Our country, well the world for that matter, as a litany of problems with health/healthcare and education being two of the main problems that our world faces. I’m going to focus on health/healthcare for this post because I will likely have a large rant on education [in America] in the near future.
In the United States, in particular, health/healthcare has been an issue since I can remember. Growing up in Central Ohio in the 90’s, I do not really remember there being a plethora of obese, or even heavy kids, or people. The only heavy, or husky looking, people I knew were my Dad, who was heavy in the face and only mildly heavy in the midsection, and my preschool friend Drew’s Dad, who was extraordinarily tall and may have just appeared very heavy from my four year old vision. This could be because I was less observant at the time, I lived in a healthy (middle-class) community, or there were in fact less obese Americans.
According the CDC, in 1994 between 14% – 17.9% of adult Ohioans were obese (roughly 1,554,280 to 1,987,258 people, which is still a lot).
I then moved to Northwest Ohio, to Waynesfield/Wapakoneta, a less affluent area than Central Ohio, but typically everyone “got by” just fine. Midwestern values were still ingrained in the old and the young, just like in Central Ohio, but I started to notice the different sorts of people. Children of farmers, or relatives of farmers, abound. There were these hulking human beings that nearly doubled my weight in 4th grade, while they were in the same grade! I was astounded by these people, but just figured they were growing up and their bodies just “grew up” quicker than mine. During my youth to my high school days, I was a chubby little guy and I was/am also short. I reached nearly 160 lbs on some days, while barely hitting 5’3″ and the fat jokes started to come my way. The jokes were never terrible, as I could normally take insults and fire’em right back at people, but they were consistent and started to grate on me especially when it was close friends doing the jokes. I decided that I wanted to do something about it at the age of 15.
I joined a place called FAST (can’t remember what the words of the acronym are anymore) with a friend to receive athletic training. Several weeks went by and after hard work exercising and dieting (I actually had to eat more than I normally did), I was 145 lbs of muscle and as healthy as a baby Ox. Basically what I am saying in this post is that fat shaming did work in this instance because it made me do something about it, but not everyone has the support system I have, nor the means to do this.
Now that I have graduated university and become increasingly observant, I see obese Americans everywhere – Americans that are children, Americans that are my age (this frustrates me so much), and Americans that are my parents age. Though I have made fat jokes at the expense of other people, there has to be a better way to motivate someone than insults because putting someone down as a way to bring them up is counter productive.
We, as a country, should be more supportive of those trying to change their eating habits, trying to become healthier human beings for themselves, but we have to start at the bottom with educating people the dangers of overeating, constantly eating fast food, and just general health knowledge. Be it through legislation, or community involvement, there must be something done to help motivate Americans to get fit, get active, eat right, and become great examples for our children, especially for Adults/young adults in poorer communities.
People can, however, live their lives how they please, but in 2008 medical costs associated with obesity were $147 billion and medical costs were $1,429 higher for obese people than people of a healthy weight. If I were obese looking at those staggering numbers would motivate me to at least try to lose weight.
Don’t fat shame, you’re not helping the problem, but perpetuating it. Be kind and try to give tips to those willing to hear them.