January 20, 2022
Maintenance Phase hosts Aubrey Gordon and Michael Hobbes join Jameela this week to discuss why the BMI is bunk, how we clinically don’t have a non-surgical weight loss method and how that should inform our medical health conversations, how as a society we blame fat people instead of helping people live healthier lives, why we shouldn’t lecture people on their diets, and more.
You can listen to Aubrey & Michael on their podcast – The Maintenance Phase – wherever you get your podcasts
I Weigh has amazing merch – check it out at podswag.com
94 — Aubrey Gordon & Michael Hobbes
Jameela [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to I Weigh with Jameela Jamil, a podcast that is joining the revolution against all shame. I hope you’re well. I’m alright. I actually had quite a nice day for once. I started shooting Legendary season 3 and Legendary is a show I do. It’s on HBO Max, and it’s just a joyous celebration of the world of ballroom and voguing, and I’m very, very lucky to be a part of it. And today’s filming was exceptional, and I just feel very lucky to work with the people I work with, and I love being in a room with lots of people, even though it makes me anxious. It’s just really nice. It’s something that I just I don’t think I hope I’ll never take for granted again after the last two years. I hope that you’ve been in a room with some people and that you’re OK and that. Oh, God. You either haven’t had the Omicron or if you have, you’re over it, and it wasn’t too bad and didn’t give you long Covid. I’m sorry that we’re still saying the word COVID. I’m sorry I said it here. I’m going to try to say it less here as much as possible. But anyway, I’m just sending you lots of love and warm wishes and hoping that whatever’s going on, I hope it gets better and better every single day. Now I’m trying, as I said last week, to bring important and inspiring episodes to you as much as possible, and today’s episode is no exception. I have the excellent Aubrey Gordon known online as Your Fat Friend to many of us. And Michael Hobbs, who both have a podcast together called The Maintenance Phase Pod. And it is so, so good and so important. And I’m a big fan of that podcast, and I think what they talk about on it is kind of anti diet culture, but with facts and figures and history and and so many great statistics. And they really, really, really get into the weeds of all these different fad diets and the history of diet culture and the history of the BMI. And they get into it in a way that arms you with facts that will just help you destroy any argument that you happen to be in regarding diet culture. So I pick their brain today about all of the different things they’ve been learning while making their podcast, and we had just such illuminating conversations, which I think right now are the most important because. It’s the top of the year, so therefore the diet industry must just pray on us and terrify us about leaving the house and post-pandemic and beach body ready. And sorry for eating something at Christmas ready. I’m just horrified and I’m known to complain about the diet culture that surrounds us. And now I feel more prepared and armed than ever before having spoken to these two excellent people about everything they know, all of their experiences regarding this terrible part of our society. I do want to offer a trigger warning that we discuss fatphobia and experiences of fatphobia in this episode. And so if that’s something you find traumatic, maybe step away for now. But generally they are just joyous bundles of of hope and light and information and unity. And they’re just so special. So I think you’re going to love this episode. Aubrey Gordon’s actually been on this podcast before. An excellent, excellent episode. I think that was last year or perhaps the year before. I can’t remember because time is just doesn’t exist anymore. But please go back and listen to that because it’s also fucking brilliant, and I cannot recommend her or hers and Michael’s podcast or Aubrey’s book enough. Follow everything they do. Love this episode! Please send me all of your thoughts, all the different ways it blew your fucking mind the way it did mine. I can’t wait to chat to you about it. This is the excellent Aubrey Gordon and Michael Hobbs. Aubrey and Michael, welcome to I Weigh. How are you?
Aubrey [00:04:19] Good! How about you?
Jameela [00:04:21] I’m really good. Michael, are you alive?
Michael [00:04:23] We’re doing great.
Jameela [00:04:26] It’s so nice to be able to meet you, Michael. Aubrey. Of course, you’re the love of my life and you’ve been on this podcast before. Uh, where I think I proposed or I meant to, but it was an astonishing reaction to your episode, and so I’m really thrilled to have you back. And you had released a book at the time and were starting out the podcast that I’m now inviting you here both to talk about, and that’s called the Maintenance Phase. Before we start, can you please break down what your podcast is about and how it came to be?
Michael [00:05:01] I mean, this mostly came from the fact that I was looking at the health and wellness charts on one of the podcast apps, and I don’t really know why I was doing this, but I was looking and I noticed that all of the podcasts were how to get 10000 steps, how to lose 20 pounds for your wedding. It was all things that leaned into the health and wellness industry being on your side and acting in good faith. And there was there was nothing there that was pointing out that easily 90 percent of the health messages that we receive as Americans are not true and the industry is really shady in a lot of ways. And it just felt like nobody seems to be talking about this in any way that anyone’s really paying attention to. And so I called up the smartest lady writer that I knew, and I asked her if she wanted to do a podcast with me.
Aubrey [00:05:49] Oh yeah. I mean, I feel like we sort of dug in on this sort of set of ideas around like, what would it look like to do some longform storytelling about the history of the BMI or the president’s physical fitness test or the history of snake oil, which was a real thing and it worked. Woops, sorry, everybody.
Michael [00:06:11] Twist, twist.
Aubrey [00:06:12] Yeah, twist. And we recorded six episodes just to see how it would go and sort of dropped those late last year, and the response was really, really significantly larger than we thought it was going to be. That’s for sure. That’s for sure.
Jameela [00:06:32] And it’s a kind of war on disinformation, isn’t it? This this podcast is like it’s you bring facts, you bring statistics, you bring history is very, very thoroughly and broadly researched, which I think is incredibly helpful because whenever you are trying to take on the multi multibillion dollar evil kind of, it’s now called the wellness industry. But really, like a lot of that is the weight loss industry. People are very, very resistant to it being criticized. They’re very, very defensive of it. You often in the podcast, talk about some people like fatphobia not being intentional. It’s just being some kind of product of what they’ve absorbed from society. It’s hard to be able to fight something that is so instilled in our western culture in particular. And so you really need hard science and facts to be able to to kill them with the facts. And I really appreciate the fact that you are providing this service. Is it a lot of work?
Michael [00:07:36] Yes. I’ll say, yes. It’s a burden we bare.
Aubrey [00:07:43] It is totally a lot of work. I mean, we there have been a couple of times when we’ve delayed, I’ve delayed recordings because I’ll be like, I haven’t interviewed enough people. I don’t quite have this part of this concept totally nailed down. Or Mike will delay a release of an episode that happened one time because we wanted to play it for some more epidemiologists and make sure that we were really, really getting everything right and including their feedback. So, yeah, it feels it feels really important, certainly to me to like, get it right and to say accurate things because there’s so much inaccurate stuff out there, not because anyone is necessarily trying to like, you know, lead you down the garden path, but because science communications is hard and because a lot of what we consider are sort of like, you know, free floating scientific knowledge out in the world really just comes from marketing of diets and wellness products and that kind of thing.
Jameela [00:08:43] Can we just because I really want everyone who listens to this podcast, to listen to your podcast because I think it should be like mandatory listening. I think it should be in schools and universities and maybe doctors offices as well.
Michael [00:08:55] We agree, it’s actually critical race theory. We want it in all the schools. 8 year old kids. It’s the law, actually.
Jameela [00:09:00] And so I would love to kind of just go through some of the topics that you cover so brilliantly in this podcast and then kind of get deeper into the emotional politics of wellness and weight loss and diet culture, etc. Should we just start with the motherfucking obesity epidemic said in quotation marks?
