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Old 08-02-07, 08:49 AM   #1
Tom Stormcrowe
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An Interesting Read: "Fat" Gene Found

A bit of confirmation of my statements that there can be a genetic predisposition to obesity..

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/new...cle1647517.ece

Pasted from the article:
Mark Henderson, Science Editor

A gene that contributes to obesity has been identified for the first time, promising to explain why some people easily put on weight while others with similar lifestyles stay slim.

People who inherit one version of the gene rather than another are 70 per cent more likely to be obese, British scientists have discovered. One in six people has the most vulnerable genetic make-up and weighs an average 3kg more than those with the lowest risk. They also have 15 per cent more body fat.

The findings provide the first robust link between a common gene and obesity, and could eventually lead to new ways of tackling one of the most significant causes of ill health in the developed world. One in four British adults is classified as obese, and half of men and a third of women are overweight.

Obesity is a main cause of heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes. An adviser to the Government’s health spending watchdog said recently that the condition was a bigger national danger than smoking, alcohol or poverty.


If the biological function of the gene, known as FTO, can now be understood, it could become possible to design drugs that manipulate it to help people to control their weight. “Even though we have yet to fully understand the role played by the FTO gene in obesity, our findings are a source of great excitement,” Mark McCarthy, of the University of Oxford, who led the research, said.

“By identifying this genetic link it should be possible to improve our understanding of why some people are more obese, with all the associated implications such as increased risk of diabetes and heart disease. New insights will hopefully pave the way for us to explore novel ways of treating this condition.”

While it has long been understood from family studies that obesity is heavily influenced by genetics, scientists have struggled to pin down individual genes that are involved.

A handful of serious genetic mutations that cause rare obesity disorders such as Prader-Willi Syndrome have been found, but the search for common genes that affect an ordinary person’s risk of becoming obese or overweight has remained elusive.

The effect of FTO emerged from a key study of the genetic origins of disease funded by the Wellcome Trust known as the Case Control Consortium, in which 2,000 people with type 2 diabetes had their genomes compared to 3,000 healthy controls.

Scientists from Oxford and the University of Exeter first found that certain versions of the FTO gene were more common among people with type 2 diabetes, but that the effect disappeared when the data were adjusted for obesity. This led them to wonder whether FTO really influenced obesity instead, and they followed up their theory in a further 37,000 people.

FTO comes in two varieties, and everyone inherits two copies of the gene. The team found that those who inherit two copies of one variant — 16 per cent of white Europeans — were 70 per cent more likely to be obese than those who inherited two copies of the other variant. The 50 per cent of subjects who inherited one copy of each FTO variant had a 30 per cent higher risk of obesity.

Those in the highest risk group weighed an average of 3kg (7lb) more and those at medium risk were an average of 1.2kg heavier. In each case the extra weight was entirely accounted for by more body fat, not greater muscle or extra height. The results, published in the journal Science, apply to men and women, and to children as young as 7.

FTO will not be the only gene that influences obesity, and inheriting a particular variant will not necessarily make anyone fat. “This is not a gene for obesity, it is a gene that contributes to risk,” Professor McCarthy said.

The research involved too many people to control for exercise and diet, so it is not yet known whether FTO affects how much people eat or how active they are. But it may explain how people with apparently similar lifestyles differ in propensity to put on weight.

Independent experts called the discovery highly significant. Susan Jebb, of the MRC Human Nutrition Unit, said: “This research provides clear evidence of a biological mechanism which makes some people more susceptible to gaining weight in a world where food is plentiful and sedentary lifestyles the norm.”

