The obesity issue is rife with misinformation and oversimplification. Being overweight is not just about gluttony. Indeed, many overweight people eat far less than their thinner counterparts.
First, note that discriminating against fat people seems to be the last remaining bastion of bigotry that is socially acceptable. Regardless of its implicit acceptance, this prejudice is wrong – hurtful, misinformed and mean-spirited.
Next, note that metabolic, endocrine and genetic issues have a powerful role to play in normalizing a person’s weight. If anything is out of kilter in these systems, gross weight variances occur – from hyper-thinness to extreme obesity.
And, as my friend Kevin Knauss pointed out, being thin often exacts a terrible price. Setpoint theory establishes that attempting to maintain a weight outside of one’s setpoint sets one up for extreme frustration, suffering and eventual defeat, leading to loss of self-esteem and personal power.
Another frequently-overlooked aspect of staying thin is the fact that many common medications cause weight gain. I witnessed a young, attractive woman, under a psychiatrist’s care at the renowned UCSF Medical Center, gain over 100 lbs. due to lithium therapy (on a 5’2″ frame). Her doctor was less than helpful, suggesting that my friend could buy bags of pre-shredded lettuce for appetite control. What’s more, the extra 100 lbs. were far more hazardous to my friend’s health than the underlying condition for which the medication was prescribed. The physician was grossly negligent in permitting her patient to remain on medication that led not only to gross obesity, but placie her at risk of diabetes, arthritis, cardiovascular disease and a host of other illnesses. In fact, the condition that lithium was supposed to resolve was instead exacerbated from her weight gain.
Please, compassion is the educated and ethical response when encountering obesity. It’s imperative that we be aware of the complexity of the condition and stop blaming the victim. It’s true that fat people often overeat – but don’t we all sometimes?