Mary Wakefield

Stop lecturing fatties – it’s really not their fault

The thin don’t have better morals or stronger willpower. Genetically, they don’t feel the same temptation

4 June 2016

9:00 AM

4 June 2016

9:00 AM

I’ve noticed for some time now that thin people, genuinely slim ones, have a secret loathing of fatties. Kindly though they may otherwise be, the sight of rolls and overhangs, jowls and bulges, makes them angry. One extremely thin woman I know finds it hard, she told me, even to have fat friends. Another shivers with horror if she catches some poor podge in the act of wolfing a treat. It’s not an aesthetic affront, she says, so much as a moral one. Where’s their willpower, where’s their grit?

It’s hard to argue with a censorious thinny. We all know, these days, that there’s no excuse for being a lardarse. Faulty glands, slow metabolism — all tripe. The brutal truth is that if you’re fat it’s because you eat too much. It’s a simple calculation. A very sad calculation for those of us fond of cake.

And something must be done about the extraordinary rise of fatties. In less than a decade’s time, according to a study in the Lancet, a fifth of all adults on the planet will be obese. A fifth! And rising. As a child I had a book, Fattypuffs and Thinifers, written in the 1930s by a Frenchman called Maurois. The book was set in a world inhabited by two warring tribes, the benign, obese Fattypuffs and the mean and angular Thinifers. I increasingly see this not as fantasy but prophecy — especially for the UK.

We may be sliding down the inter-national academic league tables, but in the Fatty-puff stakes we really shine. By 2025, a third of British adults will be Fattypuffs; the most obese nation in all of Europe, in or out of the EU.

I feel for the Fattypuffs. I’m a Fattypuff by disposition. I say yes to seconds. My heart sinks at the thought of salad and sings at the prospect of profiteroles. When my lean and glamorous friends lord it over the poor Puffs, when they assume that it’s not just their figures but their wills that are superior, I long to puncture their self-belief.

So it was exceptionally pleasing to find out that science has finally granted Fattypuffs a boon — a genuine excuse to throw at the censorious Thinifers — and that in this discovery there may well be the beginnings of a solution to the problem of the world’s expanding girth.

As it turns out, there is a hardwired reason that some of us run to fat, though it’s nothing to do with metabolic rate. There’s a gene, a variant of the FTO gene, which is highly correlated with obesity. We’ve known that for a while — but what’s new is that we have an idea of how it works. Scientists at UCL, the Medical Research Council and King’s College London have watched images, in real time, of the brains of people with the fat gene. They’ve watched as the Fattypuffs eat, and they’ve discovered that not only are they naturally hungrier than those without the gene, but that they must eat much more to feel full.

The fat gene means a higher level of the ‘hunger hormone’ ghrelin in the blood, which means Fattypuffs feel peckish again sooner. What’s more, fruit and veg just don’t cut it for the fat-gene gang. Their brains only signal real satisfaction if there’s something calorific in the offing. Just a photo of a bacon double cheeseburger makes their greedy brains begin to glow with excitement.

Now I know what those judgmental Thinifers are thinking. They assume the porkers have made themselves that way; that they’ve eaten so much that their brains crave burgers. Not so. That’s not the way it works. Even a slim man or women with this variant of the FTO gene will feel the siren call of cheesecake. The gene evolved to help its hosts survive tough times by gorging during periods of plenty. It virtually forces junk food into its human host.

Oh Fattypuffs, can you see how delightful this discovery is? It stops the size 6 sneerers in their shallow tracks. No more lectures on grit and moral fibre, no more crowing. They just don’t feel the same temptation, so they can’t take credit for their own restraint.

It might also help clear up several mysteries, the first of which is the great and total failure of all diets anywhere to work. They don’t. It’s true. None of them. It was reported, once again in the trusty Lancet, though no paper picked up on it. I suppose it’s the definition of a story no one wants to hear.

‘Although low-carb diets work better than low-fat diets,’ said the report, ‘no diet works particularly well.’ This was a serious study, one of the most extensive ever done into dieting. It was a meta-analysis of 53 separate long-term research projects involving 68,000 people. Consider this alongside the fat gene discovery and it suddenly makes sense. If even your genes are crying out for carbs, then food will find a way. The numbers add up, too. Roughly one in five of us worldwide have the troublesome variant of the FTO gene — and almost half of all west and central Europeans. Doesn’t that fit beautifully with those projected obesity numbers?

Very satisfying but very worrying, too. We can’t all just morph into the world of Maurois’s book; divide completely into tribes of different sizes. So what to do? Thinifers are all for public health initiatives, for fizzy pop taxes and world courgette day, a bust of Jamie Oliver in every school. But that diet study was conclusive. No government ‘task force’ will ever have better data or more assiduous research, and if diets don’t work for people actually motivated enough to try them, what chance does any campaign have? You can lead a Fattypuff to water, but you can’t make him drink it.

The only answer is to face the gene. There are drugs being designed that suppress the hungry hormone, ghrelin — and those would be a better use of public money than any poster campaign. Perhaps Fattypuffs themselves should be taught to understand their hungry selves. Only when Fattypuffs understand how they differ from Thinifers will they be able to buck their DNA.

