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Happy, Healthy, Fat Old People

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pani

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Hi! I am wondering if we can start a thread where we list all the fat people we know who have lived along time. With all the deliberate lies and fake studies out there, concrete proof to the contrary can make people take a second look at our side of the story. The average person has no idea what the stats mean even if they weren't so much bunk. I can't tell you how many times I have run into people who are surprised there are so many fat people who remain healthy into a ripe old age. I started one on BFB as well, but the format changed and it is in the forums so one has to register to see it. I say the more it is disseminated the better. I will start:

The town of Roseto PA, which gave us the "Rosetto Effect." Populated by Italian immigrants, these fat folks had a lower rate of heart disease than their neighbors. It is hard to find an article that mentions them being fat, but at least this one does acknowledge they ate fat. (Although link to book mentions weight.) I don't know who this guy is, or what his agenda is either, this is just one of the more readable links I came across. Links and pics help get the point across.

http://www.innerself.com/Health/roth_ron_01254.htm
 

ThatFatGirl

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My grandmother was quite fat and very active all her life. She lived to be 83. She was borderline diabetic for many years, but never had to take medication for it. I think she lost some weight in the last decade of her life, but she was still what most would call very large. She married a 60 yr old when she was 70 and traveled to Alaska and HI, and was without question a very happy senior.

My father on the other hand died at 59 from a heart arrhythmia/heart disease at about 250 lbs.. He was a walking ball of stress. I hope I have more of my grandmother's genes and less of my father's where longevity is concerned.
 

babyjeep21

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The women on my father's side of the family have always been fairly large. By far, I am the smallest of the women. My great grandmother, who I am very close to, is nearing 90. She is definitely a larger woman. Her husband, my great grandfather, died a few years ago after celebrating their 65th year of marriage. I had never seen such a happy and playful older couple. Regardless of age, size, or health problems grandma continues to travel back and forth to see all of her grandchildren. She's had a few heart problems, but still keeps on visiting and inviting us to come see her. Every year, she throws a family reunion! It's fantastic to see someone her age so happy and enthusiastic.
 

TallFatSue

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This reminds me, last February Art & I spent a week on St. Thomas, and we met a really nice older couple from Michigan in another unit at our resort. I must gravitate toward other fat women, or they toward me, or both. One day when she and I were together, she said she had always been fat, and then a few pregnancies made her even bigger. A few years ago she started to walk with a cane, but she didn't really know whether that was because she was 350lb or because she was over 70 or both. Even with a cane, she got around pretty well. I'm pushing 50 myself, so I'm kinda concerned how my obese body will handle my advancing years, and she gave me hope. She said she always listened to her body and didn't give a hoot when other people nagged her to lose weight. As long as her vital signs were normal, she wanted to enjoy the finer things in life, and now that she's pushing 75, she feels vindicated. Wow, did I love her attitude!
 

Frankie

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I'm not old, but I thought this post might still be appropriate for this thread. since it pertains to being fat and fit. I think it's fair to say that I'm on my way to a very good level of physical fitness, and, yes, I am fat (200lbs at 5'5", 32 years old). I joined a gym in April and was pretty surprised when my cardiovascular ability tested as right smack in the middle of the "good" category. My flexibility tested at "excellent," though much of my muscle strength was "poor" or "fair" at best. My overall fitness level was described as being "good." I plan to be re-evaluated again at the end of November, and I hope that my cardio ability will test as "excellent" and muscle strength at "good" or better.

At times I was dubious about the whole "fat and fit" thing, but I proved myself wrong.

I was weighed, measured, and the calipers were applied in numerous locations. A surprising outcome: even at 5'5", my target weight is 159lbs to 170lbs (not that I am actively trying to lose weight at the moment; I'm just trying to remain stable). I thought for sure I would be told something in the neighborhood of 125 or 135 lbs.

