A Different View Of Fat And Health

The alledged link between health and weight has been vastly exagerated by the popular media. Consequently, it is one of the chief excuses for perpetuating prejudice against fat people. In addition, the health myth, in a viscous circle, is one of the main sources of income to the 3 billion dollar per yer diet industry, which is the one of the chief architects of the myth.

If you need evidence that the diet industry shapes public opinion about health and weight, you need look no further than the so-called "Shape Up America!" campaign. This campaign was launched with much hoopla, the support of the Clinton Administration, and the selection of former surgeon general C. Everett Koop as a figurehead. Yet, the campaign is supported by multi-million dollar contributions from the likes of Weight Watcher's and Jenny Craig.

The reality is that some health problems are complicated by being fat. Others are actually improved by being fat. Far more are unaffected by being fat. But that is not what the diet industry, the government, or probably your own doctor has led you to believe.

In addition, it is unlikely that a fat person will ever change the reality of their body size over the long term. Nonetheless, the act of dieting may result in long-term harm to the body.

This is one of the causes of the false information regarding fat people and health. Fat people, generally, are the ones who are coerced into dieting. Since dieting destroys a person's health, fat people (as a class) will tend to be less healthy.

This coercion often comes from the fat person's own doctor. Since this form of coercion is likely to cause the fat person to avoid their doctor's office (who likes to be lectured, and treated like a child by someone whose salary they are paying?), fat people, as a class are not likely to see their doctor unless serious health problems develop. Since early detection and treatment are critical in combating almost every health problem, fat people are again at risk.

Many doctors push this coercion to the point of refusing treatment to their fat patients. Since this is the case, how can you expect the health of fat people to compare with that of thin people?

I once went to my doctor with a raging sinus infection. After they took my blood pressure with the wrong-size bP cuff (I don't wear a small jacket, exactly why did they think I should be measured with a small bP cuff?), I received a lecture about my bP, my weight, and my family history (my father had heart problems. Of course, he had smoked four packs of cigarettes a day for forty years, and still lived well into his seventies). I was told that I could not be given a decongestant (which I had requested) because it effected my bP.

I insisted on having my reading retaken with a large cuff. They did so (the cuff was in the same cabinet where the small cuffs were kept). My reading was well within the normal range. I was given neither an apology, nor any medication (not even an antibiotic, although a bacterial infection was indicated). Some people don't like to be proven wrong.

This was the last time I saw this doctor. Changing physicians, taking my money elsewhere, was the best means I had of dealing with such ineptitude. Still, I'm very tempted to post her name here.

The other thing which reduces the health of fat people as a group is a lack of exercise. Before you leap to the media's conclusion about fat and exercise, consider the results of both the NIH report and the Rockerfellar University study sited on my main fat page.

The link betwen fat people and a lack of exercise is a matter of the former causing the latter. It is very difficult for a fat person to go to a gym, a public pool, a running track, or even to go for a jog in their neighborhood without dealing with ridicule and harrassment. So, fat people are (as a class) less likely to exercise. The link between fat and health is dubious, but the link between physical activity and health is undeniable. Thus, again, fat people are at risk.

Finally, there is no doubt about the link between health and attitude, stress, and general self image. Since fat people are regularly harrassed and coerced by their doctors, their families, and the media, the resultant damage to their health is not surprising.

Each of these health risks are the result of society's response to a fat person. Since a fat person has little real chance of changing their weight, perhaps the thing that each fat person should do is to spend that energy, instead, to change the way that society treats them (my apologies for paraphrasing Rump Parliament).

If you are still convinced by the popular media's portrayal of fat and health, examine this more balanced look taken directly from the actual research regarding health and fat can be found in a page maintained by Sharon Curtis. Sharon's personal viewpoint on health and fat is also online, and very much coincides with my own.

There is also an organization which helps people to reach their maximum fitness level regardless of their size.  This is a commercial business, but their focus and perspective on fitness without focus on weight is very germain to this discussion.  Being fit and being fat are not mutally exclusive, as you can see at Fit and Fat Incorporated.
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