LA Times On Obesity: "Slim Society's Tolerance Is Wearing Thin"


Last week, a friend of mine had a conversation about how the Coke is much better overseas, as it uses real sugar instead of corn syrup. She then added: “I hear that by 2027, 100% of Americans will be obese.”

“I’m not sure that statistic is true,” I told her. She shrugged and we moved on to something else. Yet the American “obesity crisis,” (or, as the great Kate Harding puts it, the obesity! crisis!) and all of the panic and hyperbole that goes along with it, is something that can not be ignored, mostly, as Marni Jameson of the LA Times notes, because “slim society’s tolerance is wearing thin.”

Jameson’s piece centers around the growing push by thin people to punish overweight citizens, via taxes on food, restrictions from dining privileges, or even college graduation rights, in order to somehow shame them into losing weight. The prevailing attitude from those Jameson interviews seems to be “why can’t these fat people just lose weight?!” which is about as simplistic as it comes. “I’m in shape and have been all my life because I don’t soothe myself with food all day,” Michael Kellner tells Jameson. Because surely everyone who doesn’t fit into the BMI box is sitting around like a Cathy cartoon, eating bon bons and sighing at the television all day, no?

The public’s perception of the obesity issue was even on display in the Miss America pageant last night, wherein our new Miss America, Caressa Cameron, wowed the judges by noting that she’d push to solve childhood obesity by getting kids outside and away from television and video games. It struck me that Cameron, perhaps unwittingly, was basically labeling every overweight child as lazy or mindless: the complexities of childhood obesity had been boiled down to “get up and go outside!” as opposed to a discussion that involved genetics, healthy eating, availability of healthy foods, processed foods and additives, availability of exercise programs, and so on and so forth. Nor does this discussion take into account the notion that children of all sizes may benefit from more activity, healthier food options, and less sedentary lifestyles.

While people like Kellner may feel it’s their right to be angry at others based solely upon their weight, Dr. Reed Tuckson of the UnitedHealth Group warns Jameson that it’s not punishment, anger, and shame that will solve our obesity!crisis! but rather a concentrated effort of encouragement and understanding: “Not only is getting angry mean-spirited and antithetical to the kind of society we want to live in, but it’s also counterproductive. We need to convert our concern into positive action and find ways to support individuals to make better choices.” Or, in the words of Kate Harding once more, “Human beings deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. Fat people are human beings. Even fat people who are unhealthy still deserve dignity and respect. Still human beings. See how that works?”

Who Is To Blame For Obesity, And What Should Be Done About It? [LATimes]
Fed Up With Fat And Saying Something About It [LATimes]
Don’t You Realize Fat Is Unhealthy? [ShapelyProse]

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