Monday, November 7, 2011

What does it mean to live in a nation where one out of every three people is obese?

My response to this NPR query:
"My brief response to this question:
What does it mean to live in a nation where one out of every three people is obese?

It means that daily there are millions of people who are being subjected to bullying and harassment due to the stigma of obesity.  Due to lack of awareness it has now become acceptable to discriminate against an entire group of people.  This reminds me of when educated people thought it was perfectly acceptable to discriminate against people of color.

Another piece that is not understood is that there are healthy obese people and unhealthy thin people.  Yes, this is true.   Regan Chastain of says it so well: "The idea of "healthy weight" is a dangerous one. Health is multi-dimensional and includes past and current behaviors, genetics, environment, stress and access. There is no weight that someone can achieve that will make them healthy. If we want to have a real discussion about health, especially when dealing with the sensitive subject of eating disorders, we need to take weight out of the discussion completely and talk about health."

When we look at what the Health At Every Size community has learned it just does not make sense to make weight the goal in having good health but instead aim for creating health and let the weight land where it may. This took me a long time to understand but as I have read the work of many dedicated researchers I understand it now.  This takes compassion and not shaming fat people.

My biggest beef with this is that we have a worldwide epidemic of eating disorders and this anti-obesity war is only making that worse.  People with eating disorders have so much body shame and dysmorphia already and hearing this constant message that "FAT IS BAD" only adds fuel to the eating disorder.

The bottom line is that living in a nation where one out of every three people is obese means we must have compassion, work hard to find answers and learn from people who are actually helping people living with obesity.  We do have answers and bullying, shaming and war are not the answer. "

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