I have to admit, my eating habits are terrible, so I while I would call myself fit, I wouldn't call myself truly healthy.
 

wrench13

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My maternal grandma was 83 and a BIG lady. Grandma Lutzie was one helluva cook and stayed active right up til the end. RIP, Oma.
 

pani

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Those are all great examples. Thanks for sharing!!!!!

Here is a woman who was way before her time when it came to fat pride - Sophie Tucker. Plump since a child, she was forced to perform in the reprehensible makeup of blackface because "she was so big and ugly." She ditched it as soon as she could. I chose this bio of her because it gives full bodies shots that do not try to make her look thinner. But another bio of her tells how here doctor told her to lose weight and she refused. Maybe that is why she made it into her 80s. It would be great to see a fat pride film maker or theatre company do her story - cast with the spunkies fat actress they can find. Actually, I know many people are disappointed in her, but I think Camryn Manheim would be perfect for the part.

http://www.jwa.org/discover/comedy/tucker.html
 

EtobicokeFA

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My grandmother on my father side was heavy for most of her life. She lived into her 90's. My mother's father was heavy as well, lived into his late 90's.

I am heavy as well, and I always get a good results for annual checkup.
 

comperic2003

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But do personal accounts debunk thousands of scientific studies? I am in no way accusing anyone of hiding from the facts, I am just extremely curious about the contradicting studies and governmental lies you speak about. I have never heard of them but would love to.
 

HappyFatChick

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Every woman in my family is/was fat/obese and lived long lives. My great-grandmother was a big apple and died at 90. She was self-sufficient and independent until the end.

I'm sure if we googled we could find numerous stories about fat/obese old people. They're just not publicized because of the multi-billion dollar diet industry and the myth that fat is not/cannot be healthy.

I am living proof fat is/can be healthy/fit. My "numbers" are perfect at fat and "obese".:)
 

Frankie

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comperic2003 said:
But do personal accounts debunk thousands of scientific studies? I am in no way accusing anyone of hiding from the facts, I am just extremely curious about the contradicting studies and governmental lies you speak about. I have never heard of them but would love to.
I'm not claiming that my personal story means it's possible for everyone to be healthy and fit at all weight levels. Some people can be fat and perfectly healthy at a range of weights, whiles others will have difficulties even at lower weights. There is truth on both sides of the issue. For myself, I want to hear some positive stories about health and fat people to balance out all of the negative stories that the media and medical community often bombard us with. I don't think a desire to hear something encouraging necessarily equates with people wanting to deny what is the reality for some.
 

comperic2003

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of course it does not, but the first poster made bold claims and i am curious what support he or she has.
 

pani

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C. no, these personal accounts do not "debunk" studies. If you had read carefully, what I said was that the average person has no idea what the studies mean. Right now, I am not going to even go into how flawed most studies on fat are. I just want to deal with this one aspect. Studies that find fat people have a higher risk of death, heart disease; whatever, only mean that there are more fat people that do, not that ALL do. The media likes to scare us with 300% more etc, but never tell us what the base numbers are. For instance, take the much harped on Nurses and Health Study by JoAnne Manson (who has financial interests in serveral pharmaceuticals.) All we heard in the headlines was that heavier nurses had 300% greater risk of heart disease. But the base number was approx 3 in 10,000 for "average" women. For heavy women it was approx 9 in 10,000. (In Manson's study, these are not national averages.) However, because many never go behind the headlines, this translates into many folks believing it is extremely rare to be fat, healthy, and live to a ripe old age. I can't tell you how many times I have heard, "How many fat people do you see make it past 75?" I have even heard doctors use this argument. The media distorts studies to exaggerate the health risks. This thread is intended to balance perceptions, NOT debunk studies.

As far as bold claims, nothing new here. Nothing new that studies are degenerating into marketing schemes! (In many areas, not just weight vs health.) Nothing new for anyone who has been looking beyond the headlines. If you are truly interested in debunking myths I would recommend"

Big Fat Lies by Glen Gaessar

The Obesity Myth by Paul Campos (just plug him into a search engine, many of his articles are online)

The Weighing Obesity series by Sandy Swarc on Tech Central Station (This web site is sponsored by major industry and I would take everything they say with a grain of salt. Still, she did an excellent job taking us behind the scenes.)

