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  • Marilyn Buckley, CHHC

OUR PERCEPTION OF PEOPLE THAT ARE OVERWEIGHT OR OBESE



Negative attitudes and comments toward people who are overweight and obese are pervasive in our society. We have no regard as to how this can and will affect that person.

We assume they are lazy, lack will power, are unsuccessful and have no self-discipline, and are likely non-compliant with any weight-loss program.

Weight discrimination continues to increase and seems to be an acceptable forum of bias. This discriminatory attitude has been displayed by employers, doctors, nurses, teachers, family members, “friends” and even children!

Yes, obesity is a very real health issue and major concern for our society but degrading and discriminating against someone will not help them or “fix” them. In fact, it can increase their risk of depression, low self-esteem and make them more vulnerable to continued weight gain. Tough love is not the motivator here!

It can and does damage the individual emotionally and psychologically.

We have become a society that is obsessed with and perceives being thin as someone who is successful, beautiful, strong, healthy, and being well-disciplined. These are seen as great values to possess and apparently people who are overweight or obese do not possess these same virtues. Body image issues can be very confusing and complicated. We all come in different shapes and sizes – the goal is to have a healthy attitude about your bodily image while being healthy and fit.


Please STOP and think a moment before passing judgement about someone who you believe is overweight or obese. So often we hear someone say or say it ourselves, “If they would just stop eating so much, they would lose weight” or “if they would get up and exercise, they would lose the weight.” I have known people and have had clients that actually are a beast in the gym and consume a healthy diet and still struggle to lose weight.

People who are overweight or obese may be experiencing underlying health conditions that have resulted in their weight gain. They may be facing a real struggle to find solutions to lose the weight.

Let’s look at some of the causes of obesity and weight gain:

GENETICS:

Genes instruct our body how to react to changes in our environment. Our genes can contribute to obesity or weight gain in different ways, such as affecting our appetite, metabolism, body-fat distribution, satiety, cravings or even using food as a coping mechanism to deal with stress. This does not mean that obesity is or need be completely predetermined. What you consume can have a major effect on which genes are turned on or off. Genetics can be a cause but does not have to be an excuse.

ENVIRONMENT:

Our environment can influence what we eat, how much we consume or how much or little we exercise. Many experts today believe that environmental factors are the true driving forces leading to obesity.

These environmental factors may even have an effect before we are born. Babies born to mothers who had diabetes or smoked while pregnant were more likely to become obese.

Our childhood habits can groom us for future weight and health issues. If we grow up eating highly processed and refined foods; sugary drinks and foods, we tend to continue this type of diet as an adult, leading to major weight related health problems.

STANDARD AMERICAN DIET (SAD):

Americans choose convenience over health. Fast-food and the convenience of highly refined and processed foods continue to make up a significant, yet unhealthy, proportion of our American diet. If you are consuming the SAD you will more than likely acquire the Standard American diseases and die the Standard American death.

Wonder why that happens? It’s the way we eat.

-63% of American’s calories come from refined and processed foods (e.g. soft drinks, packaged snacks like potato chips, packaged desserts, etc.)

-25% of American’s calories come from animal-based foods

-12% of American’s calories come from plant-based foods

EXERCISE:

The daily recommendation is one hour of daily exercise. Fewer than 25% of Americans meet that goal.

SEDENTARY LIFESTYLE:

We have