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Show comments
  • Glyphkeeper

    “It virtually forces junk food into its human host.”

    No, it’s the hand that actually forces junk food into its owner’s mouth.

    In fact, I’m sure there’s a gene that influences pretty much every undesirable personality trait in people. People are far less likely to make an effort to overcome them if they’re told it’s their genetics to blame.

  • Teacher

    This ‘evidence’ is self serving nonsense. I am a thin person and want always to eat about to or three times what I do eat. It is a permanent trial to me to eat moderately and to exercise. I, too, would like extra profiteroles. I am so addicted to cake that I virtually starve myself at breakfast and lunch so I can indulge in afternoon tea.

    This is part of the ‘it’s easy for you’ myth that also has cash splurgers imagining that savers have been given wheelbarrows of extra dosh instead of the truth which is that the self denying prudent have foregone pleasures to build up a nest egg.

    It is not easy for us, nor do we have lucky genes.

    • MrCzarnykot

      “It is a permanent trial to me to eat moderately and to exercise.” Why don’t you just eat the cake then?

      Essentially, you’re just replacing gluttony with vanity and possibly lust.

      • Land of Owl

        …and health.

        • MrCzarnykot

          True, but is being healthy and living longer worth it if it is a “permanent trial”? Surely better to take more pleasure in life and stop worrying so much.
          A chap went to the doctors one day and was shocked to learn that he only had six months left to live.
          “Doctor, is there anything I can do?” he said. “Well, I suppose you could abstain from meat, go running every day, no fornication and no alcohol” the doctor replied. “Will that make me live longer?” asked the patient. The doctor looked at him and said, “No, but it’ll feel like longer”.
          Not really on point, but I like it.

    • WimsThePhoenix

      You do actually, you have a gene modification that allows you to eat carbs without developing insulin resistance. Google it.

    • Alex Carter

      “I am so addicted to cake that I virtually starve myself at breakfast and lunch so I can indulge in afternoon tea.”

      Two points. Firstly, you aren’t addicted if you choose when to eat cake. Secondly, skipping one meal and eating another slightly later is not, in any sense, starvation. Or do you honestly think that day people are fat because they eat cake for breakfast every day?

  • commenteer

    If this were the case, why is extreme obesity such a recent phenomenon in this country? It wasn’t so long ago that the ‘fat lady’ was a freak at the fair. Now she’s waddling around every town centre.

    • nathaniel

      Presumably because modern agriculture and supermarkets have made food far cheaper than ever before.

      • commenteer

        Not really. You could always gorge on cheap biscuits and sweets. However, there is another oddity. Why is this gene rarely inherited by any member of the professional classes? Why is it such a class-based gene? No, I’m not buying it.

        • David

          Spot on.

        • Father Todd Unctious

          Do you suggest no lawyers,accountants or teachers are fat?
          Wierdly lots of nurses are fat aren’ t they?

          • Sarony

            Shift work plays havoc with diet.

          • Father Todd Unctious

            Never realised Pot Noddle was so fattening.

          • rob232

            And doctors!

          • David

            Yes. I live in Vietnam and the above members of your list are not fat. I am currently working in China and have yet to see a fat person. This ‘fat’ gene must have been stopped at immigration.

        • WimsThePhoenix

          Its as rubbish as a homosexual gene.

    • WimsThePhoenix

      The shift in the late 70s – early 80s from normal food to high carb diets. More profit for the agri-businesses who contribute to the politicians. A little more work for the NHS. Huge savings in state pensions.

  • I fear that this was intended to be humorous in some way. It failed.

  • davidofkent

    I think the gene the writer means is the one that tells you it’s fine to do whatever you like to yourself because other people will pay to set you right again.

  • paul dean

    All the thinnies out in force fatism the new racist slant.

    • Father Todd Unctious

      Put the fork down.

      • SunnyD

        or “fork off”

        • Father Todd Unctious

          Fork ‘andles.

      • paul dean

        I am not fat .I am lucky to be able to eat normally with no problems.

        • Father Todd Unctious

          Is it because I is fat?

          • paul dean

            NO.Are you?

  • SunnyD

    top tip for fatties: avoid having your midriffs surreptitiously filmed for BBC news items on obesity by always wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with the slogan: “All BBC NEWS READERS ARE C*NTS!”

  • Frank

    We no doubt all have genes of one type or another that would potentially drive us to excess in various fields. It is simply a matter of self-control, and fatties are fat because they eat too much. They are not victims.

  • AdrianM

    Is this ironic click-bait? I can’t be arsed to play games with you Ms Wakefield… you may be happy to spend your hard-earned salary shovelling money down the throat of the over burdened NHS but, for my part, a slimmer NHS would suit me just fine (by that I mean fewer fat patients who, if not nullified, will eventually give our national treasure terminal heart failure, at the age of only 67).