BigFatBlog.com - We often get the the bottom of the headlines

Show Me The Date - A website associated with Dr. Paul Ernsberger

PRWatch.Org - Not fat related, not even fat friendly. Still, through them I learned about 50% of all studies in medical journals are ghostwritten by the pharmaceuticals, then rubberstamped by some physician who often doesn't even read let alone write what his/her name is on.

Or, the next time a study comes out, just go to the journal yourself. You will be amazed at how the media distorts and takes things out of context.

p.s. No offense, but if you want to debate this issue, could you possibly start another thread for it? It would be really nice to just one long list of fat people who defied the stereotype, and not have it go way off topic. Thanks
 

lemmink

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Funny, that. Of my grandparents, my two skinny Irish grandparents died in their 30s/40s, and my thin Irish/French grandfather died in his 70s. My fat Creole grandmother died in her mid 80s. She also looked about 50 at the most when she died, although her health wasn't exactly the best.
 

Sweet Tooth

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I'm doing a little size estimation here, although I used to go clothes shopping with one grandmother.

My size 14-18 mom [all of my life between those weights] is a 20+ year cancer survivor and just celebrated her 70th birthday. She retired and promptly went back to school and found a new career.

My grandmothers were both larger. One was a size 18/20 [although she lost weight in her 90s, down to about a size 10/12] and lived to be 100. She was active, even baking cookies, in the last week of her life. Mind you, she'd had a heart condition since she was 5 and it was in no way related to her weight. She also never had a broken bone.

My other grandmother was about a size 22/24, and she lived until age 89.

My great grandmothers were all larger women, too. One was about size 24 and lived to the age of 86.

I can't say that fat made much of a difference in their longevity one way or another. I know they were all active, not exercising, but working in the yard or around the house or whatever. They all ate what they wanted, although they certainly ate their veggies [something I struggle to do like I should].

My grandmothers both lost their husbands around the age of 40 [actually in the same week of the same year in the same town], so maybe long life has to do with lack of male aggravation. LOL
 

LillyBBBW

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comperic2003 said:
of course it does not, but the first poster made bold claims and i am curious what support he or she has.
I just read this short blurb the other day. This may shed some light on what the OP is referring to.

Linda Bacon said:
New Weight Scare Based on Faulty Analysis

At least 400,000 Americans die of overweight and obesity every year, making it soon to surpass smoking as the leading cause of preventable death [1]. At least that's what the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) told us.

But an updated federal report, published last year in the Journal of the American Medical Association (and reported in the Late Spring 2005 NAAFA Newsletter), acknowledged that the previous analysis suffered from computational errors [2]. In fact, obesity and overweight only result in an excess of 26,000 annual deaths, far fewer than guns, alcohol or car crashes. And separating overweight from obesity reveals further interesting information: "overweight" people live longer than "normal" weight people.

The data weren't surprising to those of us who study these issues. This is not an anomaly, but consistent with many other investigations. That it came from the CDC and got published in JAMA were the real astonishing facts.

We waited for the backlash. Fear-mongering about weight is worth billions to industry and is consistent with government policy. Few stand to gain from the news that overweight is benign, if not beneficial. The backlash has been slowly building, and recently came out full force in a highly publicized study published in the August issue of the New England Journal of Medicine [3].

The front page leader in my local paper loudly proclaimed: "Just a few extra pounds is bad for you" and the article title reinforced the message: "Study finds risks for the barely overweight." Turn to the original report, and you find a consistent conclusion in the abstract: "excess body weight during midlife, including overweight, is associated with an increased risk of death."