Aubrey [00:09:24] we sure can. I may kick us off with this one and then Mike, I feel like you should kick in with the mortality numbers if you’re up for it.
Michael [00:09:33] Oh, yeah, yeah.
Jameela [00:09:34] You had an episode a couple of days ago that blew my mind. So I would love to talk to you about this.
Aubrey [00:09:39] Yeah. So I will say the obesity epidemic, that sort of phraseology came from two sort of places that are one that is not necessarily well-intentioned and one that is which is the the BMI we sort of treat as this sort of hard and fast scientific rule. And it’s worth noting that the BMI was never intended as a measure of individual health.
Jameela [00:10:06] Wasn’t it made by a mathematician?
Aubrey [00:10:08] It was made by a mathematician slash astronomer from Belgium in the eighteen hundreds who based it on military conscripts from France and Scotland in the 1800s. So that’s whose body yours is being measured against congratulations. It’s never been meaningfully tested on communities of color, nor has it been adjusted for communities of color. And over time, it has. The goalposts have moved several times on who’s considered, quote unquote, overweight or obese. One of the biggest ones of those happened in the late 90s, which is when we start to get this messaging around an obesity epidemic right? Is we actually changed the standards so that you could go to bed one night, right, and be an overweight or normal weight, quote unquote person, and wake up the next morning and be considered medically obese, quote unquote. So that happened in the late 90s. And when we sort of talk about the quote unquote obesity epidemic that doesn’t necessarily get surfaced, we don’t necessarily talk about it. But you’ll see charts that show a big spike in 1998 and you’re like, Oh man, a bunch of people got real fat in 1998. No, no, we just changed the definition. And the other places that a number of researchers and doctors who are working on sort of the health of fat people and sort of quote unquote obesity researchers found that folks in the general public and folks in government were frankly too hard on fat people and didn’t understand that being fat is largely something that’s not in individual’s control, right? So they thought that reframing being fat as a disease would help people understand that it’s not necessarily an issue of personal behavior or impulse control or any of that kind of stuff. The challenge is when they redefined obesity as a disease. That also meant that it paved the way to call it an epidemic, which is when we got some of our nastiest rhetoric around fat people. From there, we got some wild numbers, and I’m going to kick it to Mike to talk about the mortality numbers of fat people, which is a truly wild story.
Michael [00:12:19] Well, I mean, yeah, unfortunately, this is something that frustrates both of us because neither one of us are all that interested in the individual, in individual’s health. We’re not the kind of show that tells you the kind of diet you should have or the kind of lifestyle that you should have. But if you have a show that is like, nice to fat people. The first question that you get is like, Well, what about their health? So about a month ago, we’re like, All right, we have to do it like we have to do the health episode. The fact is, the health impacts of obesity are totally irrelevant because there’s no clinically proven way to get people to lose weight like we’ve had an obesity epidemic for, you know, arguably two to three decades now. No country in the world has ever reduced its obesity rate. No state has reduced its obesity rate. No city has done that. We don’t know how to do this.
Jameela [00:13:07] Damn the masterplans just looked so hopeful.
Michael [00:13:10] I know that’s the thing. Unfortunately, not enough. That is actually the answer. We don’t like it doesn’t matter if if you know what the health impacts are because we can’t actually fix this, right? But it’s like, OK, we have to talk about the health impacts anyway. And then you start looking into it. And you know, all we’re really talking about is correlations. Right? Fatter people have shorter life expectancies. Like all of the statistics that you’ve heard, all of those links are true. Like, there is a link between higher weight and shorter lifespan. Fine. But then when you start looking at the statistics, the some of the highest mortality rates are actually in the skinniest people. So if you look at the mortality rates among sort of the entire spectrum of weights in America, you find this huge mortality among really, really, really skinny people. And it’s always really interesting to watch people’s minds start to process that information because they’re like, Well, why would super duper skinny people be more sick? And there’s all these theories about it. It’s like skinny people are more likely to be smokers. They maybe they’re wasting away from some sort of disease that ends up killing them shortly afterwards, there’s all kinds of theories, and everybody can see that like the fact that skinny people are dying younger probably isn’t because they’re skinny, it’s probably because of all kinds of other things that are going on in their life, all these other circumstances. And then you look at the other end of the scale and it’s like, Oh, well, they all need to lose weight. You’re like, well, wait a minute. You just said the same chart you said on one end of that chart. You think it’s probably complicated and we should look into it more. But then on the other end of that chart, you’re looking at the same numbers and you’re going, Oh, these people need to change their weight.
Jameela [00:14:46] One of the statistics that you have says that slightly overweight people are actually less likely to die in a study, 33000 deaths of people in the skinniest category versus 26000 deaths in the obese category. I couldn’t.
Michael [00:14:59] Yes.
Jameela [00:14:59] I couldn’t believe that considering the the global message. That really stunned me and I’m like, I’m fairly clued up because I’m friends with Aubrey, so I just call myself fairly cleared up. But that was remarkable to me. And so true, what you’re saying about the lack of nuance whenever we do, we talk about that. It’s just blame, shame and kind of demonizing.
Aubrey [00:15:27] And what we know about fat folks in addition to these sort of increased mortality risks. Yes. Still often lower than people who are in the quote unquote underweight category is that fat people also contend with doctors who are less likely to give us the same length of office visits as thinner people. They’re less likely to run tests. They’re less likely to give us treatments other than go away and lose weight and come back when you’ve lost weight, which means that fat people also postpone health care because every time we go in for some of us, for me included, we just get told to lose weight, which is again a thing we don’t really know how to deliver on. Right? So the idea that that wouldn’t have an impact as well on fat folks mortality is really feels sort of willfully naive to me.
Jameela [00:16:18] Yeah, we we’ve spoken about this before, this kind of inability to accept like we’re just obsessed with the symptom and never the cause. And we’re also we’re determined to be negligent when we look at the emotional experience of a fat person living in this world, specifically in the West, because there are many countries in the world where, I mean, even the country I grew up in, where they told you to eat more because they people wouldn’t want you if you were too thin, you know where it’s like the kind of opposite end of the spectrum, because then it looks like you’re poor, which is a whole other classist, elitist nightmare. But but over here in particular, the experience of living in a fat body I have I have been fat before. I have many friends who are fat or who have been fat. And I have seen a complete disparity in the ways in which they are treated. So like just openly, even by motherfucking liberals, even by people who fight for justice and equality for everyone. Those people still have a kind of exception to the rule of everyone deserves complete humanity like freedom and bodily autonomy when it comes to fat people. They are one of the groups who I think it still remains open season on I think that’s fair to say.
Michael [00:17:33] It also pulls the mask off this whole thing of like, Oh, I’m concerned about your health. It’s like, OK, do you generally, as a universal principle, think that when you’re concerned about someone’s health, the best way to do that is to be really mean to them and then deny them health care? Like is that typically the way that we deal with people whose health we’re concerned about? So even if it was true, like if every single myth that you’ve ever heard about fat people was 100 percent true, that’s not a reason to be mean to them. And it’s not a reason to marginalize them from the health care system, which is what’s happening.
Jameela [00:18:04] It’s so counterintuitive. I mean, who has ever benefited from shame or blame or feeling ostracized and not included? If you you stress people, if you if you lower their quality of life, if you make them feel more depressed, more ostracized, surely that’s going to contribute to their health. We know that there’s a direct link between emotional well-being and physical well-being. And so if you consistently, from the moment a child is old enough to understand damage their sense of self esteem, damage their sense of belonging, give them mental health issues, push them into the shadows that is surely going to influence their lifespan.
