Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Fat and Genes and Morality

Noli Irritare Leones objects to the limited gene argument in discussions about fat and health.

here’s an argument that gets framed as if it’s an argument over whether people who are overweight eat more and exercise less than people who are in the normal range of that (much hated by the fat acceptance movement) BMI chart, or whether they’re genetically predisposed to be heavier.

This seems to me a false dichotomy, since there’s an obvious third possibility that’s been left out. Maybe you eat too many donuts (if donuts happen to be your food of choice, or what’s handy to eat) because you’re genetically predisposed to be hungrier than I am. Genes that make one person put on more weight than another can, after all, work in several ways. They might involve differences in metabolism, but they might also involve differences in appetite (or predisposition to be more or less sedentary).