  • PattieEn

    It comes down to the basic formula: calorie expenditure should be greater than calorie intake. For me, the key is also eating a ‘low-carb’ half of the day and enjoying all the carb-rich food at night. It makes ‘dieting’ enjoyable because I get to eat pretty much every food I love. Rotating your ‘carbs’ in this manner allows you to shed fat and keep your metabolism elevated ( why you should eat big in the evening: )
    I feel that for me it is an easiest way to keep calories at a deficit. I am never hungry and that’s the part that makes it successful to me. My weight is now nearly ideal and under excellent control.

  • Captain Dryland

    “that not only are they naturally hungrier than those without the gene, but that they must eat much more to feel full”…precisely…greedy fat gluttons. The body requires nourishment, but the glutton is discomfited unless he can ‘feel’ his fullness, like a milk-gorged baby. Besides, if the cause of increasing prevalence of obesity is solely genetic, then, given the absence of a scientific GM programme to create fat people, the fat people must be breeding faster than the rest of the population. I suspect this is not the case. More likely that there are more fat people because with so many waddling and wheezing about it is beginning to appear normal to be obese, whereas when I was a child there would be one fat kid in a class of thirty.

    “The gene evolved to help its hosts survive tough times by gorging during periods of plenty”. Well maybe there’s another gene around…the one that evolved to help its hosts survive tough times by persuading those who live alongside not to gobble up all the food. Let’s call it the fat-shaming gene.

  • Ooh!MePurse!

    Fat people are fat because they eat too much and don’t take enough exercise.

    • rob232

      That’s a very easy answer but it isn’t really true.

    • Alex Carter

      I’m currently around 18 stone in weight and I’m 6ft 2 inches tall. Please tell me the exact right amount of food to eat and the exact right amount of exercise to do in order to lose weight. You’ve got to help me!

      Alternatively, I could think back to my years of teaching biology and realise that someone’s weight is a complex homeostatic system involving a multitude of different hormones which can maintain a fat reserve under even very low calorie consumption, or conversely can maintain a lean body under extreme calorie consumption. I also know from my time teaching physics that the human body actually expends very few calories moving (compared to the energy needed to keep you warm), and in any case, doesn’t it seem strange to you that the vast majority of people don’t exercise at all, yet don’t gain weight? Or are they all champion calorie counters?

      The human body is still a largely unknown system and trying to game it with a diet is, for many people, impossible. I’ve tried many diets, read many, many scientific studies, and the only thing I found that consistently lost me weight was to have kidney failure. Five years later, the weight is all back on. I can assure you, I move far more than I did then.

      But of course, if you know better, I’ll follow your advice to the letter and see if it works. What do you reckon?

      • Ooh!MePurse!

        I’d suggest eating less and taking more exercise.

        • Alex Carter

          How much less. How much of a deficit would produce a steady, unbroken weight loss of 2lb per week?

          • Ooh!MePurse!

            I don’t know. I do know that eating less and taking more exercise leads to weight loss. Just apply some commonsense.

          • Alex Carter

            How do you know this?

          • Ooh!MePurse!

            Age, experience and commonsense.

          • Alex Carter

            Experience of losing weight? By the way, common sense has a space in it.

          • Ooh!MePurse!

            Experience of losing weight and experience of putting it on. For me and others. By the way commonsense and common sense are equally valid.

          • Alex Carter

            Commonsense is only used as an adjective. In any case, my point was, if you found it that simple then well done, you’re not one of the people the article was talking about. Perhaps instead consider than other people have different physiologies and have different challenges. Don’t be so quick to dismiss other people as being lazy and stupid. Everyone knows “eat less, move more”. Everyone has tried “eat less, move more”. And for millions of people, it simply doesn’t work. Common sense is not following the same advice over and over again if it hasn’t worked for you.

          • Sophie

            Most people will lose weight by operating at a calorie deficit. You say you’re a scientist etc but even a scientist can get CICO (calories in vs calories out) wrong. Most people frequently overestimate the amount of calories they use and underestimate the amount that they eat. It means nothing to be a scientist if you’re eating things and then forgetting you ate them, or underestimating your portion sizes, or giving up on a diet when your weight loss temporarily plateaus for 4-8 weeks (as it inevitably will as your body adjusts to your new lifestyle).

            With a ***genuine*** deficit of 3500 calories per week you should lose 1lb per week. You have no reason to lose 2lbs per week, since presumably rather than a crash diet that makes you lose weight quickly, you want small lifestyle changes that you can maintain in the long term.

          • Alex Carter

            Calories in I’m fine with, but how do you measure calories out? That’s the massive, massive problem. Again, it’s this snide thing of assuming fat people are fat because they forgot what they ate. Really? In any case, are you suggesting that thin people are thin because they manage to eat the exact right amount, day in, day out, but that fat people lack this ability?

          • David S
          • David S

            Sorry repeat post

      • Marcus

        Among other things, trying seriously cutting down on bread. At your height and weight you are almost exactly where I was 18 months ago, and it was such a struggle to lose it an keep it off. If it helps, my advice is green tea, oatmeal for breakfast several times a week, a glass of red most evenings, and to stay as far away from bread as possible, save the occasional treat to preserve sanity. As per my post above, these things did it for me, and I’ve finally, finally, not looked back. All the best, Sir.

