Health and Fitness

Could Fat Shaming Help People Lose Weight? One Doctor Says “Yes.”

I remember looking at a public service announcement with an African American woman saying that demanding fresh foods at blah-blah-blah was hard, but having her child be teased about her weight was harder, therefore she would ask for blah blah and bler blah blah. Another woman told us that refusing to give little Lupe Twinkies for dinner is hard, but being diagnosed with Type II Diabetes in the third grade is even harder. Both commercials attempt to manipulate parents into choosing wiser food options for their children (because not doing so would result in their children being bullied or teased about their weight), or they shame the parent about contributing to the onset of a disease which usually doesn’t occur until middle age, and they therefore both involve the element of SHAME.

And guess why they’re doing that? Because to some degree, SHAME WORKS. I’m not the only one who thinks so, either.

Daniel Callahan, a senior research scholar and president emeritus of The Hastings Center, put out a new paper this week calling for a renewed emphasis on social pressure against heavy people — what some may call fat-shaming — including public posters that would pose questions like this:

“If you are overweight or obese, are you pleased with the way that you look?”

Callahan outlined a strategy that applauds efforts to boost education, promote public health awareness of obesity and curb marketing of unhealthy foods to children.

But, he added, those plans could do with a dose of shame if there’s any hope of repairing a nation where more than a third of adults and 17 percent of kids are obese.

“Safe and slow incrementalism that strives never to stigmatize obesity has not and cannot do the necessary work,” wrote Callahan in a Hastings Center Report from the nonprofit bioethics think tank.

Can I ask a serious question? What pointy-headed professor convinced millions of people that shame was inherently wrong? I mean, if everyone walked around with no shame, we’d have a lot of people doing all kinds of sociopathic crap. At the risk of sounding like an old fart, I think some of us could use a bit more shame–the protest against it, in my opinion, is from people who want to do whatever the phuck they want and “shame” folks for shaming them. See how this is so circular?

Why do you wear clothes when you go outside?


Why don’t you shout obscenities during morning church service?


Why won’t you call a gay person the f-word?


Why don’t you fart in public?


You do all these things because social standards dictate that to do otherwise is considered unseemly and not conducive to the public good.

Anyhoo, I think that fat shaming shouldn’t involve dragging a 400-pound woman into a courtyard and throwing peanuts and rotten fruit at her, but publicly stating that being fat is inherently unhealthy and puts a strain on everyone who pays into the healthcare system may hurt some feelings, but might not necessarily be a bad thing. While I don’t think people should be treated as subhuman because they carry a few extra pounds, I don’t think it’s in their (or our) best interest to celebrate it. I’m not talking about someone who could lose 20-30 pounds, okay? I’m also not talking about people with some rare glandular disorder that causes them to gain one pound every time they drive by a McDonald’s, so please don’t flood the comment section with stories about your cousin’s uncle’s nephew who ate 500 calories a day but still weighed 800 pounds, because you know and I know that those stories are not the majority.

OH and PLEASE save the you-can-be-healthy at 100 pounds overweight argument, okay? Because...

The health impacts of obesity are notorious: bone and joint problems, heart disease, cancer, gall stones and liver problems, and diabetes. Obesity shortens lives (although, surprisingly, not by much), but the costs of the diseases it causes make it an expensive condition. And to pour a little more salt on the cost wound, one study found that prevention of obesity will not decrease costs because “this decrease is offset by cost increases unrelated to obesity in life-years gained.”[4]

Of course there are experts who are frothing at the mouth to disagree.

Weight-acceptance advocates and doctors who treat obesity reacted swiftly to the plan proposed by Callahan, a trim 82-year-old.

“For him to argue that we need more stigma, I don’t know what world he’s living in,” said Deb Burgard, a California psychologist specializing in eating disorders and a member of the advisory board for the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance.

“He must not have any contact with actual free-range fat people,” she added.

LMFAO at “free range fat people.” OMG…classic.

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