- The truth about fat shaming
- Why the food industry wants us to feel that it’s all our fault
- Shocking new statistics revealed
I’m no fan of ‘fat shaming’.
As a bloke who has, in the past, been big…
Then less big…
Then less big again…
I’m not going to cast aspersions on the way people look or how heavy they are.
After all, it is possible to be rake thin and very unhealthy.
There are some who might never put on weight but who also eat very little of nutritional value.
And it is possible to be heavier but also eat a wide variety of healthy foods… and to be someone who walks, or dances, or plays rugby.
And there are plenty of morbidity factors in life beyond simply weight.
In this newsletter I’ve written about a few of them…
Loneliness, depression, smoking, drinking and musculoskeletal pain.
I believe that singling out one specific health issue like weight, above all others, and making people feel depressed and anxious about it… well, it’s not particularly useful.
In fact, I’d go as far as to say this…
The shaming of overweight people – and the emphasis on it being their fault, for being weak-willed, lazy or stupid – is actually to the benefit of the food industry.
Why the food industry wants us to shoulder the blame
You see, they like to tell us that it’s actually OUR problem.
Okay, sure, they’ll admit that they manufacture and advertise processed meals, snacks, sweets and fast foods at super low prices.
But they’re just giving us more ’choice’.
People can choose not to eat those things but if they do, and they get fat, then it’s up to them to sort it out.
In fact, say the food industry, here’s a load of OTHER packed items they sell too, which have low sugar and low fat, which are designed to help people diet.
So they’ve got it tied up at both ends.
Meanwhile the government also benefit from obesity being perceived as the fault of individuals.
This is because the government get money from the food industry… and are lobbied by the food industry… and so they generally don’t want to upset the food industry with rules and red tape.
Which is why they’re so reticent about sugar taxes and advertising bans.
And why they’re also happy to shift the blame onto the behaviour of people.
Because it means the system is safe.
Nothing fundamental has to change for them.
The wheels keep on rolling.
But here’s the problem…
If it’s just a problem on the individual level, then why are the obesity rates so shocking?
Shocking new statistics reveal a global crisis
The latest figures, quoted in the Guardian last weekend, showed that more than a billion people around the globe will be obese by 2030.
That’s double the number there was in 2010.
A DOUBLING of obesity rates in a single decade!
The report, produced by the World Obesity Federation, added that not one single country is on track to meet the World Health Organization’s (WHO) target to halt obesity by 2025.
So from those stats are we to believe that people all over the world are getting more weak willed… more greedy… more stupid… more irresponsible…?
Or do we think it’s more likely that something is fundamentally wrong with the system?
It strikes me that it’s the latter.
The availability of cheap processed food, everywhere and any way, almost 24 hours a day…
The powerfully addictive qualities of sugar, fat and refined carbohydrates…
The ubiquity of fast-food outlets that fill every town and city…
The sophisticated advertising and marketing that continually conditions us to desire food…
The lack of education in nutrition and home cooking…
These are powerful factors that make it hard, particularly for poorer people, to maintain a healthy diet.
If you’ve ever struggled to control your weight, like I have, then you’ll know that your own willpower and discipline can take you only so far.
There are plenty of intelligent, educated, well-informed people who are massively overweight.
The forces that they are battling are working on a subconscious and physical level that their rational minds can’t overcome.
And to make matters worse, the diet industry that declares itself the answer to these problems is ALSO the problem.
They make money from the cycles of weight loss and weight gain that mean people are never really ‘cured’ of the problem.
What’s more, evidence shows that most people who go on a diet will end up regaining the lost weight and even become heavier as a result.
Which means that despite all the diet books, diet drinks, diet ready meals and diet clubs, the world is getting more obese and nothing is changing for the better.
So how can things change?
In my view only a radical change in the way we produce and sell food will make a difference.
Something needs to happen to the SYSTEM.
Ideas that have been touted include:
- End the psychological barrage of manipulating marketing that operates on our subconscious, continually stimulating our desire for unhealthy food.
- End the supermarket tricks that encourage us to buy more food than we need.
- Get rid of sweets and crisps from schools.
- Educate young people in how to cook with whole foods.
- Use better labelling with starker warnings of the health consequences of the ingredients.
- Tax the industries who fill their products with addictive ingredients like trans fats, sugar, salt and refined carbs.
- Control the number, and location, of fast-food outlets.
Whether you disagree with some, or all of these ideas, that’s fine but I hope you’ll agree the current situation is untenable.
We’re heading only one way and that’s towards a mass global health disaster, which will end up costing us all.
It’s very similar to the environmental problems we face.
While getting people to recycle, turn off taps and switch off electrical devices at night is fine…
There is an expanding global industry that burns more and more fossil fuels and which is largely responsible for the unfolding disaster.
That is what must change, alongside those little things that individuals do, if we are to survive.
The same applies to food and obesity.
Yes, people need to take control of their lives and their health, but the system needs to change too for this to have any effect.