Michael [00:18:42] Right. Well, the thing that you always hear whenever you bring this up is you always hear, Well, what about smoking, right? We shame smokers and like smoking is less acceptable in American society than it used to be. Which, first of all, is it really true? There’s actually it’s a complicated thing, and we shamed smokers for a very long time before smoking rates fell. And secondly, the big difference between smoking and obesity is that obesity is not a behavior. People cannot stop being fat the way that they can stop smoking. So once you’re shaming somebody like, Oh, well, we have to shame them so that they eat better. Well, do you know the diet and exercise and lifestyle of the fat person who’s next to you at a restaurant, do you know that about them? So shut up. You don’t think they are using that as a proxy.
Jameela [00:19:24] But Michael, they are MRI’s, they’re human MRI’s, so they do it. They secretly take your blood as soon as they see you. And they have something in their bag that immediately reads their statistics. So they do actually know exactly what they’re talking about and they’re all doctors. I don’t know if you know that. All the people online, they are all specialists,
Aubrey [00:19:45] They’re all the Therenos machines there what Elizabeth Holmes said she had. I mean, there was a statistic. So this is according to the National Institutes of Health, someone my size. I’m a very fat lady. Class three obesity, the fattest category. Hello. Someone my size has a point eight percent chance of becoming a sort of quote unquote normal weight or healthy weight person in their lifetime. So less than one percent chance that I will become a thin person in my lifetime. That is regardless of sort of the social treatment that comes along with that. That’s regardless of anything else, right? The chances that I will become a thin person are virtually nonexistent. But that pressure is unceasing, partly from health care professionals, but mostly socially right, mostly from my friends and family, mostly from strangers I see on the street, mostly from other people at restaurants or movie theaters or airplanes or whatever who just resent the existence of my body and are not particularly interested in.
Jameela [00:21:00] The why.
Aubrey [00:21:01] Yeah, the why or in the how or any of it.
Jameela [00:21:05] I always feel like I’m skating on thin ice whenever I have that conversation when you and I talked about it on the podcast last year. But but we’re never trying to be like, Oh, you don’t understand, it’s because it’s because they’re sick or something. That’s what we were trying to say. You should be whatever size the fuck you want to be. And if you are comfortable in your body at any size, that is amazing. But also there are literal reasons that transcend, you know, it goes beyond health. Sometimes it’s a class issue. Sometimes it’s, you know, a monetary issue or a product of the fact that we have no good nutrition, accessible any kind of affordable cost or polycystic ovarian syndrome or so many things that go undiagnosed. And when it comes to the health care system and fat people, I mean, I have multiple friends who are fat and have had broken bones, that have not been X-rayed because they have been blamed that their weight is causing too much pressure on their joints. And that must be what’s hurting a so then they don’t heal properly. And and you and I also had the conversation last time you were on about the fact that you and I are different sizes, but I am way I’m healthier than you. I’m definitely going to die before you.
Aubrey [00:22:09] Or go blind.
Jameela [00:22:12] And no one is policing me.
Michael [00:22:14] Well, it’s also it’s so frustrating because for so long now, we’ve sacrificed health to focus on weight, right? Like we do have problems in America. With like people not getting enough fruits and vegetables, people not getting good school lunches, people not being able to walk and bike to school like there’s actual things that we can do. But you can actually have all of those conversations without weight in them at all. Like, if there’s mothers who are struggling to feed their kids home cooked meals, there’s there’s things we can do about that. Like, it would be great if we could, you know, increase food stamps or like get rid of food stamps to just give people like a ton of money so that they can afford all the food that they need and like school supplies. There’s all kinds of stuff that we can actually do if we were concerned about the things that we say are like underneath fatness, right? Like, Oh, you’re fat because you like, eat badly and you don’t exercise enough, it’s like, Well, let’s just skip the proxy indicator this in-between thing of weight and let just go straight to like what people are eating and how much exercise they’re getting and like, help them do that if they want to do that
Jameela [00:23:10] and fucking like how many antibiotics are in the fucking meat and in the water, which is fucking with people’s hormones or how much corn syrup is like pumped into. You have to buy sugar free bread in America. I have never heard of that before. You know what I mean? Like, I like it that it’s so I mean, we know what sugar can do. Fuck your weight. Like we know what sugar can do to your health. And the fact that like cancer can, you know, be more likely to be harmful if you have lots of sugar in your diet, etc. Why don’t we talk about that? Why don’t we deal with the fact that vegetables are so fucking expensive? Fruit is so expensive in this country?
Aubrey [00:23:46] Yeah. Well, and on top of all of that, we also still have a significant problem in this country with hunger. Right? So we’re all focused on like, you’re eating too much or you’re eating the wrong things. And there are whole communities where folks are do not have food stability. I mean, I think there’s quite a bit of information sharing coming from indigenous folks on reservations, sovereign nations sort of within the U.S., the borders of the U.S. about food insecurity there, right, that like there is there is quite a bit going on in poor communities, in communities of color, sort of across the board that have to do with inaccessibility of food and like unstable access to food, period, right? Like not knowing where you’re next meal is coming from.
Jameela [00:24:34] Exactly. And we don’t talk about the fact that anorexia is, I think, the leading cause of death in any mental health issue. We just don’t talk about that as a mental health. It’s its own epidemic now. Why are we ignoring the people who are being starved by their government? Why are we ignoring the people who are starving themselves? Why are we just not talking about that? Dealing with that, like raising the alarm on that? Why do we zone in on fat people?
Aubrey [00:24:57] I would say there’s quite a bit of scholarship, particularly there’s a sociology professor named Sabrina Strings who wrote a book called Fearing the Black Body, who has done this incredible sort of deep dive into the history of how racism links up to our anti fatness and the ways that we view fat folks right? That following the end of slavery, white folks were essentially looking for ways to reassert our natural dominance, quote unquote, when we could no longer own black people. Neat. And one of the ways that we did that was by continuing to sort of exotify and other black bodies, which were fatter than white bodies at this point, right? There is a very, very intense history there about Deshawn Harris has also written about this in their book The Belly of the Beast, which is sort of about anti-fatness and anti-Blackness, that their argument in that book is essentially that health was constructed in such a way that black folks could not be considered healthy, right? That sort of the ways that we feel about fat folks now are a displacement. A number of scholars have argued, our displacement of our feelings about black folks and poor folks in particular, that we are sort of no longer in a place societally where you can quite as boldly say in polite white company right that you just hate black people. But you can say, I’m concerned about fat people’s health, that that has become sort of a proxy for for how we talk about black folks and poor folks in particular. It’s rough man.
Michael [00:26:44] It’s also, I mean, I think all of that happens in parallel to with this rise of personal responsibility narratives that I think I think there’s a really interesting parallel with COVID that we’ve had all of this, you know, we’ve had all this stuff about masks, and we know we’ve had this push for personal responsibility over the last 18 months. But then we haven’t had as much talk about like ventilation systems like kids in schools like need ventilation. Like, it’s actually really important for the spread of COVID to not have like the same air circulating around. But then that has kind of been marginalized compared to this personal responsibility stuff about masks and social distancing and all this individual stuff that we’re all supposed to be doing. And I think it’s the same sort of structure where it’s like to talk about ventilation. You really have to talk about institutions of power. You have to talk about much larger structural systems that should be funding that thing. Like that’s something that’s actually hard to do and it costs money. And so we have the same thing with obesity, where it’s like we have a food system that doesn’t really work for anybody. But fixing that requires like rewriting the farm bill and subsidies and redesigning our cities and people might have to sacrifice something right. We might have to take away some space for cars and build a park in a neighborhood so kids can walk to school. That might actually require some sacrifices, but what doesn’t require any sacrifice is to just say like, Oh well, fat people need to stop eating so much. That’s easy. You’ve created a outgroup and then you push all of the responsibility for this onto that outgroup. And there’s something very like human and comforting about that of like, it’s not really a problem that people in power have to solve. It’s the problem of those people themselves. And like, why can’t they just spontaneously change when we’re not actually, we don’t really need to make it any easier for them.
