Hear Fatima Parker On Radio Derby
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Hear ISAA UK's Fatima Parker's audio blog On the BBC's Radio 4

Listen To ISAA UK's Fatima Parker on BBC World Service Radio Outlook Program

Skip about halfway to get to segment on "Globesity." It is a fascinating and engaging segment. Also featuring Varda Ben Hur, an Israeli actress and playwright living in Jerusalem and Hanan Hachem, a TV presenter from Lebanon who now lives in Beirut.

Overweight Boy Can Stay With Mother
(Breitbart/Press Association article, not an ISAA UK article)

A grossly overweight eight-year-old boy who weighs four times the healthy weight of a child his age has been allowed by Social Services to stay with his family. Connor McCreaddie, from Wallsend, North Tyneside, weighed 15 stone 8 lb. before Christmas and has since lost one-and-a-half stone thanks to intensive exercise and healthier eating. Connor and his mother, Nicola McKeown, 35, attended a child protection conference with North Tyneside Council where social workers allowed the boy to stay with his family rather than being taken into care.

The hearing was held under Section 47 of the Children Act, which places a duty on the local authority to conduct an inquiry if it has "reasonable cause to suspect that a their area is suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm".

After the meeting North Tyneside Council issued a statement on behalf of the Local Safeguarding Children Board.

"We have had a useful discussion ... during which all agencies and the family confirmed that the priority in this matter is the eight-year-old boy," the statement said. "The Local Safeguarding Children Board was able to confirm that its hope and ambition is to enable this child to remain with his family.

"In order to move this matter forward we have made a formal agreement with the family to safeguard and promote the child's welfare."

© Copyright Press Association Ltd 2007, All Rights Reserved.

ISAA UK Denounces Anti-Obesity Stories In UK Media

LONDON - The United Kingdom Branch of the International Size Acceptance Association (ISAA UK) is very concerned about the recent series of media articles on cosmetic/weight loss surgery for plus-sized children and even the contemplation of the idea of "health warnings" on plus-size clothing. ISAA as an organization has a firm stance against bariatric weight loss surgery of any kind.

"The thought of it being used on growing children is unconscionable to ISAA," said Fatima Parker, President of the ISAA UK branch. "It will invariably deny them the nutrients they need to grow into healthy adults and could result in death or extremely poor quality of life."

Also, the suggestion that plus-size clothing needs health warnings is abhorrent to ISAA UK, which sees it as an attack on the plus-size fashion industry. It is also potentially the first step in a slippery slope of separating fat people from society in order to further discriminate against them and profit from the weight-cycling caused by failed weight loss efforts.

"One would not be safe from the fat police, even in their own clothes," said Parker. "Would they put health warnings on size 0 clothes as well? How about on the show clothing that the extremely thin models wear in fashion shows? If you open that Pandora's box, where does it end? The whole notion of health warnings on plus-size clothing is biased against the fat and indicative of the prejudice we face daily. ISAA exists to combat such discrimination."

ISAA's mission is to promote size acceptance and to help end weight-based discrimination throughout the world by means of advocacy and visible, lawful actions. ISAA has branches in the U.S., Brazil, Canada, France, Middle East and Africa, New Zealand, the Philippines and the UK. ISAA also has several virtual chapters online. ISAA was founded in 1997.

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UK Size Organization Questions Obesity Resources Campaign

The United Kingdom branch of the International Size Acceptance Association (ISAA UK) is concerned that the desperate call for funding by the “Action for Obesity Resources Campaign” is merely scare tactics being used to justify extraordinary spending. ISAA UK believes these tactics by the campaign are untruthful, misleading and unethical.

"This group is saying 'obesity causes all of these medical horrors and is going to cost the UK billions of pounds in the future,'" said Allen Steadham, Founder and Director of ISAA. "What we're not seeing or hearing is what they plan to do that will actually be successful."

"Traditional methods of weight loss diets, pills and surgery create eating disordered behaviour and ruin lives," Steadham said. "ISAA UK recommends the'Respect Fitness Health' initiative, which encourages self-esteem, fitness and healthy food choices for people of all shapes and sizes...and Respect Fitness Health is free."

ISAA UK believes that any funding concerning obesity should go towards helpful items such as large-size blood pressure cuffs to aid in proper diagnoses and treatments, armless seating for doctor's offices and sensitivity training for medical staff and physicians to learn how to treat plus-sized patients with respect.

ISAA's mission is to promote size acceptance and help end weight-based discrimination throughout the world by means of advocacy and visible, lawful means. ISAA was founded in 1997 in Austin, Texas and has branches on every continent. ISAA UK was formed in 2001.

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ISAA UK Condemns NHS BMI Decision On Operations

The United Kingdom branch of the International Size Acceptance Association (ISAA UK) wholeheartedly condemns the decision by the National Health System (NHS) to deny certain operations such as hip and knee replacement surgeries to patients on the basis of Body Mass Index (BMI). ISAA UK believes that this is clearly weight-based discrimination and the decision should be reversed immediately. It is ISAA UK's position that BMI is not an indicator of health (a position supported by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH)) and should not be included in health-related decisions.