        • Alex Carter

          I’ve found bread is the killer. Still, I can stave off bread for years and it doesn’t help. What I have found, with some success, is that one diet doesn’t work for any great time, but alternating actually does work. Which does confirm that it isn’t a case of “eat less, move more” but a case of “your body wants you to gain weight and will adjust no matter what”.

      • SunnyD

        starve yourself – seriously. Deprive your body of extraneous meals and snacks (and calories) and ensure you burn more calories than you eat. Meditate – drink water when your stomach growls and the occasional banana. Meditate some more (I can recommend Barefoot Doctor’s Handbook for the Urban Warrior) and when you *think* you’re suffering hunger pangs, treat it as a spiritual experience (meditation is nothing more than clearing your mind and if you incorporate the use of positive affirmations, you’ll be able to implant helpful thoughts to aid your mind’s auto-responses) – but do drink plenty of water and eat less calories than you burn. And meditate on it some more. Good luck, D

        • Alex Carter

          Excellent advice. It never occurred to me that I could lose weight through starvation, or that drinking water is a good idea.

          I know you mean well and I know I’m being deliberately pissy about this to prove a point, but then again I think I have a right to be annoyed if people keep giving me the same bad advice and blaming me when it doesn’t work. After all, I see very few people starving themselves to stay thin, which I think backs up my point that different people have different physiologies.

          I now await the “if you starve yourself you’ll go into starvation mode and put on weight” post from someone.

          • SunnyD

            nope – take it from me (I’m very “lucky” in that I regularly skip meals and get to be called “skinny” by well-meaning future mothers-in-law and the like) that MEDITATION WILL HELP YOU. MEDITATION WILL HELP YOU. MEDITATION WILL HELP YOU. (say it 3 times at least – preferably 6 to make it sink in) and then practice practice practice.
            I was indoctrinated into the catholic faith as a child and knew of Jesus’ forays into the desert – 40 days and 40 nights and all that, and it was only when it was suggested to me that you can command your body to ignore the shifting feeling you get in your buttocks when “trying” to sit still (and meditate) – how the body hates being made to be still – and the same applies to those pangs in our tummies (you can tell yourself it’s okay to have those pangs, then sip some water) that I saw a spiritual connection between the meditation and prayer. Now I’m no god-botherer, but I will stand by and espouse meditation as a tool for use in today’s fast-paced crazy existence and would urge you to give it a try. Once your mind is calm, you won’t be asking others how to lose the weight, you will *know*

          • Alex Carter

            A few years ago I was attuned to reiki and I have regularly practised meditation (mostly of the guided kind). It didn’t help me keep the weight off. It’s good that it works for you, but simply teaching myself to not be hungry isn’t that simple. As the article said, some people’s endocrine systems operate differently due to genetics, making their experience of hunger vastly different.

            Your starvation suggestion is basically the only thing that reliably works for me. And even then, it’s not that reliable. Some people do genuinely have it hard when it comes to dieting, it’s not their fault, and they are perfectly entitled to be annoyed about it.

            Thank you for your advice though. more annoyed at other people who are preachy and smug about weight than I am with people genuinely trying to help, like you are.

          • SunnyD

            guided meditation is good, guiding yourself is even better. think of meditation as practicing thinking of *nothing* – in fact *being nothing*.
            we haven’t met, so I can’t comment on whether you appear overweight or not (although you’re a big size at 6 ft+) but how you feel about yourself is sometimes – perhaps more often than not – as important as how much you weigh/how you look.
            Take this analogy: I need more money. I want more money. So I might be forgiven for believing that if I *had* more money, my problems would be sorted. You can probably already guess at the flaws in this way of thinking. Anyway, my point is that if I catch my (monkey)mind drifting to thoughts of that nature, I meditate on it and imagine that I’m at a cash point checking my account balance and perfectly happy with the resulting figure. In other words, I instil the essence of what I believe having the extra money will bring into my life (i.e. security, peace of mind) so once instilled with these feelings (brought about by nothing more than positive thinking and affirmation/visualisation) I find the angst of not having a lot of money (we could all do with more I’m sure) goes away… and the funny thing is, the more at peace with my lot I am, the more I tend to attract those things I really need to make me feel financially secure…. a bit like trying to catch quicksilver with an open hand rather than clutching

  • Marcus

    Although there may be some truth to the gene, the answer is to work harder, not to cry off and bemoan it, or to make excuses. It’s not an all-or-nothing equation. At 37, I’ve been overweight for 20 years, but this last 18 months I’ve lost almost three stone plus, and kept it all off. This is not a moment of looking for applause, but to express that, if I do have the fat gene (I used to joke that middle age spread started when I was about ten), then it, too, can be suppressed to a degree by eating less and making sure to enjoy food rather than see it as functional; and working out moderately (I only do 30min on the elliptical 2-3 times per week). One more thing: accountability to self. I get on the scale every single morning (preferably after removing the fluff from my belly button), and record that number. Then I forget about it for the day and just live. A good fry up can still be enjoyed now and then, and I’m never suffering this new discipline. It just works, and takes some effort – like everything else. The equivalent to her erroneous argument is to say that people are either academic or not, and that those who aren’t should just give up. Perhaps this article would be better placed in the New Statesman, or some such place.