Genetic trigger

— The FTO gene comes in two varieties. 16% of people have two copies of the high-risk variant, 50% have one high-risk and one low-risk, and 34% of people have two low-risk variants

— Those with two high-risk copies have a 70% greater risk of obesity than those with two low-risk copies. They weigh an average of 3kg more

— Those with one high-risk copy have a 30% greater risk of obesity. They weigh an average of 1.2kg more
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Old 08-02-07, 08:57 AM   #2
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While this is a great find for people with this problem, I think this is horrible for the people who like to make excuses. Hopefully people realize that the person with the "high-risk" pair only weigh on average 3kg more than those with a low-risk pair. It also says that those with the high risk pair are 70% more likely to be overweight. I'm glad that it's not closer to 100%. This means that diet and exercise are still important and can overcome any genetic predisposition.
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Old 08-02-07, 09:13 AM   #3
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Nice find....I hope they can find the root causes and help it, but like Joe says, it just gives more hope to those who like to just look for excuses as to why its not their fault.
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Old 08-02-07, 09:23 AM   #4
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While this is a great find for people with this problem, I think this is horrible for the people who like to make excuses. Hopefully people realize that the person with the "high-risk" pair only weigh on average 3kg more than those with a low-risk pair. It also says that those with the high risk pair are 70% more likely to be overweight. I'm glad that it's not closer to 100%. This means that diet and exercise are still important and can overcome any genetic predisposition.
Oh, I agree! It's a persons responsibility to themselves, if no one else to overcome any genetic potential. It's just confirmation of an aspect of obesity, not an excuse. This gene would actually be a survival positive trait in a society with frequent famine and difficulty obtaining food, but in modern society, it's a lethal gene expression if not planned for in their lifestyle choices.
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Old 08-02-07, 10:57 AM   #5
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Do these genes make my butt look big?
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Old 08-02-07, 10:57 AM   #6
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Do these genes make my butt look big?
Yep, they sure do!
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Old 08-02-07, 11:38 AM   #7
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If the biological function of the gene, known as FTO, can now be understood, it could become possible to design drugs that manipulate it to help people to control their weight.

Am I alone in thinking that this isn't such a great idea?
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Old 08-02-07, 11:44 AM   #8
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If the biological function of the gene, known as FTO, can now be understood, it could become possible to design drugs that manipulate it to help people to control their weight.

Am I alone in thinking that this isn't such a great idea?
No, you aren't! Key words.....we don't know about unintended consequences in plants or even in the E Coli bacteria, which is the best understood organism from the DNA standpoint. We use that to produce drugs like insulin and still occasionally have issues with random mutation, even in an isolated tank culture! Given the complexity of the human genome and the fact that on most gene therapy apps, there is a <90% mortality rate!
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Old 08-02-07, 11:49 AM   #9
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You know, 3 kg doesn't explain much. I think most people who are overweight would love that it was only 3 kg - not 50.
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Old 08-02-07, 11:59 AM   #10
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If the biological function of the gene, known as FTO, can now be understood, it could become possible to design drugs that manipulate it to help people to control their weight.

Am I alone in thinking that this isn't such a great idea?
Nope. As a bioengineer, I'm against it from a technical standpoint. The biopharma engineers can't quite get interleuken blockers right. I don't want them releasing a gene-theraputic drug which can alter fundamental functions of my building blocks.
I used to design and build custom single-strand DNA plasmids. It's not an exact business. It's not like stacking bricks. You cut up a bunch of strand X and a bunch of strand Y, mix 'em up, and hope like hell that some of them fused back together how you wanted. (OK, it's more technical than that, but that's the basic theory.) Anything claiming to theraputically alter genetics is a scary, relatively imprecise science.
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Old 08-02-07, 12:38 PM   #11
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Do these genes make my butt look big?


Does my fat arse make my arse look fat?
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Old 08-02-07, 12:40 PM   #12
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People looking for excuses will find them regardless.
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Old 08-02-07, 04:44 PM   #13
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Nice find....I hope they can find the root causes and help it, but like Joe says, it just gives more hope to those who like to just look for excuses as to why its not their fault.
So does this explain why, Americans who should, on average, weigh under 75kg are passing a buck fifty in record numbers? Uh, no, because the average genetic gain was 3kg. So where does the other over 72kg come from?

