Tag Archives: shame

Doctor Posts Joke Video Demonstrating Stigma That Kills People. Where’s the Hippocratic Oath When You Need It?

So apparently Dr. Terrible is getting a run for his money in my all time list of creeps.  Meet Dr. Irresponsible and Dr. Hatemonger.

So yesterday, a number of people told me about a video posted on Kevin MD that was horrible beyond the normal bonds of horrible.  (Sorry, no power on earth will compel me to link to that ish.  Some things deserve exactly zero clicks.)  And the first thought that came into my mind is, “This video is going to kill people.  Literally.  People are going to see this video and they are going to not go to the doctor and they are going to die.”

You see this video, created by Waqas Khan or (Who calls himself Dr. I Am Sorry) was one of the most nightmare cases of bigotry, prejudice and racism I have seen in a long time.  (Again, not willing to give clicks here.  Google it if you must.)  In this video (which is part of a series of videos of unrestrained bigotry by the way) we see Miss Fatty going to the doctor.  In this short video we get to see all of the following tropes played out:

  • Fat people are slow.
  • Fat people are pushy.
  • Fat people eat nothing but junk food.
  • Fat people are completely incapable of understanding what they are eating.
  • Fat people are lazy.
  • Fat people have done nothing to try to lose weight.
  • Fat people are stupid.
  • Fat women will never find a man.
  • Fat people believe that there is a magic pill that will make them thin.
  • Fat people are guaranteed to get diabetes.
  • Fat people understand nothing about their bodies or their health.
  • Fat people never exercise.
  • Fat people don’t do anything their doctors tell them to do.

Oh and by the way, did I mention that Ms. Fatty is African American?  So all those stereotypes, yup, you can apply them ALL to African American women while you’re at it.  And you can add:

  • African American Women are fat.
  • African American Women are bossy.

A lot of this is punctuated by soliloquies by Dr. I Am Sorry. (Or “Dr. You Should Be Sorry and I Predict Will Be Soon” as I call him) spouting anger and bile and vitriol and bigotry towards his imaginary non-compliant patients that make it clear he has nothing but disgust and hatred towards them.

Okay.  Now let’s get to the killing people part.

We know from several sources, including the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity that weight stigma among American medical professionals is rampant.  In one study 24 percent of nurses reported being repulsed by obese patients and 12 percent preferred not to touch fat patients.  In another study, 48 percent of nurses reported being uncomfortable treating fat patients and 31 percent reported a preference for not having to care for obese patients at all.  Yet another study involving doctors found that two-thirds reported that their obese patients lacked self-control, and 39% stated that their obese patients were lazy.

Prejudice towards obese people in medical settings is well documented and you can bet that patients are aware of it.  Naturally for some fat people, this awareness makes them more fearful about going to the doctor.  In some cases it makes them delay going to the doctor or avoid going to the doctor altogether.  In one study, over 12 percent of women said they canceled or delayed doctor appointments due to concerns about how they would be treated regarding their weight.  In this same study, embarrassment over weight and concerns about how the doctor and staff would treat them was cited as the number one reason among women for cancelling or delaying appointments.  It is also well documented that when people delay or stop going to the doctor, they get sicker and they die sooner.

So we have a situation where:

  1. Doctors, nurses and medical students have a demonstrated bias against fat people.
  2. Fat people are aware of this bias.
  3. The awareness of this bias causes fat people to delay or avoid going to the doctor.
  4. The number one prescription of doctors for people is weight loss even though there is no medically proven (outside of amputation) method to achieve this for most patients–at least not long term, and the weight loss “cure” suggested by doctors is more likely to leave patients sicker, sadder and fatter than before.

And the solution suggested by these two “doctors”  is to create (Dr. Waqas Khan) and publicize (Dr. Kevin) a video that shows a fat African American woman actively demonstrating every stereotypical view that medical professionals typically hold about African American women and fat women while simultaneously demonstrating the medical profession’s hatred and disgust towards these very patients?  How is this not convincing even more people of size not to go to the doctor?  How is this not eventually killing people who have decided not to go to the doctor?  How is Hippocrates not jumping out of his grave to take away their medical licenses?

