Once upon a time, there was a group of people who thought they could “breed” all sorts of “bad” genes out of their population. This idea, Eugenics, was eventually seen for the despicable bigotry it was.
We recognize that trying to “purify” society by literally getting rid of people (ie, killing off and then preventing any future birth of said people) with different skin color, different facial features, or a divergent sexuality is evil. Racism still exists, but there seems to be a growing number of people that are aware that “race” is a social construct and not really inherent differences between groups. Those who don’t recognize this only seem to have any real power via trolling on the internet.
Unfortunately, both science and society are sided when it comes to the issue of the horrible menace that is obesity.
Because of this, science is bound and determined to sort out the exact genetic reason why I am WRONG and, in doing so, create a pill or gene therapy or whatever which will “FIX” me and anyone else who may be like me, because we have “bad genetics.”
So, I live in a world where I have been criticized for buying cookies, to feed to others, because surely if I am buying them it is to eat them up all on my lonesome, after dipping each and every one in lard. Then I get to see science insisting that “self-control” is bullshit (which is good), while I perfectly show it toward the cookies that I have bought for others, while still having to live with the fact that I was already chewed out for purchasing something that I’m not going to eat.
People just haven’t gotten the “self-control is bullshit” memo.
Mostly because attention always seems to be quickly diverted to news that science is one step closer to creating an Eugenics-esk plan to eradicate fat people.
Wondering what I’m on about? Read this article on a Cambridge University Study which might be helpful to the cause, if it didn’t also include this little gem of an opinion:
Professor Sadaf Farooqi of the University of Cambridge, who ran the human side of the study, said: “The discovery that the disruption of MRAP2 causes obesity adds to a growing body of work that illustrates how certain genes work in the brain to regulate weight. Our aim is to find the genetic determinants of body weight and by doing so, to find better ways to prevent and treat obesity and associated health problems such as diabetes.”
In other words, they are now literally looking at ways to ensure that, if you are fat, you can be “fixed” and that no other people will have a chance to become fat. They will prevent the mes of the world from existing. We will all be replaced by slimmer models.
Just for the sake of eradicating diabetes and heart disease.
As it is still questionable whether fat itself is THE issue, or if it’s society’s perception of fat which is the issue, then fat itself is not something that should be “cured”. It can be understood as being the consequence of having a fast-food obsessed society. It can be understood as being the consequence of being unable to go a day without eating refined sugar or high fructose corn syrup in SOMETHING. Fat can be understood as being symptomatic of something, but when it is defined as a disease itself, then resources that can be spent toward curing or improving the lives of people with diabetes or heart disease are diverted to finding ways to keep people thin.
Trying to “fix” fat people has done the most damage of all. The diet industry has caused waves of obesity, by pushing people to destroy their metabolisms through crash and yo-yo diets. These diets do not change the body to metabolize calories better or quickly, and thus a person’s body may lose weight, but it does not change to become a weight-loss machine. Once the special diet is over, the weight just piles back on and the person is left at square one.
Throwing some kind of gene-fixing pill at men and women like me, to “suppress our appetite” is no better than telling people to do Weight Watchers. It’s still a form of shame, and a way of pressuring people into behaving in a socially acceptable way without holding junk food and fast food manufacturers responsible for providing better quality food.
If we can’t all stand together to say that, basically, Pepsi is poison, nothing will change and America will continue to be the sickest of the first world.
So the Cambridge article, or any other scientific research into the genetic or biological causes of “obesity”, are all still missing the point. It’s good to prove that fat is caused by genetics to shut up the “gene” deniers who depend too much on the “you have a choice” argument. But when the doctors involved literally believe they are doing this to “cure” obesity and change people, then there’s a serious ethical breach going on. That ethical breech has to do with ablest thinking: If you aren’t as ABLE as others, you are less human, less useful to society, and either need to fixed or destroyed.
Science knows the biological cause of say, Downs Syndrome, along with other genetic based “disabilities” that supposedly hamper a person’s ability to be a “useful” member of society. But there’s a difference between explaining why, and sorting out the cause with a mind toward fixing and eradicating shitty genes. The difference is between understanding how to create a nuclear explosion, and actually creating an atom bomb then setting it off. Theoretically speaking, knowing HOW in this sense opens the door toward other applications, like wielding nuclear power as an energy source. But that knowledge is dangerous when it is applied towards warfare.