Aubrey [00:28:21] Right. It feels like actually like one of the more acute. Like just to link up the two very things that you were talking about. It feels like I’m actually talking about Boris Johnson’s response to getting COVID feels like a really good example of that, right?
Michael [00:28:35] That was so dark! It was so dark.
Aubrey [00:28:36] That the response to the prime minister of getting COVID was to say, Actually, I just got it because I was fat and everybody needs to lose weight. And now I’m launching this anti-obesity campaign rather than saying.
Jameela [00:28:51] He’s such a clown.
Aubrey [00:28:52] We’re going to have a mask mandate, or we’re going to be like rather than like doing things that concretely and in the short term, stop the spread of COVID. The response was actually fat people need to lose weight, and that’s the reason that all of this happened.
Jameela [00:29:04] There must be no fat people in New Zealand. That’s why they had so much success. It wasn’t anything to do with lockdowns, restrictions, care, or a brilliant leader. That’s just everyone’s super skinny.
Aubrey [00:29:15] Yeah.
Jameela [00:29:25] Am I too tin hat here? Aubrey, I consider you my voice of reason, in particular, Michael. I feel like we’re getting there now that we’re getting to know each other. Is it? Could it be I like to try and bring this up at least once a month? Could it be a conspiracy? Could this be a deliberate money grab from Big Pharma, from Weight-Loss companies from? I don’t know. I’m not going to say the government I’m brown, and they’ll kick me out. But is is there a financial gain for the medical care system if lots of people are not guided towards a healthier life, if they’re not afforded more? I don’t know. Like a better standard of healthcare, a better standard of nutrition in schools, like more access to parks or exercise or gym or fucking clothes that you can exercise in if you’re over a size two and you don’t want to shop at Lululemon. Like, is there a financial gain for corrupt systems, for lots of people to be bigger, especially when it comes to the diet and for the multi multibillion dollar diet industry? Now that we know that, I think roughly five percent of diets ever succeed. Is it beneficial to them for people to never be guided or helped or have anything like deterred from actually losing weight without these capitalist structures preying on them?
Aubrey [00:30:55] Yeah. I mean, so we talked about this a little bit in our episode about the BMI, and I want to be like a very I feel you on tinfoil hat. I have been very tinfoil hat about all of this. So I want to be careful about the way that I talk about it. But it is worth noting so in the late 90s, when we did have that change in the BMI, that that came first from the World Health Organization and staff at the World Health Organization told the British Medical Journal that that change had been funded and that sort of work group had been funded largely by drug companies and that those drug companies had weight loss drugs that were pending approval in the US, which is the biggest one of the biggest weight loss markets in the world. And if those standards were lowered, presumably they would have a bunch of new customers right for their products, right? And they could say there is an epidemic happening here that needs, you know, you’ve got to rush solutions, you’ve got to get these Weight-Loss drugs or surgeries or whatever diets out to people who need them, right? That if this became defined as a medical problem, then there would have to be a medical solution. And who better to deliver a medical solution than drug companies right? So there’s definitely a link there. I’ll leave it to folks to make of that what they will.
Jameela [00:32:24] It’s a coincidence. I’m sure it’s a capitalist coincidence.
Aubrey [00:32:30] but it is. I mean, it is worth noting that there are like there is quite a bit of money being made off of the weight loss industry, right? Like we all know this, whether it calls itself the diet industry or it calls itself the wellness industry, or it calls itself in the case of a number of diets. Now, just like we’re not a diet, we’re the calorie restriction that’s not a diet, like.
Jameela [00:32:48] Ot we’re a lifestyle.
Aubrey [00:32:51] Or we’re a lifestyle or it’s a cleanse or it’s a detox.
Jameela [00:32:56] Keto Club.
Aubrey [00:32:56] Or whatever. Whatever it calls itself, people are making a lot of money off of those things. People are making a lot of money off of those things.
Michael [00:33:03] I OK to represent the slightly less tinfoil the paper baking paper hat
Jameela [00:33:11] Fine Michael be boring and bring the facts.
Michael [00:33:14] OK. I actually I don’t think that there’s any deliberate conspiracy, but I also think that that’s worse, potentially because the idea that there’s some sort of shadowy cabal or that all of this is in some way deliberate, I think is somehow comforting because there’s like this evil that we can vanquish, right? You find out the people that are organizing all of this and then you get rid of them. I think that the much scarier scenario and the one that I find convincing is that like, there’s just bias is just seeping in. There’s all these little cracks in medicine, there’s cracks in publication, academic journals, there’s cracks at the W.H.O., all of these institutions of public health, there’s bias in those institutions and what you find is just little cutting of corners. And let’s move a little bit faster to push these things. You know, a weight loss drug onto the market like this is an emergency obesity epidemic.
Jameela [00:34:05] You don’t think it’s fucking weird that it happens around the same time as the numbers being lowered?
Michael [00:34:10] This is the thing. I think with that specific scenario, I think like the fact that there’s like corporate funding of this is like very well-established and the links between pharmaceutical, especially pharmaceutical companies and also weight loss companies. And these institutions are extremely open like no one is hiding this stuff. It is everywhere. But I also think that this problem goes deeper than that, right? It goes deeper than W.H.O.. I don’t think individual doctors are being given like, you know, checks in the mail to be really fat phobic to their patients. I think that like this goes so deep into these systems of public health and the systems of individual medicine that there has to be something even bigger, like a bigger iceberg behind it. But it’s just people are biased against fat people, and that makes you shut down your critical faculties of like, What do I need less evidence to believe, right? What am I willing to go faster on if I think, Oh, it’s a public health emergency so I don’t really need to double check these figures as much. I don’t need to double check the methodology of the study. It’s really important for me to put out the message that like fat people are way more likely to die and like, I’m just not going to subject that to as much scrutiny. Because I think that like, yeah, that I think that the nefarious stuff is happening. And I also think that there’s much more like kind of benign stuff happening too.
Jameela [00:35:30] OK so maybe maybe the nefarious wink wink coincidence stuff is happening, but it’s being upheld and allowed because of the deep rooted racism rooted anti fat bias that exists in people, in doctors, in in, in, in the kind of entire system. Especially over in the West and massively in America, I think maybe that could also be possible because something doesn’t fucking add up here. And so I remain I remain skeptical, but I do. I think I think I think I will accept both answers. Yeah.
Aubrey [00:36:13] Well, I also think like the hard thing about the aspect of this that Mike is talking about, which I think is spot on right, which is that we have all been exposed. I will say for my entire life, the messages about people who look like me have been they’re an epidemic. We’re having a war on obesity right that we are sort of like enemy combatants right, which is a really, really strange way to feel. But for the 38 years that I’ve been alive, that’s how we talk about fat people. The idea that the rest of us would not absorb that and passively sort of take that and reproduce it is bananas and very hard to face. It’s hard to face that about ourselves that we would
Jameela [00:37:01] This is what we were talking about at the beginning of the episode, that it can be very, very unconscious.
