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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Ending Weight Stigma Begins with Fat America

Would there be weight stigma if the majority of those overweight and obese became so as a result of rare medical conditions?

My answer: NO

If I were one of the rare few Americans who is overweight or obese due to Prader-Willi, Pica, Cushing's Syndrome or a reaction to certain medications, I would be furious--furious with fat people.

Tell me. How many people do you know with Prader-Willi, Pica or Cushing's? Me neither. How about friends having a serious reaction to medication resulting in excessive weight gain? Again, no one I know. (I'm guessing a few of you might know people in this category.)

So for every 100 overweight or obese Americans you see, if you assume their weight is due to improper eating, you'll be wrong fewer than 5 times (probably fewer than that).

An accuracy rate higher than 90% is still an A, right? You're not biased, you're statistically sound.

And why the stigma? Because self-destructive behavior goes against human nature and the will to survive. It's hard to convince the rest of us that self-induced disfigurement, disease and disability is a good thing. It's even harder to convince us when you ask us to pick up the $147 Billion tab..!

But if obesity were the anomaly it would be if it occurred mainly as a result of rare medical conditions, there would be no weight stigma. Groups fighting for fat acceptance, claiming "weight discrimination," are off-base. Instead they should be promoting genuinely healthful eating, holding people accountable for their lifestyle choices, and championing awareness campaigns for those truly suffering, by no fault of their own, from Prader-Willi, Pica, Cushing's Syndrome and pharmaceutical reactions.

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