In this LA Times Article a judge sentenced a man to jail time for driving with a suspended license and then told him that she would let him out a day early for every pound he lost. According to the article:
He had discussed his desire to lose weight with Miller in court while asking her to delay his jail stay for a week so he could retrieve his prescription medicine for high blood pressure.
She imposed a 29-day sentence and offered to assess his weight-loss commitment after 20 days behind bars. He credited his weight loss and nine-day reprieve to encouragement from detention deputies, bland jail food and Miller.
Put another way, in order to get out of jail, he went on a starvation diet (“he limited his intake mostly to vegetables on his dinner tray”) and lost 25 pounds in 20 days. The judges response, contained in a personal note that she wrote to him upon release was a’Good job, Mr. McCovery!”
So I guess maybe the “vegetables on his plate” included tofu or legumes or something to give him protein over the 20 days, but it’s more likely that they were canned, devoid of most nutrients, and that a combination of starving and dehydration led to the weight loss.
How misguided is this? Let me count the ways…
People want to get out of jail pretty badly – let’s not encourage them to starve themselves so that they can go home and act like we’re helping them with their health. And if we’re the detention deputies, let’s not encourage starvation. And when they do starve themselves, let’s not tell them “hey, awesome job with that starvation, keep it up!”
This is what The Biggest Loser has wrought. We encourage and praise fat people as “working on their health” for the exact same behavior that we treat as a dangerous eating disorder in thin people.
This is what happens when we treat weight loss as the primary goal instead of as the possible, typically temporary, side effect that it actually is. Weight loss doesn’t cure anything. Weight loss just makes you smaller, (and 95% of the time that’s temporary). Weight loss is not the answer. Health interventions improve your health (and may or may not have a side effect of weight loss that may or may not be temporary).
If losing weight by any means necessary makes us healthier then we should just hand out crack to fat people. It makes as much sense as starving us and injecting us with a hormone derived from preganant women’s urine. It also makes as much sense as acting like the hormone injections are what leads to weight loss and not the fact that people are on a 500 calorie starvation diet that would have a thin person in treatment for an eating disorder.
Fat is not a diagnosis and weight loss is not a treatment protocol and we should not prescribe for some what we treat in others. Fat is a body size and weight loss is an attempt at changing that body size and starving is starving no matter what your weight. That is why we don’t just give fatties crack and is exactly the reason why we need to take weight out of the discussion of public health and make health the topic of discussion around public health.
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