A few months ago I was in the doctor's office. CNN was playing loudly in the background. Most of it involved Republicans talking about how the health care law was the root of all evil. Then Sanjay Gupta came on and gave a five minute rant about the evils of obesity and how it's destroying all health care everywhere. I got annoyed, wanted to yell and throw stuff at the TV. (I didn't.) Thankfully I was called into see the doctor soon after.
I've never had an abnormal blood pressure reading in my life and I didn't when the nurse took my stats but I've always been on the low side of normal. Today's reading had me at the high side of normal. I had to wonder. Did Sanjay Grupta just raise my blood pressure?
RESULTS: Participants responded most favorably to messages involving themes of increased fruit and vegetable consumption, and general messages involving multiple health behaviors. Messages that have been publicly criticized for their stigmatizing content received the most negative ratings and the lowest intentions to comply with message content. Furthermore, messages that were perceived to be most positive and motivating made no mention of the word ‘obesity’ at all, and instead focused on making healthy behavioral changes without reference to body weight.
"People who are severely obese were more likely than people of recommended weight to face some level of difficulty in doing activities of daily living," Schafer said. "Over 10 years, those odds of disability were nearly five times higher for people who reported some form of weight discrimination, but only twice as high for those who didn't face discrimination."
1. End the assumption that fat people are fat because we eat too much and don't exercise. Everyone has a unique body. Not all fat people are fat because they eat too much just like not all thin people are thin because they don't eat enough. There is a lot of proof that genetics play a strong role in your size.
2. Stop pressuring weight loss in the name of health. There is nothing wrong with encouraging people to cut down on junk food and enjoy healthy movement. There are several studies showing that healthy habits and movement are more important than weight loss. Encouraging weight loss will only make people stop healthy habits when weight loss stops.
3. Stop making fun of fat people, even the ones that fit the stereotype. You'll find many of them are normal kind human beings. All fat people deserve the same rights and privileges has everyone else.
4. If you are fat, start learning ways to love your body and avoid the stigma around you. While it might be hard in the doctor's office or work, you can ignore the trolls and the weight based health programs.
5. Reducing stigma on fat people won't work if you push weigh loss. What might work is a healthy dose of self-esteem including ending discrimination at the doctor's office, the workplace and even the mall. A perfect example is this MRI machine meant to accommodate very heavy people.
Stigma against fat people will end if we make it socially unacceptable. We all need to be proud of our bodies, we need to say no to the diet industry, weight based health and hatred.