The funnest way to interact with this post would be to take the quiz first, and learn your own Fat IQ (or intelligence quotient). More than half the people got an “F” on their knowledge of dieting and weight loss. Will you be one of the fewer than 1% to make an “A” score?
The creator of the quiz is far from an impartial actor. MDVIP, a membership-based healthcare company with more than 900 primary care physicians and 300,000 members, commissioned the survey and sent out a press release about the answers it received. Who were the subjects?
35 percent of the survey respondents are classified as obese, and another 30 percent are overweight based on their Body Mass Index (BMI).
The results are discouraging but not surprising. MDVIP finds that Americans need help separating fact from fiction, an intellectual handicap that has been mainly caused by corporations and the fortunes they spend on advertising.
People also engage in contradictory behavior. This is only one small aspect of the epidemic of cognitive dissonance, or the ability to believe two mutually contradictory propositions at the same time. In the realm of obesity awareness, the phenomenon known as fatlogic is the most prominent, but cognitive dissonance is rampant everywhere.
In theory, cognitive dissonance motivates change in both thought and behavior. In real life, not so much. Humans eagerly look for opportunities to hold two mutually exclusive beliefs. People are content to go on for years and even entire lifetimes, utterly convinced of the truth of two opposite things. In Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell called it doublethink. It is one of the greatest human survival traits and also one of the greatest curses.
Three different statistics are within a very close numerical range:
Eighty-five percent of Americans believe that they “know how to eat right.” Two things may be said about that. First, quite possibly, even those who think they know, don’t know. For instance, a deception was maintained for half a century, that purposely demonized fat and convinced the whole world (except for a few crackpots) of the virtues of sugar. Adding insult to injury, the fraudsters sold out for what nowadays sounds like a paltry amount.
Experts believe things because the scientific establishment says so, and sometimes the scientific establishment is wrong. Also, as Dr. Pretlow has been saying for years, one of the many things he has learned from the Weigh2Rock kids is that “knowing how to eat right” is not enough.
Eighty-two percent of adults are currently over their ideal weight. Whether this is individual self-definition or one that conforms with government charts, either way, that is a worrisome percentage.
Here is an example of a contradictory behavior. According to the pollsters, 83% of Americans say that “hearing from a doctor that they need to lose weight would motivate them.” Let’s unpack it. The implication here is that out of 100 people, 83 of them have never been told by a doctor that weight loss would be a good idea. Somehow that seems unlikely. But is it?
Over the past few years, various news articles have reported:
2008: “65 percent of health care providers said they don’t address weight management with their patients…”
2011: One-third of the obese participants and 55% of overweight participants had never been told by a doctor that they were overweight.
2016: “[…] in 60 percent of doctor visits specifically for obesity, patients received no advice at all.”
Your responses and feedback are welcome!
Source: “The Grades Are In: Most Americans Score ‘F’ On Fat IQ Test,” PRNewswire.com, 06/27/18
Source: “Doctors fear obesity diagnosis will embarrass patients,” WashingtonTimes.com, 11/07/17
Source: “Too few docs tell patients they’re overweight,” CNN.com, 03/01/11
Source: “Fat? Your Doctor Can’t Help,” USNews.com, 04/12/16
Photo credit: David Wall (Dwonderwall) on VisualHunt/CC BY