Chicago Tribune

As a Matter of Fact: The Chicago Tribune Misses on Obesity

The subject of disabilities arising from obesity seems to bring out strong hostilities toward people with obesity that obscure rational thought. In a editorial on the subject, the Chicago Tribune last week argued that people who have disabilities as a result of obesity should not be protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The trouble is that their argument was founded on five demonstrably false assertions. The facts are straightforward:

  1. Severe obesity is not “a curable condition.”
  2. Addressing obesity is more complex than “eating less and exercising more.”
  3. Obesity is not “usually the result of individual decisions.”
  4. Discriminating against people with a disability arising from obesity does not “encourage self-discipline.”
  5. Protections of the Americans with Disabilities Act are not reserved solely for “unfortunate victims of fate.”

A letter from leaders of the Obesity Action Coalition published today in the Tribune points out the factual errors. The letter, as submitted, said:

We were surprised to read so many factual errors in your recent editorial about disabilities that result from obesity (Obesity as a disability, Dec 26).

The Tribune revised the letter to delete any reference to factual errors. Perhaps the Tribune’s editors don’t like admitting errors. More likely, they deleted the words “factual errors” because they persist in believing that their false statements are true.

If so, they are unfortunately not alone in holding on to false beliefs about obesity.

Click here for the editorial. Click here for the reply from the OAC.

Chicago Tribune Building, photograph © Roger / flickr

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