[Image: Pink duotone design with large, deep pink typography overlapping a silhouetted fat body. The text simply states: “There is no obesity epidemic. - Redefining Body Image”]
Just an update: This is part one of a new poster series I’m working on that focuses on using blunt and unapologetic messaging to incite thought and reaction (hopefully of a positive or inquisitive nature) regarding fat discrimination, health, obesity hysteria, etc.
[Part Two: Fat ≠ Death]
Actually there is an obesity epidemic. I don’t discriminate based on weight, but there is a problem here.
Whenever I get people reblogging my work just to dismiss it or “correct” it, I wonder why they waste the effort of doing so when they can put that same effort towards actually looking into it and learning something new.
Suppose it must be heaps easier to just reblog and refute rather than challenge your own ways of thinking and do a little research, but I promise it’s worth looking into. Hell, just Googling “There is no obesity epidemic” comes up with a few interesting results to get you started.
I’m in the mood to break this down.
Epidemiologically speaking, an epidemic is defined as when new cases of a certain disease, in a given human population, and during a given period, substantially exceed what is expected based on recent experience.
Obesity pathologizes people who are at the high end of the normal range in human body weight. Weight is complicated and multifaceted, but the assumption that all weights past a certain point are indicative of disease is problematic at best and dangerous at worst. Body weight is not, in and of itself, a disease. So defining obesity as an epidemic is a misnomer in the first place.
Furthermore, assuming obesity is a disease (I’ll suspend my disbelief temporarily), rates would have to significantly increase over a specified period of time. Given the fear mongering in the government and medical community, the implication is that rates of obesity must currently be increasing at an alarming rate. But they aren’t. According to a study by Katherine Flegal, et. al., published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2010, rates of obesity were nearly flat between 1999 and 2008. A second article, also published in 2010, looked at rates of obesity in children from 1999 through 2006 and also found a plateau. While the article itself still assumes that obesity is itself a health risk, this piece from the Wall Street Journal indicates that rates of “overweight” and obesity have stayed the same between 1999-2000 and 2007-2008.
If you want to argue that higher weights are inherently a risk factor for morbidity and mortality, that’s a different issue. I’ll still argue that you’re wrong and that lifestyle is more indicative of future health outcomes than weight, but there is, in fact, no obesity epidemic.
Awesome breakdown, thank you for all the resources!