Sep. 22, 2009

Health At Every Size (HAES)

by Miriam Gordon

Tara Parker-Pope, in the health blog section of the New York Times website, addressed in her post "A Diva’s Lessons on Weight and Beauty" the scientifically based concept that controlling body weight is not a matter of will power. Thank G-d, it's finally dawning on the New York Times' editors that fat people actually don't deserve to be punished for their lack of will power (particularly after that awful Times magazine cover touting Clive Thompson's misguided article ("Are Your Friends Making You Fat?") on Christakis and Fowler's research).What many people ...

fat, Health, obesity, weight
Sep. 22, 2009

Causation, Correlation, Dogma, Weight and Health

by Miriam Gordon

After acquiring the book almost a year ago, I (again) started reading Gary Taubes’ book entitled Good Calories, Bad Calories. Based on what I’ve read so far, and knowing Gary Taubes’ background, I believe it’s a very scholarly work, and very thoroughly researched. From the title, it’s obvious that this book considers the scientific evidence for specific types of diets and how they affect body weight regulation.In the first part of the book, in order to draw parallels with current scientific evidence for the “epidemics of obesity and diabetes,” he ...

Headline, fat, Health, heart disease, obesity, Science
Mar. 17, 2009

Feminine Beauty: The Dada-ist view

by Miriam Gordon

Part of the purpose my "Fat Science"blog is not only to examine the science behind metabolic regulation of body weight, but also to understand how current standards of beauty (read: thinness as opposed to fatness) evolved in modern Western culture. These two seemingly unrelated topics are actually very intimately tied together, as the ever-present, pervasive, all-encompassing, in-our-face images of our society's ideals of beauty are so powerful that they have a profound effect on our perception of health. This is true for all members of our society, including health professionals.

Science & the Arts, advertising, body image, Dada, Health, industrial revolution, Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp, media, Neuberger Meseum of Art
Mar. 05, 2009

"Naturally Obsessed": A Graduate Student's Perspective

by Miriam Gordon

Last night, at the CUNY Graduate Center in Manhattan, I attended a screening of a wonderful documentary by Richard and Carole Rifkind entitled "Naturally Obsessed: The Making of a Scientist". This film documented the path and travails of 3 graduate students who were lucky enough to be in the laboratory of Dr. Lawrence Shapiro at Columbia University’s College of Physicians & Surgeons in New York City. The beauty and clarity with which the film was shot made the graduate student experience feel as real as any film could. As someone ...

Science on the Screen, biololgy, biomedical research, PhD, Science
Feb. 05, 2009


by Miriam Gordon

I have always loved animals. When I was about 3 years old, I was fascinated with a beautiful collie that lived in my building. This dog did not like people, but I loved him. I distinctly remember one day running around him, hugging, petting and talking to him, and I remember hearing him growl (he was taller than me), but for some reason, he put up with the unwanted attention. I only remember being acquainted with him that one time – I think after that, my Mom and his owner ...

Science, animals, biology, conservation, nature, Science
Jan. 23, 2009

Dr. Christakis' Reply

by Miriam Gordon

It has taken me several weeks to post this reply, which Dr. Christakis sent almost immediately after I sent him my email (see previous entry entitled "An Email to Dr. Nicholas Christakis"). During this time I've had the opportunity to learn and think more about Dr. Christakis' work, and was not shocked to discover that my knee jerk response to his NEJM article on the spread of obesity through social networks was premature. However, I was far from alone in this reaction.

obesity, Social Networks
Jan. 03, 2009

An Email to Dr. Nicholas Christakis

by Miriam Gordon

In 2007, Dr. Nicholas Christakis, a medical sociologist at Harvard University, published a study in the New England Journal of Medicine on the effect of social networks on the prevalence of obesity. I recently came across this study online, through links in a post by a friend, and revisited the results of the study. You can view a 3-minute interview with Dr. Christakis about his study and findings here.After watching this interview and looking over Dr. Christakis' website, I composed this email to him:

obesity, sociology
Nov. 29, 2008

Life at the Art-Science Interface

by Miriam Gordon

Currently on view at the New York Academy of Sciences Art Gallery is an exhibit of the molecular illustrations of Kenneth Eward. I followed the links to Kenneth's website and found one of the most captivating animated illustrations of the molecular development of human life. His "A Window Into Human Life" won an honorable mention at the 2008 Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge, sponsored by the National Science Foundation. 

Science, Science & the Arts, computer generated animation, DNA, life, molecular, Science
Nov. 04, 2008

On the Eve of an Historic Presidential Election

by Miriam Gordon

We are living at a truly monumental moment in history, as we stand on the brink of what will probably be one of the most important presidential elections in all of United States history. The air is absolutely crackling with the anticipation of the election of the first African American President of the United States of America.If Barack Obama does indeed win the election, as he is expected to do based on numerous national polls, it will energize the majority of the people in this nation with the ...