It’s time for doctors to realize that holding a lot of unsubstantiated and biased views about people of size is lazy, unethical, dangerous and deadly.  And it is way past time for doctors to realize that posting a pile of hate that pours lighter fluid on an already painful and problematic situation for a little click bait is beyond irresponsible–it can be fatal.

In short, shame on you doctors.  Shame. On. YOU.

Sincerely Yours,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

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Newly Published Paper says Social Media Campaigns Balloon Up Stereotypes and Stigma associated with Fatness

Eric needs a new job–preferably one that doesn’t stigmatize an entire population.

I’m pleased to share with you that my colleague Lily O’ Hara has recently co-authored a paper in the journal Media and Culture.  The article offers a critique of two major anti-obesity media campaigns that ran in Australia.  These campaigns include “Measure Up” and “Swap It, Don’t Stop It”.  The Measure Up campaign promotes health management through body weight and waist circumference.  It included television advertising, posters, a community guide and a handy 12-week planning kit complete with, you guessed it, a tape measure.  Highlighted headlines included “The more you gain, the more you have to lose.” and “How do you measure up?”

Not surprisingly the images that accompanied these campaigns were troubling for many and triggering for some.  In the Measure Up campaign, there were video ads that showed a young man looking sadly at a waistline that expanded as he digitally aged.  Naturally dire warnings about disease accompanied the video.  In still images, both men and women were shown, head bowed, looking dejectedly at a tape measure slung around their waists.  These people were shown clad in their underwear (similar to the shorts/sports bra getup in The Biggest Loser) to add to the “public shaming” aspect of the campaign.

Ad copy for the Swap it Don’t Stop It campaign used fear and panic words, highlighting diseases and phrases like ballooning weight.  In fact the star of the campaign, Eric, is made of a balloon.  In the campaign he says,

over the years my belly has ballooned and ballooned. It’s come time to do something about it — the last thing I want is to end up with some cancers, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. That’s why I’ve become a Swapper! What’s a swapper? It’s simple really. It just means swapping some of the things I’m doing now for healthier choices. That way I can lose my belly, without losing all the things I love. It’s easy!

So aside from the panic inducing words and shame producing “balloon image” we have the assertion that swapping just a few foods in a person’s diet will significantly change weight, BMI and waist circumference, despite the fact that there is no concrete evidence that this result would indeed happen.

The paper concludes:

Through the use of textual, discursive and social practices, the social marketing campaigns analysed in this study perpetuate the following concepts: everyone should be alarmed about growing waistlines and ‘ballooning’ rates of ‘obesity’; individuals are to blame for excess body weight, due to ignorance and the practice of ‘unhealthy behaviours’; individuals have a moral, parental, familial and cultural responsibility to monitor their weight and adopt ‘healthy’ eating and physical activity behaviours; such behaviour changes are easy to make and will result in weight loss, which will reduce risk of disease. These paternalistic campaigns evoke feelings of personal and parental guilt and shame, resulting in coercion to ‘take action’. They simultaneously stigmatise fat people yet serve to invisibilise them. Public health agencies must consider the harmful consequences of social marketing campaigns focused on body weight.

So let’s take this apart for a moment, shall we?  I’ve spoken before, at great length, about how shame fails to make people healthier, happier or thinner.  In fact, I’ve spoken about how shame tends to make us, less happy, less happy and larger than before.  I’ve talked about how obesity levels are actually flattened out, and the obesipanic doesn’t really make sense in that context.  I’ve talked about how hard our bodies fight to maintain our weight and that in most cases, a few simple changes will not result in significant (if any) weight loss.  So everything about these campaigns are doomed.  They are much more likely to cause harm than to help.  But let’s look at one other aspect of this.  The taxpayers of Australia paid for these things.  They are government sponsored.

We’ve all  heard the argument that fat people can be fat as long as they don’t cost  you tax dollars.
And there are many reasons why this is a ridiculous argument.  But one eloquent comeback I see after reading this paper is this:

Your fat hatred is costing me far more tax dollars than any money you are supposedly losing caring for people of size.

