Check out this glorious first sentence in an article about a health policy announcement:
The Government is preparing to make a major announcement in the fight against obesity, as it looks to reverse a trend of expanding waistlines and the burden of disease that goes with it.
Notice what’s missing?
“Expanding waistlines!” it cries. “The burden of disease!” it shrieks. We’re “in a fight against obesity!” it declares. Fatness isn’t a simple physical descriptor in our society: it’s a monster, an autonomous phenomenon which will destroy us all as soon as it can get off the couch.
Whatever the Government’s announcement is, I’d like you to bear in mind a few simple facts:
- Fat people are people
- The fact some diseases are statistically linked to being fat does not mean that being fat causes disease
- Being fat isn’t a disease either
- Being thin isn’t proof of health
- You can’t diagnose medical conditions just by looking at someone’s weight
- There are plenty of diseases and conditions associated with height but no one declares a war on tallness
- When you live in a society which treats your very bodily existence as proof of your immorality, stupidity and sickness, it’s not exactly a surprise you might get ill.
And if the Government’s announcement is any one of the usual grab-bag of food/exercise strategies:
- Having access to a broad range of different foods, affordably and easily, is good no matter what your size is
- Having opportunities to be physical active in a fun and non-coercive way is good no matter what your size is
- People of any size may have nutritional needs or physical disabilities which you can’t see.
We’re a beautiful, incredibly diverse species, people. We don’t all fit into one box of dietary needs and physical capabilities.
If the Government is creating genuine opportunities for kids to eat a variety of foods – not a narrowly-defined “healthy diet” – or to get out and play – not conform to narrowly-defined notions of “fitness” – awesome.
If the Government is saying “wouldn’t it be nice if all the fat people went away” … not so much.