"The NHS is publicly declaring that body mass index determines the value of a human being, just so they can make up for their own system's financial shortcomings," said Allen Steadham, Founder and Director of ISAA. "This is reprehensible and people of conscience should voice their opposition to this decision to the NHS. Is the NHS going to refuse treatment to athletes or people with disabilities who also have a BMI that is 30 or greater? This is a Pandora's box."

ISAA's Mission is to promote size acceptance and help end weight-based discrimination throughout the world by means of advocacy and visible, lawful actions. ISAA educates the public about self-esteem, fitness and healthy food choices for people of all sizes. ISAA was formed in 1997 in Austin, Texas and has branches on every continent.

Listen to ISAA UK's Fatima Parker on BBC's 'Woman's Hour'
(Requires Realplayer to listen!)

Obesity: Size Isn't Everything
(UK's The Independent)

Obesity has been trumpeted as the biggest health risk of modern times. But is it really? Jerome Burne reports on startling new research

21 June 2005

Obesity is the modern health obsession. Every week seems to bring a new warning about the health "timebomb" that threatens to cut short the lives of future generations unless radical action is taken to reduce Westerners' weight. Earlier this month, the British Medical Journal warned in stark terms that this epidemic needed a politically driven public health policy to curb it.

But could the dangers have been overstated? Recent authoritative research suggests that the obesity epidemic is more of a mirage conjured up by various statistical glitches. In fact, if you're officially classified as overweight, you may have a lower risk of premature death than those deemed to be a healthy weight. And that's not the only major obesity rethink underway at the moment. Long term, not dieting may be better for your health than trying to lose weight.

Only a year ago, a widely quoted research paper claimed that obesity in America was responsible for 400,000 extra deaths every year - almost on a par with the toll exacted by smoking. This figure has just been radically revised downwards by a paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association, which suggests that "it is still far from certain whether there is any measurable mortality toll at all among overweight and obese Americans as a group." The author, Dr Katherine Flegal, a researcher at the prestigious Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (known as the CDC) in Atlanta, found that "even severe obesity failed to show up as a statistically significant mortality risk".

This is a remarkable turnaround and, unsurprisingly, now the topic of a fierce debate. However, several academics see it as a powerful vindication of what they have been saying for years. A detailed account of the doubter's case is put forward in the June edition of the Scientific American. "We are creating a disease simply by labelling it as such," says Paul Campos, professor of law at the University of Colorado and author of The Obesity Myth.

What he means is that, at the moment, people are labelled as overweight at an arbitrary point on the BMI (Body Mass Index) scale, which relates your weight to your height. Score between 19 and 24, and you are officially "healthy", but between 25 and 30 you immediately become overweight, while anything over that makes you obese. More and more people are falling into the "overweight" and "obese" categories, but this is only cause for alarm if being overweight automatically means a rise in mortality. It's this assumption that is being put under the microscope.

There are more than 100 independent risk factors for heart disease, such as poor diet, lack of physical fitness, high stress levels, being poor and certain gene variations. But most studies linking obesity to heart disease lump them all in with being obese.

However, when Dr Flegal separated them out a quite different picture emerged: the number of deaths linked with being "moderately and severely obese" ranged from between "122,000 more to 7,000 fewer". Her analysis is controversial and there is obviously a wide margin of error, but it does suggest that warnings about epidemics may be rather premature. The implication is that if you are overweight, smoke, eat poor food, don't exercise and so on then you are certainly more at risk from illness. But if you are overweight - or even obese - but have a healthy lifestyle, then the risk becomes less certain.

"By the same criteria we are blaming obesity for heart disease, we could accuse smelly clothes, yellow teeth or bad breath for lung cancer," says Eric Oliver, a political scientist at the University of Chicago and author of Obesity: the Making of an American Epidemic, due out in the autumn.

Oliver and his fellow contributors to the Scientific American article have other arguments, too. For instance, over the last two decades the average BMI of Americans has risen remorselessly. However, their average levels of risk factors for heart disease, such as blood pressure and cholesterol, have gone in the opposite direction. Far from rising, as you would expect if they were being driven by obesity, they have declined by about 50 per cent. What's more, the increase in diabetes in the 1990s was not nearly as sharp as the rise in BMI.

Exactly what practical effect this major rethink will have isn't at all clear. Dr Flegal has been accused of giving comfort to the junk food lobby by downplaying the dangers of being overweight. But the new analysis doesn't offer a refuge to pizza-scoffing couch potatoes. Obesity itself may not be such a killer as was previously thought, but that is probably partly because of improved treatments and because more people classed as overweight by their BMI are exercising, eating a whole food diet and avoiding obvious risky behaviours.

