I was standing in line at Starbucks today and a conversation at a nearby table caught my attention. It was 3 middle-aged men sitting there, and one of them was going on and on about his opinions on weight. "Being overweight is what's unhealthy! Think about it, you don't see fat people in nursing homes. That's because they don't live long enough to be there." The other 2 guys sat there nodding in agreement.
I almost intervened.
There were so many things wrong with this conversation. Here are a few of the things I wanted to say but didn't:
- Over WHAT weight is unhealthy? People in the "overweight" BMI category actually live the longest.
- How many nursing homes have you spent time in? And how many of the residents have you actually seen or interacted with? And is that seriously what you're doing when you're there – noticing their weight? Doubtful.
- Could an alternate explanation for the alleged lack of fat people in nursing homes be that they are actually healthier and don't need that level of care? Hmmmm….
- How do you think a fat person would feel if they overheard your very loud and judgmental conversation right now?
I chose not to say any of these things because I didn't want to publicly shame him, and I suspected it wasn't going to change his mind. There's a time and place for activism, and I decided that wasn't it.
So here I am, at my computer, still pondering the situation. Besides the ignorance, it also had me thinking about where we take advice from. If the other 2 guys sitting with him are taking him seriously they're getting advice from someone who is obviously uninformed, unqualified, and not to mention unkind.
A short list of people who you shouldn't take health-related advice from:
- The aforementioned guy sitting at Starbucks
- Dr. Oz
- The internet in general
- Oprah (sorry, O, there are a lot of things I like about you, but your take on nutrition and health isn't one of them)
- Celebrities – ESPECIALLY those who write diet books
- Your friends and family (unless they are professionally trained and qualified)
- Most personal trainers (they need to stick to their expertise – exercise)
- The lady who comes over to stage your home for selling (I have a story about this, for another time…)
There are a lot of people out there willing to give you advice about what you should and shouldn't eat, and what you should and shouldn't weigh.
Most of them are wrong.
Be a skeptical and wise consumer of information.
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