But before you dust off those diet books, let's take a look at the data itself. The authors worked hard for their conclusion. They examined records from over a half million AARP members that had been surveyed over a ten year period. What they found was entirely consistent with the earlier JAMA report: "overweight" people had the lowest mortality risk. But that wouldn't serve their purposes. NEJM's press release wouldn't look nearly as attractive with that headline.

So they subjected their data to numerous manipulations before finally arriving at a suitable conclusion. First they threw out data on people who were smokers or former smokers. Nope, still shows overweight as benign. They hid this with a sleazy method: using only the top (BMIs of 23 to 24.9) of the "normal weight" group compared to the whole of the "overweight" group.

Then they found an even more creative trick. When they asked participants - some of whom were in their 70s - what they had weighed at the age of 50, they hit paydirt: at last, overweight - at midlife - was associated with increased risk, albeit modest. This will grab the headlines. No need to highlight that we had to whittle our data down to about 5% of the original sample to get this result! (That 40% of the participants chose to leave the question on recalled weight blank should give some indication of the ability of people to accurately report this information.)

Their paper is weak for many other reasons: they had a very low response rate (18%) from a sample that is not nationally representative; their data is based on self-report, which is known to be inaccurate; adjustments for potential confounders were weakly conducted; the list goes on. And they neglected to note another important conclusion: weight loss is associated with a significant increased risk of death for middle-aged "overweight" people.

Come on, New England Journal of Medicine. We expect scholarship, not propaganda.

References

  • [1]Mokdad, A.H., et al., Actual causes of death in the United States, 2000. Journal of the American Medical Association, 2004. 291: p. 1238-45.
    [2]Flegal, K.M., et al., Excess deaths associated with underweight, overweight, and obesity. Journal of the American Medical Association, 2005. 293(15): p. 1861-7.
    [3]Adams, K., et al., Overweight, Obesity, and Mortality in a Large Prospective Cohort of Persons 50 to 71 Years Old. New England Journal of Medicine, 2006. 355(8): p. 763-8.
 

Egbert Souse

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Let us not forget Sarah Caldwell, the opera director and conductor, who passed away at 82 this year.
She was a 4-500 pounder, the first woman to ever conduct the Metropolitan Orchestra and an all-around ball o' fire.
 

GoddessNoir

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Women on my dad's side of the family tend to be very heavy and they live to be into their late '70s, early '80s. In fact, according to everyone, I look JUST like my father's mom, height, body, to the point where I have on more than a few occasions made aunts and uncles cry when I visit. My maternal grandmother and her twin were both big, tall women (250+), my gram died early but, she died of pnuemonia, not weight related. Her twin died when she was about 80 of cancer. She was diabetic but was never dependant on medication.
 

Tracyarts

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I only know of one supersized person who remained supersized/survived into old age. She lived to her early eighties, but was extremely compromised for almost twenty years before death. Due to hip and knee problems she lost mobility in middle age and started to develop serious cardiovascular problems shortly therafter. By her mid sixties she was not leaving her house much and by her seventies was confined to a few small rooms and required daily assistance to perform the most basic of tasks. By the time she reached eighty, she required almost constant nursing care and went into the final decline.

I have never personally met any supersized persons older than their fifties, and only a very few at that. So I really don't know how common it is for somebody to remain supersized and yet thrive into old age.

Tracy
 

Carol W.

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My maternal great-grandmother lived into her middle eighties, and she was probably around 350lbs on a 5'5 frame. She was a farmwife, had nine children, and I am told was a very hard worker, which is not surprising given those circumstances, I guess! In her last years she had a bad case of "dropsy" (edema) in her legs, but she would have been close to eighty when it started, and this was back in the 1920's, when there were no meds available for diuretics, hypertension, etc.

My husband's grandmother lived to 83; she was diabetic and probably weighed about 300 on a 5'0 frame. She did lose weight in her seventies but I don't think she actively dieted, it was more just a natural process.

It is my cynical belief that, not always but generally, studies show whatever the underwriters of those studies want them to show. There is no quicker way for a medical professional to turn me off than to begin a statement, "Studies show....."
 

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