Aubrey [00:37:05] Totally!
Jameela [00:37:07] You can really think you’re on the right side and you’re doing the right thing.
Aubrey [00:37:10] Absolutely. I mean, I think I would say a good example of that is, Jameela, you were talking about friends who are afraid to go to the gym because of how they’ll be treated as fat folks at the gym. I will say when I have gone to gyms, I don’t do that anymore. I just have like exercise equipment at my house. Thanks. That’s what I’ll be doing. Not because of leering and staring and photographs. Although all of those things have happened to me in gyms right that people have, like been taking my picture or staring at me or saying gross things or whatever. But the significantly larger problem has been people who think they’re doing the right thing, who come by and go. Good for you. Stick with it. You’ll get there, right? So like people who
Jameela [00:37:58] Didn’t that happen to you on a walk where you were just walking?
Aubrey [00:38:01] God, I walked my dog.
Jameela [00:38:03] You were just going for a walk, you’re walking your dog and you happen to be wearing like sort of gym leggings and someone like leaned off their car and encouraged you about how you know you can do it.
Aubrey [00:38:13] You can do it! Totally. Which I think the presumption there is I’m a fat person. I’m outside of my house, so I must be trying to lose weight. Like, was sort of the presumption that was happening there. And I think
Michael [00:38:27] She was outdoors.
Aubrey [00:38:27] Yeah, yeah. Ring the alarm. I’m outside. Everybody gather. And I think what folks don’t realize is whether you’re saying that with disapproval or with approval, either way, it is inviting comment on my body. It is shining a spotlight on a fat person and it is inviting total strangers to reveal their judgments about my size, right?
Jameela [00:38:51] Yeah, that story you told. I think the last time you were on the podcast about the woman who just went into your shopping trolley when you were at the supermarket and took something, I think it was fruit.
Aubrey [00:39:02] It was a melon.
Jameela [00:39:03] They took melon like a very low sugar fruit took it out of your cart. I mean, I hear stories like that all the time of people just taking potato chips or anything that they feel like to like a staging, an intervention like a sort of citizen’s arrest of your diet. It’s fucking out of control.
Michael [00:39:22] I, OK, we’re you know how we’re in this thing now where people will ask you to make like a charitable donation instead of giving them a birthday gift or whatever. Like give 50 bucks this charity. I think we should do something like this, like a swap for New Year’s resolutions. So instead of making a New Year’s resolution this year to lose 10 pounds or something, just resolved to like, never do that to a fat person. Just don’t be a dick. Like, maybe ignore your weight this year and just like be super chill about other people’s weight. I think that would be a great like resolutions swap.
Aubrey [00:39:55] Yeah, your resolution is I’m not going to say anything about what anyone else is eating.
Michael [00:40:02] Just don’t. No, no eating talk, no weight talk. Just don’t do it all year. Whatever happens with your weight, whatever. Just don’t comment on other people’s weight this year.
Jameela [00:40:11] And I think like it’s important to point out that in both of your work, you are not telling people what size to be or how to be that. You know, Michael, you touched on at the top of this episode that you’re like, you guys are not interested in, like how individuals manage their own lives or bodies, that’s up to them. But what you are doing is making sure that what people are not falling victim to are all of the lies that make a very small subsect of our society a lot of money because it is the top of the year because all we’re about to fucking hear about is we’re out of a pandemic. You’ve got to lose all that pandemic weight. Ok it’s the top of the year, got to lose the Christmas weight, got to lose the Thanksgiving weight. Remember, in six months, you’re going to have to go to a beach and you don’t want to be fat. We are amidst the top of the onslaught. This is why I need you. This is why I needed you here, because I need you to to roll through the bullshit of these diets. You’re not telling people how to live, but you are at least telling them what lies not to buy into and you have done such extensive, thorough research. I think I think keto, while it’s definitely kind of on its way out because, you know, it’s not sustainable and no one has taken a shit for a year. Because it’s very constipating. I I would like to talk to you a little bit about some of these diets and and also the cycle of dieting about like how you can kind of trend forecast, what diets are coming next because it’s just all such bullshit, just repackaged repurposed bullshit, keto diet. What do you know?
Michael [00:42:00] Lightning round, Keto. Trash.
Jameela [00:42:03] Please someone might be considering it or starting it right now.
Aubrey [00:42:10] Yeah. So the keto diet, I will say it started out as an evidence based treatment for kids with epilepsy before we had a anticonvulsant medications. The reason that it became a weight loss diet largely comes down to Joe Rogan and Tim Ferriss, a couple of podcast bros who started talking about this as a as a method of weight loss and keto is essentially a more restrictive version of Atkins or South Beach or all of the low carb diets we’ve seen since forever. I mean, the other sort of category of diets as keto and paleo are sort of potentially on their way out. I think what we’re likely to see is the other category of weight loss diets, which is low fat and low calorie. So I would just be prepared for sort of an onslaught of of that in the coming months and years that we’ll get something like. I mean, I think Noom is a great example of something that’s doing that now.
Jameela [00:43:10] I don’t know what Noom is.
Aubrey [00:43:12] Oh, buddy. First of all, congratulations on whatever your advertising algorithm is on your computer. You’ve escaped, it is inescapable for me.
Jameela [00:43:20] It’s just all dogs and cats. It’s actually maybe it’s embarrassing, but go on.
Aubrey [00:43:27] Noom is a weight loss diet that very proudly bills itself as not a diet. It’s its default appears to be that it sets folks on a twelve hundred calorie a day diet, which is about what a toddler needs to survive, right? Not an adult human.
Jameela [00:43:43] Pretty sure a toddler needs like 1800.
Aubrey [00:43:46] Yeah, actually, you’re right. You’re right, you’re right. You’re right. It’s less than a toddler and it’s not great.
Michael [00:43:50] It’s New Year’s resolution season, though those two year olds need to shape up.
Aubrey [00:43:53] Yeah, 1200 calories is for the like very thin.
Jameela [00:43:58] Well they’re causing the Covid pandemic. So, yeah.
Aubrey [00:44:01] Fat toddlers? Yeah, absolutely.
Jameela [00:44:04] Lazy. They’re lazy.
Aubrey [00:44:05] So Noom says that it sort of combines psychology with sort of new practices to help folks lose weight. Quote unquote, quite a bit of the psychology is these sort of quizzes on sort of like, Oh, did you know if you eat off smaller plates, you’ll gain less weight or you’ll start to lose weight, you’ll eat less food and you’ll lose weight. Quite a bit of that research has been discredited. It’s from a researcher who was messing around with his data so much that it became sort of useless. So I think, you know, we’ll see quite a bit more of Noom, right? This sort of app based thing that’s like, we’re not a diet, but it’s like straightforward calorie restriction, right?
Jameela [00:44:45] We’re not a diet we’re an eating disorder.
Aubrey [00:44:48] Yeah, I think you just wrote a slogan.
