Today StatsCan released a report on the correlation between men, money and fat:
While research has shown that people in higher income groups generally have better health than those in lower income groups, this is less the case when it comes to overweight among men.
New findings suggest that differences in food consumption patterns may be associated with overweight among more affluent men.
Since the early 1980s, the largest increase in the prevalence of obesity has been among men in higher income groups. In 2004, the odds of affluent men being overweight were about twice the odds of men in the lowest income group.
StatsCan suggests that, because richer guys eat out more often than the lunch bucket crowd, they gain more weight. Could be. Could also be that they are more sedentary, drink more, have better expense accounts. The thing is, they apparently don't do much to counter their weight gains.
Which is where it gets interesting:
These patterns did not hold for women. Although women from higher income households were more likely than those from lower income households to eat out, they were no more or less likely to be overweight.
This suggests to me several things. Affluent women have more time to work out, either because they make more time because of the social pressure to be thin or have fewer time constraints thanks to having hired help, or both.
Poor women, on the other hand, resort to fast food, which can be a cheap and easy way of filling your kids' bellies, especially if you're pressed for time because of work and long commutes on public transit. Poor women can't work out like rich women can, mostly because they can't afford gyms, trainers or even to venture out at night for a jog in a dicey neighbourhood.
Dicey neighbourhoods are also notorious for not having decent grocery stores that people can walk to. I wouldn't want to have to put in 8 hours making hotel room beds and cleaning bathrooms, find a supermarket, and then trudge home on a series of subway trains and buses with heavy bags of groceries. Would you?
So what has this to do with Oprah, her latest weight gain and today's treeware column?
That's because of the key phrase from StatsCan: ''Although women from higher income households were more likely than those from lower income households to eat out, they were no more or less likely to be overweight.''
This seems, to me at least, that, for women, weight is a very different issue.
Here is my column, in full, with some links:
They'd be welcome to join me, of course.
So many of us BMI-busters believe that, if we only had the bucks to hire the personal chefs, trainers, shrinks and pill prescribers, we'd be as thin as the "post-baby-weight" Angelina or as buff as the post-bizarro Britney.
If we didn't have to work, keep house and cook dinners the family will eat, we too would have the hours and hours that Madonna and Gwyneth devote to their bods.
There she stands, in a hideous purple workout ensemble, gesturing to her hard-body 2005 six-pack sexy self – in white spandex, no less – at "a toned 160 pounds."
Now she's at least 40 pounds heavier, which was no surprise to her fans, who could see the weight creep into her face, boobs, arms and butt.
The economy is crashing, the ice caps are melting, people are being blown up, but literally hundreds of stories have been published in the past week about how Oprah "felt like a fat cow" standing between Tina Turner and Cher. Some have been supportive, some mean-spirited, and some exploitative – as in "If only Oprah bought my diet book!" "No mine!" "No mine!"
So what is there to add?
The thing is, I feel uniquely qualified to weigh in because I have been there, done that, can't fit into the T-shirt.
As faithful readers will recall, in 2002 I did my own personal reveal right in these pages, showing off a 110-pound weight loss.
A year later, I discussed taking off the last 10 pounds, making for a spectacular 120-pound drop.
It doesn't take much to do that. An extra glass of wine with dinner, a spoonful of peanut butter or a chunk of cheese is all it takes to put on 10 pounds a year.
Cutting back on activity obviously also takes its toll. During my weight loss, I worked out almost every day, pumping heavy iron and doing long sprints on the Stairmaster. Now I barely manage two hours a week – pushed by my trainer, Sebastien Rahman – as well as a daily four miles walking the dog.
The thing is, like Oprah, I made both my weight loss and gains public, and I said I would share my journey down the scale with you this year.
I failed, dear reader.
Sure, I dropped 20 pounds by Easter but, after a summer filled with vodka coolers and ice cream, I'm right back where I started, although I still feel fit. (Sebastien says I am stronger and have more stamina than thin clients half my age, so that's something.)
As Oprah explains, the problem isn't money, or time, or support. It's about "maintaining a sense of balance and well-being," she writes, admitting to her all-work, no-play lifestyle.
She has a media empire to run while I have a mere media cubicle, but our problems are similar.
Both of us seek solace at the bottom of a bag of chips, swallow our anger with sweets and nourish ourselves not with self-love but with the same unwavering judgment we impose on the world's injustices.
Like Oprah, I vow to take better care of me in 2009 – and to be more honest about it with you.
So here we are then. Not much more to add but that it's kind of pathetic that women of tremendous accomplishment such as Oprah are obsessed with their weight. Strong women, who have total control over so many aspects of their lives, can't seem to control what they put in their mouths.
And anyway, why does it matter? If you're fit, strong and healthy, as I am, so what if you're not a size 2?
But it does.
A friend wrote to me today to say:
no body ever really talks about this kind of pressure on femmes in the activist community cuz progressive awesome kick ass. grrls are supposed to be immune to beauty/body pressure or something. i remember really liking my thinner self but (for me, but i was starving all the time while trying to look kick ass AND save the world) you always gotta be honest where you're at in life.
it's just good to have someone talk about things honestly.
I also heard from a dozen women readers who gained it all back, and then some, after following crash diets, including paying for injections at a popular weight loss clinic franchise. UGH.
In this upside down world, where it's more acceptable for men to be fat than for women, where pudge is a sign of affluence for men but women can never be rich enough or thin enough, you'd think a feminist like me would say, aw the hell with it.
But we don't.
It's a sickness. This month alone, one woman in Belgium put up her newborns for sale so she could get lipo while a British woman drank herself to death, on a water diet. meanwhile, in so many places in the world, women can barely feed their families, let alone themselves.
Oprah is bound to rake in more dough off her excess avoirdupois, as her magazine flies off the shelves and viewers tune in to see how she's making out on her new regime. Good for her.
But there's something so very wrong about this culture when not even women allow themselves to have womanly bodies.