined fitness or nutrition or activity levels or self-esteem or even blood pressure or cholesterol or diabetes or any of the traditional Oh Noes Fatness triggers – a study which says what we REALLY NEED TO DO is make sure ADOLESCENT GIRLS can “recognise” a “state of excess body fat”.

It’s a bit fucking late to be talking about “carefully thought-out” “education”.

4 comments

  1. Julie Fairey

    I’ve got a quick hit going up on this this afternoon as well. I found it very interesting the way the research was reported – all the focus on the fat chicks. :-(

  2. QoT

    It’s just awful, isn’t it? The beautiful paradox of, “we’re worried the “normal”-weight girls are already dieting, clearly the answer is to tell them they’re not fat!” while the headline screams YOU’RE PROBABLY FAT YOU’RE JUST IN DENIAL!!!

  3. Ari

    It’s even possible to be young, fat and in denial now? When I was in the schools, if girls were even marginally fat there would be SOMEONE who would make it their duty to remind them at every possible opportunity.

    There’s really no winning for young women, I guess =/

  4. Jack Hackett

    Agree this is dreadful reporting of the study, some folk are just fat. If it was 200 years ago they would have been considered beautiful. Reports like this are demeaning of women.

    Jack