We have ample evidence that these campaigns do no good.  We have ample evidence that these campaigns are actively causing harm to the people targeted by them.  And to me, the worst part is we are making people pay for the very media that is stigmatizing, brutalizing and depressing them.

The only thing ballooning here, is my rage over this particular state of affairs.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

Sticks and Stones May Break Your Bones But Words Can Hurt You Forever

I was recently having lunch with a beautiful and talented young woman, one who was enrolled in a good school getting a professional degree at a good school, who had a wonderful boyfriend who adored her, who was working at a decent job to help pay her school bills and is kind.  I was somewhat surprised when I heard this woman say that she had seen a television commercial showing a lazy chubby young boy, calling his grandma on the phone to ask her to bring something to him from the other room.  Not surprised that she had something to say.  But rather surprised that she had something so vicious to say about that pudgy, fat kid.  That if she was that fatty’s parent, she would smack him.  I was surprised not only because this seemed a little out of character for her, but also because she knew very well about my work as The Fat Chick and my views on this subject.  She went on to say, she used to be thin but then this happened (pointing to her stomach) and this happened (pointing to her butt).  I told her that she was of course beautiful, and further more, she was under no obligation to look any particular way for anybody’s approval.  Then she burst into tears.  At a recent family gathering, a close family member of hers had commented about whether or not she should wear a bikini and whether or not she would keep her boyfriend in light of her current weight.  She was devastated.  She didn’t eat for the rest of the day until her worried boyfriend brought her some food and asked her please to eat something.  Apparently this same family member had given her grief some time before for not eating, for being too skinny and suspecting she had an eating disorder.

As I talked her through the pain and drama, my heart was in my throat.  It brought me right back.  I was 15 again and listening to haranguing by family friends and family members about my weight.  About how I would never find a man, or if I found one, he would cheat on me and ultimately leave me because who wants to be with a fatty.  I was listening to people constantly asking if I “needed to eat that?” if I was sure I “should wear that?” and if I knew “what I looked like?”.  I was there with the constant self doubt, the devastating and crippling crash in self confidence, the firm desire to wait until I looked the right way to pursue the life I wanted.  I remembered how many years I wasted, obsessed about the size of my weight.  And I got monumentally pissed off.

How dare people do this to aspiring young women with so much to give in the world.  How DARE they pass off their insecurities and bullying as concern for a woman’s well being.  HOW DARE THEY?  Once my little PTSD moment passed, I told my friend in no uncertain terms that if people feel the need to spread their own insecurities around this way, it is her job to tell them to stuff it.  She is the gatekeeper for her own soul.  She gets to decide who she lets in.  And perhaps, if people are going to behave in such a toxic way, they don’t get to talk to her any more.  Not until they learn how to behave.

I honestly don’t know if she will find my comments helpful.  But I sincerely hope she does.  Because the world needs bright, young, talented, kind young people.  And it would be sad to think they won’t leave their house and make their way in the world because of how somebody feels about how they look in a bikini.

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

More Victims Dying to be Thin

DeadlyScale

I recently read about this story about student Ella Parry who died after accidentally overdosing on diet pills she bought from the Internet.  The pills were found to contain Dinitrophenal or DNP.  This highly toxic industrial chemical has been determined to be unfit for human consumption.  There is no known antidote to the toxin once it is ingested.  Ella, an otherwise healthy 21 year old woman bought 100 of the slimming pills online for the equivalent of about $100.  She did ingest more pills than the label suggested.  But very shortly after taking the pills, she started to feel quite ill.  Not long afterward, Ella drove herself to the local emergency room.  Her metabolism began to soar, and despite efforts by the doctors to bring her temperature down, Ella’s body “burned her up from the inside”.

