I’ve been quietly (or not so quietly as my husband who has to listen to my various outbursts and scornful scoffs as I read) taking in the latest news on the dieting front. Mainly the news of a new trial study to put overweight pregnant women on a drug intended to prevent their fetus from gaining too much weight.
I think Dances with Fat really did a fabulous look into the many reasons that this entire concept is just entirely disturbing. A bit of that post which really keeps resonating for me is this:
Weight and Health are two different things and cannot be freely substituted for one another. Health is multi-dimensional and includes things in our control and things out of our control such as genetics, environment, access, stress and behaviors, and being healthy is not the same as being thin. There are healthy and unhealthy people of every shape and size. (emphasis is mine)
I think that in all the fervor to ensure that our children and our general population masses stay healthy; we’re really focused on weight because it is perceived as far easier than focusing on the multi-dimensional reality of health. If you prepare a program intended to create weight-loss; that is far more easily measured than, say, determining all of the many variant factors tied into the concept of Good Health. Yet, as Dances with Fat and many others have pointed out time and again, Thin(ner) is NOT, nor should it be, a synonym for Healthy.
So much gets missed when size is pushed forward as the best, nay the ONLY metric for measuring a body’s health. My fear is that in this zeal and zest (and other “z” words) to Think About The Children, we’ve actually gone and forgotten all about them. Children are merely another pawn in this War on Fat being waged. Like the rest of us; they only stand to lose from such a position.
I don’t see how this sort of fetus-dieting study can possibly benefit anyone; let alone our children. These initiatives to drastically attack a body’s fat (or in this case a fetus’ potential to gain fat) can only serve to further reinforce already damaging stereotypes about fatness, health and worth.
Michelle Obama’s “Fight the Fatties” mentality in addressing the United State’s “Obesity Problem” via the Let’s Move campaign seems ripe to instead (or additionally?) help INCREASE bullying and increase the prevalence of destructive behaviors (such as disordered eating); all in the name of fixing a purportedly drastically growing problem that DOESN’T REALLY EXIST!!!
In case you don’t click that last link, it leads to the CDC’s own admission that childhood obesity levels have LEVELED OFF. Since 1999! “Between 1999–2000 and 2007–2008, there was no significant trend in obesity prevalence for any age group” Despite a recently released letter from the same CDC advising immediate actions to fight this disastrous scourge on our nation that is a fat body, there is NO EPIDEMIC of an increasingly fat nation. (PS: this rate has also been level for adults for a while now.)
Lifespan is at an all-time high in the US, and is increasing. Has been for nearly a decade. Yet, why use such a silly measure of health as Life Expectancy? That’s not a quick and dirty way to quantify an individual’s unique health profile! Weight is by FAR easier to track. Less work, easier to assign blame on the individual when efforts fail rather than on the initiative itself. Hmm. Some might think researchers and obesity experts were lazy or something? Nah. Only us fatties get that moniker: Lazy.
Deaths associated with fatness are being revealed to have less direct one-to-one Fat-to-Death correlation than assumed: “Overweight was not associated with excess mortality. The relative risks of mortality associated with obesity were lower.” Yet, despite studies cropping up with these and similar findings about the intricate (at the least) relationship between body size and health; initiatives continue to crop up destined to give us all the quick-fix marketers seem to feel we crave: that Get Thin Quick scam that we all know deep down (skin deep at least) is based upon shallow measures of appearance; not true measures of health.
Children, like adults, are not just bodies to be measured and judged. They are people. We are people. People should not be judged Healthy or Not based upon the size of the bodily container they inhabit. Health should not be a metric by which a person’s worth is measured.