Self Portrait, Let Me Be

Self-Inflicted Health?

“Obesity Rivals Smoking and War among Self-Inflicted Health Risks.”

This headline from the LA Times, paired with a stereotypical “headless fatty” picture, was too much. The assertion that people with obesity should be blamed for it is a subtle, pernicious lie buried in the headline and reinforced with a dehumanizing image. It’s a lie repeated so much that even many people with obesity have come to accept it.

We don’t accept such blaming and shaming for other diseases. Calling breast cancer a self-inflicted health problem would spark an angry outcry — as it should.

Yet if you look for documentation of the heritability of breast cancer, you’ll find estimates that range from 25 to 56%. The value you’ll find for obesity is 70%. For curly hair, it’s 85 to 95%.

We don’t worry about how self-inflicted breast cancer is or isn’t. We just look for ways to treat and prevent it. And when we find something, we do it. Right now, breast cancer is not entirely preventable. Neither is obesity. Though everyone can make choices that will improve their health, no one chooses to suffer with either condition.Rise to the Challenge of Weight Bias

Everyone deserves respect and access to care without facing false judgements about what they would’ve, could’ve, or should’ve done to prevent the problem they’re addressing.

Let’s make it so.

Click here for resources from the Obesity Action Coalition to address weight bias and join the OAC. Click here if you want to read the offending article from the LA Times.

Self Portrait, Let Me Be, photograph © Lauren Rushing / flickr

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2 Responses to “Self-Inflicted Health?”

  1. November 26, 2014 at 5:36 pm, Allen Browne said:

    Don’t forget their parents. They get incredible heat as well – largely based on correlations and never causation. We have along ways to go.

  2. November 27, 2014 at 4:21 am, Ted said:

    You’re absolutely right, Allen.