Bill Maher Calls Out American Obesity Crisis, Says Fat Shaming Needs To Come Back

Romana

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"We shamed people out of smoking"?? WTF is he smoking? People are still smoking, and young people are still starting. And were little shamed into wearing seat belts, or did it perchance have anything to do with the safety features on newer cars?
While it's true that obesity raises the future for a lot of conditions, did he think the people at risk aren't trying? SMH
 

Dakota Tebaldi

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The two biggest problems with Maher's thesis:

1. Fat shaming hasn't completely gone away
2. The obesity crisis began before fat shaming started going away, so a resurgence of fat shaming will not have any effect

Then he makes some flawed observations:

Speaking on the public’s shift towards body acceptance over the years, the HBO host had the following to say: “When did it become taboo in this country to talk about getting healthy? Weight Watchers had to literally take the words Weight and Watchers — I’m not kidding — out of their name. It’s now WW. Because merely the idea of watching your weight is now bullying. What’s next? Banning scales?”
This is silly. It's like the conspiracy theory that used to go around in the 90's/early 00's that Kentucky Fried Chicken was forced to rebrand to just KFC because they legally could no longer call their product chicken because it was some genetic hybrid-thing instead of real chicken.

Weight Watchers rebranded to WW because the company expanded into other areas of health and wellness not limited only to losing weight, and they didn't want potential customers to think you had to specifically want to lose weight in order to sign up for their services (though they still do weight-loss stuff too of course). Other weight-loss exclusive companies, like SlimFast, haven't changed their branding at all, which proves that Maher is shoveling BS here.

Also, it's not taboo in this country to talk about getting healthy. The Biggest Loser was a hugely popular reality TV show that ran for 17 freaking seasons, and it's getting rebooted on USA next year. It was also a very very bad show for its contestants for reasons I don't think I need to get into right now; the point is just that here was a TV show centered around people losing weight that was one of the most widely-watched shows on TV during its run, and even when people were criticizing it, it wasn't the contestants' wanting to lose weight that was being criticized.
 

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It would be great to take a large bite (...) out of the percentage of obese and overweight people, as it is a serious problem. Shaming people them isn't going to do it.

For example, I've tried to shame people from telling bad jokes, but they just keep telling them.
 
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Innula Zenovka

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This is ridiculous.

There's all sorts of reasons for poor diet and nutrition, and all sort of reasons for the way people use food (or, indeed, tobacco, alcohol, social media and all sorts of things) as they do,

It's not a question of people needing to be shamed or otherwise bullied into doing anything, and a moment's thought would have told him -- were he actually interested in people's health, that is, which I don't for one minute believe he is -- that if you want to get anyone to do anything, and particularly something they find difficult or off-putting or otherwise they'd already have done it, then attacking them and trying to make them feel bad, and quite possibly even worse about themselves than they probably do already, is going to achieve nothing but proving to them you're not a person to whom they care to listen.

This is not a difficult concept for a skilled communicator like Maher to grasp.

This, of course, isn't about people's health or anything like that -- it's about this very disturbing and unpleasant genre of entertainment based on bullying particular vulnerable groups, in which Maher seems to excel.
 

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And were little shamed into wearing seat belts, or did it perchance have anything to do with the safety features on newer cars?
IMO most Americans wear seatbelts now because they know they'll get a ticket if a cop sees them not wearing one. That's not shame, it's fear (though an acceptable use, again IMO). And even that isn't enough to stop many people from still not wearing them.
 

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it's about this very disturbing and unpleasant genre of entertainment based on bullying particular vulnerable groups, in which Maher seems to excel.
Maher goes after those high up on the incline as much as anybody, but he does seem to enjoy punching down a little too much.
 

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Maher goes after those high up on the incline as much as anybody, but he does seem to enjoy punching down a little too much.
I will be interested to hear him if and when he attempts to shame the businesses and ad agencies that devote so much time and money to encouraging people to eat unhealthily, and the weight-loss industry who have a similar investment in making healthy eating seem so complex and difficult that you have to pay them pots of money to stand any chance of changing your diet.
 

