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A health issue, or discrimination?

October 29, 2007

A recent Reason article weighs in on the obesity epidemic, and comes down firmly on the side of fat people. Believing the “obesity crisis” to be overblown, it believes the “fat pride” groups are making a “compelling case.” An excerpt:

Paul Campos, a law professor at Colorado University and author of The Obesity Myth, claims that this “moral panic” sticks because it finds an “ideological resonance.” On the right it appeals to an ascetic attitude; on the left it taps into anxieties about capitalist over-consumption and manipulative force-feeding by corporations.

The anti-obesity campaign is waging war against the very people it purports to help and, in doing so, undermines the very medical authorities it relies on to perpetuate the crisis. Fat people are tired of being patronized by politicians, mistreated by doctors and barraged by crises and “cures.” Many, like Big Fat Blog writer Paul Macaleer have simply concluded that, “A lot of people don’t like fat people.” And hard as it may be to accept, many fat people don’t want to be “helped” by quack dieticians, misguided doctors, and opportunist politicians. Most, in fact, just want to be left alone.

The article notes that often times, active, overweight people are healthier than sedentary but slim people. This may be true, but it does not take away from the argument that obesity leads to many other serious health problems.

Let me say it for the record, so I don’t confuse people: you have every right to get as fat as you want. It is not, and should not, be illegal to be overweight. That being said, obesity is a major health issue in our country today.

Promoting obesity as a lifestyle choice instead of a health problem that can cause more serious health problems down the road is a disservice to all parties involved. Obese people do not deserve to be ridiculed for their size, but they certainly should not be valorized either. “Fat Acceptance” has turned intelligent discourse on weight control into politically incorrect bullying of an oppressed people.

Obesity costs our country billions annually. A National Institutes of Health study estimated the costs of obesity in the year 1995 to be $117 billion (in 2001 dollars). This includes health care costs, lost wages, productivity losses from increased health-related absences and other costs. Project this across many years, especially as obesity rates have been increasing, and you begin to see the costs of obesity on our country.

Obesity left unchecked can lead to all sorts of nasty diseases, including Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes. This is a disease that in addition to costing our country $132 billion a year, is, to quote the director of the Center for Disease Control’s diabetes research program, “A leading cause of adult blindness, lower-limb amputation, kidney disease and nerve damage. Two-thirds of people with diabetes die from a heart attack or stroke.” There is no pride in losing a limb or your sight or even your life to a disease that is preventable in many people.

An article from Slate this summer says the following of the growing “fat acceptance” culture in our country:

To resist a fattening norm, you need willpower. To reverse it, you need to promote responsibility, which implies blame. You almost certainly need stigma.

This is an incredibly politically incorrect view, but in my opinion, contains more truth to it than the fat people as snowflakes (my analogy), “we’re all fat for different reasons and everyone needs to accept that being obese is okay” viewpoint being promoted by Fat Acceptance groups.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Ashley permalink
    October 29, 2007 6:47 pm

    Being obese is okay. That’s a PERSONAL decision.

    But one’s personal decisions should not be imposed on the rest of society. Can’t we just change this whole thing over to “Obesity Tolerance?” I can tolerate obese people, but no one can tell me I have to accept it.

    Take this from someone who travel a lot and uses mass transit daily. I paid us much for my plane ticket as you fine sir, so why do you feel that I should ACCEPT the fact that you are taking a third of my seat? To the woman on the bus: That’s fine you want to weight 400 pounds but then you should also pay for the 2+ seats you take up on the bus. I pay the same fare you do and I have to stand for the entire duration of the ride because you are not only taking up your seat, but mine as well.

    I will tolerate your life choice, but I will certainly not accept them as if they were my own. Nor should I be penealized by your choices. The obese, the addicts, the smokers, the promiscuious… not to say that I lead a squeeky clean lifestyle, but take personal responsibility for your personal actions. You want to eat a tub of fried chicken everyday… by all means, more power to you. But do NOT come crawing to the taxpayers when you need your triple bypass or dare I say, GASTRO bypass. I will not ACCEPT your claims.

    Does anyone else feel the the only people the Fat Acceptance folks are trying to convince is themselves?

    Adam… I’m starting to think you post these blogs just to get my riled up.

  2. andy permalink*
    October 29, 2007 8:07 pm

    I do not have fat acceptance, but I do have pizza acceptance. I accept that pizza will always be delicious and I will always love it. Therefore I accept being fat by proxy.

  3. Ashley permalink
    October 30, 2007 1:27 pm

    A couple of years ago when this news story came out, I was outraged:

    Since then my views have changed completely. Why do companies give random drug tests? To enforce the notion that employees who abuse illegal substances are a threat to themselves and the well being of the company. If companies are going to give drug tests so that Joe Public won’t come to work cracked out, what about the other guy that is at threat of keeling over on the production line from a massive coronary. Agree of disagree… all I’m asking for is a little consistency on the basis of descrimination here.

  4. August 19, 2008 4:42 pm

    Fajna stronka, bede tu wpadal czesciej, pozdro

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