The newest tidbits of expertise on obesity from one segment of the medical world published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) (vol 357, 370-379, 2007) are, not surprisingly, painfully flawed and guilty of the same underlying prejudice against fat people that plagues the medical community in general. If you break down their findings, two dangerous messages come across loud and clear:
1. Being around fat people will increase your chances of getting fat, so you better not hang out with fat people; and
2. If you’re fat, you’re going to lose all your friends if you don’t lose weight, so you better get thin as soon as possible!
Even the Chicago Sun-Times had a problem with the new research in this article. They concluded that the NEJM research “may also contribute to prejudice against overweight people.” I agree.
The new research hangs on that blemish of science, the Body Mass Index (BMI), which has never been an indicator of health and the research also makes sweeping generalizations about social networking influencing eating habits.
Common sense always provides answers where research fails, because research can be influenced by the researchers’ assumptions and prejudices.
Common sense says your friends don’t make choices for you. You decide what what you want to do with your life, even if you decide to agree to what your friends suggest you do. The assumption the medical community wants you to make is that all fat people make poor food choices and overeat with abandon, so you’d better get away from their social influence or by gum, they’ll make you lazy, ugly and stupid, too!
It’s a silly assumption but too many doctors and medical professionals make leaps of logic like that every day.
Common sense says everyone is an individual and individuals make individual choices. It may be hard for some people to understand but people of all shapes and sizes can be fit, eat healthy and be productive and active members of society. By the same reasoning, people of ALL shapes and sizes (including thin ones) can also lack fitness, have un-healthy habits and not be productive and active members of society. For some reason, some people don’t like to hear that — but it’s the truth.
Common sense says that you choose your friends based on whether they’re good friends or not.
There’s another term for choosing your friends based on appearance…it’s called “discrimination.”