WE HAVE an obesity problem in this country and it’s time we started being honest.
Consider that 63 per cent of Australian adults are overweight or obese and growing as rapidly as our waistlines, are the numerous ‘Body Positive’ movements, personalities and bloggers.
Most of them are well intentioned and have correctly helped people to stop wasting their lives, chasing impossible standards of beauty.
However, some in this movement have become dangerous. The obesity issue has become driven by emotion, not the facts. We are being told we can be “healthy at any size.”
This is a lie.
I know that when it comes to talking about your health, I’m about as credible as Pete Evans discussing sunscreen. Unlike Pete, I acknowledge that I’m no expert, but I do tend to trust the advice of scientists, doctors and researchers.
I’m going to ask that you do the same, because I know talking about this is uncomfortable. People are as afraid to talk about obese people as they are sleeping in a bottom bunk beneath them.
Last year I stumbled onto some scales. I was 99kg. I knew I had two choices. Raise my fork and get to 100, or change.
We all remember the reason we decide to check our weight. A bad photo, a torn jacket, a popped button or a challenging set of stairs. For me it was my friends informing me, that in letting myself go, I looked like a fat Jon Snow.
Add to that the visit to my Croatian grandmother’s house for dinner, where she revealingly did not push me toward seconds.
There is a line between embracing the many shapes and sizes we can be and encouraging medically obese people to continue a self destructive path.
It’s your body and I agree that you should be able to do whatever the hell you want with it, so long as you’re given proper information to base those decisions on.
Ignoring reality leads to bizarre articles like this piece that gives out strategies to make “your doctor’s office into a safe space”. Apparently, if your doctor makes you feel “ashamed of your body,” you should “write a nasty review of them on Yelp and go find a new doctor who isn’t an a**hole.”
A strategy I used as a child to dentists who told me to stop eating Redskins.
Nikolai Petrovsky, the Diabetes and Endocrinology director at Flinders Medical Centre, points out that, “the question is not whether obesity is associated with excess mortality, which it clearly is, but what do we do about it as a society?”
Well, what do we do about it as a society? This is a problem costing us lives and money — around $21 billion a year.
We should treat obesity for what it is, a behavioural health issue, like smoking. Obesity kills more people in this country than smoking does.
Smokers are ridiculed and encouraged to quit. We make it hard to buy cigarettes and harder to find a place to smoke them.
We don’t accommodate smokers on planes with ashtrays, so why should we accommodate the obese with wider aisles and seats?
We know smoking is bad, we get it. Same goes for obesity, we know it increases the chances of heart disease, cancers and diabetes. Our tendency for sugar coating isn’t the solution, in fact it’s what got us into this problem, in every sense.
I’ve interviewed celebrity personal trainers who have been condemned for unhealthy diet plans and unrealistic body standards. I’ve also interviewed voices for body positivity. What I think links them both, is that they are all selling something. On the one hand you hear, “buy my workout plan and water bottle,” and on the other, “you have been told that you must look a certain way, that’s wrong, accept who you are, read all about it in my third book.”
Maybe both of these types of people do want to increase happiness, beginning with theirs. But I’m starting to think I should listen to the ones who want us to be healthy.
As for me, did I like exercising? No. Did it upset me not trying Dominoes hamburger pizza crust? Yes. But I’m glad I found motivating what others now find insulting.