Now there is no question that people fall victim to Internet scams all the time, and it’s easy to find illicit substances online.  But it leads me to wonder if Ella is simply a victim of an Internet scam, or if there’s more at play here.  How much pressure do young people get to be very, very thin?  How much have they heard that being thin is easy and anybody can do it if they try?  What happens when they find out it is not easy for them?  What lengths will they go to in order to achieve an “acceptable body”?  I can’t help feel that this is just another casualty of our culture’s obsession with thinness, and our culture’s utter inability to educate us about natural body diversity.  This leads to many potentially fatal problems including eating disorders.  And it leads to desperation that might cause an educated, intelligent young woman to buy pills off the Internet and consume them without even understanding what is in them or how dangerous they are.

This is why the war on obesity is not just a war against fat bodies, but about all bodies.  Because fear of not having the perfect body, fear that a body could become fat one day, leads people of all sizes to make poor choices with sometimes devastating consequences in order to fit into their skinny jeans.  This is why I will continue to fight for body diversity and for better education about the real facts about bodies and weight.

If you’re interested in joining this fight, perhaps you would consider participating with us in the upcoming Fat Activism Conference.  We’ve got a call for participation HERE.  It’s a very simple form that you could fill out in just a few minutes.

And I’d like to remind you, that if you are interested in joining us in our upcoming Fit Fatties Virtual Event, there are just a few short days left to sign up.  You can learn more HERE.

Love, Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. Want to hear me speak about body diversity?  Learn more HERE.

Do I owe it to anybody to lose weight?

Ahhh, the holidays!  It’s a time for sharing food, family, friendship and GUILT.  I recently shared some thoughts about setting boundaries for the holidays here.  (And of course, there’s always this video.)  For the most part, I find people can learn to respect the boundaries we set about talking about (or choosing not to talk about) our weight.  After all, our bodies are our business, and not anyone else’s.  But there are always those few people who find it their “moral obligation” to police our bodies.  And those people will usually use one of the following arguments to keep talking about our weight and our bodies even when we ask them to desist:

1.  What about your children?  Don’t you want to be around to see them grow up, get married, have children of their own, and retire?  First of all, let me remind you that you won’t be there to care for your children if you spend the rest of your life in prison.  So, put down the butter knife and back away slowly.  Seriously, this is like DEFCON 5 in the guilt wars over your body, so I can see how it might make you very upset to hear this, but let’s talk it through, okay?  First of all, please remember that weight and health are not the same thing.  Most people only have a limited amount of control over how much they weigh.  And while there are some things we can do to help increase our odds of having a healthy life, none of us knows how many days we have left on this earth.  One of the things that you can do to increase your odds for a long, healthy life is to manage stress.  So as much as you want to strangle Aunt Thelma for asking this question over the holiday ham, please remember to take a moment and just breathe. Some other things you may be able to do to increase your odds are to exercise regularly, sleep well, eat a wide variety of healthy foods (especially fruits and vegetables), and engage in some regular activity to help manage stress.  Note I said that these are things you may be able to do.  Obviously, if you’re working two full-time jobs and taking care of a few children, stuff like stress management classes, regular exercise, or getting any sleep may not be possible for you right now.  Not everybody has access to the same opportunities for healthy stuff (more on that in a minute).  And maybe if Aunt Thelma is so concerned about your health, maybe she can babysit your little darlings three times per week while you take an exercise class, meditate, or just have fifteen minutes to go to the bathroom all by yourself.

2.  But my health insurance rates are higher because of fat people like you.  Oh dear.  First of all, I strongly recommend assiduously avoiding any discussion of health insurance during holiday gatherings this year.  Put it on the list with climate change and which direction the toilet paper roll should go into the holder as points not to be discussed during the holidays.  But if your gentle attempts to deflect a discussion about how the size of your hips affects your Cousin Tony’s insurance premiums fall on deaf ears, here’s a few things you should know.  First and foremost, there is only a narrow window of things that we have any control over when it comes to health.  Fall Ferguson discusses this in a great post on the ASDAH blog here.  In particular, she mentions the CDC’s discussion of Social Determinants of Health and references this diagram:

As you can see, health behaviors only account for a relatively small section of the overall determinants regarding whether or not a person is healthy.  And notice it says health behaviors.  To be very, very clear here, body weight is not a behavior.  You cannot tell how healthy somebody is or whether or not they engage in healthy behaviors by looking at them.

