‘Is there a problem with being overweight’? That right there is the million dollar question. How on earth do you go about tastefully considering such a sensitive subject, heck, should we even be trying to answer that in the first place…should it even matter!? As a Dietitian I conducted regular weight loss clinics whereby I would be expected to consult up to 10 patients/clients of a morning, and I can tell you now that this was not even close to be being long enough! Being overweight and obese is complex, far more complex than people realise necessitating psychological, physical and dietary consideration. So I will not sit here and write this with the throw away attitude demonstrated by some members of the population, because many people are trapped in a spiral of weight gain confusion. However, what I can say is that I do understand peoples dismay when confronted with need evidence that suggests “being overweight is seen as being the norm”. This is where I have an issue, because how on earth do you go about qualifying ‘the norm’, I suppose most would argue that the norm is where the majority of the population lie, but who’s to say that being overweight is indeed the norm!
England’s Chief Medical Officer explains…
Dame Sally Davies explains how many overweight people innocently do not realise that they have a problem, or worse still choose to ignore it! And who can blame them, the majority of places they look will reflect their own body shape because the harsh reality is…most people are overweight! But does this fact mean it’s acceptable!? The problem is stemming from upbringing, parents are failing to notice the weight gain whilst children are becoming more and more exposed to sugary, high calorie foods with minimal consequence. Dame Sally blames this change in public perception on the way being overweight is portrayed in the press, and I definitely agree with her. What’s with this business of manufacturing ‘bigger and more shapely’ Barbie dolls, what sort of message is this putting across. Now there is a fine line here in that the average Barbie doll is a size 6-8, and that is arguably too small in many ways (although this depends on body composition), but why make the average size 14-16 which (again dependent on body composition) is arguably too big for a healthful body composition (ratio of fat, fat free mass and water).
High cost of being overweight
This is true both literally and metaphorically in that overweight people have an increased risk of chronic health conditions, but also they place a heavy (pun not intended) burden on the NHS. Professor Kevin Fenton of Public Health England explains how being overweight and obese can cost the NHS up to £5 billion each year…which is frustrating because it is completely preventable!
People come in different shapes and sizes, and we absolutely should not be labeling them according to their physical exterior, however society and medicine use this exterior as an initial indicator of potential health, so whether we like it or not, our physical make-up will inevitably impact on peoples interpretation of us. Do I think 'curved' women should lose weight...absolutely not, do I feel people presenting with central obesity should lose weight...yes, do I think as a society we need to start recognising overweight people and acknowledging the risks associated...absolutely I do!
BBC News Health, (2014). Overweight seen as the norm, says chief medical officer. Retrieved 28th March, 2014, from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-26765078