7th Aug 2012

Anonymous asked: What do you think of the "Obesity Epidemic"?

I’m sorry I took so long to answer, it’s just that I’ve been thinking about this a lot, and wanted to reply properly. (I hope you’re still here, anon who asked this!)

I think it’s terribly ironic that as we become more and more obsessed with ‘healthy’ eating, with calorie counting, and with ‘exercising moderately’, that the obesity rates only increase and increase.

I mentioned this briefly absolutely years ago in my post about butter, but basically, what’s happened over the last few years is that our fat intake has dropped, and our obesity rates have skyrocketed.

At the same time, the number of ‘diet’, ‘whole’, ‘clean’, ‘healthy’ foods in the market has also skyrocketed. The number of ‘weight loss’ magazines, websites, businesses, diets have also skyrocketed. The number of all things to do with weight loss, has skyrocketed, as obesity rates have also skyrocketed.

The Western world has become obsessed with ‘thin’ and yet, apparently, we have become more ‘fat’ than ever.

(We have also become more eating-disordered than ever.)

Everywhere you turn, you see calories, calories, gyms, weight. Where I live, it’s impossible to walk ten metres up the street without seeing (usually a woman) running along, looking miserable and half-dead and about to collapse. In my local store, I see so many people (again, usually women) going up and down the aisles, turning over every box and packet, looking at the magic numbers, as if they’re under some sort of spell.

In the Whole Foods near me (where I only go to buy the food that isn’t calorie labelled, like their yogurt and bread and stuff, just because it’s easier for me), there are so many utterly emaciated women buying organic apples and fat free natural yogurt, it makes my heart cry.

In school, I couldn’t go a single day without hearing someone mention weight loss, gyms, and ‘skinny’. Granted, I was only in school for 20 days this year, but even so - my first day back? ‘Guys, how many calories are there in a croissant?’

I looked over at the croissants, and judging by the size, estimated 240 as if on autopilot, then cursed myself for it. I said nothing, of course, but damn, I hated all of this.

Calories are everywhere, weights are everywhere, triggers are everywhere, disordered eating is everywhere, and, of course, obesity is also everywhere.

No wonder we end up with fucked up attitude to food. I think I have about 2 friends who have no issues with food whatsoever.

Lucky bastards. I wonder what that’s like, not associating food with feelings.

The weird thing is, though, that being overweight gets such an unnecessarily bad rep. Those of BMIs between 21 and 27 actually have the highest life expectancy (this includes some of the ‘overweight’ BMI category, take note).

We as people now live much longer than we used to, even though we on average weigh a bit more. What does this tell you? Maybe being overweight isn’t ‘bad for your heart’, or whatever, after all.

Gwyneth Olwyn, the woman whose blog 1) changed my whole outlook on how to approach recovery and pretty much saved my life, and 2) I quote/reference a lot on here, has done an incredible multi-post series on fat hatred and our society’s disgusting view towards ‘BMI overweight/obese’ people called ‘Fat: No More Fear, No More Contempt’.

I’ll admit, even I haven’t read the whole thing, but it’s incredible, and definitely very interesting and worthwhile. Here is a link to the first part, if you’re interested; and then there are links at the end of each part that you can follow through to keep reading, if you like.

A quote from the introduction:

Imagine if we felt what we currently feel about fat towards our bones or muscles? Well, we’d be busily encouraging surgeries to hack away pieces of our bones, and we’d be sucking out muscle tissue like there was no tomorrow as well.

Seriously. We have become obsessed with hating fat, it’s really quite disgusting. I see adverts every day for how to ‘melt the fat’, ‘watch the fat disappear’, ‘lose your fat in just 14 days’, ‘burn that fat with yoga and clean eating’, etc. It makes me physically sick. 

In our world,fat’ has become an insult, the worst of its kind.

Note that back in the day, when there was no such thing as calories proudly displayed on every single food, liposuction, low carb diets, heavy promotion of ‘holistic’ lifestyles, and gyms everywhere, there was no obesity epidemic. Eating disorders were also much more rare.

Why? Because our attitude to food and ‘thinness’ was much more normal, that’s why. Now, we’ve become obsessed with looking sickly small. I look in a magazine now and shudder at how out of proportion the models look; they look like stretched out 12 year old girls, for crying out loud! Why have we become so ashamed of growing up into women, with, yes, boobs and bellies and butts and curves?

Had ‘thin’ never become fashionable, had ‘diets’ and exercise to lose weight never become the ‘thing to do’, I reckon we as a society would have had a lot less problems at either ends of the scale. No, forget the scale; we as society would have had a lot less eating issues, period. I read a statistic recently that as many as 65% of American women engage in disordered eating behaviours, such as chewing and spitting, counting calories and restricting them to any number, constantly ‘fat shaming’, etc.

I pray to God that one day, hopefully, we’ll slowly move back to the days when dessert was truly enjoyable, when saturated fat wasn’t frowned upon, when exercise was purely for fresh air and enjoyment (and not reps and grey cross trainers and calories and weight loss), when people were only weighed in doctors’ offices for medical reasons, and when young girls didn’t feel pressured to ‘diet’ by stupid doctors, stupid parents and stupid society.

(Seriously, see the link above. That book disgusts me, and shows everything that’s wrong about the Western world and it’s attitude to women and weight.)

We have been trained to associate guilt with food that tastes good, and have been trained to try and ‘control’ out bodies. It’s sick, it’s disgusting, it’s dangerous, it’s damaging. Personally, I think if we preached love for our bodies and not ‘control and weight loss’, there would be no obesity ‘epidemic’.

This article is also really relevant, and incredible reading; it’s about women, guilt, and brownies. 

I hope I answered your question well, and I hope my point kind of made sense! Sorry for making it so long (to be honest, I still have a lot of things to say, but I really should finish, haha.)

Thank you for the question, I really enjoy these: see #opinion for more.


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  1. fyoured posted this