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  • foto2021

    A year ago I changed from skimmed to full fat milk and from low fat margarine to full fat butter. Last week my GP congratulated me on halving my cholesterol level which he put down to my sticking to the low fat diet he had recommended two years ago. That was the low fat diet that saw me put on 9kg in six months. I have lost 7kg in the last year.

    The rapid rise in obesity began when dietary advice changed to basing a diet mainly on carbohydrates. This was enthusiastically supported by the food industry which loves to sell us high added value processed foods based on cheap carbohydrates. Coupled with a steep rise in added sugars, because research showed that sweeter foods sell faster, this formed the basis of an obesity timebomb.

    Dietitians recommend a balanced diet without really knowing what that means. You cannot have a healthy diet that based mainly on carbohydrates and includes sugars. Carbs are the enemy. But they are highly profitable so successive governments who are beholden to the big food manufacturers have been reluctant to deviate from the recommendation of a carb-based diet.

    Fats are good for us. Carbs aren’t. Fats don’t raise cholesterol, carbs do. Protein and fats make you feel full, carbs make you feel hungry so you snack – on more carbs.

    So official dietary advice needs to move away from carbs. But can politicians move away from supporting the processed food industry that so generously funds them?

    • Wildman

      Firstly, congratulations on your health improvements.

      Back in the nineties, when it was faddish, I tried cutting out all fats just to see how healthy I’d become – I’ve never in my life felt worse. Any movement felt like bones grating together. And all it took was some butter and cheese and I was back to my old self, even if I felt a little foolish for getting swept up in a fad. Still, it showed me in the clearest possible way that that fats are essential to health.

      But I’d disagree with you observation about carbs being the enemy. If that was the case, there wouldn’t be so many skinny vegetarians. It’s sugars that are the enemy. Complex carbohydrates like starches are a poor man’s protein and will fill you for a time. . .

      Above all, though, I’m a believer in eating small servings of decadent food, and enjoying it for what it is. That’s how the French eat themselves thin!

    • Father Todd Unctious

      Bargain Buckets all round. With a side of nachos.

  • Tamerlane

    I wonder how many fat people have the fat gene. Too easy nowadays to throw an excuse out there. I don’t care how fat someone is, it’s there life what they do with it is up to them as far as I’m concerned but spare me yet another get out clause for individual responsibility, we’ve too many of them already. I can respect the fat man who says ‘I’m fat because I like food.’ I can’t respect the fat man who says ‘I’m fat because of my genes’.

    • Father Todd Unctious

      Some are just fatheaded though eh Tammy? You fathead.

      • Tamerlane

        I’m quite certain you know all about it.

      • David

        What was your point?

  • Jojje 3000

    Sorry, correlation is not causation. And you may alter you hunger-curve by diet (yes I have done it myself).

  • HammyTheHamster

    You don’t need to write an entire article to explain to fat people that they now have a valid excuse. At the faintest glimpse of an excuse fat acceptance groups will already be updating their social media and ordering bed-sheet sized shirts with it plastered across the front. Probably with enough space for a full scientific reference on the back.

    Yet the fact remains that regardless of how hungry you feel or how much you crave fatty food, the actual factor determining weight gain and loss is the amount of energy you consume.

    I do wish that there was better information out there regarding diet plans, because it really doesn’t matter which food group you cut out – when it comes to weight, calories are virtually all that matters. People should put their time and effort into managing their desire to eat rather than trying to follow fad diets.

  • #toryscum

    Oh, you have a problem with your FTO gene? What are you taking for that, pies?

  • I would really really like to go to ShakeShack for lunch today and stuff my face.

    This temptation and desire is real. But unlike the fatties, I don’t succumb to it. It’s really quite simple.

  • Sophie

    You say:

    “Even a slim man or women with this variant of the FTO gene will feel the siren call of cheesecake.”

    But then:

    “It [the gene] virtually forces junk food into its human host.”

    So which is it?

    As someone who counts calories, weighs herself, works out a few times a week, and will probably do so for the rest of my life, I would love it if it were possible to take a pill to suppress ghrelin. That way I could eat just exactly what I needed with less effort. But we can’t do that yet. And in the meantime let’s not just say “well, f*ck it”, throw in the towel and eat whatever we want.

    And sorry but yes, I do see restricting one’s diet to what one needs as a moral issue (although I don’t judge individual fat people, I see it as more of a collective guilt thing), not because gluttony somehow disgusts me but because of the effects that a one-fifth obese human population is going to have on the planet and on animals.

    • Penny

      It’s interesting though, that there is a tendency for some to see fat/gluttony as a moral issue but not its exact opposite – anorexia. Obviously, I am generalising here but In both cases the attitude to food may be due to an underlying emotional problem, yet we tend to be judgemental about one and sympathetic to the other.

