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Wednesday, May 28th 2008

Normalizing Obesity

“Weight bias”? Really? The political correctness is going to smother me.

Reported discrimination based on weight has increased 66% in the past decade, up from about 7% to 12% of U.S. adults, says one study, in the journal Obesity.

Lynn McAfee, director of medical advocacy at the non-profit Council on Size and Weight Discrimination in Mt. Marion, N.Y., is not surprised by the findings.

“Until we clean up language like ‘war on obesity’ and have authorities speak out about it, discrimination will continue to increase,” she says.

Despite comments to the contrary obesity is more than a choice in a vacuum; it is a burden on society and the populace as a whole. We need a war on obesity because I doubt even Ms. McAfee is comfortable with results like this.

True, we’ve grown into an “obesifying” world. I understand lifestyle options favor obesity. Indeed, much of that which is available for consumption in the modern society may actually be contributing to physiological changes in individuals which promote weight gain. But to ignore the play of individual choice in the growth of obesity in this country is foolish. My psychiatry team right now doesn’t excuse the responsibility of the heroin addict for picking up the needle; even though that is the only life he has known and the only escape readily available to him. I can’t imagine why we would excuse picking up that soda or that piece of pizza in the obese individual.

Doesn’t the choice behind it and the costs obesity burdens the rest of society with distinguish what is described in the study from ‘discrimination’? I am happy for those who are obese and comfortable with that (if disappointed they don’t take the health risks more seriously), but unless those same individuals are making efforts to minimize obesity’s extra burden on society then I am a little taken aback by their claims of ‘discrimination’.

To imagine we have come to a point of political correctness that rhetoric like “war on obesity” should be considered offensive to someone who chooses (through omission) to remain obese is alarming.