Science & the Arts, Barack Obama, election
Oct. 08, 2008

Here a SNP, There a SNP

by Miriam Gordon

A "SNP" is a single nucleotide polymorphism. Within a genetically distinct population, i.e. people of a certain ethnicity, religion, or geographic region, there are several versions of the DNA sequence of any given gene that is almost identical, with the exception of one sequence unit at a specific site. This single nucleotide variation occurs in the population at observable frequencies.

Science, colon cancer, diabetes, obesity
Sep. 25, 2008

This Time, It's Physiological

by Miriam Gordon

According to the diagnostic test in the ground-breaking book The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine Aron, Ph.D., I am a "Highly Sensitive Person" (HSP). In her book, Dr. Aron, a pioneering psychologist, cites major studies demonstrating that approximately 15-20% of the human population possess a nervous system that, due to genetically inherited physiological characteristics, cause them to experience greatly heightened sensitivity to stress in any environment they find themselves in. This inherited trait of heightened arousal is demonstrated also in similar proportions (15-20%) in several other mammalian species. In other ...

Science, Elaine Aron, highly sensitive person, nature, psychology, Science
Sep. 18, 2008

Diabetes or Diarrhea - Take Your Pick

by Miriam Gordon

Metformin, otherwise known as glucophage, is a medication that works to lower elevated blood sugar and help the body process the excess sugar more efficiently. However, if you have the unmitigated gall to eat sweets while taking this medication, you will be punished by having copious diarrhea. I found this out first hand. I guess this is the price I pay for feeding my addiction.

Science, alli, diabetes, fat, gluttony, metformin, obesity, sloth
Sep. 10, 2008

Twenty First Century Eugenics?

by Miriam Gordon

Last night I came across a blog entry by Matthew Brown which discussed data from the laboratory of Dr. Jeremy Gray and others on the inverse correlation of intelligence and self-control. Immediately, I thought wow, if I'm fat because of a lack of self control, does that mean I'm less intelligent than someone who is free of compulsive behaviors?

Science, fat, intelligence
Sep. 03, 2008

Pity Thy Pancreas

by Miriam Gordon

Today I had an appointment with Judith Townsend, the Physician's Assistant who works with Dr. Louis Arrone, in New York City. Dr. Arrone is an expert in medications to treat obesity. I go there with the intention of trying medications to help me reduce my weight, which is an approach I haven't yet tried.

fat, obesity, weight loss
Aug. 29, 2008

Searing Withdrawal

by Miriam Gordon

In the 1995 film "The Basketball Diaries", Leonardo DiCaprio brilliantly portrays Jim Caroll's descent into heroin addiction. When I attempt to explain to people who do not suffer from obesity what complete, sudden withdrawal from refined carbohydrates is like, based on my own experience, I get a mental picture of what DiCaprio's Jim Carroll goes through as he suffers the torture of withdrawal from heroin.

Aug. 28, 2008

"Procreative Beneficence" Examined

by Miriam Gordon

In the spirit of raising awareness of the ethical challenges inherent in today's most advanced medical technologies, the IHEU-Appignani Center for Bioethics and Bioethics International recently sponsored a one-day conference in New York City entitled "New Dilemmas in Medicine". Three panels of distinguished experts, in turn, addressed three pressing issues: Professor Julian Savulescu's theory of "Procreative Beneficence" (Journal of Medical Ethics 2007;33:284-288; doi:10.1136/jme.2006.018184), ethical considerations in pharmaceutical R&D, and "conscientious objection" by medical professionals to performing medical procedures, such as abortions, to patients who want them.

Science & the Arts, bioethics, family, procreative beneficence
Aug. 18, 2008

Exxon and the Whales

by Miriam Gordon

I recently saw one of Exxon Mobil's slick new TV ads espousing Exxon's commitment to developing new technologies that will reduce global warming. I was actually very impressed. Subsequently, I opened an email from Greenpeace showing a dead beached whale, with news of a pod of rare melon-head whales that beached themselves due to seismic testing conducted by Exxon off the coast of Madagascar.

Science, Exxon, whales
Aug. 05, 2008

Fat Cell Switcheroo

by Miriam Gordon

Humans, mice -- indeed all mammals -- have two types of fat cells in their bodies; white and brown. White fat cells store energy. In contrast, brown fat cells dissipate energy as heat, thus counteracting obesity. Much to the chagrin of humans living in industrialized societies,

fat, Health, obesity, Science

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