Thursday, July 29, 2021

Obesity and discrimination

Someone sent me a link about obesity by Theodore Dalrymple. There was a paywall, so I didn't read it, but wondered--was she telling me something? Bob and I are both 30 pounds heavier than when we met in 1959.

So I did a search, "Dalrymple obesity" and see there are over a decade of articles by him, each just as alarming as the previous. It seems one is no longer "obese" but "has obesity." That's an important language change. It's a disease in the new medical speak, he says (he doesn't seem to agree with that language). Now it's a pandemic larger than the one we're in right now and accounts for a high death rate. And over 2 billion (in 2014) globally have this disease. It used to be a disease of the rich, but now it's a disease of the poor.
Dalrymple, a physician, admits he's prejudiced toward personal responsibility. He's balanced enough to point out evidence going a different direction, like a study on antibiotics which is so much more common in the last 50 years, particularly given to children. Something similar has often occurred to me--we consume an alarming amount of medicines, supplements, toxins, and chemicals that produce a stew that probably isn't fit for human consumption--the fluoride in water for tooth decay to zinc oxide for skin protection to antibiotics in the meat. And there must be hundreds of examples. I take 2 prescriptions for my heart and one for my bones, then I toss down non-prescription fish oil for my bursitis (it works), calcium for my bones, and Vit. B complex for my brain health (not sure that's working). Your mileage will vary.

However, whether obesity is a "have" or an "is", overweight people of every ethnic group, sex, age, and race face serious discrimination and bullying everyday. I believe it is far worse than racial discrimination and because it affects both health and careers, existing or new laws and regulations don't stop it. There have been advocates, support groups and ad campaigns, urging the non-obese who are now the minority to just be kind, nice, and non-prejudiced, but so far I don't see it working.
So while the jury is out on the cause of 73.6% of Americans being either overweight or obese, it's everyone's responsibility to be kinder and stop the discrimination. No rioting or culture cancelling necessary.

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