Good Food Blog
Should it be OK to be obese?Posted at 12:30PM, 30 March 2010 by Anna Helm - New York-based food writer
Donna Simpson claims to happily weigh 600lb (43 stone). According to medical guidelines, this classifies Donna as morbidly obese. She has diabetes and cannot move more than 20 feet without her mobility scooter. You would think that this is not a situation to be OK about. You would think.
The only thing Donna seems not to be OK about is how running around after her four-year-old daughter keeps her weight down. Which is hard for Donna, because her ambition is to hold the Guinness World Record for World's Fattest Woman. To do this, Donna will have to shun the eagerly watching eyes of disease and death and gain an additional 400lb - about the weight of a silverback gorilla. 400lb is not a healthy weight for anyone, let alone someone already carrying 600lb.
To fund her 12,000-calorie-a-day diet and $750-a-week shopping bill, Donna has a website where people pay to watch her eat. In my opinion, Donna is a symptom of a very disturbing trend - that being unhealthily overweight is acceptable, even something to aim for. Movements like the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance (NAAFA) in the US send out messages that obesity is OK, diets don't work and people should be happy with the size their body wants them to be.
Accepting obesity is to accept a whole host of life-threatening conditions
What about the overweight people who feel miserable but simply don't know how to alter their lives? Don't they deserve the right to change? Accepting obesity is to accept a whole host of life-threatening conditions that are linked to obesity, amongst which are diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Obesity kills. Fact.
Sure, the United States is a free country, but when Donna claims that she's "not harming anyone" I have to interject. For one thing, this doesn't seem like a good message to give to her children, and on a wider scale she and people like her affect all of us when it comes to healthcare and what we pay for it. Once we discovered smoking was bad for us, action was taken to make it socially stigmatised. Governments used scare-tactic adverts and heavily taxed cigarettes. Isn't it time the same happened for obesity?
As someone who suffers from hypothyroidism, a condition which has the unfortunate side-effect of weight gain, I understand that it's not always easy to be thin and frankly, not everyone wants to be as bony as Kate Moss anyway. But I'm not suggesting that everybody tries to be thin, I'm talking about being healthy - or more precisely choosing life over death.
If Donna's really happy with the fact that she's effectively strapped herself to a ticking time bomb then good for her, but there's no reason to attach an award to eating yourself to an early death.