Now, back to your Cousin Tony.  He seems to think that if you would just lose weight, you would suddenly cost the health insurance companies less and somehow his premiums would magically go down.  Well to start with, as a fat person you may be denied access to health insurance altogether.  I have a number of fat friends for whom this is the case.  So you may not be affecting his premiums at all.  Also, if Tony wants to keep his insurance premiums down, then perhaps he can help raise your “social/societal” characteristics or socioeconomic status.  After all, that has nearly twice as much effect as the whole healthy behaviors category.  All he has to do is, pay you enough money to move you into a different economic bracket.  No?  Well maybe Tony can pay for child care so you can go to the gym more often, or pay you enough so you can quit your day job and get eight full hours of sleep for once?  What’s that you say?  Tony isn’t interested in paying for any of this stuff?  Well maybe at least Tony can commit to fighting for social justice.  Tony can take his pick.  He could find for bias free healthcare or reasonable working hours or access to healthy foods or good preventative medicine.  No?  Well then maybe Tony just needs to shut up.  Oh and let me remind you just one more time; Tony cannot tell whether you engage in healthy behaviors just by looking at you.  Speaking of which:

3.  I don’t like having to look at you because your fat body hurts my delicate aesthetic sensibilities.  Most of the time, the answer to this statement is simple.  Just. Don’t. Look.  If your Dad’s friend Jim finds it uncomfortable to look at your fabulously fleshy frame, he can just look the heck away.  You are under no obligation whatsoever to be attractive to anybody’s gaze or be considered as an object of lust. This situation is far less simple however, when you are talking about your spouse or your kids.  I am unbelievably privileged to have a husband who thinks my fat body absolutely rocks his stripy socks.  But I understand that not all women (or men) have a spouse that thinks this way.  I have seen marriages get hopelessly tangled around one spouse helping another to lose weight “for their health” all the while not discussing the real issues around body size and sexual attraction.  I have seen kids use weight as a tool to hurt their parents (and vice versa).  I have seen kids who ask that the “thin parent” be the one to appear at school functions and do public things with the child in order to “escape embarrassment”.  First, let me say that if this is happening to you, I’m sorry.  You absolutely do not deserve this, and my heart hurts for you.  Second, let me tell you that this situation is far beyond what I can cover in my humble little blog.  There are no funny or glib comments that I can make here that will make this problem just go away.  Let me suggest that you do whatever is in your power to find help.  Maybe you can get some family counseling.  A lot of counseling is available on a sliding fee scale based on your income.  Perhaps a clergy person can help.  If your family is not willing to go to counseling with you, maybe you can at  least find some counseling for just yourself.  And let me also offer some hope here.  I have known people in this situation that were able to find help.  And I have known marriages and families that have come through this with relationships intact and stronger than ever.  Find some help, and hang in there.

Summary  There is so much more I could say about this topic.  In terms of my own health practice, I’d really like to get a little bit more sleep.  So let me wrap this thing up.  Regardless of what you decide to say to your Cousin Tony and your Aunt Thelma, please remember this: you do not owe it to anybody to lose weight.  You don’t owe it to yourself, and you certainly don’t owe it to anybody else.  Your body is your business.  If Aunt Thelma and Cousin Tony are actually concerned about the state of your life and the state of your health, I’ve already suggested some things you can request.  They can pay for your meditation classes or do a little free child care (as long as they aren’t expecting weight loss, or any other specific outcome in return).  However if Tony and Thelma are just trying to pass a little holiday guilt and judgement along with the gravy boat, they can just step the heck off.

Ho, ho, freaking, ho.

Here’s wishing you a holiday that is peaceful–or at least calm enough to avoid homicide.

Love, Jeanette (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. Looking for a little help?  How about joining my personal training program?  Prices are going to go up in January, so why not lock into some holiday savings right now?

P.P.S. Want to get access to FREE STUFF?  Just opt in RIGHT HERE!

Knock it off, Michelle Obama!

