Attitudes to obesity

As a long time dieter, I have absolute sympathy with people who become obese.  There seems to be a real lack of tolerance by thin people  of the very overweight and huge prejudice against them.  Somehow they become ‘other’ and when viewed on television or in the papers alongside people who are lucky enough to be able to eat what they like and not gain – ‘not quite human’.  Now I’m not saying that the very obese eat sensibly or that they necessarily are rigorous in taking exercise.  But once you are slightly overweight the downward spiral is so very easy to slip into.  The usual outcome is that once someone is obese they regard themselves as ‘other’ and not belonging to the same universe as thinner people.  It’s heartbreaking really.  There is clear evidence that there is some kind of genetic link to obesity.  The lucky ones can eat whatever they like, whenever they like and not put on weight.

Education plays a large part in this with many obese people not understanding the importance of calories, fat and exercise in their daily lives.  We all know by now that fast foods are packed with unhealthy fat and calories.  That doesn’t stop them being a quick fix if you are hungry.  Eating healthily isn’t the cheapest option in the world and it’s clear that lifestyles have changed so much over the last fifty years, many people don’t sit down to a table and share a meal.  This encourages ‘grazing’, grabbing a burger or a bucket of cholesterol chicken and sitting down in front of the t.v.  Again, education is needed but that’s such an easy thing to say and such a hard thing to achieve.

With the dysfunctional state of many families today, the last thing many people would want is to sit down with each other and talk!  Sitting in front of the television is a great way of switching off to their, perhaps, less than ideal worlds, being able to avoid conversation with their kinfolk and generally opting out.  I know I sound like a broken record and none of this is original but I’m not carping, I’m trying to make the case for the people who become overweight.  Often (though taking the easy way out is one reason) people’s lives are very difficult and giving themselves a ‘treat’, feeding themselves comfort food is a reward that seemingly no-one else is prepared to give them in any form.

Programmes on television like The Biggest Loser provide huge motivational energy for the ‘lost’.  They demonstrate that through a change in attitude, an extremely hard exercise regime and healthy eating, they can become what many of them think of as ‘normal’.  Sometimes it’s heartbreaking to watch.  People lose themselves so completely, hating themselves and feeling as if they don’t deserve to be part of the human race.  Yet watching these inspirational men and woman who are prepared to show themselves at their very largest, is a great leveller.  They have courage and a will to succeed that is quite astounding.  As the result for most of them is the ‘normal’ appearance they so desperately desire, it is a fantastic feelgood programme.  Why then can’t we follow the example of this series and roll out a similar educational programme in our schools?  From year one.  Let it be the norm for people to exercise and eat healthily, encourage parents to join in activities and help them learn how best to bring up their children so they are not obese and in danger of dying early through diabetes and heart disease.  Of course it would be very expensive but how much better to spend the money on encouraging health than paying for treating diseased bodies.

Food for thought?

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