I'll tell ya, lots of high fat, high sugar processed foods, with most of the nutritional value processed out, combined with a day that involves almost no physical activity, and the result is, drum roll please, a population that is obese.
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Old 08-03-07, 03:50 AM   #14
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While this is a great find for people with this problem, I think this is horrible for the people who like to make excuses. Hopefully people realize that the person with the "high-risk" pair only weigh on average 3kg more than those with a low-risk pair. It also says that those with the high risk pair are 70% more likely to be overweight. I'm glad that it's not closer to 100%. This means that diet and exercise are still important and can overcome any genetic predisposition.
Speaking of excuses, some 'celebrity' named Star Jones was recently interviewed about her decision to have weight loss surgery. She blames her parents, her livelihood, and even her race, for her obesity. No blame has been attached to the one person responsible, of course. No doubt she will throw the 'fat gene' into the list of excuses.
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Old 08-03-07, 03:57 AM   #15
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Oh, I agree! It's a persons responsibility to themselves, if no one else to overcome any genetic potential. It's just confirmation of an aspect of obesity, not an excuse.
Hear hear! Perhaps I'm less tolerant of the excuse makers than many posters here. I could use the genetic excuse too - "I have a spinal curvature, I shouldn't exercise, blah blah blah" - but I don't. I find ways around it. So should those folks with the fat gene.
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Old 08-03-07, 04:16 AM   #16
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Our ability to store food during times of plenty is not a defect of course - it was survival. But, it works against you when there is always plenty of food. At some point you have to decide to eat less or exercise a LOT more.

It isn't a "fat" gene - it is a "I will live longer than you in a famine" gene. We just don't have forced times of weight reduction as often now.
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Old 08-03-07, 06:47 PM   #17
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I have to confess I'm a little stunned at the judgemental nature of some of the replies. I expect to see a lot of diet & weight loss talk in the Clyde/Athena forums, but for some reason I didn't expect to see so much "those fatties will just use this as an excuse to continue to refuse any responsibility for themselves". Do people really believe that shame and disdain are effective motivators?
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Old 08-03-07, 06:51 PM   #18
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Some do, although ultimately the responsibility to change is on the person doing the change. I personally try to support their desire as best I can. I've been there, believe me!
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Old 08-03-07, 10:26 PM   #19
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I have to confess I'm a little stunned at the judgemental nature of some of the replies. I expect to see a lot of diet & weight loss talk in the Clyde/Athena forums, but for some reason I didn't expect to see so much "those fatties will just use this as an excuse to continue to refuse any responsibility for themselves". Do people really believe that shame and disdain are effective motivators?
Sorry, I have yet to see any of the "shame and disdain" you mention. Are you sure you aren't reading it into posts that make you feel uncomfortable?
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Old 08-04-07, 06:52 AM   #20
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I have to confess I'm a little stunned at the judgemental nature of some of the replies. I expect to see a lot of diet & weight loss talk in the Clyde/Athena forums, but for some reason I didn't expect to see so much "those fatties will just use this as an excuse to continue to refuse any responsibility for themselves". Do people really believe that shame and disdain are effective motivators?
Sometimes, the truth hurts, there is no instant gizmo or gadget, potion or pill, that will cause a person to lose weight for more then a temporary period, as soon as they stop using it, they find all the weight they lost, and often a few extra pounds are found along the way.

The only true way to lose weight long term, is a paradigm shift, you need to rework your diet, not go on a diet, which is at most temporary, but a sea change in eating habits, you need to retrain yourself how to eat, and often you need to stop eating certain things in the early stages, and they are probably your favourite things to eat. Both the Canadian and US governments have access to food and diet information on their websites, and it's good information, not the crack pot if you take this snake oil, or that magic potion, you will lose weight. If it's a serious problem, have your doctor refer you to a nutritionist or dietitian to retrain you on how to eat. This is a permanent change in eating habits, and that's what needed to stop the weight roller coaster.

Okay, diet is taken care of, we get to the second phase, you need to get moving, you need to exercise, without copious amounts of physical activity, your diet only goes half way. If your excessively overweight (obese), then cycling and swimming are the best exercises, because they are low impact. So, instead of three fried eggs, bacon, 4 pieces of toast, and 5 cups of double double coffee. Go for a nice walk with your sweetie, have a whole grain bagel or some fruit, and a nice cup of clear tea then go for a nice long bike ride.
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Old 08-04-07, 09:54 AM   #21
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Some do, although ultimately the responsibility to change is on the person doing the change. I personally try to support their desire as best I can. I've been there, believe me!
Hi Tom,

Supporting them is one thing. Telling them it's not their fault is another. "Dally" at alt.support.diet summed it up in an exchange with a fat-enabler:

"...coddles fat people with a "there there, honey,
it's not your fault and I'll help you ignore how awful your life is and
we can all blame Society together." It nearly made me barf.

