Yes, it's a deliberately provocative title, and a rather naughty tease from me to the FA blogosphere. If you are hearing impaired or YouTube impaired, you can find a transcript of this classic Fry & Laurie sketch here. It's lots of fun seeing Hugh Laurie back in the day when he was mostly playing a gormless idiot, instead of in his more recent role as Dr House. The delightful snarky skepticism remains a constant, whether it's being delivered by Fry or by Laurie.
The most relevant line here is at 2:41, with Stephen Fry's little rant:
Well of course too much is bad for you, that's
what "too much" means you blithering twat. If
you had too much water it would be bad for you,
wouldn't it? "Too much" precisely means that
quantity which is excessive, that's what it means.
Could you ever say "too much water is good for
you"? I mean if it's too much it's too much. Too
much of anything is too much. Obviously. Jesus.
So there. Being too fat is bad for you. Being too thin is bad for you. Drinking too much alcohol is bad for you. Drinking too much water is bad for you. Eating too much lettuce is bad for you. Ad nauseam, and ad infinitum, because that's simply what "too much" means!
Now let's refer back to my basic philosophy that I posted the other day.
Point one: so what if it's bad for you? If someone is doing something or has some condition that is bad for them, that gives no-one license to go around abusing them for it. Having an inherited tendency to heart disease is bad for you. Being poor is bad for you. Having cancer is bad for you, and so is having the flu. Also, being a woman, being short, being left-handed, being non-heterosexual, and being non-Caucasian all have demonstrably bad effects in certain societies.
We are all human, and we all have our own problems to deal with. Can there possibly be a single person in the world who has no innate health risks, and then never does anything that's bad for them, ever? I don't think so. I know it's very hard when you have to deal with the people whose problem is that they are sententious interfering narcissistic jerks, but do try to have a little compassion :)
Point two: I do not think that the current popular wisdom on what counts as "too much fat" is actually correct. I'm pretty damn sure that a BMI of 25, or 30, or even 40 is not the cutoff between OK and DOOOOOMED!! Probably it's variable with each person. And even for an individual, what their ideal healthy weight is at any given time of their life could still be quite variable. The research is just so NOT in. While I am of the general understanding that statistically the lowest death rates are found in people in the "overweight" rather than the "normal" group, I don't know what that means in practice. Can one actually change one's health risks by changing one's weight? Weight change may very well come with some nasty hidden costs.
Point three: I'm really not sure what would count as "too much fat" even for myself, let alone for any other given individual. And it's certainly not my business to tell anyone else what they should do about it.
And that's all one can say on that topic, really, except to reiterate the call for compassion with more seriousness. I would like to send blogger Heidi, who had gastric surgery, a great big hug, and tell her that she's fine and brave and wonderful. And especially, I want to tell her that she need not fear the reactions of her peers in the fatosphere. But if you read the tail end of the piece, where she posted an update on her own blog, it seems that I would have been wrong about that. Please, is it really so hard to be kind to one another?