As I mentioned in my post about the ridiculous Lap Band Sweepstakes, the
money grubbing jackasses good people at Allergan are trying to convince fat people and our friends and families to petition Congress to classify Obesity as a disease.
Make no mistake, they are interested in getting that done so that the LapBand will be considered a treatment option for a disease instead of just a (not particularly successful) way to lose weight, and insurance companies will be forced to pay for it. They are only interested in selling more lap bands, but they are a publicly traded for-profit corporation whose fiduciary responsibility is to their shareholders, so that’s what they’re supposed to do. We’re supposed to be smart enough not to fall for it.
There are many problems with this but to me the biggest issues is that it creates a situation where millions of people are told that, regardless of their actual measures of health, the size of their body makes them diseased (with all of the connotations and emotional baggage that come with that), and that no matter how healthy they are or how healthy they become, if they aren’t thin then they are diseased and require treatment.
According to the Medical Dictionary of the US Library of Medicine and National Institute of Health: A disease is an impairment of the normal state of the living animal or plant body or one of its parts that interrupts or modifies the performance of the vital functions, is typically manifested by distinguishing signs and symptoms, and is a response to environmental factors (as malnutrition, industrial hazards, or climate), to specific infective agents (as worms, bacteria, or viruses), to inherent defects of the organism (as genetic anomalies), or to combinations of these factors.
Let’s break that down shall we:
A disease is an impairment of the normal state of the living animal or plant body or one of its parts…
Obesity is my normal state. The only way I’ve ever not been fat was through an eating disorder. And I think that you are hard pressed to consider my size an impairment (witness my dance pictures from yesterday)
…that interrupts or modifies the performance of the vital functions…
I’m obese and all of my parts function just fine. There are plenty of obese people whose obesity in no way interrupts or modifies the performance of vital functions, and I’m willing to bet that there would be a lot more if we weren’t subject to near constant shame, fear, and guilt in our society and encouraged to go on diet after diet and thereby creating a disordered relationship with food.
…is typically manifested by distinguishing signs and symptoms…
The only distinguishing “sign” or “symptom” of obesity is obesity. It’s just a ratio of weight and height. Allergan may be talking about the health issues that have been correlated with obesity, and there’s a problem – because nobody can prove a causal relationship between obesity and any health problem. There are thin people and obese people who have high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes etc. There are thin people and obese people who have normal blood pressure, healthy hearts and no sign of Type 2 diabetes. I think it’s difficult to call something a disease when some people with the disease have none of the “symptoms” and some people without the disease have all of the “symptoms”.
…and is a response to environmental factors (as malnutrition, industrial hazards, or climate), to specific infective agents (as worms, bacteria, or viruses), to inherent defects of the organism (as genetic anomalies), or to combinations of these factors…
Alas, Allergan, I have more bad news. Nobody knows what causes obesity, but it’s generally agreed that the reasons are different for different people, there is no single “cause” of obesity, just like they are no standard “symptoms” of obesity. You are trying to elevate weight loss to “disease treatment” and you don’t have a chubby leg to stand on.
Let’s keep our eye on the ball. Obesity is simply a ratio of weight to height, and calling it a disease is predicated on the idea that there is a “normal” weight and that obesity deviates from that. Except that’s pretty difficult to prove because we didn’t used to measure obesity and our definition of what constitutes “obesity” has changed since we started measuring it (most recently due to intervention by representatives of the diet industry with the Centers for Disease Control). Also, as we discussed last week, there doesn’t seem to be a basis in nature for using such a narrow ratio of weight and height to indicate health.
Of course I’m not happy about the possibility of being called “diseased” but that’s not the worst part. What concerns me is that so far, every diet ever tested has a success rate of less than 5% in the long-term and most people regain more weight than they’ve lost. Weight Loss surgeries have a less than 20% success rate and one of their side effects is death. Diet drugs also show very limited long-term success and horrendous side effects (again, including death). However, the medical establishment continues to recommend these treatments. So currently the diet industry makes $60,000,000,000 a year lying to us that they can make us thin. How much money could they make lying to us that they can cure our “disease”?
The bottom line is that Allergan is willing to cause millions of people to be declared diseased by our government, all in the name of selling more Lap Bands (because $240 Million in profits just isn’t enough), with almost no hope of having their “disease” cured. In fact, I’d wager that our health will get worse because when we declare that large bodies are the problem and small bodies are the solution, it takes attention, time, and money away from researching and treating actual health problems.
Call me wacky, but I still contend that we’re much more likely to be healthy by focusing on health than by focusing on making our bodies smaller.