So I called you on it.

Look, I used to be in that trap. So did many (if not most) of us here.
We heard "eat less and exercise more" time after time after time and
always whined about how that didn't work for US and it wasn't OUR fault.

Then we stopped whining and started eating less and exercising more and
discovered to our astonishment that we lost fat.

I've lost 80 pounds. I went from having knee pain when I walked up
stairs to doing triathlons. I went from an old-looking 38 to a young
looking 41. I went from defensive in crowds because of my weight to
successful in business and fun to be around because of my energy levels.

I know about obesity. I know how to cure it. I know how to help people
who don't want to be obese.

What you're doing is NOT helping them.

NOTHING I've said is demonizing people. When I say they are responsible
for their own food consumption and their own activity levels I'm doing
the OPPOSITE of demonizing, I'm EMPOWERING them.

Hallalujah, they don't HAVE to be victims. And if they ARE choosing to
be victims perhaps we ought not to support that pathology... it's being
a false friend.

I told you the Truth, I told you why your website is misguided,
idiotic, and at it's heart doing a disservice to people who need good
information, empowerment and an honest sense of where they stand.

Finding a euphemism for obesity will not in any way, shape or form help
someone suffering from obesity.

Finding out that they can stop being obese if they choose to is the best
way to help them.

By the way, I don't care if people choose to be obese. I was primarily
obese because I didn't mind being obese. I preferred eating for
entertainment and activities that didn't require moving. In essence, I
chose to be obese because I preferred that lifestyle over a slender
lifestyle. I respect people's right to make that choice.

But I don't respect people's right to choose to be obese and then insist
that it isn't a choice, that they have no responsibility. And Lord Save
Me from the obese people whining that they can't stop being obese.
Because I truly cannot stand to hear it one more time.
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Old 08-04-07, 10:33 AM   #22
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My question is:

When have I enabled? I cheer on the victories, and constantly take the stance that it's each our own responsibility to work toward better health. If I bring up an environmental factor or genetic or physical factor, it's to bring to the table more knowledge of how to cope with, and overcome this issue. Not as an excuse. Knowledge is power, and if one learns about the physical and emotional components to their weight issues, then they have access to a toolbox to address these issues.

Another aspect of the approach I take is this: In my experience, people with weight issues have active defense mechanisms in place to prevent emotional trauma, and if you push a person too hard, or in too confrontational a manner, then the very thing you are trying to achieve is lost, because all their defenses slam shut and you are no longer relevant in their world view. I grew up with all this crap and others, and never had a safe place to talk about this. Others are in the same situation. How does it help a person if you traumatize them further? Sympathy is a useful tool, and it's not enablement to support another sympathetically, while trying to TEACH them that
  1. It's safe to open up here
  2. Their goals are possible, but they have to realize this themselves
  3. Social, family, genetic and other factors are valid reasons which can be overcome, with knowledge of how these dynamic affect us behaviorally and physiologically.
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Historian View Post
Hi Tom,

Supporting them is one thing. Telling them it's not their fault is another. "Dally" at alt.support.diet summed it up in an exchange with a fat-enabler:

"...coddles fat people with a "there there, honey,
it's not your fault and I'll help you ignore how awful your life is and
we can all blame Society together." It nearly made me barf.

So I called you on it.

Look, I used to be in that trap. So did many (if not most) of us here.
We heard "eat less and exercise more" time after time after time and
always whined about how that didn't work for US and it wasn't OUR fault.

Then we stopped whining and started eating less and exercising more and
discovered to our astonishment that we lost fat.