Jameela [00:44:54] Just like, I mean, that was that robbed me of like 20 years of my life calorie counting, obsessing over food planning, food planning. Not in a kind of like, how can I make sure I get loads of nutrition this week and and eat my greens? But really, just like living meal to meal and being terrified of meal to meal. And if I go out to this restaurant tonight, then I’ll have to starve myself for three days, like just, oh my god to introduce this like willingly into people’s lives. I understand that there is a hope for people to kind of, I don’t know, have a bit more guidance. But couldn’t we start that in the fucking schools? I could, in that guidance be just more around, like the mental health benefits of exercise and generally like how to eat foods that make you feel really energetic and make you sleep well and feel happy and they don’t like upset your stomach. Like the the most sickening part to me of diet culture is how much of it is a quick fix. How much of it is treating fat like an emergency like this an emergency, we’ve got no time. You need to lose 21 pounds in two weeks, you need to do the master cleanse and this is what Beyonce looked like before and then afterwards at the end of that 21 days or whatever, it’s all, how fast can we get this off us? And I think that that is part of why they don’t work. It’s part of why they cause. I mean, they send so many people into a spiral of an eating disorder because it is not treated as they say, it’s a lifestyle. It’s not. It is such an abuse because they know they have top scientists working on these diets. They know these diets are going to fail. We have hard evidence these diets going to fail and they kind of want them to fail so that you’ll have to fall off the wagon and then your metabolism may even be slower than it was before, and then you have to do it all over again. They rely as a business model on you having to continuously come back to the diet. You have to buy the second book, the third book, the fourth book of the same fucking subject because they know you’re not going to be able to maintain it. It’s designed to fail.
Michael [00:46:56] I mean, I think very often about an article about Dr. Oz that I read while I was researching the episode on him that we did written by a doctor. And what he said was that there’s actually very little that you can say to the population as a whole. Right. The things that we know about nutrition and health are really basic and you know them already try to eat fruits and vegetables, try to move every day, wear sunscreen, brush your teeth,.
Jameela [00:47:22] Drink water yeah.
Michael [00:47:23] It’s like really yeah, it’s super boring stuff that we’ve all heard a million times, and everything else is going to depend on you as an individual. So every year we have a new superfood and you’re supposed to eat kale this year, or blueberries or whatever. And like, maybe you don’t like kale, or maybe you can’t afford it. Or maybe it’s not part of like a cultural cuisine that you know how to cook or want to cook. And so kale is not really going to work for you. And that’s totally fine
Jameela [00:47:46] Kale makes me windy.
Michael [00:47:49] The thing and maybe you’re I have a chip on my shoulder about this because I I hate kale, and I’m really tired of being told that I have to eat kale all the time.
Jameela [00:47:57] Awful.
Michael [00:47:58] But like, I really love sweet potatoes and I don’t tell other people to eat sweet potatoes. Like that’s something that works with my lifestyle. Like, I love roasting sweet potatoes. It’s an easy weeknight meal for me, but I don’t go around evangelizing about that because other people that doesn’t work for them. And so there’s really like only five things that are actually true and that are universal to everybody. But the problem is, you can’t sell books saying brush your teeth and get eight hours of sleep a night and drink water. You can’t you can’t sell products that way. We we have to go through this cycle every year like, Oh, it’s goji berries or some new. It’s it’s quinoa or like God, we’ve done this so many times. And there’s there’s these studies that come out right that are like, Oh, a cup of coffee every morning reduces your risk of prostate cancer, but oh, a cup of coffee every morning increases your risk of glaucoma, like linking a specific food to a specific outcome, which again, these are all averages and these are at the population level. So it’s not actually useful for you as an individual. And like, I wish they would just stop publishing these stories in like normal newspapers because they’re not useful for anybody. But it’s like we trick ourselves into thinking that this new thing is going to be different from all the last things. And it never it never turns out to be true. And that’s sucky advice, but it’s like it’s the only advice that anyone can actually give with any kind of credibility.
Jameela [00:49:16] Yeah, it’s a money grab. And I also just want to like, you know, when I was talking earlier about the fact that Aubrey and I, for example, at one of our first times we went out for lunch, we talked about like the kind of differences in our sizes. But the fact that my health is much worse a big part of why my health is worse than most of the people I know, regardless of their size, regardless of their age, is because of what I did to myself, because of diet culture. I fucked up my digestive system. I fucked up my kidneys. I fucked up my liver, all with diet products. My bones are brittle because I didn’t eat enough. I didn’t get enough cheese because I was told I was, you know, raised in the kind of low fat, no dairy or whatever it doesn’t have to be dairy. But like, you know, that was as a kid, what we were given. I was avoiding that when my fuckin bones were forming. You know, like I wasn’t I was avoiding vegetables because I was told that they were a carb like I’m devoid of like I’m devoid of nutrition. Like I’ve had to spend the last like seven years or five years, maybe even trying to like, reeducate myself and fill my body with stuff that isn’t going to kill me. I mean, those diet products, what they did to me, I like I’ll. I’ll never, ever, ever be well, because of the diet industry. It made me sicker when it told me it was trying to make me well.
Aubrey [00:50:34] And also because you lived a childhood and adolescence without cheese, which is delicious. You deserved a cheese filled childhood.
Michael [00:50:44] Reparations.
Aubrey [00:50:46] Come on back with cheese. Yeah, it’s great.
Jameela [00:50:52] But like having no fat, it’s like my hair falling out. Like. Oh, my, my my fuckin low iron because I wasn’t eating like I just no energy did no exercise. I didn’t have energy to exercise. I was so traumatized by exercise because of the exercise for weight loss industry like I. That’s not been good for my joints like that. It’s just I’ve only been, I’d say, fucked by the diet industry. It’s been the it’s been the number one worst thing that ever happened to my health, not to mention my mental health and how mad I was for 20 years.
Aubrey [00:51:22] Yeah, it’s it’s really a it’s really terrible that that has all happened to you as a result of stuff that didn’t need to happen, right? Just didn’t need to happen. And it’s really fucking sad if you’ll excuse my language of how common a story that is, right? Like, how many folks sort of started dieting, thought they were doing the right thing for their health and like, got a couple of months or a couple of years in and realized that they were restricting really heavily or they had developed disordered eating or they were binging and purging or whatever else. I mean, I think one of the things that’s happening now that Mike and I talk about a fair amount and you and I have talked about as well is that the diet industry is, as we said earlier, sort of changing its clothes and being like, no surprise. Now we’re about wellness. As the diet industry moves further and further into this sort of quote unquote wellness world. And we’re talking more and more about superfoods, which, by the way, not a thing superfood, a marketing term. All foods have a nutritional value. That’s why we eat that’s why their food, right?
Michael [00:52:31] They’re all super. Every food is super. It’s fine.
Aubrey [00:52:35] Kale is just as good for you as Swiss chard or collard greens. Look at that. Right like it’s there’s nothing about it that’s like extra special fancy. But part of what’s happening as we move further and further into wellness world is there is an emergence of a new or sort of newer defined eating disorder, which is orthorexia. I’m sure you all have talked about this on the show. Which is just the idea that you have to eat rather than not eating as little as possible, which is sort of associated with anorexia or purging, which is associated with bulimia or binging, which is associated with binge eating disorder. Orthorexia is about eating the quote unquote right food, so you might get hung up on every single thing I eat needs to be organic and non-GMO, or you might get hung up on. I have a small list of foods that I’m able to eat from that I feel comfortable eating from right. Those are all, you know, also disordered eating behaviors. And we’re now sort of having to play catch up a little bit with getting folks on board with like that’s also disordered eating. I know you’re getting social approval for doing it. I know it feels like you’re doing the right thing. That can also be disordered eating.
