JohnJayRay, medical maverick

Stop the ACLU has a contributor who calls himself JohnJayRay. This character’s output is primitive even by the rank standards of his peers. But he’s not content to limit himself to bad political blogging; evidently he enjoys bad medical blogging too.
Actually, he maintains an amazing number of blogs and sites — something like two dozen, if the links in the right-hand column of “Food and Health Skeptic” are live. These apparently deal with guns, immigration, Marxism and various other right-wing stumping points. Regardless, what caught my attention was his claims about the “war on obesity” and why it’s misguided. Most are easily debunked. Below I’ve listed his numbered claims and have added my comments and observations.


1). It tries to impose behavior change on everybody — when most of those targeted are not obese and hence have no reason to change their behaviour. It is a form of punishing the innocent and the guilty alike. (It is also typical of Leftist thinking: Scorning the individual and capable of dealing with large groups only).
For one thing, I have no idea what makes JohnJayRay think that those targeting obesity are catching others in the crossfire of their “attacks,” since he gives no specifics. For another, he offers no justification as to why he thinks the “war on obesity” is a leftist undertaking – it’s typical of Stop the ACLU loons to blame the left for everything, but almost unheard of for them to offer plausible reasons why the left is in fact at fault for a given wrong.
2). The longevity research all leads to the conclusion that it is people of MIDDLING weight who live longest — not slim people. So the “epidemic” of obesity is in fact largely an “epidemic” of living longer.
First of all, this statement is idiotic on its face. JohnJayRay notes that people of “middling” weight have increased life spans, then turns right around and attributes this quality to obese people.
Worse, JohnJayRay links to Tech Central Station, long known as a repository for blatant shills and bought opinion pieces. The TCS piece claims… but this is not borne out by data from numerous other studies – see this, this, this, and this for details.
3). It is total calorie intake that makes you fat — not where you get your calories. Policies that attack only the source of the calories (e.g. “junk food”) without addressing total calorie intake are hence pissing into the wind. People involuntarily deprived of their preferred calorie intake from one source are highly likely to seek and find their calories elsewhere.
He’s correct. Selective nutrient restriction has never worked for anyone I’ve known. But I’m not sure what this has to do with the “war on obesity,” whose alleged proponents, to my knowledge, have never argued against this point.
4). So-called junk food is perfectly nutritious. A big Mac meal comprises meat, bread, salad and potatoes — which is a mainstream Western diet. If that is bad then we are all in big trouble.
He seems to be saying that if something is mainstream, i.e., typical, it’s healthful. No, you shithead, “typical” has resulted in 7 out of 10 people in the United States being overweight or obese. And many of us are in big trouble.
5). Food warriors demonize salt and fat. But we need a daily salt intake to counter salt-loss through perspiration and the research shows that people on salt-restricted diets die SOONER. And Eskimos eat huge amounts of fat with no apparent ill-effects. And the average home-cooked roast dinner has LOTS of fat. Will we ban roast dinners?
The amount of dietary salt needed to counter typical losses is probably about 1/10 of what people take in; the kidneys are able to dispense of the excess in due time. (Athletes who sweat a lot require more sodium, but not much more.) Some people – those prone to high blood pressure – need ot restrict the amount of salt in their diets in order to remain normotensive, while for others it doesn’t matter; JohnJayRay evidently has no concept of individual variation in this and other areas and simply throws out blanket statements about what sodium does and doesn’t do to people.
As for basing U.S. dietary guidelines on what appears to work for Eskimos, it doesn’t take an epidemiologist to see the inanity in that. Eskimos, throughout their history, have not been known to grow a lot of vegetables and have adapted to a diet consisting almost solely of oils and meat. Many Asian people are famously lactose-intolerant; does this mean Westerners shouldn’t drink milk?
6). The foods restricted are often no more calorific than those permitted — such as milk and fruit-juice drinks.
I’m not sure which he thinks is restricted since his wording is so fuzzy, and I don’t know who’s doing the restricting. Most doctors who make a note of the growing obesity in the United States mention soda, but I haven’t heard a word about the need to eschew milk or juice. JohnJayRay is, as usual, making things up as he goes.
7). Tendency to weight is mostly genetic and is therefore not readily susceptible to voluntary behaviour change.
Given that, as noted previously on this blog, the average weight of an American adult has risen by about 25 pounds since 1960, there’s a little more at work than genetics. Individual variations in the propensity to gain weight does not imply that people who are sedentary and subsisting on reckless diets cannot nudge themselves into healthier territory with behavioral modification, even if many of them will never be svelte.
8). And when are we going to ban cheese? Cheese is a concentrated calorie bomb and has lots of that wicked animal fat in it too. Wouldn’t we all be better off without it? And what about butter and margarine? They are just about pure fat. Surely they should be treated as contraband in kids’ lunchboxes! [/sarcasm].
Okay, so cheese is fattening. It’s even found in those “healthful” Big Macs. I haven’t heard anyone moving to ban it, but who cares? It’s always appropriate to wind up a series of terrible arguments with a blazing straw man.
On the whole, JohnJayRay offers no evidence that obesity is not a major health problem and that efforts to curbit are unwarranted. He just fires off a bunch of nonsense and links to other nutters. People like him seem to exist for the sole purpose of screeching about the establishment, and given the urgency of the obesity problem in the Western world and scientists’ response, it’s only natural for JohnJayRay to join the denialist brigade. His insight is nil, but that doesn’t matter – the main concern is to resist, accuse, and foment conspiracy theories.

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  1. #1 by Tim Lambert on June 23, 2007 - 12:17 pm

    Ray isn’t any better with physics, see here for example.

  2. #2 by Kevin Beck on June 23, 2007 - 1:51 pm

    Yes, he’s a true Renaissance moron. What I don’t understand is why he’s so caught up in the ACLU and American politicas when he’s an Australian who lives in Australia.
    He also claims to hold a Ph.D., which I find more than just a little hard to believe.

  3. #3 by Bill from Dover on June 23, 2007 - 2:57 pm

    Sounds to me just like another BFBer weighing in.

  4. #4 by Obdulantist on June 23, 2007 - 10:35 pm

    “Yes, he’s a true Renaissance moron.”
    ROTFLMAO! That is a classic line.
    “What I don’t understand is why he’s so caught up in the ACLU and American politics when he’s an Australian who lives in Australia.”
    Yup, we got plenty of our own home grown morons down here. Obviously he aspires to a bigger stage than little ol’ Australia, where he probably gets virtually no attention at all (I have never heard of him before).
    Consider him a return gift, for all the American morons (especially the conservative religious ones) who have lectured us about how to run our country and live our lives.

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