      • Sophie

        It’s true that people can be beastly to fat people. In my view, though, anorexia isn’t a moral issue in the same way that obesity is, because it’s our overconsumption, our reliance on environmentally catastrophic CAFOs to produce cheap, high volume meat through cruel methods that is what changes obesity from a public health issue to a collective moral issue. Also far more people are fat than anorexic. Otherwise I think that anorexia is a very “selfish” disorder because anorexics are utterly consumed by food and eating to the degradation of their relationships and every other aspect of their life where people need them and rely on them. It might not be right, but I think it’s easier to feel sorry for someone who is literally starving before your eyes than someone who has emotional issues with overeating.

        • Penny

          While I take your point about the moral issue, I honestly don’t think many people do see consumption in this light, simply because we all lead busy lives and, due to 24hr news, have many tugs on our emotional sleeves.

          I am more interested in why there is more sympathy for anorexics than for the obese given that they seem to be opposite ends of the same scale. Yes, they are literally starving to death in front of our eyes, but the obese may also be eating themselves into the same deadly end. Consumption and morals aside, I would say that the difference lies in our perceptions. Are we more sympathetic to anorexics because they can exert will power and control? Is it simply more socially and aesthetically acceptable to be thin rather than fat?

          • Sophie

            OK, I see what you mean. I’m not sure what the answer is. Perhaps it’s because a small part of all of us would like to pig out now and again, whereas far fewer of us would enjoy starving ourselves, so it’s easier to see undereating as psychologically abnormal and easier to see overeating as a lack of self-control. Just a thought. That’s an interesting question, though.

    • WimsThePhoenix

      People who eat a Paleo/Primal diet do not stay fat. The only thing that makes fat people fat is carbs. What to fat cattle eat? Grass. What do fat sumo wrestlers eat? Rice. What gets shoveled down the throat of a goose to make its liver abnormally fat? Corn.

      Carbs make you fat. If you eat fat, your hunger is satisfied quickly. You cannot eat too much fat. Give up grains and I guarantee you will get slimmer quickly.

      Adjust your calorie ratio as: fats=80% protein = 10-15% and carbs = 5-10% and you will do fine.

      Google Banting Time Noakes Paleo Primal

      We EVOLVED as hunter gatherers, not farmers! Meat+fat, offal, fish, eggs, nuts, avocados, berries, green vegetables. That’s what to eat if you want to be healthy. NO GRAINS.

  • Sarah

    Look, I get it breaking an addiction is hard, especially an food addiction, it’s not like you can just give up food. You need food to survive, however if you want to loose weight you need to take some responsibility for yourself and learn some self control on how much you eat. The truth is you’re obese because you are indeed eating too much, if you are insecure about your body weight, then do something about it. The key with food is counting your calories and eating in moderation. Exercise doesn’t hurt too much either.

    • WimsThePhoenix

      It’s NOT an addiction, it is insulin resistance. Google it.

  • Adaadat


    If this ‘fat’ gene is so prevalent, why do Westerners, in the main, succumb to it? Eh? Why doesn’t the global spread of obesity correlate with the 5:2 (West: the rest) ratio you cite?

    If this ‘fat’ gene is so prevalent, why did Westerners, 50 years ago, not succumb to it? Eh?

    Why do those in the Second and Third worlds not succumb to it? Its prevalence should be, according the article, 40% of our rate, but isn’t.

    Why did you ignore the correlation between obesity and IQ? I’ve noticed – it’s something we all notice – that the thicker you are, the more you tend towards ‘gut-bucket’ status.

    I’m sorry, but this is b*ll*cks.

    Maybe obesity has something to do with our sedentary lifestyles. Maybe it alters our biology and also gives us greater opportunities to snack, compounding the problem. Not that being too busy to eat, whilst seated, prevents or reverses the harmful effect of the lack of exercise. Genes do seem to play a part; there would be little purpose to them if not.

    But, maybe, it isn’t as simple as presented. Didn’t research, maybe a decade ago – perhaps that you allude to – show that a lack of exercise switches off or reverses the action of one of the genes associated with the processing of fat? In other words: once the gene(s) no longer do their evolutionary work, even a diet of food eaten in moderation leads to weight gain? Wasn’t a lack of exercise proven to be the cause of the alteration of the gene’s function?

    “Even a slim man or women [sic] with this variant of the FTO gene will feel the siren call of cheesecake.” Yes, but the slim man or woman doesn’t eat the cheesecake? Why? Education? The thicker you are, the more likely you are to be obese? A coincidence?

    For another example of the ‘lack of exercise’ theory: why are Western mothers more likely to be unable to shed their baby weight? Maybe a sedentary lifestyle, prior to pregnancy, alters the as-yet-unknown genes responsible for pregnancy weight gain and post-pregnancy weight loss. Maybe it’s the same gene. Our grandmothers and great-grandmothers were slim, by and large.

    Sedentary lifestyle (+ opportunities to snack), education, genes (as yet undiscovered)?

    If genes play a part, perhaps the greater polarisation between the demographic spread of ‘good’ genes (or those working as designed) and ‘bad’ genes (or those that have been corrupted) could be a cause. Greater travelling means we aren’t limited to mates in our immediate vicinity; but find like-minded souls (with ‘good’ genes or ‘bad’) more easily. Our genes aren’t, any longer, as evenly spread. This is recessive and dominant gene territory, from what I remember from school.