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Weight Watchers rebranded to WW because the company expanded into other areas of health and wellness not limited only to losing weight, and they didn't want potential customers to think you had to specifically want to lose weight in order to sign up for their services (though they still do weight-loss stuff too of course).
The funny thing about WW is that from 1978 to 1999 it belonged to Heinz. So first many ate products by Heinz which can get you fat, then they used this brand to loose weight with food also produced by Heinz. Now that's what you could call an interesting full circle.
 

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Maher loves to provoke, doesn't he? ;)

Shaming people is never the best solution of course, better to try to inform and motivate.

I think I've found one vital part of the problem, USDA's food pyramid. Obviously they were more concerned about healthy profit for the food industry than healthy consumers.

In 1995:


2005:
 
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Shiloh Lyric

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How does fat-shaming solve the very real problem of food deserts in many areas, especially urban, low-income areas, where obesity is usually most prevalent? The city I grew up in no longer has a single full-size grocery store anywhere within the city limits, for example. For many people without vehicles, corner stores or dollar stores are where they go, and they tend to not have a bunch of fresh fruits and vegetables. And that's not even a large city. Public transportation in this country is pretty abysmal and not everyone has $20 a shot for an Uber.

Many times obesity is actually a result of malnutrition more than overeating or lack of exercise. If what you mainly have available is cheap processed foods than that's what the hell you eat. And no amount of fat shaming is going to change that. It will just screw with people's mental and emotional state, on top of them having perhaps poor physical health.

Newsflash: Fat people know they're fat. When I was almost 300 pounds, no one had to tell me. I KNEW. And it was a LOT easier to lose the weight when I was able to buy fresh fruits and veggies rather than a lot of boxed or processed foods. And that's because my small town has a Farmer's Market where I can stock up for cheap. Not everyone has that. Or will anytime soon.
 

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I have every reason to believe the private insurance industry would like to drop obese people from health care, and there are going to be people who will want to put barriers to health care for obese people in any kind of universal health care system.

This is both a danger to obese people and the opposite of a pro-active or cost saving approach.

There are several fallacies operating here. The first one is that fat people don’t know their own minds, and have to be told they’re unwelcome in society. There isn’t a fat person alive who hasn’t gotten this message repeatedly. It is stigma for the sake of stigma. It’s not concern for the fat person, but about the ego of the thin one. “At least I’m not fat like you.”

The second fallacy is that weight loss is a matter of willpower and that we know how to achieve it, a simple formula of energy balance that can be applied to every dieter. This isn’t always true. If it works for you, more power to you.

But a lot of fat people have endocrine disorders, lipidema, or other diseases that actually require medical care. (I’ve had PCOS and diabetes.) How is it going to help these people or even save money to deny them medical care? They will struggle with their weight, fail, and wind up in the ER with serious complications from untreated illness. This still happens because many people still don’t have insurance and can’t afford prescriptions like insulin. They aren’t taught in our current healthcare system about why carbohydrates are a problem for diabetics and they may not have enough access to healthy food. There is actually a lot of food insecurity and poverty in the U.S.

The third fallacy is the denial of humanity and dignity to the obese, women especially, which sets many women on the path of disordered eating, such as anorexia or bulimia, and then this is upheld as a role model to follow. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been praised for weight loss when the cause was serious illness. When we reduce the value of a woman’s life to her weight, no woman’s life is valued. Much less her health.

We know diets don’t work for long term weight loss and bariatric surgery is contraindicated for many people. It also has a mortality rate and can cause serious side effects. Nutritional research seems to contradict itself every year. It’s clear more research is needed. But the science doesn’t get to the patients. We get the same advice we were getting thirty years ago, and set people up to fail.

This isn’t science. It’s politics. And this is why there’s a fat acceptance movement. We can’t seem to get off the stigma merry-go-round and do science. It’s because the money and misogyny are in stigma.
 

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I came to say what Shiloh said.

Right now look at companies like Dollar Tree and Family Dollar that undercut grocery stores in low income areas. They are driving out the last sources of (overpriced) fresh fruit and veg, leaving high carb processed foods as the only real option if you don't have transportation.