A week ago I posted an infographic called “Is Obesity a Choice?” I got a lot of hate on Facebook for posting this, even though I said I didn’t agree with some of it. By and large, most of the arguments made were very emotional and lacked solid reason. The worst aspect of this discussion was that I felt people were being dismissive of an infographic that was making some very relevant points.

I decided that a podcast would be the best format for hashing out the context of this discussion and getting to the bottom of the intentions of the author of the infographic and the accompanying article.

Here’s a copy of the infographic:

obesity-choice
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Here’s a link to the article that provides context for the infographic, which I read and responded to in real-time on the podcast.

Would love for you to leave comments below!

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Comments

  • Mike G says:

    Re podcast RB113 I do believe it is a choice. One my not believe they have choices, but they do.

    I limped bad, and walked incorrectly, for over forty 40 years because I was born with cerebral Palsy (CP). Today at 50 I walk as normal as any other person.

    I didn’t think I had a choice. I thought I had to limp and go through life labeled a “gimp”. The truth is I didn’t have to limp I could have walked normal my whole life. I just didn’t have the right answers, but I never gave up on looking for them.

    Choose to keep trying or choose to give up. They are your choices.

    PS I understand hard and having the deck stacked against you.

  • Loreen Bury says:

    I absolutely loved this podcast Kevin. Kudos!
    I love what you said on there about controversial podcasts that spark conversation. Don’t ever stop.
    I hate the fact that you have to keep repeating yourself about the majority, especially when idiots are writing in just to bitch and complain. Do they pay people to just attack with stupid comments w/o listening to what you were actually saying from this article? Some people are just pissed at everything and have to send in their stupid comments. That annoys me.
    You did awesome and I look forward to more of the same.

  • Kathleen says:

    Great podcast! I had seen the post on FB and read some of the comments, but was puzzled by the whole thing. What point were you after, is what I was wondering. (Of course, your podcast cleared up everything and was spot-on.)

    In all fairness, the infographic is pretty unclear as to it’s intentions. Most things like this, with simple cartoons, asking a yes or no question, are looking for an obvious conclusion. That’s the dumbed-down kind of stuff we are used to seeing, ESPECIALLY in the area of health & weight. And it usually comes with a helping of ignorance and judgment. We’re used to that too, and pretty sick of it! The article was a whole different story, but I only looked at the infographic, sounds like most everyone else did too, based on their comments. Also, you do have a tendency to post things with the intention of later ripping it apart on a podcast–c’mon, admit it!–which was my knee-jerk expectation when I first saw the post. Add all that together, and I am not surprised by the FB comments.

    As usual, you are making us think! I’m grateful for that. I need to do more thinking and less emotional reacting.

  • jake3_14 says:

    This was the most fact-free health podcast I’ve listened to in a while — from both sides of the issue. Initially, you chose to introduce Dr. Nadolsky’s ideas only with the graphic, rather than with a link to his article, which would have shown just a thumbnail of the graphic. Not reading the article and presenting a graphic that in no way conveys the substance of Nadolsky’s essay was provocative. Even calling it an “infographic” was a loaded word choice, since the usual infographic is loaded with facts and statistics. As a coach, you had to have known or should have been keenly aware that women are the primary health guardians of families, and that society places huge pressures on them alone to ensure that their kids turn out healthy. Your choices predisposed the discussion to be based in emotionality.

    Your podcast was nearly devoid of the factual information you needed to support your assertions. IIRC, the only fact you referred to was an unsourced WHO study about the rate of C-section births. Nadolsky didn’t cite this in his essay, so it was incumbent on you to provide a verifiable reference. In addition, you owed it to your audience to dig beneath the abstracts of the evidence you should have cited. For example, who instigated the increased rate of c-sections: medical staff or mothers? The answer might have modified your assertion that vaginal birth is a choice for the majority of women.

    As for your assertion that nurses — as a profession — promote supplemental formula feeding whenever there’s even a slight problem with breastfeeding, [citation required], as the kids say.

    Moreover, you didn’t do something in your podcast that I thought would have been an obvious choice: have Dr. Nadolsky as a guiest to discuss his article on your podcast. He’s really the best person to explain what he meant and to defend his use of the evidence and his “infographic.” I didn’t even hear you mention that you invited Nadolsky.

    In short, the emotional drama over this topic was due as much to your choices as the choices of commenters.

    • Kevin Geary says:

      Initially, you chose to introduce Dr. Nadolsky’s ideas only with the graphic, rather than with a link to his article, which would have shown just a thumbnail of the graphic. Not reading the article and presenting a graphic that in no way conveys the substance of Nadolsky’s essay was provocative.

