Saturday, August 22, 2009

Is obesity a public-health problem, or are the upper class just imposing their eating disorders on the rest of us?

A complex, thought-provoking discussion by Megan McArdle and David Frum:

4 comments:

Jason (the commenter) said...

I loved how McArdle used the twin study to counteract Frum's network effects study. He didn't seem to realize how much that undermined his position. I found it very telling when, as a defense, he said the study he referred to was in the New England Journal of Medicine.

I also loved how McArdle referenced her experience in a fancy private school. She was able to view her lifestyle as an unbiased outsider might and see potential problems. Frum wasn't able to see them even after McArdle explained them. He made an eating disorder joke!

He is clueless and shows all the signs of staying that way.

She is awesome.

John Althouse Cohen said...

I do think he had a good response to her charge that the concern over obesity is biased against the poor and minorities.

Jason (the commenter) said...

I do think he had a good response to her charge that the concern over obesity is biased against the poor and minorities.

I don't think we can even give him that. McArdle readily agrees that extreme obesity is generally a problem of those groups. I think her point (starting around 3:30) is that the obesity problem is being blown out of proportion; and part of the reason is that thin people (who tend to be public health officials) have an unhealthy attitude towards food.

When McArdle fleshes out this point Frum says, "A little eating disorder might do these girls some good," proving her point.

montana urban legend said...

Megan McArdle commits (surprise, surprise) a false dichotomy fallacy! Ding! Ding! (i.e. Genes [separated twins] raise the likelihood of obesity, so how can friendship do the same?) Nice inability to understand that genes and environment aren't an all or nothing thing, there.