Knowing the genetic causes of obesity SHOULD be telling science AND society to stop dealing with obesity as a “fat people problem” and to instead focus on the unhealthy food problem, which obesity can be seen as a symptom of. A greater number of those who eat fast food are fat. Ergo, fast food must find ways to stop producing fattening foods. Obesity is also a symptom of having a society that encourages sedate hobbies, like watching TV or movies, encourages a sedate working environment, where most of us are on our asses behind a desk for 8 hours a day, and a society that promotes bad health and stress by discouraging time off, by forcing people to see exercise as a chore instead of a way to relax, and food preparation as menial, demeaning, tedious, boring, difficult, time-consuming, and/or expensive. Wholesome foods are advertised as being things that children WON’T EAT, and which have to be dressed up by frying or sugared sauces, and dinners are made out to be a task that should be completed in thirty minutes or less in the kitchen, before being eaten in front of the television.
THIS IS OUR CULTURE. I don’t give a crap whether you are thin or not. If you DENY that the above message is being broadcast, or delivered in some sort of print form to nearly every home in America, and instead choose to see fat as an individual problem, then you are both blind and stupid.
At the end of the day, fat people like me can eat right and increase our activity, and change our lifestyle in the long run. We will probably lose a little weight. We will not lose ALL of it. Most won’t even lose enough to have their BMI drop to “normal” for their height. Many of us will lose no weight at all.
What WILL happen is the same thing that happens when thin people eat healthy food and become more physically active: fat and thin alike will be healthier, fitter, and have and overall feeling of well-being because they are internally healthy.
That’s why Health at Every Size is a good campaign, because it is a bunch of doctors telling other doctors “hey, stop focusing on the scales and focus on your patient’s ACTUAL HEALTH!” This a message that the entirety of society needs. When actual HEALTH is the message being pushed by wellness programs, it is easy to see that there is nothing wrong with pointing out that fast food is empty calories, or that just because networks WANT you to sit on your ass in front of the TV doesn’t mean they have your health and well-being at heart. Reminding people that they can just feel so much better with a little low impact exercise, like walking or swimming, and eating more vegetables and fruits may just be enough to get people to put thought and effort into what they put into their mouths.
Ensuring that wholesome food is also affordable is another important, SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY. We have to make sure that people CAN actually afford to buy their own ingredients to make stuff, or there is little reason to expect people to eat outside of the bun.
Knowing about how a healthy human body functions, from genetics to metabolism to real knowledge of diet and exercise, SHOULD enable us all to make truly positive health changes, while also stopping the promotion of physical obsession, self-absorbed-ness, socially approved discrimination, stigma, and hatred. What knowing about the human body SHOULDN’T do is reinforce a culture that already believes in physical obsession, being self-absorbed, and thinks its okay to discriminate, stigmatize, and hate.
So, I’m glad science IS working to point out to idiot yahoos that the actual “cause” of obesity isn’t over-eating and lack of exercise ALONE. Like the science that found biological causes for homosexuality, it is always good to make sure people understand that just because they think something is a “lifestyle choice” doesn’t make it so. Science has disproved that “gayness” is a choice. When I began reading about this, it worried me that science might also delve into “curing” gayness as well.
This didn’t come to pass. Probably because of a great big fat bigger problem: The OBESE!
I think the reason why science didn’t seek to “cure” gayness is that the only moral imperative to do so came from a distinctly religious source. However, the anti-obesity movement has created its own moral imperative, the same one that inundates the rest of our culture: physical perfection. Righteousness is health and health is righteousness. Those who can DO the best, be less diseased, longer lived, over worked and yet free of stress, are those who are now “better” in our society. Disease and aging are now seen in a strange light, as if they are consciously evil bad guys that must be defeated by our own personal supermen: Doctors!
Until science looks at the question of weight in the human animal by asking questions and creating hypotheses free of the idea of health as morally superior (or even free of the idea of weight = gluttony, a premise which is inherent to any research that DISPROVES such a claim) little will be done to change how society perceives fast and junk food.
People bristle at the idea of improved labeling (some going so far to say that it “doesn’t work”) or hiking taxes on sodas (I personally think it’s the manufacturer who should be taxes but whatever) and any other sort of changes to this particular aspect of the food industry because there is a perception that taxation or labeling or banning advertising around children might take away people’s “freedom” to eat what they like.
News flash: McDonald’s does not equal freedom. Nor does Coke or Pepsi. Freedom isn’t having it your way, right away. Fries are NEVER going to be FREEDOM FRIES. Junk food is not fashion, convenience, frugal, good for the economy, or harmless.
But a lot of people in marketing want to sell the idea to you that McDonald’s is somehow freeing, frugal, and OH SO GOOOOOD. Nobody cares about the consumer, just the bottom line.
Knowing that a person who eats fast food and is fat has a defective gene which makes that person overeat, but which could be combated with a pill solves nothing. Why? Because, you take the pill… and then buy a small Coke instead of a super sized one?
What is being gained? Coke loses a small amount of money, and an even greater amount is diverted, once again, to the makers of pills. But people still end up becoming diabetic.
Doubtless, many still continue to be fat, even while eating less.
You can’t fix what isn’t broken. I’m not broken. But this system sure as hell is!