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Fat chance of dying from Aids

Junkfood Science: It’s better to die of HIV than be fat? provides a disturbing example of myths surrounding fat, but it’s a haunting example of how fears of fat can be deadly, especially for those most in need of sound information and our care and compassion.

The Associated Press’ science writer reports:

Obesity a problem in HIV population

...AIDS researchers and advocacy groups say the waistlines of HIV patients are growing right along with the girths of uninfected Americans as the disease shifts from a death sentence to a chronic condition....Doctors say there's a growing need to screen people with the AIDS virus for obesity, which raises the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol problems. ....

“It would be very sad to survive HIV and die of something else that was preventable, said [Dr. John T. Brooks, an epidemiologist at] the CDC....

Few HIV-positive people would view it as tragic that they’re able to live long enough to die of old age-related chronic diseases like everyone else!

People, with and without HIV, eating normally will be a wide range of sizes: some fat and some not. So, what these researchers are actually proposing is that fat people undereat, and eat less than we all need for good nutrition, in order to try and be thinner than their natural genetic makeups. But the real issue here isn’t that promoting weight loss and thinness is based on unsound science, it’s that it ignores the most significant concerns for the welfare of HIV-positive patients:

The evidence unfailingly shows that being fatter and gaining weight and having the best nutritional status is a huge survival benefit for HIV-positive patients, whereas undernutrition or losing weight prior to the onset of AIDS greatly reduces chances of living.

And shouldn’t helping them live be a greater priority than what their figures look like?

Yet, as is typical with press releases and media writers when it comes to 'obesity,' no attempt was made to question these recommendations, to examine the science and present a balanced viewpoint, or to recognize that presenting such claims to the public could put the lives of millions of people in jeopardy. .....

Recent research from Singapore published in HIV Medicine found that undernutrition and low BMIs at the time of starting antiretroviral treatments reduced their effectiveness and significantly decreased survival.

Oh, but they’ll be thin!? What does it say about our culture that a trim figure has become more important than doing what is best for the health, quality of life and welfare of people?

Whether it be HIV, cancer, kidney or heart disease, dementia, or countless other medical conditions, letting kids grow up, or giving birth to a baby; fearing fat can have deadly consequences. We won’t hear that from mainstream media, though. It’s up to us to advocate for ourselves and for each other.

Happy to do my bit in advocating Junkfood Science as an essential read in the battle against ignorance and hype that engulfs us everyday.


Note to Dr John T Brooks - people don't "survive" HIV. With drugs and care they can delay the onset of AIDS. But at the moment the condition is permanent and ultimately fatal.

Even with all the advances in medical care, these poor buggers have had their life expectancy significantly reduced and face the prospect of a rather painful demise. With all the worries they face, can't the bloody health fascists allow them to indulge in a little comfort eating for God's sake?

Jeez! I thought we were supposed to be compassionate and "understand" the problems of PLWHA. Obviously that doesn't include the Nanny State Gauleiters and their Health Gestapo minions.

Well I'm just naturally a bit on the skinny side, so officially I don't have a dog in this fight. But I can't help taking a dislike to the Fat Police. In my lifetime I have known some very big folk who have enjoyed excellent health and longevity. Mainly because they didn't waste their lives agonising about being big. They survived two world wars and a depression rather well. There must be something about zinc bathtubs, starched collars, beef dripping, and shrapnel that perks up the constitution.

The ones I loved and lost, before their time, were the ones who worried about their weight, and became obsessed with dieting and trying to get slim.

Maybe we should go back to shooting the fascists, instead of listening to the b*ggers.

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