Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Less Fat Shaming; More Obesity

Whoever could have imagined such a thing? In the face of America’s obesity epidemic, the therapy culture declared that “fat shaming” was a problem. If only young people would be happy about their bodies, regardless of their weight. If only young people would embrace their obesity—because being fat is empowering. Or something....

Fashion magazines are leading the charge. They are showing overweight models bedecked in the season’s finery. There, don’t you feel good about being overweight.

In America’s ongoing war on shame, fat is only one of the enemies. Given the simple fact that the fools who are leading this war do not understand shame, they have missed the simple point that if you destigmatize obesity you are going to get more obesity. A simpler idea cannot be thought.

Happily for those us who are enamored of research studies, we have found one to demonstrate this all-too-obvious point. Now that fat shaming has been declared to be politically incorrect, we are seeing a rising tide of obesity. The problem has reached epidemic proportions. Another good idea leading to bad results.

Physicians are distressed, because obesity is bad for your health. Worse yet, if teenagers habituate themselves to overeating and indolent sloth, they are more likely to take their bad habits into adulthood. And adult obesity increases your risk for various illnesses, from heart disease to diabetes to hypertension to certain cancers. But, at least, you won't feel ashamed of your weight.

The UPI has the story:

The obesity epidemic among American teens is being fed by a waning desire to lose weight, a new report suggests.

Among many adolescents, being overweight or obese may increasingly seem "normal," so they don't feel the urgency to shed pounds, some researchers believe.

"The findings are very worrisome, since adolescence is the best life stage for change, but we are missing the opportunities of preventing overweight from becoming obesity," said study senior researcher Dr. Jian Zhang. He's an associate professor of epidemiology at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro.

Would you like the numbers? Happy to oblige:

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 20 percent of American teens are obese and many more are overweight.

Using data from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 1988 to 2014, Zhang's team found that the prevalence of obesity and overweight increased from 22 percent in 1988-1994 to 34 percent in 2009-2014.

During the same period, the percentage of teens who had tried to lose weight dropped from nearly 34 percent to 27 percent.

Among overweight teens, the percentage of those trying to lose weight declined from 36 percent in 1988-1994 to 23 percent in 2009-2014.

Among obese boys, the attempt to lose weight fell from 68 percent in 1988-1994 to 42 percent in 1999-2004, then increased to 61 percent by 2009-2014, the researchers found.

Among obese girls, the desire to lose weight dropped from 70 percent in 1988-1994 to 64 percent in 1999-2004, and had dropped to 59 percent by 2009-2014, the findings showed.

As you know, dieting is not the answer. A healthier lifestyle is. This means eating a balanced diet, engaging in a good exercise program and becoming more active:

Dr. David Katz directs the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center in Derby, Conn. He said society seems to have normalized obesity and abandoned the drive to lose weight.

Moreover, dieting isn't the answer, he said. Obesity is a matter of lifestyle, so changing how you live can change how you look and feel, and improve your health.

"Weight loss in our culture is generally about just that -- losing weight. It is only very rarely about finding health," Katz said.

Obsessing about weight is not the answer. Seeking health is.

The problem, Dr. Katz suggests, is that America has made obesity the norm, not the exception. When you cease to fat shame and to stigmatize obesity, that is what happens: it becomes the norm. Those who embrace it are merely doing what the culture defines as normal.


Ares Olympus said...
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Ares Olympus said...
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Ares Olympus said...

Stuart: When you cease to fat shame and to stigmatize obesity, that is what happens: it becomes the norm.

I don't think that's what Katz is saying. And of course fat shaming is alive and well, and overweight people are the safest group to express overt contempt towards. We're all sure fat people are stupid and lazy for getting themselves into their predicament and they can't hide from such judgments true or false, so staying in the company of other obese people is a clear strategic response. If society has "normalized obesity" it is in reaction against pervasive fat shaming in our image-obsessed world.