Reader Attrice tipped us off to this AP article about how “critics” don’t think the government’s new series of anti-obesity ads go far enough. They say:
[D]rama is lacking in the obesity spots — for example, none have offered a surgeon’s view of fat, or dramatized a death from Type 2 diabetes, or shown a person complaining about how a fat neighbor’s medical bills are costing taxpayers.
Hmm, good point, critics. I certainly agree that letting the public see a surgeon’s view of fat might be interesting. I’m pretty sure it looks like this:
I’m really not sure what a “death from Type 2 diabetes” would look like, though — and I watched my Type 2 diabetic mother die, so I probably have more direct experience with that than most laypeople. Thing is, she died of a heart attack, which could be because she was diabetic but could also be because she had heart disease in her family to begin with, smoked like chimney for 50 years, and/or was about as sedentary as it’s possible to be while still basically functioning. Oh, and the other thing is, she wasn’t really fat. She had been really fat, but once she was diagnosed with diabetes, she started essentially starving herself and kept that up for 20 years, which landed her in the tiny percentage of people who do manage to sustain a major weight loss. And since everyone, up to and including her doctor, makes diabetes all about teh fat, she just didn’t see a good reason to exercise — her weight was under control! What with the barely ever eating food! And the smoking more to compensate for barely ever eating food! She was PERFECTLY HEALTHY, people! I mean, anyone could tell that by looking — she wasn’t fat anymore!
Okay, sure, she could barely walk by the end, and had exactly the pallor you’d expect in a late-middle-aged woman who smoked constantly, didn’t eat, didn’t exercise, and had had several undiagnosed small heart attacks before the big one that killed her. Oh, and I pretty much knew by the time I was in high school that my mother would not live to see me get married. BUT SHE WASN’T FAT ANYMORE! And she was controlling her diabetes with a very small amount of medication, after years of controlling it solely with (practically no) food! She was a DIABETES SUCCESS STORY, y’all!
So, uh, that’s what one death from Type 2 diabetes looked like. (Another would be my grandmother, who didn’t “control” her diet or illness nearly as well as my mom, yet died relatively peacefully in her mid-eighties.) I kinda suspect the “critics” were thinking more along the lines of a fat, blind amputee with open sores all over her body, who succumbs to a coma after eating 19 dozen Krispy Kremes. But if they’d ever like to use the example of my mother, who starved herself thin(nish) as a response to being diagnosed with diabetes and died a pretty fucking horrible death after years of suffering anyway, I’d be happy to share it on camera.
As for people complaining about how much money teh fatties are costing the taxpayers (as if fatties and taxpayers are not one and the same, for Christ’s sake), I’d invite anyone who just hasn’t heard enough of that shit to read a blog or two. Or a newspaper.
By the way, who are these critics who’d like to see, as Fillyjonk brilliantly put it, “fatty snuff films” funded by the government?
- The dude from the Center for Science in the Public Interest, known for their loose definitions of both “science” and “public interest.”
- A vegan advocacy group that’s produced competing ads.
- Kelly Brownell. Sort of. (There’s one quote from him, and I would really, really love to know what the context for it was. Not that I expect much out of him, frankly, but I don’t think he deserves to be in the same category as the other “critics” here. Not quite.)
Well, gosh! If two people with very specific political agendas say the ads are crap, and one obesity researcher can be quoted out of context to sorta-kinda support them, IT’S OBVIOUSLY NEWS, PEOPLE!
The thing that really chaps my ass about this, though, is that it sounds like the ads in question (which I have not sought out to watch), in taking this “Small Steps” approach, are within spitting distance of promoting Health at Every Size.
Creators of the “Small Steps” campaign, funded by the government at more than $1.5 million a year, cite survey data for 467 adults which showed those who saw the ads did more walking and adopted some other healthy habits than those who did not see the ads.
Yay! I mean, it’s a tiny, useless study, but if what they’re trying to do is get people to walk more and “adopt some other healthy habits,” I’m all for it. Problem is, that’s not what they’re trying to do. They’re trying to get people to fucking lose weight.
The new anti-obesity TV spots show trim or slightly pudgy people noticing blobs of fat on a hotel room floor or in a theater. They comment that someone must have lost it by eating healthy snacks.
Okay, A) Ewwwwwwww, and B) WTF? If “eating healthy snacks” is gonna make me ooze fat drippings like a goddamned pork roast, frankly, I’m not all that keen on the idea. This is supposed to make people want to lose weight? For, uh, scientific reasons? Mmkay.
(Good news: I eat healthy snacks frequently and, so far, have never dripped fat in public. So carry on with the healthy snack eating, everyone. But I guess you might want to keep a towel around, just in case. The government knows more about fat than I do, after all.)
Aaaanyway. I marked this “Open for Discussion,” because I thought I didn’t have much to say about it, and I was going to just let you guys bat it around for a while. Guess I was wrong. But before I let the commentariat take over, I just want to draw your attention to one more thing, my very favorite quote from the article:
“So many people, when they think about losing weight, see it as a Sisyphean task — ‘I have to lose weight but I can’t fit it into my busy schedule,’” said Peggy Conlon, president of the Ad Council.
I looooove that it’s seen as a Sisyphean task because people are too busy, not because there is no proven method for permanent weight loss. Not because DIETS DON’T WORK in the long-term. Not because virtually everyone who loses weight gains it all back. Not because commercial weight loss programs that do billions in business every year are legally obligated to include disclaimers saying “BTW, losing a substantial amount of weight with our product is not typical.” Not because there’s plenty of evidence that body weight is largely genetically determined. Not because fat people have already desperately tried every crackpot weight loss program out there, and found that dieting only makes them fatter.
It’s because we’re too busy to lose weight. And I guess Sisyphus was just too busy to really give that rock-pushing his full attention, huh? Jesus Christ.
Okay, I’m done now. Your turn.