The critics not only believe that the dangers of obesity are overstated, but also question the value of dieting to reduce it. As many as 75 per cent of Americans are trying to lose weight or keep it off at any one time, but what is the effect in the long run? A recent survey by CDC of people over 65 found that only 6 per cent of officially non-obese older adults had been obese a decade earlier. In other words, even if the weight comes off it very rarely stays off.

Campos, for example, points out that there is a strong genetic component to the amount of fat you store, which means that there is no safe and practical way for losing more than about 5 per cent body weight long-term. As a result, advice to stay within BMI range is "literally impossible" for many. It is data like this that has led a group at the University of California, Davis to try a new approach called "Health at Every Size".

This doesn't involve dieting; instead, people considered to be overweight are taught how to pay more attention to the internal body cues that signal hunger and fullness, and encouraged to be more accepting of their large size. Last month, the group reported on a two-year trial involving overweight and obese women, half of whom went on the new course and half of whom were on a regular diet.

Those on the course were not only happier but also healthier than the dieters. They were four times more likely to be engaged in physical activity, had significantly improved blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and were less depressed.

It seems that a campaign that concentrates on boosting people's health, rather than demonising them for being the wrong size, could be more rewarding - and more effective.

Child Obesity Fears 'Over-hyped'

The scale of childhood obesity has been exaggerated, researchers have claimed.

The Social Issues Research Council, which is funded by food companies as well as the government, said average child weights have only risen slightly.

SIRC, which compared average weights in 1995 and 2003, said obesity levels have started to rise among older teenagers but the middle-aged were most at risk. However, the National Obesity Forum insisted childhood obesity was increasing and had to be addressed.

The team from the SIRC analysed data from the 2003 Health Survey for England. It looked at children's average weights. The survey showed that an average 15-year-old boy weighed 9st 7lbs (60.7kg) in 2003, compared with just over 9st 3lbs (58.8kg) in 1995. For a 15-year-old girl, the average 2003 weight was slightly under at 9st 4lbs (58.9kg) compared with 9st 2lbs (58.5kg) in 1995. The SIRC's report says: "We can conclude from these figures that there have been no significant changes in the average weights of children over nearly a decade.

"This can be taken as evidence that there has been no 'epidemic' of weight gain, since an epidemic would certainly have affected average weights."

Post-school concern

SIRC also challenge the way the extent of childhood obesity is estimated in the UK. Children are classed as obese if they fall into the top 5% in relation to the weight range for their age. However, there is an international measurement which looks at height/weight distribution across six countries including the UK. The UK method suggests obesity rates in children aged two to 10 have increased from 9.6% in 1995 to 15.5% in 2003. SIRC said the international measure - which it said was better because it took into account the increase in children's average height since 1995 - showed rates had increased from 3.9% in 1995 to 6.75% in 2003.

Dr Peter Marsh, co-director of SIRC, said: "No one's suggesting there isn't a problem - clearly there are some children who are too fat for their own good. But there has been very little change over the last decade, contrary to the lurid warnings that the current generation of children will die before their parents."

Dr Marsh said people's weight tended to increase after they left school: "Then people take even less exercise and start to adopt lifestyles that lead to that kind of weight gain." And he said people who were middle-aged or older were at highest risk of obesity and weight-related diseases such as Type 2 diabetes.


But obesity experts said it was important to instil healthy eating habits from a young age.

Professor Mike Kelly, from the Health Development Agency, said an increase in childhood obesity rates had been seen over the last 20 to 25 years.

But he said: "The real problem is not childhood obesity - we shouldn't get too hung up on that.

"The unfortunate thing is that patterns of eating, exercise and so on are set in childhood and that's why the emphasis has been on children."

Dr Ian Campbell, president of the National Obesity Forum, which receives some of its funding from drug companies, said: "The inescapable fact is that obesity among children is a real problem. The problem can't be over-exaggerated or over-stated."

A Department of Health spokeswoman said it used both the UK and international methods of assessing obesity rates because it was understood there were different ways of measuring the extent of the problem. But she said: "What they both show is that there has been a rise."

She added: "It is essential that we tackle the proven year on year rise in obesity amongst children under 11 if we are to prevent our future generations becoming clinically obese - resulting in the threat of killer diseases like cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes and cancer."

ISAA UK Anti-Discrimination Ad
Please feel free to download and use the above graphic
on websites, so long as no alterations are made.

The MISSION of the International Size Acceptance Association (ISAA) is to promote SIZE ACCEPTANCE and fight SIZE DISCRIMINATION throughout the world by means of advocacy and visible, lawful actions.

ISAA's primary purpose is to end the most common form of size discrimination and bigotry--that against fat children and adults; ISAA will strive to defend the human rights of members affected by other forms of size discrimination as well.

ISAA defines SIZE DISCRIMINATION as any action which places people at a disadvantage simply because of their size. ISAA defines SIZE ACCEPTANCE as acceptance of self and others without regard to weight or body size.

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