    • Wildman

      I can see what you are trying to do, here – claim fat people are greedy and lazy.

      I think there’s more to it than that. I’m a bone idle skinny guy.

    • WimsThePhoenix

      The only thing it has to do with genes is that the people who CAN eat carbs and stay thin are the mutants. Like Northen Europeans mutated to digest milk after weaning, it’s thought that about 30% of people can live on carbs as their primary energy source without their insulin mechanism getting clapped out.

      Google insulin resistance.

  • Jacobi

    People are fat, I agree, because they eat more than they need in their normal lifestyle. If you are fat the answer is simple, eat less. It can be difficult as giving up any additive habit such as smoking is, but anyone can do it . After all if there was a food shortage for any reason there would be no fatties just as there were none in my boyhood/youth. And there are none in those parts of the world where
    food is limited.

    There is as usual the inevitable theories of fat genes and so on, but a theories they are and all have their counter theories. No proof either way.

    One other point that always surprises me is how ugly fatties look. One glance in a mirror should cure the problem but I suppose they don’t do that. Too busy watching cooking programs on the Telly

    And forget about exercise. To get rid of even a kilo or two that way would mean a change in life-style and not just the occasional gasping shuffle which passes for a jog with say fifty percent of “joggers” I

    • WimsThePhoenix

      “..because they eat more than they need in their normal lifestyle.”

      Simplistic to the extreme. They eat because the feel HUNGRY! Duh!

      Hunger is caused by a drop in blood sugar levels, caused by an insulin mechanism worn out by high carb diets, caused by an idiot US Senator called McGovern who wanted to make a name for himself using corrupt, cherry picked data by a worthless nutritionist called Ancel Keys. The obesity crisis can be traced back 40 years to the shift from fats to carbs.

      • Jacobi

        Well all true things are simplistic.
        And behind the simplicity, they all no doubt have a mechanism, explaining which according to the latest fashionable theory, does not alter the basic fact.
        So they feel hungry or in distress, all portly “x” stones of them. Tough. So do starving children and drug addicts and alchies, and ex smokers and COPD sufferers etc, etc.

      • rbw152

        Try doing the 5:2 diet. You blood sugar levels certainly drop then! And boy do you feel hungry! But the key is: don’t give in! It really is as simple as that.

        I bet I feel JUST as hungry as ANY fat person on the planet on Mondays and Wednesdays BUT I don’t give in to it!

  • WimsThePhoenix

    This is rubbish. To blithely dismiss “low carb diets” without defining what the people ate is crazy.

    We know that grains have only been harvested for the last 100,000 years. We know that H0m0 Sapiens appeared about 1.8 to 0.2 million years ago. So we evolved as hunter gatherers with no access to substantial amounts of carbs, except the odd cache of honey which we had evolved to make use of as a secondary energy source. By treating carbs, rather than fat as a primary energy source, we destroy our insulin mechanism after the age of about 30, for most people.

    Incompetents like this author really ought to do a bit of research instead of making excuses to justify their continued consumption of bread, pasta, rice, pastries and chips.

    My weight climbed over 30 years from 147 lbs when I married at 29 to 172 lbs. When I gave up grains totally and severely reduced my intake of potatoes, it went back to 147 lbs without any strenuous exercise and without feeling any hunger at all.

    When you body adjusts from burning carbs to burning fats, hunger is no longer dependent on blood sugar level. You no longer get any ravenous feelings, just a slight urge to eat something, pretty much out of habit. If you run a calorie deficit, you switch over to burning stored fat without any problem at all.

    Google Banting, Tim Noakes, Paleo diet

    I think by now, we should be well aware that the State is prepared to lie to us for their own reasons.

    E.g. Global Warming – makes a lot of money for their family and friends. Stay in the EU otherwise there will be a plague of locusts and they will lose their EU sinecures and pensions.

    There is a LOT of profit in selling grains to fat people to stuff themselves. There is a lot of money in pharmaceuticals to deal with GERD, diabetes and cancer. There is a lot of money for surgery in stomach stapling, gastric bypass, gall bladder removal. There is money to be saved by people dying early, and not picking up state pensions.

    There is no money for the government in people eating ancestrally, getting a really nutritious meal full of fat-soluble vitamins, staying healthy and living longer.

    • Cobbett

      Shouldn’t that be 10,000 years?

  • WimsThePhoenix

    Newsflash. The correct spelling of h0m0 sapiens causes Disqus to poo the bed.

  • Sir

    You know, I’m 6’2 and around 145 lbs, I eat literal pounds of food each day to sustain myself. I am hungry nearly at all times. Can I show restraint when it comes to having another slice of cake? Yes. What about choosing cooking a meal at home instead of grabbing fast food? Yes. I can make good decisions even if I am considered “hungrier” than the norm and need to eat more than the norm. I don’t believe that there is something that absolutely forces fat people to have to eat more. Yes, they may be hungrier and need to eat more to feel full, but so do I, that doesn’t mean I make poor life choices when it comes to what I put in my body.

