Obesity – it’s not stupid

I’ve been struck down with the most severe bout of hayfever ever to be experienced by anyone ever which means that I’ve spent a large chunk of today hanging upside down off the edge of the couch, trying to drink tea and catching up on some old articles I’ve been meaning to read for aeons.

In the course of which I came across these two reviews of Sarah Boseley’s book about obesity in Britain “The Shape We’re In”.

In the course of which I found myself reading the comments.

Dont read the comments

I’ll boil down the gist of what I read in the comments so that you don’t have to: fat people are fat because they’re lazy and stupid and OH MY GOD what happened to common sense!

I did my masters degree in food security and recently FutureLearn had an online course in exactly that, so I decided to brush up on my knowledge and enrolled. The course is great, by the way – but the other students were such a bunch of pompous blowhards, so busy falling over themselves to brag about how they only eat organic and never waste a single scrap, that I wanted to bunch them all in their collective keyboards.

I’ll admit I’m a pretty skinny chicken and I’ve never had to deal with obesity on any personal level. But there’s one thing I’m sure about – obesity does not stem from stupidity or a lack of common sense.

You only eat organic?
Good for you!
Not an option for someone living on minimum wage.

You only shop at farmers markets?
Good for you!
Not an option for an urban dweller with no car.

You grow all your own vegies?
Good for you!
Not an option for renters who need to move regularly.

Think cooking $1 worth of vegetables at home is better than buying a hot meat pie?
Good for you!
But you’re on crack!

Pontificate away if you like, but if your only contribution is to call people stupid you can just sit right back down.

As WHO’s Margaret Chan says “Big Food, Big Soda and Big Alcohol […] fear regulation and protect themselves by using the same tactics, including lobbying, lawsuits, promises of self-regulation and industry-funded research that confuses the evidence and keeps the public in doubt.”

Obesity is not one problem, it is a series of very real problems – problems that we will need to address over the coming decades. Make no mistake, the growing rate of obesity is only going to widen the gap between rich and poor. This is not just a health issue, it’s a social justice issue.

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Nat Newman

Nat Newman is an award-winning writer of short stories, content, podcasts, feature articles, drunk text messages and, soon, a novella.

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