24 January, 2008

Dear Government

Dear Government,

Please can you stop being such prats with this "Healthy Weight, Healthy Lives" report you've just published. Specifically, stop focusing on weight. If you want to focus on health, great. Give us tools and information and support to live our lives healthily. Stop selling off playing fields, make it safer to cycle around, make the labelling on our food informative and accurate, by all means do these useful kinds of initiatives that can make a real difference to people's quality of life. But stop focusing on weight! You are so SO misguided. You think you're fighting some big and noble fight, when the best thing for everyone would be for you to focus in another direction. Not sure what I'm talking about? Let me try and explain better why you are being prats.
  1. You are focusing on weight, putting it above health. What kind of stupid morals do you have that you think that someone's appearance is more important than their health? Don't give me this "oh the weight focus is about health really" rubbish. I see your phrase "healthy weight" pushed more prominently in front of the "healthy lives"! If you were really about health and not about appearance, you'd be all health health health, not weight. It is very plain that your drive to slim England's bodies is partly about appearance, not health; your actions speak very strongly.
  2. You are completely barking up the wrong tree. You either haven't read the scientific literature that shows a distinct lack of successful weight loss and/or weight gain prevention methods or you are just hoping that no-one will notice that bit and you will get brownie points for being seen to try and do something. To repeat: all this weight focus is not going to get you weight loss. If the population does become a little thinner in the future, it won't be because you the government did something, it'll be a coincidence. We already know from several large-scale studies that altering dietary and exercise habits has very little effect on weight. Weight loss that is safe, substantial and maintained long-term? Science says you get to pick only two out of three. Now I don't terribly care that you're probably not going to get the weight loss you're after (since I don't bow to the great god of weight loss), but you do still look like prats in the meantime, and as a taxpayer, you're wasting my money every time you focus on weight.
  3. Worse, however, is that this continual focus on fat and obesity is doing real harm. Most of the problems fat people have with their lives? Caused by anti-fat attitudes, not fat itself. It's not fat that causes abuse in the streets, it's anti-fat attitudes. It's not fat itself that causes difficulties at the doctors, it's the anti-fat attitudes we so often experience from doctors. You try getting medical care if the doctor doesn't respect you or believe that you are telling the truth. And government campaigns like this one feed right into it. By focusing on weight you are encouraging people to hate themselves, you are encouraging people to hate others, you are fuelling eating disorders and you are contributing to a whole host of other ways to make fat people miserable. Either you are against fat people or you can't see the harm that you're doing, or you think that the harm is somehow worth it for what health improvements you think will result - whichever it is, you are still prats.
  4. Another shame is that because you are focusing on weight, you are in danger of losing the good stuff you could have been doing with this campaign. Because if you focus on health, you CAN get somewhere. But if you focus on weight, people won't lose the weight, and they'll give up, and they'll not realised just how much they've managed to do for their health! Think: as a fat person, I can go to salsa classes if they are put on in my area. I can experience better fitness, lower blood pressure, I can have better flexibility and coordination and sleep better that night - but I won't lose weight. There are so many things that CAN be done for health - but they won't result in weight loss. So people who don't lose weight will think they've failed (they haven't), and people who aren't thin won't realise that the health improvements are a good idea for everyone, not just thin people. So you miss out on an opportunity to improve everyone's life, because you focused on obesity. Shame on you!
Finally, you haven't read up on HAES. Please do so. Your lack of knowledge in this area is embarrassing.

Yours faithfully,

- HT

Amen to that. I read an article about that today and my blood boiled. Talk about ridiculous, futile, and unnecessary waste of my taxes. It won't work. Then we will get blamed for it. Gah.
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