I've lost 80 pounds. I went from having knee pain when I walked up
stairs to doing triathlons. I went from an old-looking 38 to a young
looking 41. I went from defensive in crowds because of my weight to
successful in business and fun to be around because of my energy levels.

I know about obesity. I know how to cure it. I know how to help people
who don't want to be obese.

What you're doing is NOT helping them.

NOTHING I've said is demonizing people. When I say they are responsible
for their own food consumption and their own activity levels I'm doing
the OPPOSITE of demonizing, I'm EMPOWERING them.

Hallalujah, they don't HAVE to be victims. And if they ARE choosing to
be victims perhaps we ought not to support that pathology... it's being
a false friend.

I told you the Truth, I told you why your website is misguided,
idiotic, and at it's heart doing a disservice to people who need good
information, empowerment and an honest sense of where they stand.

Finding a euphemism for obesity will not in any way, shape or form help
someone suffering from obesity.

Finding out that they can stop being obese if they choose to is the best
way to help them.

By the way, I don't care if people choose to be obese. I was primarily
obese because I didn't mind being obese. I preferred eating for
entertainment and activities that didn't require moving. In essence, I
chose to be obese because I preferred that lifestyle over a slender
lifestyle. I respect people's right to make that choice.

But I don't respect people's right to choose to be obese and then insist
that it isn't a choice, that they have no responsibility. And Lord Save
Me from the obese people whining that they can't stop being obese.
Because I truly cannot stand to hear it one more time.
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. “He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”- Fredrick Nietzsche

"We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals." - Immanuel Kant
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Old 08-04-07, 10:51 AM   #23
Neil_B
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Originally Posted by Tom Stormcrowe View Post
My question is:

When have I enabled?
Well, for starters, you've enabled your own defensive mechanisms. Disengage, Tom. No one has compared you to NAAFA or the deluded folks at Fathappens. com.

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Originally Posted by Tom Stormcrowe View Post
I cheer on the victories, and constantly take the stance that it's each our own responsibility to work toward better health. If I bring up an environmental factor or genetic or physical factor, it's to bring to the table more knowledge of how to cope with, and overcome this issue. Not as an excuse. Knowledge is power, and if one learns about the physical and emotional components to their weight issues, then they have access to a toolbox to address these issues.
And I agree. However, I don't think it's out of place to acknowledge that some folks will use anything to justify the fat lifestyle. And I do mean anything; an obese coworker suggested my scoliosis was the result of too much exercise. I suppose my gray hair stems from too much exercise too. :-)

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Another aspect of the approach I take is this: In my experience, people with weight issues have active defense mechanisms in place to prevent emotional trauma, and if you push a person too hard, or in too confrontational a manner, then the very thing you are trying to achieve is lost, because all their defenses slam shut and you are no longer relevant in their world view. I grew up with all this crap and others, and never had a safe place to talk about this. Others are in the same situation. How does it help a person if you traumatize them further? Sympathy is a useful tool, and it's not enablement to support another sympathetically, while trying to TEACH them that
  1. It's safe to open up here
  2. Their goals are possible, but they have to realize this themselves
  3. Social, family, genetic and other factors are valid reasons which can be overcome, with knowledge of how these dynamic affect us behaviorally and physiologically.
Tom, again, I suggest you take a deep breath and disengage. No one is growling here.

I found "Dally's" comments about choosing to be obese very helpful. It put obesity in the correct light - it was a decision that I made. And only I could change it. How many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb, Tom? :-)
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Old 08-04-07, 10:52 AM   #24
TabbyCat
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Sorry, I have yet to see any of the "shame and disdain" you mention. Are you sure you aren't reading it into posts that make you feel uncomfortable?
Um, yeah. I'm quite sure.
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Old 08-04-07, 10:58 AM   #25
Neil_B
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Um, yeah. I'm quite sure.
And I'm quite as sure you are. Meanwhile, I seem to recall many posters here encouraging many posters here in their exercise and weight loss. You are free to choose to read into those posts whatever you like. Isn't that wonderful?

Neil
385/243/225
(Tabby, that means I weighed 385, now weigh 243, and will weight 225. And no one will make me shameful without my consent.)
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