Various of my colleagues -- Corby Kummer, here, plus T-N Coates and Andrew Sullivan -- have picked up the conversation involving the connections among obesity, class, region, etc in America. Reasons for my returning to this topic:

- When the original reader messages came in, I did not give them a consistent category tag. I've now gone back and labeled them all with "Obesity," so the whole thread (including this item) can be found here.

- Below and after the jump, a few more reader notes to carry out the discussion.

From a reader who works for a major US corporation:

"[Another reader] wrote: .  I did this primarily because I was tired of my business associates in Asia beginning every conversation with "My god, you are fat!".
"My Asian experience pales in comparison to yours (and presumably to your reader's), but my hunch is that your reader's business associates believe they were paying him a nice compliment. The long and tragic history of undernourished Asians led to a cultural view that to be of a healthy weight was to be prosperous.  Hence, "My God, you are fat!" is equivalent to a Westerner saying "nice car!" or "you look great!"  I can see how your reader might have felt insulted or hurt, but I am pretty sure the intentions were exactly the opposite. [JF note: Certainly in China, "Hey Fatty" is not a term of abuse.]"

From a (female) graduate of CalTechCaltech [I always forget]:

"Are science nerds fat? The answer is an unequivocal no, especially for women.
"Our family attended MIT, U of CO Boulder, UC Berkeley alumni events in June 2009. Bad Dad and I observed that CU Boulder alumni age well. Everyone else appears to have the same % body fat (low) that they had in grad school. We felt positively obese at that gathering. We felt svelte at the MIT reunion.

"When AAAS published their study about why people go into science, they discovered by accident that participation in competitive athletics as a teenager correlated very highly for women.  For women, encouragement from a HS teacher was #1, but competitive sports came in second, with had a higher correlation than parental encouragement.

"Male scientists were slightly less athletic than the mean; female scientists were exceptionally athletic. Have you seen the "men of astrophysics" calendar? They tried to make a women in astrophysics calendar, but no one would pose for it.  i think we all were afraid that it would harm our careers.  the men face a different climate."

From a reader in Florida:

"One of the best ways to observe obesity in America is to track KFC's Double Down sandwich [below].  This "Atkins friendly" sandwich is served primarily in some KFCs in the South and Midwest. To know that KFC thought it was a good idea to sell a bunless sandwich of pure fried chicken to Southerners is a telling and sobering fact."

kfc-doubledown4.jpg


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