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Obesity in the news

Last week I read that a man (LaPointe, 430 lbs), was released from jail because they did not have facilities large enough for him to sleep in, or sit at a table. This week I hear that the Canadian supreme court has ruled that obese people are disabled, and airlines have to provide them with two seats for the price of one.... How about, now let's call cigarette addiction a disability and provide the smokers with their own airplane? And incontinence must surely be a disability, so let's set them up with toilets on every aisle? You see how slippery the slope can be.

At what point, I ask, are people responsible for their own decisions and actions? Can people not be held responsible for their own obesity? I hold myself responsible for the state and condition of MY body. I hold myself responsible for the damages that I do using my body. While I do have compassion for people who have limitations, everyone is responsible for their choices, and the law exists to hold people responsible when they do not take responsibility on their own. The choices that add up to morbid obesity are just that, choices. If a person has a hormonal issue that causes them to gain weight, they need treatment for it. Not a free pass to be dangerous and obnoxious with the claim that they are too fat to help it. If they can't afford treatment, maybe they should save up some of the dough they spend on caloric intake and put it to another use.

In this article they open with a discussion of an obese man (Mathisen, 380 lbs) who killed his wife (165 lbs) by kneeling on her during an argument. She had recently confessed cheating, and asked for a divorce. He is appealing a murder finding based on his obesity. The article also mentions an obese woman (800-1,000 lbs) who is charged with beating her son to death. The defense is that she is too fat to move her arms.

"The number of severely obese - people whose body mass index is greater than 40 - make up the fastest growing population of obesity... there are now 1.5 million severely obese people in Canada." ...

The fat people complain that they get poor treatment from healthcare professionals, and that wages are lower and jobs are harder go get... I'm sure it's true, in some cases.

It appears to me that employment discrimination against obese people is reasonable and justified. If a person had puncture wounds up and down their veins, an employer would be wise to guess that there might be a drug addiction at play that could affect job performance. If a person is morbidly obese, it is the same sort of sign that a person may well have a food addiction, an endocrine disorder, or an emotional issue that could impact job performance. Better to choose an employee whose physical plant is in good working order.


( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 6th, 2008 04:54 pm (UTC)
...yup, this whole experiment in not taking personal responsibility has been a complete failure, and all over the world people are becoming obese, unhealthy, not admitting their connection to their own body and life and world, everything...poor everybody, to somehow *believe* that IT'S SOMEBODY ELSE'S FAULT if you personally made those choices....sure, we all grew up with alcoholics and druggies etc. as parents and leaders these last few decades, but man, the internet and other media are entirely available, so we can learn stuff for free or cheap about how to be healthy and happy and make other choices than the ones we learned earlier...too bad things are a mess...the times I have been fat have been direct results of martial arts injuries or illnesses, BUT ALSO STILL MY OWN DAMN' FAULT: if you are unable to walk, like me, and still eat as if you do serious martial arts five times a week, you get fat, like I did...*shrug*...didn't even have to be a brain surgeon for that one...
Dec. 7th, 2008 12:40 am (UTC)
Yeah, you get it. I find it amusing that so many people assume that I've never been fat, or am not at risk of obesity somehow, just because I think that people are responsible for what they do to their bodies..... Anyone can end up fat, through inattention or misinformation or accident...or lots of other reasons...and we are all responsible for our adult choices regardless of what sort of messy guidance we get at the outset. I didn't know that you're fat, but I don't care! You do take responsibility, and kudos to you. I have been a helluva lot fatter than I am now, and it has been a 20 year project learning to manage my own weight. By golly, I am finally learning how to do it. I am seriously grateful that I can still walk. Without the ability to exercise, it's a LOT harder to keep the balance of calories in *equal to or less than* calories out. So, you do what you can and accept the result. So be it.
Dec. 7th, 2008 03:36 pm (UTC)
...yeah, same with smoking and eating badly and all of thee other things that make and break health and mental health, I think...if I wreck my body because I "can't resist" this or that, then buddhism, and common sense, says "I made actions, and they have consequences, period"...not blame, but obvious cause and result...which is GREAT, because then you have at least some small measure of control for your own life...
Dec. 6th, 2008 07:01 pm (UTC)
My gut reaction was the same as yours. Does claiming obesity as a disability mean the person will also get disability benefits from the government? A disabled parking permit so they don't have to haul their huge ass any further than necessary to get into the store?

I don't think the individual is entirely to blame. OK, I do think they are to blame for making poor decisions and getting to where they are. And I really don't buy addiction as an excuse for anything, considering I have kicked three addictions in my life. I do, however, believe the governments and food manufacturers have some responsiblity for the failing health of people in Western countries.The governments for giving wrong information to the public for decades (the food pyramid, low-fat diets, etc.) and the food manufacturers for capitalizing on highly processed, addictive foods that cause obesity and illness. Also, some blame needs to be laid at the feet of the health establishments, for blatantly ignoring nutrition and exercise as the keys to optimum health.
Dec. 7th, 2008 12:49 am (UTC)
I agree with you that restaurants, government, corporate food providers, grocery stores etc have not helped people to understand what are healthy food choices, and what are not. There is a lot of cash to be made from keeping us addicted to cheaply made "food". Even without such assistance SOME OF US have educated ourselves on the matter anyway.

I'm not saying that those who have not learned how to manage their weight are stupid, but they are misinformed, and many of them are militantly so. It's hard to admit that you are wrong. It reminds me of the willful ignorance exerted by many in our country with regard to foreign relations...the idea that America is the GREATEST nation on earth and there's no point in going anywhere else, is similar in my view to the idea that FAT IS BEAUTIFUL and there is absolutely nothing wrong with being fat.

