Obesity is not heroin addiction.
Someone found a study that shows that heroin treatment has roughly the same success rate as dieting – about 5%. So every day I get three or four people, who think they are geniuses, who leave comments asking if I’m going to start a heroin acceptance movement.
Here’s the deal. Heroin is an addiction. Every single heroin addict uses heroin. The health issues from doing heroin arise from, and/or are ancillary to, the use of heroin. While there may be residual health effects, quitting heroin is proven to remove the primary and ancillary health risks of using heroin. A heroin addict will be healthier for every day that they do not use heroin, even if they aren’t able to permanently quit.
Obesity is simply a body size. Obese people cannot be identified by a single or even a group of common activities. Obesity is only correlationally linked to health issues. There is no proof that losing weight will change someone’s health risks or outcomes. Weight loss carries with it it’s own risks both inherently and upon repetition (yo yo dieting). Dieting can leave an obese person less healthy than they would have been if they never dieted, is unlikely to lead to permanent weight loss, and even in the rare instances where dieting “succeeds” there is no guarantee that the person will be healthier.
That same argument goes for obesity and smoking with the addition that those who are near a smoker forced to smoke until they can get far enough away. Those around an obese person are not forced to be fat.
Obesity is not an eating disorder, nor is it the opposite of anorexia.
An eating disorder is an illness with mental and physical components, and though sometimes it can affect body size, body size is never a definitive diagnosis of an eating disorder. People with active eating disorders participate in disordered behaviors around eating. Eating disorders are serious, dangerous, and can be fatal. Using anorexia and obesity as opposite sides of the same coin is a completely faulty comparison.
Obesity is a body size. The idea that someone can’t get “that fat” (for varying, subjective and typically random definitions of “that fat”) without having an eating disorder is a myth. Many obese people have very healthy relationships with food, and there are some obese people with eating disorders. It should be noted that while some obese people have overeating disorders (like Binge Eating Disorder), there are also obese people with undereating disorders and often family, friends, even doctors make the massive mistake of encouraging disordered eating behavior in a fat person that they would correctly diagnose it as dangerous in a thin person.
Obesity is not a cost that can be calculated
Obesity is a body size, there are healthy and unhealthy fat people just like there are healthy and unhealthy thin people. The current state of oppression, stigma and shame around obesity means that any calculation of the cost of obesity is impossible to separate from the cost of that oppression, stigma and shame.
Obesity is correlated to a number of diseases so it is considered a “risk factor” although the term is used loosely since there is no proof of causality of risk, it’s as if they found out that short people get a certain disease more often but they have no idea why so they say that shortness is a “risk factor”. At any rate, a family history of heart disease is also considered a risk factor. The calculations that are commonly used to show the “cost of obesity” are often based on the assumption that obese people will get every disease for which they have a risk factor, or that every disease they get is caused by their fat. This is exactly the same as if we calculated the cost of people with a family history of heart disease based on the assumption that they are all going to get heart disease, or that any heart disease they get is caused by their family history. It’s just poor research.
Besides which, an attempt to calculate the cost of a group of people based on how they look in order to make a decision to eradicate that population because they’ve been deemed to expensive is clearly dangerous and wrong.
Obesity is not a Metaphor
Using a fat person to represent greed, over-consumption, a negative view of capitalism etc. is stereotyping and bigotry, pure and simple. It’s wrong on every level. We are not yours for the metaphoring.
While we’re at it, let’s talk about Size Acceptance.
Size Acceptance is not the opposite of “Thinspiration”.
Thinspiration exists to reinforce a stereotype of beauty, and in many cases is used to reinforce disordered eating.
Size Acceptance is a civil rights concept that reminds us that everyone has the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in the body they have now, and that other people’s bodies are not our business. It is not about telling people who size body they should have, nor is it about the mythical, ridiculous notion of “promoting obesity.”
Obesity is not your business, unless we are talking about your obesity, in which case it’s nobody else’s business unless you want to make it their business. Other than that you have no business making comments, assumptions, metaphors, cost calculations or comparisons about someone else’s body. If you’re looking for your beeswax, you won’t find it on someone else.
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