The Wacky World of Fatlogic (Roundup)

Jack Barton tweet humorHumans are so clever, they can talk themselves into just about anything. The fatlogic mindset is not just one set of beliefs, but a spectrum that ranges from hostile defensiveness on one end to self-deprecating humor on the other. Some fat-logicians are militant spokespeople whose rhetorical skills would be envied by any ideological movement. They flip the script to make anyone who cares about optimal health appear to be a self-hating masochist.

Others are amiable and adequately self-aware strugglers who seem to realize how much they are kidding themselves. The latter group can be amusing, because they will wryly poke fun at themselves and acknowledge at least some fatlogic as the baloney it is. This can be accomplished, for instance, by using the made-up word “condishun” to signify a chronic disease that causes mysterious and unaccountable weight gain. When someone jokes about her or his condishun, it’s a tacit admission that deep down inside, the stark reality is known.

“Hamentality” is another fun word, and a cruise through online forums devoted to weight issues can reveal a whole alternate vocabulary that is used by people trying to come to grips with their weight issues. “Fatlogic Can Be Weird” discusses them, and gives proper respect to the seekers who can lay aside their vulnerability and be so fearlessly self-assessing. In the past few years, fatlogic has become much easier to engage in because it lines up with perceived reality. When an overweight person looks around and sees wall-to-wall overweight people, everything looks normal. It’s very easy to think, “What’s the problem?”

In “The Fatlogic Mindset,” we quoted someone very familiar with that mental state, who nevertheless went ahead and lost more than 100 pounds with the help of lap-band surgery. To assemble a set of beliefs that add up to a fatlogic mindset, a person has to ignore quite a few plain facts and distort a few quasi-reasonable assumptions. “Rejecting Fat Logic” examines some of the justifications and rationalizations that can be employed to this end. “Fatlogic Marches On” mentions one of the thousand mental traps:

Many people have heard that 95% of smokers who quit on their own will return to the habit, and they extrapolate this to a conviction that 95% of all people who attempt weight loss will fail—so what’s the use? Why even try?

More complete information has become the norm in the labeling of processed foods. This change was supposed to help, but has actually become harmful in many cases. Food manufacturers have become quite skilled at enabling fatlogic by providing information that may be accurate, but at the same time doesn’t tell the entire story.

A person might read enough of the package information to ascertain that the treat only contains 20 calories per serving, and then skip the part where it says a serving amounts to two tablespoons. When a “zero fat” message is emblazoned on the package, a customer might not stop to think or consult the fine print, which would reveal that the thing is full of sugar. Conversely, a “zero sugar” imprint can obscure the fact that the thing is full of fat.

Since all positive change begins in the mind, people could use a special training course in how to see through fatlogic, whether it originates in their own twisted psyches or is imported from outside.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Image by Jack Barton

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OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

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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