      This is not an argument that backs up your initial statement that this is a fact-free podcast episode. I presented this infographic without mentioning the article for a specific reason—to see if people were willing to take an objective look at something controversial rather than jumping to conclusions.

      As a coach, you had to have known or should have been keenly aware that women are the primary health guardians of families, and that society places huge pressures on them alone to ensure that their kids turn out healthy. Your choices predisposed the discussion to be based in emotionality.

      If the members of my Facebook community are adults, then I don’t have any control over whether they respond emotionally or logically. It’s also not my responsibility to tiptoe around the feelings of others—it’s to help people think in a way that benefits their physical and psychological health and development. Might I add that you still haven’t formed an argument that supports your initial statement.

      Your podcast was nearly devoid of the factual information you needed to support your assertions.

      This is not an argument. You’re welcome to present arguments. So far, you haven’t.

      In addition, you owed it to your audience to dig beneath the abstracts of the evidence you should have cited. For example, who instigated the increased rate of c-sections: medical staff or mothers? The answer might have modified your assertion that vaginal birth is a choice for the majority of women.

      It doesn’t matter who instigated the increased rate of c-sections. The medical staff don’t get to decide. So, by default, you’re bringing up the point that mothers are responsible. Either they’re choosing themselves or they’re allowing themselves to be manipulated. It’s a fact you also don’t want me to highlight because of the “huge pressures placed on women,” yet you gave me no other choice.

      As for your assertion that nurses — as a profession — promote supplemental formula feeding whenever there’s even a slight problem with breastfeeding, [citation required], as the kids say.

      Asking me for citations for my arguments is not an argument. I’m not even sure how I would provide evidence for this. Do you think there’s a research study that has looked into the specifics of how often formula feeding is recommended by nurses? You’re welcome to form your own argument and provide any evidence you have to back it up. So far, you’ve struggled to do so.

      Moreover, you didn’t do something in your podcast that I thought would have been an obvious choice: have Dr. Nadolsky as a guiest to discuss his article on your podcast. He’s really the best person to explain what he meant and to defend his use of the evidence and his “infographic.” I didn’t even hear you mention that you invited Nadolsky.

      I didn’t have any interest in talking to him. He wrote an article that was pretty clear.

      In short, the emotional drama over this topic was due as much to your choices as the choices of commenters.

      I have nothing to do with the emotions of others. Let this be a lesson in emotional intelligence. You just wrote five paragraphs regarding this episode and were unable to form a single argument in any one of them. You’re welcome to try again, but if you comment with more of the same, don’t expect me to participate.

  • Scott says:

    I don’t understand why the Facebook commenters where so offended by the info graphic. It was making no statement at all, it was asking a question. For myself, without a doubt it IS a choice. Three years ago at 45 I was 265 lbs 30%+ body fat and exercised very little. I thought I was eating well by doing the low fat and whole grain thing, but I was not educated. I was a yoyo dieter. I’d cut calories for a while and lose and gain the same 5-10 lbs over and over again. I made the choice to learn about nutrition and fitness by reading books and listening to pocdasts such as The Rebooted Body, Jonathan Bailor, Underground Wellness, Mark’s Daily Apple, and Abel James (Fat Burning Man). I made the choice to walk for 45-60 minutes 6 days per week and was able to lose 45 lbs in a year. Now I make the choice to ride my road bike on average 50 miles per week and to regularly lift weights or do HIIT training. I made the choice to join a CSA and to eat as many vegetables as possible. I made the choice to purchase grass-fed beef from a local farmer instead of the CAFO crap from the supermarket. I made the choice to eat real food instead of packaged and processed food-like products. I could make the easy choice to sit on the couch with a bag of chips and watch TV for hours on end day after day. That’s what I used to do. Those choices led me to being tired, fat, and sick. Now I choose to be healthy and energetic!

    • Kevin Geary says:

      Great observation. I believe people felt as if the “questions” were actually posing a statement through insinuation. But this was obviously a conclusion that was jumped to.

      Also, great work on the lifestyle adjustments and habits you’ve made! 🙂

  • Heather says:

    My C-section wasn’t due to my weight. It was due to a uterus that is shaped like a heart and will not allow my babies to turn from a breech presentation and which will not allow me to actually push them out. That part of your info-graphic is just wrong. I didn’t choose to be made in this fashion, I just was. I would have loved to have a regular birth both the times I had babies, but for me it is not a possibility.

    • Kevin Geary says:

      Hi Heather,

      Two things:

      1) It’s not my infographic.
      2) You didn’t listen to the episode. Please do so before commenting.