AAAAAARRRRGGGH!  We’ve recently gotten news that Michelle Obama is to appear on the upcoming series of the television show, “The Biggest Loser”.  Apparently her topic will be somewhat benign.  She is to talk about the importance of drinking water.  And given the show’s somewhat checkered past in dehydrating clients to help them achieve weigh-in goals, a focus on drinking water might not be such a bad thing.  But the fact that the FLOTUS plans on appearing on this piece of crap show at all is not, to quote Martha Stewart,  a GOOD thing.

A fair amount of criticism has recently been leveled, especially by the size acceptance, eating disorder prevention and anti-diet communities against the First Lady for making this choice.  There’s this amazing video showing dozens of people from the community (including me) speaking out against Michelle Obama’s upcoming appearance.  And there’s even a petition you can sign asking Michelle to “just stay home”.  We haven’t heard much from her camp yet.  But I imagine if we do hear from her or her people about this appearance, she’s likely to scoff and say that she’s just talking about the importance of drinking water for goodness sake.  What can be bad about that?

My response?  Plenty.

Here’s a few reasons why I think Michelle Obama should just knock it off, and refuse to be on The Biggest Loser:

1.  The show is built on the notion of shame.  And as I state here and here and here and in my submission for the video, SHAME DOES NOT HELP.  It doesn’t make people healthier.  It doesn’t make people happier and it doesn’t make people thinner.  It makes people less happy, less healthy and it tends to lead people into disordered behavior around food and exercise.

2.  The show is based on BAD SCIENCE.  I wrote so much on this topic in the past, I had to create a two-part blog post.  The “weight loss” techniques depicted on that show are contrary to accepted professional practice and can be downright dangerous.  It needs to stop.

3.  The show routinely tortures its contestants.  Check out these interviews between Golda Poretsky and a former Biggest Loser contestant.  The cult-like experience of this former contestant demonstrates the unhealthy power dynamic between contestants, directors, producers and other show staff.  And the long term health prognosis for many of the former contestants is not very good.

4.  The show uses the magic of editing and other Hollywood tricks to further mess up people’s expectations around exercise, health and weight loss.  Sometimes weight losses that are depicted as taking a week actually take longer.  People’s fluid levels are manipulated to help them look like they are losing more weight than they actually are.  Extreme exercise is described as an important weight-loss tool even though it is not that closely related to winning weight-loss totals.  It’s described, oxymoronically as “reality television” even though it bears little resemblance to the real world.

5.  This show is unhealthy not only for those who participate in it, but also for people who simply watch.  Several studies came out showing that the show negatively impacts viewer opinions regarding people of size.  Additional studies show that those who watch the show wind up LESS INCLINED TO EXERCISE than those who don’t.  So much for “Let’s Move!” Michelle.

Look, I think it’s awesome that Michelle wants to encourage people to engage in healthy habits.  And it seems in many ways, she has toned down the weight-loss rhetoric in her “Let’s Move” campaign verbiage.  But even if she doesn’t appear with a weight-loss message on the show, simply being on the show adds weight and credence to a television program that is irresponsible and just needs to go away.

Feeling good and mad over this whole thing?

Good!  Let’s do something about it!

1.  Sign the petition.

2.  Share the video.

3.  Join weight neutral exercise spaces like the Fit Fatties Forum.

4.  Stop watching the show.

5.  Help spread the word about Health At Every Size(R).

Go get ’em!

Love,

Jeanette DePatie (AKA The Fat Chick)

P.S. Want to get access to FREE STUFF?  Just opt in RIGHT HERE!

Proof Please

Web_Proof

So very often these days we hear that the world has deemed to help the portly because they so desperately need help and the world is being nice–and stuff.  Millions upon millions are invested in trying to prove that fat people are unhealthy, and if they would just eat a little less and move a little more, all their problems would be solved, everybody in the world would be healthy, and good, quality health insurance would cost everybody $1.  The fact that despite the millions of dollars spent, nobody has been able to prove these or demonstrate any way to make this magical weight loss happen on all but a fleeting and temporary basis doesn’t seem to deter anybody from testing this hypothesis again and again.

And even when the proof is not available, or indeed the available evidence says that your “weight intervention” causes negative effects and makes people fatter current policy seems to involve simply ignoring those pesky little facts.

