Most of the recent press about weight has focused on losing it. In spite of (or maybe because of?) a $30 billion a year weight-loss industry, Americans are getting fatter. Kids are gaining weight even faster than adults.
Doctors, educators and politicians have been working to fight this trend with changes to school lunch menus and projects like Operation Pull Your Own Weight, which has kids do pull-ups to stay fit. As these experts have raised the alarm, a cultural gestalt has begun around eating healthier foods. Family kitchens all over the country have been turning away from candy and toward more fruits and vegetables in their diets.
Now, the New York Times reports on some fat, happy people who are pushing back.
Groups like the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance and the Council on Size and Weight Discrimination are weighing in against a pulic discourse that they feel scapegoats fat people for burdening our public health resources. They’re speaking out about the value of weight diversity, writing books about being OK with your body type, and lobbying Congress to keep the new health reform rules fair for fat people.
What these groups want to see is a reform bill that includes a public health insurance option from which fat folks cannot be excluded based on their weight. They also want to make sure excess weight cannot be used as a preexisting condition.
Those seeking fat acceptance are fighting an uphill battle. Not only do they have slick media images of impossibly thin celebrities setting the cultural beauty standard, they have to compete with a lot of medical science telling us that thinner generally equals healthier.
Some studies, like one conducted by Linda Bacon, author of Health at Every Size, show you can be healthy and fat at the same time. But most medical experts agree that weight is a major indicator for a wide range of health problems.
What do you think? Is it time for more celebration of diverse body types? Should we be teaching our fat kids to love their size or helping them slim down?
Photo: Kyle May