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Thursday, 12 September 2019

Fat shaming as a cure for obesity. Seriously?

In April 2019, The Lancet, a medical journal, reported on a study about the "health effects of dietary risks in 195 countries". Medical News Today: "A major study has found that unhealthful eating is responsible for more deaths worldwide than any other risk factor, including smoking." I had ignored this study because its outcome was so obvious.

Yesterday, I noticed a Big Think article and its opening lines were jaw-dropping: "Bill Maher called for fat shaming last week. His argument makes sense." And: "Bill Maher called for fat shaming as a means of transforming the lethargic mindset about obesity. When implemented properly, shame can be an important and powerful tool, writes NYU professor Jennifer Jacquet."

The issue of fat shaming is one of my least proud memories. After having been provoked by my teenage daughter for many weeks, I was no longer able to bite my tongue. The words I then spoke to her, are still haunting my mind. I was rightfully condemned for my words. Several years later, I noticed that my nasty words had had a positive impact.

In the 1980's and 90's, I enjoyed many vacations in the USA. I noticed that American people were either (very) slim or (very) fat. There wasn't much in between. NYT-2018: "American adults continue to put on the pounds. New data shows that nearly 40 percent of them were obese in 2015 and 2016, a sharp increase from a decade earlier, federal health officials reported Friday."

During my US vacations, I also noticed that fresh food was expensive and that junk food was cheap. This pricing problem is slowly entering Europe. Other major relevant differences between Europe and USA are: (i) the American need for having multiple jobs to survive, (ii) the excessive cost of US healthcare, and (iii) the American approach of "time is money".

Hence, it's easy to see why poor people will fall in the obesity trap. There is a strong correlation between American inequality and American obesity (eg, 2015 study, 2017 study). In other words: you are what you eat (Phrases, GoodReads). Also see my 2018 blogs on Fair inequality vs unfair equality and Germany and US Grapple With Wealth Inequality (GPF).

The idea of fat shaming American obesity is another example in the culture wars between the rich and arrogant American liberal left versus the poor and ignorant American conservative right. The American conservative right might be falling out of love with Trump (eg, recession) but they hate the other side even more.

“If you really want change to happen, if you really want to "help" fat people, you need to understand that shaming an already-shamed population is, well, shameful.” A quote from the 2016 book Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West (b. 1982), an American writer, comedian and activist.

Fat (1988) by "Weird Al" Yankovic


Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless stated otherwise

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