Jameela [00:53:43] Yeah, I get shit sometimes online because I mean, for many reasons. But one of the many reasons is that I’m not completely plant based. I’m mostly plant based on my diet, and people say that if I’m not completely plant based, I can’t be a feminist because cows and goats, and shit. Because it’s, you know, they’re female. And so the thing is, guys, is that I can’t participate in any kind of restrictive eating. I do my best to be as helpful for the environment as I can with my diet, putting less farts, less methane into that world. But I but I can’t do restrictive eating. And if you are out there and you think you have a tendency towards orthorexia, uh, many people can be plant based and be absolutely fine with that. And that’s great. But I’m just saying that some people, especially if you have a history of an eating disorder, orthorexia and you feel like you can completely commit to any type of restrictive lifestyle when it comes to diet. That’s okay. I just want to make sure that I can say that that like, you’re still a feminist, so it’s all right. But this shit can be a slippery slope sometimes.
Aubrey [00:54:54] I got a I got a hand in my feminist card after this because of my cheese position. Sorry woops, I’m out everybody.
Jameela [00:55:03] I can’t believe you’re a men’s rights activist. So disappointing.
Aubrey [00:55:07] Ah goddammit basically an incel.
Michael [00:55:09] But I mean, I also this is another thing that we come back to on the show a lot is that like I have friends who are doing the keto diet, my mom is on a low carb diet and that’s worked for her for more than a decade now, and she’s really happy with it. And like, I don’t let her other people on their diets. Yeah, I mean, the biggest thing is like, it’s fine to experiment with what works for you. It’s fine to try to find foods that affect your energy levels, affect whatever goal you have. This really isn’t something that, like me and Aubrey, are interested in adjudicating for other people. And honestly, even these fad diets, we don’t go around scolding people are shaming people. If I’m at a dinner party and somebody is sitting next to me and they say, like, Oh, I just started a cleanse, I’ll be like, Oh, how is it so far? I’m not. I’m not going to do my like debunking podcaster thing with them because I’m having a human interaction. Like it’s not the whole thing is like finding something that works for other people and also focusing on systems that we have, like food systems that are not delivering nutritious food to people at a price that they can afford. And whatever choice you want to make in your life, that’s actually fine. I just don’t care for most of these things. It’s like we have a really broken public health system that is laser focused on weight, despite decades of data that it’s not working and it’s making people like you, said Jameela like, sicker and unhappier. And it’s we’re doing the same thing as a as a system that people are doing on these fad diets. We’re like, Oh, maybe this new thing will help. Maybe maybe this one will be different. And then we try the same thing we’ve already tried. So it’s like, this is where we want to push people’s focus that like if if you are about to comment on an Instagram post by a celebrity about how like their diet isn’t chill, like maybe, maybe like write to your senator or something like fumble with that information. Take that effort and put it elsewhere. Like my the biggest thing for us. It’s just like, it’s it’s really none of your business, and it’s not that interesting like how other people are eating or how other people’s bodies are. Just like, chill out and try to be nice to people.
Jameela [00:57:07] Yeah, I mean, I don’t even have to say anything. If someone says that they’re doing a cleanse or a diet and then they suddenly whip around and look at me, they go, I know I Weigh I Weigh I Weigh.
Michael [00:57:18] I have that problem too.
Jameela [00:57:19] I don’t even like people just presume and like I, oftentimes, because, like I said, it does go both ways. You’ve got to just kind of let people live. You don’t want to police people on their diets, like whether it’s too little, too much. You just have to hope that you’re you yourself as an individual, especially with the platform you’re putting out as much advice as possible. I mean, you guys told me that on your kind of roundup of 2021, my advice that was simply publicly, don’t take diet advice from celebrities. Which was advice that was well received by your listeners. Yeah, I I think it’s important just to just just fuck off, you know?
Aubrey [00:57:59] Yeah, totally, totally. And I think most of us don’t even necessarily realize when we’re taking diet advice from celebrities like so we talked earlier about the master cleanse, the re popularization of the master cleanse, which was from like the 40s from way back was Beyoncé said she did it on Oprah, and a bunch of people started doing it because Beyoncé said on Oprah that she had done the master cleanse before Dreamgirls. Right, that. And then it sort of gained a life of its own. Whether or not you saw that Oprah episode, you knew people who were on the master cleanse I sure did, who were not Oprah viewers who were not Beyonce super fans at that point. Whatever. Right that part of the way that all of this happens is a handful of people take diet advice from celebrities and then it sort of catches on. Right, Keto is another great example, right? Like Joe Rogan, Tim Ferriss. There you go. Those are your diet guys, right? That like, we don’t necessarily realize that our sources for this kind of stuff are maybe not the greatest. I mean, I think one of my personal favorites is the Medical Medium, who’s the the guy who popularized celery juice and did so because he said he was sort of in conversation with a spirit from the future who was giving him information about health and wellness information sort of from the future that we hadn’t discovered yet. So scientists now would not be able to confirm what he had heard from the spirits. But you got to know celery juice will cure whatever ails you like.
Jameela [00:59:37] Trust me guys.
Michael [00:59:38] Yeah, no trust the spirits. Trust the future.
Aubrey [00:59:41] And a bunch of the people who drink celery juice now believe that that came from a doctor or a health care provider or someone other than, like future ghost, right? And just didn’t really don’t actually know sort of the provenance of the the health and wellness practices that they’re engaging in.
Michael [00:59:59] This also gets it. I think the media laundering of these fads, too, that I think where we are comfortable scolding people is oftentimes writers for these magazines. They will do a profile of like the cool young influencer who’s selling you this new cleanse and they don’t do any historical putting it into place that there’s only like five diets and they all just cycle through each other and whatever. Whatever thing we’re doing we’ve done like 10 and 30, 50
Jameela [01:00:28] Yeah man Atkins, Dukan, Keto like all these they’re the same premise.
Michael [01:00:31] Exactly. And they just we just cycle through the same diets. And then also, you know, there’s always these anecdotes of people that lose a bunch of weight, which every single diet will produce pretty significant weight loss if you can stay on it for the first six weeks. That’s everything that’s like. You can eat foods that only begin with vowels, and you can probably lose weight for six weeks because anything restrictive will produce short term weight loss and then no one can stick with it because we are human beings and our bodies adjust and then we gain all the way back. So it’s like, what’s the point of these articles? Every year we get a thousand of these articles and it’s like, OK, come back to me, Mr. Influencer, in two years when there’s a real study of whatever product you’re selling and it has actual results until then. I am not going to write about it like I wish that they would take some responsibility for this and just be like, there’s no real evidence that this works. And like, some of these things are harmful, some of them are pretty benign. But it’s like, just stop writing about the stuff. Stop hyping it up as if it’s new.
Jameela [01:01:29] Right but then also, you can’t really trust most publications because the vast majority of money in the dying publishing industry comes from the diet industry. So the adverts, if you look on, if you like, scroll down to the bottom of the page. The adverts are from dieting companies like often they are being like paid to write about this sort of stuff to perpetuate the culture of, you know, you see all the time in fashion magazines. And, you know, since fashion magazines began, like on one page, they show you a very thin body. And on the next page, they they sell you a weight loss, you know, quote unquote remedy. And so it’s also like the reason that journalism now kind of when it comes to weight, weight loss and all that sort of stuff, when they cover fads, you should be very, very dubious and you should do due diligence to find out who their sponsors are and what adverts are on that page because people’s paychecks are coming. This is why we’ve had the rise of clickbait culture. Like there’s there’s uh yeah, there’s less integrity. I’m not trying to Donald Trump this and be like fake news media, but also like definitely the media is is bought a lot of the times, especially in the kind of like wellness space.
