Fat Logic 101


Some feel that scientific obesity research is fueled and funded by fat hatred, and that its methodology is flawed. Traditional obesity research is accused of prejudice, misinformation, and a complete absence of “fat stakeholders” in its hallowed halls. The entire enterprise is seen as an attempt to isolate obese people as “some kind of Othered subhuman lump of helplessness.” In this paradigm, the good guys are those who hold a “more sophisticated” view, and add Fat Studies to the curriculum, and originate such slogans as “Health At Every Size.”

Science writer David Berreby took the trouble to trace the origin of the word “infectobesity.” It was coined by Prof. Nikhil Dhurandhar, who in 1992 observed that, instead of being skinny like sick animals ought to be, chickens that succumbed to adenovirus were fat.

But these folks don’t even like the terms “obesogenic” and “infectobesity” because the words brand fatness as pathological, and not as a perfectly acceptable and harmless aspect of humanity as a whole. The notion of infectiousness is especially repellent to Fat Acceptance enthusiasts because, while it might provide a legitimate reason for being overweight, and thus relieve some societal stress, the stigma of contagion would provide a very powerful rationale for excluding and marginalizing the obese.

We’re diverse too!

If biodiversity is such a good thing, and if cultural diversity is such a good thing, then why does everybody pick on fat people? Why do the lean people have a knee-jerk belief that carrying a bit of extra weight is an automatic guarantee of morbid illness? Obesity needs to be understood from historical, economic, psychological, and chemical angles, plus about 99 more.

The very enthusiastic proponents of Fat Logic compare the effort to end the obesity epidemic to the lunacy of past tyrants who promoted social engineering through eugenics. And they, too, make up words, such as:

A term which refers to the insatiable desire to cash in on fat hatred through spurious scientific claims. Describes weight loss companies that fund research producing and endorsing obesity charities.

Emotional fat logic

Fat logic is available in many varieties, all faulty. From Reddit, a precious repository of first-person narratives, comes a beautiful example of fallacious reasoning. When this former obese child was in grade school, most of the thin students and teachers were unkind. So her inner food addict took that information and ran with it, and mapped out a justification for years of overeating that went something like this: “Thin people are mean. I want to be a nice person, so I’d better not be thin. In fact, the fatter, the nicer.”

The same woman also says that some obese people are actually angry when normal-weight peers are nice to them. Why? Because it knocks down the theory that everyone must choose “between being a good person and having a good appearance.” Objecting to friendly treatment is an extreme reaction, and hopefully it’s only projection on the part of this particular woman. The important point here is that childhood obesity isn’t something that just goes away, even when it does.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Infectobesity, Obesogenic, dying research traditions and made-up words,” ObesityTimeBomb.blogspot.com, 09/21/10
Source: “The obesity era,” Aeonmagazine.com, 06/19/13
Image by “Fat Amy” (Anonymous)

2 Responses

  1. Are you a Reddit-er? When I get home this evening I am so totally posting this to /r/fatlogic.

    I enjoy reading your blog and check in fairly often (and have even commented a time or two). I’m glad you’re addressing fat logic and the counter-intuitive “Health at Every Size”/”Fat Acceptance” movement.

    They present a hurdle that a typical person wouldn’t expect to find when addressing the already complex issue of obesity. Most people have never heard of Health at Every Size or the Fat Acceptance movement, and those who have don’t really know enough to know what their advocates actually believe.

    Most people would be surprised to learn that there are people out there who not only want to remain obese (odd, but whatever floats your boat), but that there are people who take great offense to those who actually try to prevent/mitigate/resolve obesity – going so far as to demonize science and advocate (the quite dangerous position of) ignoring doctors who suggest some health problems are weight related.

    Thank you for this post!

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About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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