"Food is a pleasurable thing," said Renn. "It can be a pleasurable thing in moderation. I absolutely believe there is nothing wrong with celebrating a birthday with something pleasurable such as food."
But Roth wasn't finished. "We've gotten ourselves to the point where we're behaviorally and neurochemically dependent upon food," she said. "[It's] fine to have birthday party food at a birthday party. But we say, 'Oh, you had a good day, here's cake, you had a bad here's cake, you got a promotion, here's cake.'"
"But what about when you start to go the other way and you say, 'Oh my God, food let's be scared now.' That's such a bad thing," said Renn, "I think that's also planting the anorexic seed possibly from the beginning in children's minds."
Kirby then opened up about her personal battle with dieting and her eventual acceptance of her weight. "I mean I started out as a kind of chubby kid and increased through all of these behaviors...I'm this size because I dieted for 20 years. And when you stop --"
"Well dieting doesn't get you to that size," said Benson.
"It does actually," Kirby responded. "So when you go through the cycle of weight gain and reloss and gain and loss and gain and loss, you wind up this size."
"I know I did! I was bigger than you. A lot," said Bensen, "But you're not answering my question."
"It's not about giving up," said Kirby. "I gave up dieting because it was a loser game for me. It made me fatter. It made me incredibly unhealthy. It made me full of self loathing... I have permanently screwed up my metabolism because I dieted from age 7 to the age of 27...When I stopped dieting my body settled, [it] stopped changing. And my health improved."
Some studies have shown that women who yo-yo diet may actually gain more weight over time than those who don't. Another study found that just 5 percent of dieters keep the weight off after five years. Roth thinks that's because people don't really understand what it means to eat healthy.
"I can't eat more than 1,300 calories if I'm not gonna exercise," said Roth. "That's not a lot of food. So I run for four miles a day and I'm eating somewhere close to 1,800 calories a day."
Renn seemed perplexed. "Excuse me a second," she said. "Sorry, I just want to understand what you said. You're saying that you run four miles a day and eat only 1,800 calories... That's really interesting and that's just about 300 calories off where I was about four years ago when I was really sick and had hair falling out of my head."
"You're 5 foot 9," said Roth.
"You're right. I'm not saying you have anorexia," said Renn. "I definitely believe there is something going on cause you're quite passionate and I think a little fat phobic."
"There's a lot of studies looking at staying at a lower end of BMI [body mass index] perhaps giving us longevity and healthier longevity," said Roth.
Renn then delved deeper into her own personal battle with anorexia. "So when I was eating 1,000 calories a day and lost my menstrual cycle for three years and might not be able to have children that I think says something. [That's] way too little."
The panelists also tackled the economics of obesity. People say at what point does ones right to be fat impinge on someone's airline seat, ambulance trip, or hospital bed?