Michael [01:02:39] Yeah. And you got to produce, you got to produce stories. I mean, I have friends in journalism that have to write three posts a day, and that’s their quota every single day. And so if you’re writing three posts a day, you just simply you’re not able to do the amount of research that you would have to do to produce good journalism. So it’s not really individual journalists fault, necessarily, but it’s always the incentives of the industry. Again, I don’t think there’s a tinfoil hat thing. I think it’s just like a lot of people are overworked and have to produce something and you’re like, Oh, there’s some new diet, god. I’ll just write about this because I don’t know what else to write about three times today. So I think it is like everything is baked in throughout all of these industries of just like a lot of these journalists are smart enough to know that these are kind of cranks, but they’re like, How do these things get clicks like, we have to do this?
Aubrey [01:03:23] And if I don’t get clicks and I don’t produce, then I get fired, right? Like, that’s like also part of a systemic problem that we’ve got going on here, right? Like woah.
Jameela [01:03:41] So we’ve touched every corner of this shit show, right? Diet culture, the history of the diet, culture of history, the BMI, the corruption, the weird coincidences we are, we are now coming to the end of this interview. We are at the top of another year, which is just a new weight loss opportunity for capitalism. What do you most want my listeners to know, like every you’ve learned so much over the last two years as we go into another year where everyone’s being bombarded with bullshit messaging?
Aubrey [01:04:14] I would just underscore something that Michael said earlier, which is we do not know scientifically nobody on this planet knows how to make most people lose weight in the long term. We found some little pockets of things that work for some people sometimes, but for the most part, and certainly in a population level, we do not know how to make fat people thin. So I would just start from the place that, like people who have spent their whole lives researching this fat people who’ve lived their whole lives as fat people and who have tried every diet. We all know, right, that weight loss is not an easy thing. But not only that scientifically in terms of the data, it’s generally not a possible thing for most of us currently. So just like start from the place of whatever diet you are being sold is probably lying to you if they say we can definitely produce these results in you and anybody who tries this diet in the short term, they probably can. In the long term, they almost definitely can’t.
Michael [01:05:21] Yeah, yeah. I would also say the the biggest thing for me is just showing kindness to other people and showing kindness to yourself that I mean something, Aubrey said in one of our recent episodes. It’s like if you’ve fallen for one of these diets, are you falling for one of these fads? Whatever. So have I honestly, like all of us, we’ve all fallen for scams in our lives. It’s fine. And also the sort of the cycle of losing weight and regaining weight. There’s so much psychological damage that happens in that cycle that you know your body is screaming at you to eat. If you’ve been restricting yourself for a really long time and it’s so important to just like forgive yourself and like sometimes you aren’t on your whatever plan that you made. Sometimes you do something that you didn’t intend to food wise and everybody does that, and it’s totally fine. And if people are in a sort of resolution making mood, I think the thing is just like try to be as forgiving and graceful to yourself and show that forgiveness and grace to other people.
Aubrey [01:06:18] Yeah, if you set a resolution to hold your breath all year and then you started breathing, you wouldn’t beat yourself up for starting to breathe. If you set a resolution that was like, I’m not going to go to the bathroom all year and then you, like, caved in on day two and went to the bathroom like, you wouldn’t be yourself up for that either. These are all biological imperatives you have to eat. You have to sleep. You have to breathe right. Like, those are not your fault for doing those things. Those are not failings of your character. Those are things you’ve got to do to stay alive. So stay alive please. Stay alive, please,
Jameela [01:06:58] Absolutely and make more choices for your happiness, please. Like if you’re going to exercise, do it for the literal proven definite mental health benefits of exercising. Eat the food that makes you feel good afterwards. It makes you feel full. Does it make you feel super gassy if gassiness is something that you or your cat or dog do not enjoy living with. No, but seriously, like I just.
Michael [01:07:22] Or maybe you’re into it. You know what? What we say here there’s somebody for everything.
Jameela [01:07:25] It’s it’s a vibe. It’s a vibe. But I. But no, seriously, I really just want you to. I really just want you to be happy and I really want you to be OK this year and no extreme of anything, regardless of which way is going to make you anything other than obsessive and sad and maybe a bit boring and a bit bored. And so please just do everything in moderation, nothing is an emergency and be very, very careful to consider your sources when you receive information on drastic changes to your health and listen to the Maintenance Phase Pod so that you can have all of the facts and the history that you need to be armed with in order to go forward and make these decisions as consciously as possible. Before you both go, will you each tell me, what do you weigh? Aubrey I’ll start with you.
Aubrey [01:08:16] I would say that I try to measure myself by my impacts on the movements that I engage with and my impacts on the people that I love. That’s what I would say. Those are the things that matter most to me in this world. How about you Mike?
Michael [01:08:32] The real things. Yes. Mostly how much have I yelled at Dr. Oz on the internet? How much reply guyness have I done with Mr. Oz.
Jameela [01:08:44] Wait wasn’t he in the news because he’s about to try and do something big?
Aubrey [01:08:47] He’s running for senate.
Michael [01:08:49] This is the only advice we’ll give to our listeners like don’t vote for Dr. Oz if you live in Pennsylvania.
Aubrey [01:08:54] Oh, please, dear God.
Jameela [01:08:55] Yeah. He wants to. He wants to be a senator who’s going to stand up to the Washington establishment and Big Tech. What the fuck?
Michael [01:09:03] Speaking of promises people make over and over again that never come true. I mean, my god.
Aubrey [01:09:09] Yeah, I would say. Dr. Oz was hauled in front of Congress for making false claims about miracle cures for weight loss. I would say that a guy who gets interrogated by Congress should maybe not be a part of Congress. You know, maybe, maybe that’s maybe that’s a thing he should just lean out of.
Jameela [01:09:32] Cavanaugh. OK, well, on that note. Goodbye. Bye, guys. Thank you so much. Happy New Year! And and please come back again.
Michael [01:09:41] Thanks!
Aubrey [01:09:42] Absolutely. Thank you so much for having us.
Jameela [01:09:46] Thank you so much for listening to this week’s episode. I Weigh with Jameela Jamil is produced and researched by myself, Jameela Jamil, Erin Finnegan and Kimmie Gregory. It is edited by Andrew Carson, and the beautiful music you’re hearing now is made by my boyfriend, James Blake. If you haven’t already, please rate review and subscribe to the show. It’s a great way to show your support. We also have a bonus series exclusively on Stitcher Premium called Ask Jameela Anything. Check it out. You can get a free month for Stitcher Premium by going to Stitcher.com/Premium and using the promo code I Weigh. Lastly, over at I Weigh, we would love to hear from you and share what you weigh at the end of this podcast. You can leave us a voicemail at 1-818-660-5543 or email us what you weigh at IWeighPodcast@gmail.com. And now we would love to pass the mic to one of our fabulous listeners.
Listener [01:10:38] I weigh being talented, I weigh being intelligent and curious and trying to learn more and more about different things every day. I weigh a lot, I weigh a lot of good things. And another thing that I weigh is pride and confidence for the woman that I am and the woman that I’m becoming.
February 3, 2023
Actress, LGBTQ+ advocate, and legend Laverne Cox joins Jameela this week to discuss her journey to who she is now, how spending time with trans women changed her mind on who she herself could be, the birth of #transisbeautiful, the problem with trans politics today, reaching across the aisle, the real problems facing Americans today, and more.