When I taught a psychology class at the local community college a few years ago, I tried to drum this into the students’ impressionable minds. Unfortunately people just don’t get this concept and it’s the root of a lot of suffering, prejudice, and misinformation. A friend sent this graphic to me, which outlines the plight of America’s future as all the fat people conspire to bring it down with all their bad habits and grease-mongering. I’m sure she didn’t realize I’d tear it apart on my blog (haha…*evil grin*…) but I must. It describes obesity as the second leading “preventable” cause of death, next to cigarette smoking, and says the following diseases are occurring at astronomical rates “due to obesity”: heart disease, diabetes, gall bladder disease, sleep apnea. It goes on to say that obesity will reduce life expectancy by an average of 13 years, by 2020.
Underlying all of this, of course, is the not-subtle implication that fat people are choosing this lifestyle. It’s preventable. All they have to do is eat less and exercise more and this problem will go away! Right? I’ll tell you what – obese people in my life are some of the hardest working people I’ve ever met. They’re desperately trying to figure out what it takes to be healthy and to shed body fat…they’re guzzling diet coke and eating their “healthy whole grains” per the doctor’s order, and still those pounds stay on. Know why? Because they’re being fed a complete line of crap from every source of information they believe is reliable. They’re being told by the government, the media, Dr. Phil, Jillian Michaels, their sisters, their cousins, and the internet that all they have to do is eat less. And then there are shows like “The Biggest Loser” that make this look real. Just exercise for 5 hours a day and eat nothing and you’ll lose weight!!!
Correlation does not equal causation. The fact that two things happen at the same time does not mean one caused the other. The fact that people are obese and that obese people have more health problems does not mean obesity causes the health problems. Maybe, just maybe whatever is causing the health problem is also causing the obesity. Maybe obesity is a side effect – just like fatigue or depression or acne – of a health problem. And maybe that health problem is hormone dysfunction resulting from the Standard American Diet, which no one – NO ONE – is biologically adapted to eating.
Maybe if we as a country and as a culture stopped blaming people for their health problems we could actually work together toward fixing them.
Fat people everywhere: A message to you, from me. I know you don’t want to be fat. Well, maybe some of you do, but for those of you who don’t, I’m speaking to you. I know you’re not choosing this. Guess what. It’s not your fault. You’ve been lied to about what causes obesity, and what you have to do if you want to change it. If you want to uncover the health problems that are ACTUALLY causing your obesity, read Gary Taubes and visit Jack Kruse. I’m just learning myself, but I think they’re on to something.