Take the current practice of weighing and measuring kids at school and then sending home “BMI report cards”.  Despite showing again, and again and again that shame doesn’t make kids thinner or healthier, showing that shame causes kids to engage in more unhealthy behavior, that shame makes kids fatter, we still do this.  Why?  The National Eating Disorder Information Center issued the following statement regarding BMI testing in schools:

What the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) seems to be ignoring in its advocacy of weighing and measuring the height of schoolchildren is the risk it carries not just to increase body-based bullying from student’s teachers and peers, but the risk to children’s developing self-stigma and poor body image.

Body-based bullying continues to be the most common cause of bullying in youth. 29% of girls and 15% of boys are already teased about their weight at home. By grade seven, up to 30% of girls and 25% of boys are teased by other students. Poor body image has been found to stop youth from engaging in social, academic and physical opportunities. It limits willingness to express an opinion. In perpetuating focus on body shapes and sizes rather than on encouraging health providing attitudes and behaviours in children regardless of size, what are our schools (and public health) teaching?

However, it seems that plans to do BMI testing and BMI report cards in schools is continuing throughout North America.

This also reminds me of another recent situation I had recently reported.  Blue Care of Michigan is still touting the positive results of their “enforced march” walking program for fatties despite the fact that there is no evidence at all that those who participated either lost weight, or had any positive health outcomes associated with the program.  They apparently did nothing to track the original fitness level of the plus-sized participants and had no idea whether or not these folks were already active.  They just told these people that unless they wanted to pay an additional $2,000/year they had to participate.  They also forced those who participated to either be a member of Weight Watchers or wear a monitor which counted their steps during the day.  Just like a prisoner, they were forced to wear a physical implement on their bodies that told their insurance overlords what they were doing throughout the day.  Just because their BMI is over 30.  They declared this project a success even though nearly 1/3 of the 12 percent of participants who bothered to respond to the survey said they hated the program and found it coercive.  For more information, you may wish to read this article from my friend and colleague Jon Robison.

Throughout all this rhetoric about making fat people into “healthy thin people”.  Throughout all this spending on proving that fat people can become thin people on more than a very temporary basis and that making fat people into thin people will make them healthy there is one thing continually missing and that thing is proof.

When the available evidence points to the opposite of the fat people can become thin people, or fat people can’t be healthy people or fat kids just have ignorant parents rhetoric, the powers that be either request more money to re-test the hypothesis or simply ignore the inconvenient facts.

You may have heard of iatrogenic effects in medicine.  Dictionary.com defines them as: (of an illness or symptoms) induced in a patient as the result of a physician’s words or actions, esp as a consequence of taking a drug prescribed by the physician.

And good old Dictionary.com also defines iatrogenic as relates to social welfare: “(of a problem) induced by the means of treating a problem but ascribed to the continuing natural development of the problem being treated”.

Some experts have suggested that the “obesity crisis” is a textbook example of iatrogenic effects in both medicine and social welfare.  But I wonder if the “obesity crisis” isn’t responsible for iatrogenic effects in the economy as well.  If the response to the mounting pile of evidence that “diets don’t work” and “shame doesn’t work” and “fat people can be healthy” is always, “let’s pay for more tests” or “let’s do the weight loss junk but try harder this time” the obesity crisis will continue to be very, very expensive.

But I think the treatment for the economic effects of the hysteria surrounding the “obesity crisis” may be as simple as this.  Demand proof.  If your insurance company wants to put you on a walking program without doing an intake of any kind or presenting any data regarding the efficacy of the program, demand proof.  If your kid’s school wants to measure their BMI along with everybody else’s and send home a BMI report card, demand proof that this makes kids happier or healthier.  It’s not easy.  It’s not fun.  But the rights of fat people to enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness demands that we, the fierce fat folks, demand proof.

Love,

The Fat Chick

 

 

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Buy a book or a DVD for a friend and save $5!  Just enter FRIENDBLFT in the discount code box!

Check out my Training Programs–both in person and via Skype (Starting at just $25!)

or

Book me to speak at your special event!