Dear Will Saletan,
While I appreciate the tone of something approaching what might generously be called sympathy in this conclusion to your article on “Obesity, genetics, and responsibility“:
That’s my personal takeaway from the study: Those of us who don’t get fat should stifle our piety. Our relative thinness is 77 percent hereditary. I should know: I eat like a horse and can’t gain weight. We need to think of obesity the way we think of alcoholism or allergies: as an unevenly distributed biological predisposition to seek or suffer harm from common environmental factors. Yes, we should struggle against it. But it’s more of a struggle for some than for others.
you seem to have forgotten a crucial difference between fat, alcoholism, and allergies. I’ll give you a hint: when you’re alcoholic, you can choose not to drink alcohol. When you’re allergic, you can choose to avoid the allergen. I’m not saying it’s easy in either case, but it’s physically possible.
I’m going to let you ponder what the difference is for a moment. If you’re having a hard time, try using the same phrasing: “When you’re fat, you can choose to stop ____.”
Fat people need to eat, too. And guess what? They get to. Because they’re human beings. You’re goddamn right you can stifle your piety — which, by the way, seems to be only enhanced now that you know you’ve won the genetic lottery and aren’t just morally superior to all those fat people you see. How about this? You eat like a horse if you want to. Fat people will continue to eat like humans, just like they always have done.