Saturday, March 24, 2018

"Overweight people tend to be dishonest, inconsistent, and irresponsible..."

Today's post is taken from a direct quote that was included in a 1970s era film made at Brigham Young University called "The Fat Fighters".


This film is absolutely cringeworthy...

I already blogged about this a couple of years ago.  Click here to read that post, which I think was one of my better ones.

I was reminded of this film this morning as I read a news story by The New York Times about America's worsening obesity epidemic.  I really shouldn't read the comments on these articles because they regularly piss me off.  So many people have simple "explanations" as to why Americans are so fat.  But it seems to me that if the problem is so simple, so must be the solution, right?  If that were true, then people would simply eat less, choose higher quality food, exercise more, and weigh less.  Simple, right?  But I don't think it is a simple problem.  

I read comment after comment from people claiming that "good food" is cheap and easy to prepare.  I wouldn't necessarily disagree with that, as long as you have everything you need to make food and you have the time, energy, and know how to prepare it.  Many Americans work very long hours for low pay.  If they are fortunate enough to have work, they will have to work long and hard to make enough money to pay their bills.  If they work ten or twelve hours a day at two jobs, they might be exhausted when they get home.  And that's if they are only supporting themselves.  A lot of people who work long hours also have families to tend.

Many Americans don't necessarily have the ability to shop for whole foods, transport them, prepare them, or cook them.  Some people also don't have access to the tools they'd need to make that good, wholesome food.  It takes money to buy pots, pans, electricity to run the oven and refrigerator, gas to buy the fuel to get to a store, or pay for a fare on public transportation.  Although, a lot of Americans have access to adequate housing and transportation, not everyone does.  So those people do what they can to survive.  Many times that means eating a chemical laden hot dog or microwaved burrito from 7 Eleven instead of a bowl of homemade vegetable soup.

Okay... so what if you're like most Americans and you do own a car?  You do live in housing that has kitchen facilities.  You live in a town where there are several good supermarkets and, hey, you even have the Internet, so you can order groceries online.  You still have to have the time and energy to make that "good food".  I happen to like cooking and Bill and I enjoy a lifestyle that affords us the ability to eat well, if we choose.  We do try to keep most junk food out of the house, although we love beer and wine, which is not exactly dietetic.    

The point I'm trying to make is that the problem of obesity seems really simple.  It seems like it has a simple cause and a simple solution.  However, if you think about it for longer than a minute, the problem becomes less simple.  If the problem really were that simple, we would have solved it by now.

I once lived in a country where poor people weren't generally fat.  Those people didn't eat a lot of meat because they couldn't afford it.  Indeed, being a little bit heavy meant that you had more money. It wasn't necessarily fashionable, but it made a statement about your income.  In that country, though, people didn't work constantly like they do in the United States.  They spent time with their families and friends and ate with them.  The lifestyle was very different there.  You wouldn't see poor people eating candy bars or cake because those items were expensive.  It was actually cheaper to buy an apple, especially if it was in season.

In the United States, poor people are more likely to be fat than wealthy people.  Why?  Because the food that is most available to them is cheap, filling, and of poorer quality.  And some of those people eat fattening, sugary, salty foods because it temporarily makes them feel better.  They gain weight and lose more status... and people make judgments and comments about them based on preconceived notions.  And God help you if you happen to be both poor and obese.  This was one comment made on the New York Times Facebook post about America's rising obesity problem.

It is VERY true eating healthier is more expensive. Poor people are also more prone to addiction and food is the most common addiction.

Well... I don't know that I'd make a comment like that.  The truth is, people are poor for many reasons.  Poverty is also a very complex issue with no simple solutions.  Some poor people are addicts.  Some are not.  It just depends.

As for the title of this post, I think perhaps what the narrator meant is that overweight people might be dishonest, inconsistent, and irresponsible about food and eating.  I would hope he wasn't saying that overweight people are those things in general.  However, he did actually say that-- he said that overweight people have several character defects and he didn't qualify his statement as only pertaining to their eating habits.  So basically, he was perpetuating the idea that overweight people are lower quality human beings who don't deserve to be as well-regarded as thinner people usually are.
  
Another comment I noticed came from a woman who, I'm sure, thinks she's a "thinker".  She posted that in the long run, broccoli is "cheaper" than a cheeseburger because it will lead to fewer healthcare costs.  However, if you have to force yourself to eat broccoli because you can barely stand the taste of it, how likely will you actually benefit from choosing to eat it over a burger?  What are the odds that you might buy that broccoli and then let it rot in your fridge?  And... what if you eat nothing but broccoli, cauliflower, dark leafy greens, brightly colored fruits and vegetables, and then still get sick or catastrophically injured somehow?  Eating "good" food may promote better health and lower healthcare costs, but it's not a guarantee.

Personally, I've decided to just relax and enjoy life as much as possible.  I don't trouble myself with what other people are eating.  I don't worry about how their habits will affect my medical bills.  I don't blame fat people for all of the wrongs in the world, nor do I give much thought to shaming them.  Life is difficult and complex and there is no magic bullet.  I think there are too many people out there who feel inclined to judge and assume what's wrong or missing in another person's life.  But even as I write that, I understand that we all do it to an extent.  I do it, too.

Sigh... I really need to stop reading comments on articles.  But then, if I did that, I might be writing fewer blog posts.


    

4 comments:

  1. My only strong feeling about overweight is that parents should do their best to ensure that their children are not obese. Some kids are going to be on the plump side, and some are going to be a little thinner than should be desirable, and that's all fine. If a child's weight is such that it keeps him or her from doing things a child should be able to do, someone has failed the child. Children need nutritious food even if the government has to provide vouchers in order for it to be available.

    A few years ago, I might have said that if a child is picked on because of his or her weight, it's partially the parent's fault. I now think kids need to be taught not to pick on other kids, period. I don't know what it would take for that to happen, though.

    I agree with you that not everyone has the resources (money, energy) to procure and prepare nutritious foods.

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    Replies
    1. I agree that obesity is to be avoided whenever possible. I just wish people wouldn't assume they know why someone is fat or what they need to do to lose weight.

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    2. I agree. No one knows the particulars of another person's physiology. For adults, it's their own business as long as they're not 725 lbs. and draining welfare resources, and even if they are, a welfare person should be helping them. The general public does not need to weigh in on how they should be eating.

      I really don't think it's fair to feed a child in such a manner that causes him or her to already be obese when leaving childhood and entering teens. In a few cases there is something medically wrong that causes the condition, but in most cases it is parents allowing the children to eat too much garbage and not enough real food. Sometimes it's the same scenario you painted in your blog post, with a parent who has too little time, energy, or money to prepare the right foods. Still, it's a loaded issue where children are concerned. If one is going to have a child, one needs to do his or her best to care for the child, which includes providing a proper diet. Almost everyone wants to eat a bit of junk food, and that is fine, but children should not subsist almost exclusively on junk food. I would never say anything to either a child or the child's parent, however, unless it was my job to do so, and even then I would tread very lightly.

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    3. Yeah... growing up is hard enough without having to be fat, too.

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