In the UK, the government have started a renewed campaign on ‘obesity’, warning people of the dangers of being ‘overweight’ with coronavirus and setting up new terrifying measures to try to force people to lose weight. The Health Secretary has even gone so far as to tell people they should lose 5 lb as it will save the NHS £100 million if they do.
This is wrong on so many levels and leaves me wanting to either scream or find a remote island somewhere away from these ignorant and harmful messages and measures.
I know that there are many of you with eating disorders out there being triggered to hell by all of this ‘obesity’ talk dominating our news at the moment and it is not ok that you have to live in a society that negatively impacts your health like this but it is also not your fault.
Please though, remember these messages are grounded in a multi billion dollar diet industry and culture that has more power over our governments and over our scientists and health care services than most realise. A diet industry that relies on the fact that diets don’t work to stay in business.
Once doctors advised pregnant women to drink alcohol every day (a Guinness a day for the iron) and people were advised to smoke to help their anxiety. Now we know that those messages were wrong and harmful and I don’t doubt that if the diet industry lost its power, the truth about ‘obesity’ and the harm that messages like these coming out today can do will also come to light.
The causes of people being in bigger bodies are so complex. It is definitely not as simple as ‘calories in’ v ‘calories out’ and a lack of willpower if people don’t stop eating or lose weight. There are genetic, hormonal and metabolic factors and other chemical processes that all decide what weight a person might end up.
Stress levels, amount of sleep and electric light also all impact massively on how our body functions and whether it is going to hold onto extra weight.
To say that people in larger bodies are dying more than people who are not ‘obese’ is all well and good but why are we not considering the possibility of correlation and not causation or at the very least all the contributing factors to body weight, size and shape beyond food before we merely vindicate people who are larger for ‘overeating’ and being of weak character? Why is fat shaming ok?
When we fat shame people and point the finger of blame then their stress levels rise and cortisol makes a person crave more sugary foods and also leads the body to hold onto extra weight. When a person diets, the body sees this as a stressful situation and again their cortisol levels rise with the same results.
But what about the impact of these headlines in regard to eating disorders?
Telling people to lose weight, to eat less, to move more and that we must shove calorie labels on even more products is going to impact heavily on people who have eating disorders now. This will be causing high levels of stress and eating disorder brains, for whom these messages are not even intended, will be soaking in every last one of these headlines and very likely dangerously misapplying them to their lives.
Other innocent people with the genetic predisposition for an eating disorder, who are tempted to diet as a result of these government warnings might also be thrown into full blown restrictive eating disorders as a result.
So, great work government… your plan to ‘save lives’ by fighting obesity will likely do nothing to impact the ‘overweight’ populations, other than make them hungry, miserable, shamed and feel like failures when the diets don’t work…
And in the meantime, you better take that money you mistakenly think you are saving by ‘tackling obesity’ and put it directly into eating disorder services because they are going to need every last penny and more because of all of this. Lives are lost each day from eating disorders and these messages about ‘obesity’ will only add to those numbers.