“Obesity is the biggest threat to the health of our nation,” proclaims the chief of epidemiology at a major medical school on the Scientific American Observations blog. This all too common suggestion does far greater damage to public health than fat tissue itself. When the focus is on weight and body size, it’s not “obesity” that damages people. It’s fearmongering about their bodies that puts them at risk for diabetes, heart disease, discrimination, bullying, eating disorders, sedentariness, lifelong discomfort in their bodies, and even early death.
Anti-obesity campaigns are so common and normalized these days that some readers might consider our claim as the outrageous one. Yet, consider this: stigmatizing and imposing shame on bodies, whether individually or as a group of people, is hurtful both to the vilified fat people and to the thinner people who are taught size prejudice and instilled with a fear of becoming fat. (“Fat” is used here as a descriptive term stripped of pejorative connotations, reclaimed by a growing fat acceptance movement.)
Excerpted from Scientific American