  • Casey says:

    I fear that most people have a very hard time seeing both sides of an issue anymore. I went through a therapy called dialectical behavioral therapy. Black and white thinking causes people misery. In this therapy they teach you the dialectic–how to see that two realities can exist at the same time. It should be respected when two sides of the same coin can both be understood. It was just frustrating to go through the therapy and gain this skill but realize that it isn’t just people with mental illnesses that overuse black and white thinking. It is most people.

    And I think you are right…emotion really gets in the way. When I find myself acting emotionally on a topic and wanting to comment, I try to take a step back now and think about it before making a comment. Very few people will be swayed by an emotional comment unless it is expressing the view that is the same as their own.

    The people who seem to be really good at seeing both sides are the Buddhists who call it “finding the middle path,” and it works well for almost everything.

    In closing, my disappointment with the podcast was that you didn’t talk more about the “farting rainbows.” That concept fascinated me and you put it out there and then just didn’t say anything else about it!

  • Madaline says:

    Hi Kevin!

    I am new to your podcasts and I love your passion with the topics that you discuss. Great question that you pose about obesity! With this episode, I did not agree with your view point on cesarean sections and breastfeeding, especially since I have been working with obstetricians and L&D nurses the past 2 months. I do not know if your points were based on opinion or the research you did on topic.

    For c-sections:
    1. The research I have done, you are correct about the high rate of c-sections. The percentage have stabilized due to the new guideline the WHO has implemented. There are even a few states that have decreased there c-section rates after the guidelines.
    2. There is now clear picture why c-sections rates have increased over the years. In general, most obstetricians advise against elective c-sections. All of the physicians I have worked with would rather have their patients deliver vaginally, unless the patient has had a prior c-section due to possible complications that can occur to have a vbac. C-sections are generally performed due to fetal distress or anomalies, twin pregnancies, or maternal complications.
    3. Maternal elective c-sections is estimated to be 2.5% based on The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists article. They strongly advise against elective procedures.
    http://www.acog.org/Resources-And-Publications/Committee-Opinions/Committee-on-Obstetric-Practice/Cesarean-Delivery-on-Maternal-Request

    Breastfeeding:
    -Yes, they do provide free formula for the moms, which is a problem. There has been some movement in certain areas to discourage the distribution of free formula for moms who decided to breastfeed when they are at the hospital.
    -At all the hospitals I have been at, they provide a lactation consultant regardless if the mom is having breastfeeding issues.
    -The real issue is the amount of time moms have before going back to work after giving birth. As a result, moms have to result to pumping their breast milk, which is not always probable.
    -There is a lack of nursing stations in public, especially at jobs. Who wants to pump in a public bathroom? DISGUSTING!!! In addition, not all employers are required to give new moms extra breaks even with the new law that has been put in place. Employers are only required to give nursing moms breaks to pump if the employer have over a certain number of employees working for them.

    • Kevin Geary says:

      Thank you for your comment. I appreciate it. Here’s my response to a few of your points.

      2. There is now clear picture why c-sections rates have increased over the years. In general, most obstetricians advise against elective c-sections. All of the physicians I have worked with would rather have their patients deliver vaginally, unless the patient has had a prior c-section due to possible complications that can occur to have a vbac. C-sections are generally performed due to fetal distress or anomalies, twin pregnancies, or maternal complications.

      I would imagine that this is a different story depending on the area of the U.S. we’re discussing. For example, in Atlanta, Northside Hospital is known for their astronomical c-section rates. They find any excuse whatsoever to recommend a c-section. I can only speak to personal experience and to the growing c-section rates in the country. I’m sure there are specific areas and specific hospitals where c-section rates are dropping or are stable and low…but it’s not the trend.

      At all the hospitals I have been at, they provide a lactation consultant regardless if the mom is having breastfeeding issues.

      This is absolutely true. The issue, however, is that moms have to request this and be informed of it ahead of time. Most don’t know it’s an option and don’t ask for it. I’ve heard from many moms that they were never told this was an option. In fact, the one’s who had trouble breastfeeding didn’t know the issues could be addressed outside of formula.

      The real issue is the amount of time moms have before going back to work after giving birth. As a result, moms have to result to pumping their breast milk, which is not always probable.

      My argument would be that the moms are making this choice in almost every case. Maternity programs in employment are very good for the most part. This is an area where I’ve been very critical of feminism for encouraging moms to not stay home and give up their equality or whatever the nonsensical argument is for staying home and caring for children.

      There is a lack of nursing stations in public, especially at jobs. Who wants to pump in a public bathroom? DISGUSTING!!! In addition, not all employers are required to give new moms extra breaks even with the new law that has been put in place. Employers are only required to give nursing moms breaks to pump if the employer have over a certain number of employees working for them.

      Nursing moms should be able to nurse openly in public, no question. Anyone who thinks otherwise has their priorities completely backwards.

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