  • 22pp22

    I am fat. I did it to myself.

  • Andy C

    Marapuff Oysters
    Puff Soup
    Lobster Fattyborough
    Fattypuff Steak

    Now that is a proper meal.

  • boomslang74

    “Even a slim man or women (sic) with this variant of the FTO gene will feel the siren call of cheesecake.”

    Do you see what you’ve done there Mary with that single sentence? That’s right; destroyed your entire argument. So there are slim people with the FTO gene variant. What’s the difference? That good old “grit”, “willpower” and what are those other ones? Oh yeah, personal responsibility and self respect.

  • Cobbett

    This article is a shining example of ”who cares what women think.”

  • Absolute codswallop. Even if it were true that fat people ‘feel’ more hungry than thin ones, does that excuse them stuffing their mouths with cheesecake in extraordinary amounts? How about alcoholics? Do we excuse them for theirn drunken binges when we know that they seem to be genetically programmed to want alcohol more than other people? I don’t think we do at all. We tell them that they need to stop their damaging and thoroughly harmful behaviour. There is also ample evidence that some people are genetically programmed to want to do violence more than the rest of us….. How about them? Sympathetic handling after their outrages needed?

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  • green hackle

    Stick the Fatties on a Desert island for a Month and make them provide for themselves and see how much weight they gain, In fact i will buy a Cheeseburger for the First person to gain an Ounce,

    • red2black

      But McDonald’s are everywhere!

  • putin

    Utter claptrap. Keep lying to yourselves that it’s not your fault, fatties.

  • Maureen Fisher

    The experience of being squashed on public transport by someone taking up their own seat and half of yours is very unpleasant.

    • red2black

      Depends on who’s doing the squashing.

  • Sonia

    I think it is a safe bet that as the crackdown on any criticism off minorities or a certain religion gathers momentum, the more fat people and short men will become targets. Sometimes it is impossible to shut bullies and plain mean spirited people up.

    • Jacobi

      Fatties do it to themselves.
      Your theory about increasing bullying of innocent minorities may be true. You should consult the Liberal Left. They are the experts on provoking bullying in all spheres of comment after all.

  • “The only answer is to face the gene”

    This simply doesn’t make sense. If it’s a matter of genes then we, as humans, had this gene all along and yet you also state that:

    “By 2025, a third of British adults will be Fattypuffs; the most obese nation in all of Europe, in or out of the EU.”

    By 2025. Not since human conception. People are getting fatter because food is getting fattier and unhealthier food is more readily available and because people are getting greedier. That’s not to say this gene-theory isn’t true, I’m sure it is, but heaping yet another “miracle cure” on science when it already has its hands full with cancer and much more just proves that people aren’t just getting greedier, but lazier and more dependant on somebody else to find an answer for their problems.

    I eat a little junk food occasionally, and I cook all kinds of meals (variation – something most of forgotten) and I eat well when I eat out – but I also work out, I walk and try to be active very often, and I know I don’t want to kill myself with food – something I love.

    Nobody but me makes myself thinner than average. Science might indeed be able to cure it and very soon afterwards I’m sure it can also take the burden of thinking for oneself away.

    • rbw152

      I have to agree. Willpower is still the key and no amount of scientific reationalising will alter that fact. It may be harder for obese people, yes – but not impossible.

      I take my inspiration from disabled people. Those who’ve lost a limb for example but refused to let it stop them doing anything. It must be have been incredibly hard and painful for them but if they can do it, so can we. End of.

  • gunnerbear

    I’m a member of the Fat-Boy (ex Tight 5) Rugby Forwards Union….I chunky because I eat too much and probably drink too much and don’t go down the gym enough…I’m lighter than I used to be….but still a chunky….

  • red2black

    I’ve always fancied fat birds with big bristols.

  • Carol Thorne

    I have in our local café fairly often been bemused by people who order and eat their way through “Big Breakfasts”, plus chips, while complaining that they cannot lose weight. What worries me more is that they often order a bag of chips, followed by crisps and Coke, as a suitable meal for their offspring.

  • rbw152

    I’m all for some sort of gene treatment of inoculation but I have to say something here. I have a propensity to put on weight unless I do something about it.

    The reason I’m not fat though is because I spent a long time training my self-discipline muscles by doing stuff I didn’t want to do – but which had nothing to do with eating. Then, when I wanted to tackle my diet it was easier. Because I suspect that overweight people are also unmotivated in other ways.

    So, going for a run, when I really didn’t want to or getting up early or doing stuff I would otherwise put off – those little jobs we all hate. Gradually they became not easier to do particularly but I found I had developed a much more powerful override and could crack the metaphorical whip when necessary. To the point where my body was doing stuff while my mind screamed in protest, which was weird.

    Then, the 5:2 diet for example was a little easier to start and maintain – and then it got easier still.

    And as a result, my stomach shrunk and now I can’t overeat anyway!

    So my advice is, start with other areas of your life. Nurture your control and discipline. Become masochistic about it. Stop obsessing about eating and diets and concentrate on other things which need self-control too. Then get back to diet.

    Anyway, it worked for me.