From a medical perspective there is plenty wrong with being fat. It's been thoroughly documented that poor diet and inactivity contribute to more death than all other causes of death combined in the US. But ask a fat person about that....and they won't know. They don't want to know....Denial is one of the strongest forces operating in the human psyche.
Dec. 6th, 2008 08:02 pm (UTC)
You're Canadian, which to many is a handicap all its own. I kid, I kid.

As someone who is formerly obese who is now of a healthy weight (and lifestyle), I found your article incredibly shortsighted and fussy. It's clear that you feel better finding inferiorty in others, even though it has NO IMPACT on you whatsoever. Can I get you some fat free cheese with your whine?

So why don't you take your own advice and just BE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOU. I think you'll probably find a lot more happiness once you stop concerning yourself so much with others and just focus on being the BEST person YOU can be.
Dec. 7th, 2008 12:31 am (UTC)
Re: Interesting.
#1 I'm not Canadian
#2 How do you know that it has no impact on me? You are incorrect yet again.
#3 I don't know what you look like but from your defensive reaction I guess you are not in control of your diet or the size of your body. Don't give up. It can be done.
Dec. 7th, 2008 02:53 am (UTC)
Re: Interesting.
It is absolutely UNTRUE that obesity doesn't affect anybody but the obese person. Especially if countries start to consider obesity a disability. Who pays the taxes for disability payments? It sure isn't the person who can't work due to their disability!

Dec. 6th, 2008 08:07 pm (UTC)
Bravo Good job!
It's always nice to find that someone in the bloggosphere agrees with you. This insanity with Fat Acceptance and Fatty Coddling has reached the logical extremes. I've been talking about this for sometime on unfatblog, and on my web site.

At every turn we attempt to accommodate these huge creatures only to find that the obesity rate is climbing yet again.

Dec. 7th, 2008 12:21 am (UTC)
Thank you. You are not alone. I'll have to take a look at your blog.

Yes....there is a limit to what we can forgive people based on their hugeness... I'm glad you're out there providing a counterpoint to the fat rights movement.

I think it is reasonable also to recognize that there are reasons for people's obesity that they do not understand. The most obvious reason for the obesity epidemic is the shift (in developed nations) from a farming-based diet to a corporate-profit based diet. I suspect that most obese people do not realize how devastating it can be to eat the stuff that is pushed in the grocery store: high fructose corn syrup, low grade fats, processed grains and processed potatoes. The marketing is terribly misleading... and those who allow themselves to be misled pay with their bodies and ultimately with their lives. Everyone looses except for the corporations...

If we are to address this epidemic we need to address people's ignorance about nutrition and physiology, and also the misleading nature of food marketing and labeling. We won't get anywhere (except maybe flattened) by thumbing our noses at fatties like in grade school... and there's such SENSITIVITY about it.

What are you trying to accomplish with your blog?
Dec. 12th, 2008 08:57 pm (UTC)
I want to start out by agreeing with you - we are indeed each responsible for our own bodies.

It is a goal of mine to help as many people escape morbid obesity as I can.

I spent over 37 years of my life obese. At my highest weight, I was almost 600 pounds. I had developed many health problems and knew that I had to make a change or my daughter would be growing up without me.

In May of 2004 I started wroking on getting fit and healthy. In less than 3 years I had lost 340 plus pounds and found a new life. The program I was on included diet and exercise - I have not had a gastric bypass. My current weight is 220 pounds and health and fitness are a major part of my life. I have kept the weight off for over 2 years now.

It has been an incredible journey. I went from a lifetime of morbid obesity to being selected as one of Ultimate Houston’s 2006 Outstanding work-out partner with my good friend Austin Davis.


Later that same year, I was selected to appear in People Magazine’s Half Their Size issue.


It is my goal to help as many people as I can to discover that they do not have to settle for the restrictions that being obese can impose upon your life and your health.

What I will say is that while it is my responsibility for letting myself get to 562.3 pounds - I think there are many factors that lead to morbid obesity. I ate every calorie that made me that weight. It is true that calories in vs calories out works for every human being on the planet. I do think that your post makes a very real problem seem to be a failure in character. I think it is a bit more involved that that IMHO.

I wish you the very best!

Charles ~ Houston, TX

Dec. 13th, 2008 05:18 am (UTC)
Re: Well...
Thanks for your comment, Charles. I understand that there is a lot that adds up to any really problematic imbalance. I know that it is not a "failure in character"....though it is clear to me that issues of character can contribute. We all learn and grow through the lessons of life. Character takes time and effort to develop, and learning to maintain your physical plant is something that requires the development of character.

Nobody is perfect, least of all me. I do not tell stories on my own deepest challenges at the public level, but I assure you, I have my own challenges. I see how hard it is. I have compassion for obese people, and for all who suffer and struggle. I do not mean to insult you, and I'm sorry that you interpreted my rant as an accusation.
Dec. 13th, 2008 03:03 pm (UTC)
Re: Well...
I just wanted to let you know - I did not take what you wrote as an accusation on me - more of a broad generalization and simplification of a much more complex person and societal problem. We really live in a toxic food environment. That does not absolve us on a personal level from our responsibility and I am no health food extremist by any means. I will say this, if you want to stay even close to fit and healthy and close to a "normal" weight - you have to work at it in America. Portion size is just ludricious. A "normal" meal at almost any restaurant is probably close to 2 to 3 times as many calories as needed for a meal. The thing about it that gets to me is that it does not have to be that way. You can make food taste great without making it so damn calorie dense. Oh well, enough of my ranting....

I wish you all the best!

Charles ~ Houston, TX
Dec. 13th, 2008 04:15 pm (UTC)
Re: Well...
So we agree. You are simply faulting me for not writing long enough to satisfy you about the complexity of the issue.

This just in:
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )



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