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Old 25th August 2009   #1
M. Lopez
Senior Member
Join Date: August 2005
Posts: 587
Default Moral panic over weight (article)

Here's an excellent interview with Paul Campos, the author of The Diet Myth (originally titled The Ob***** Myth), a book that offers a devastating account of the current hysteria about weight, the fallacy of weight control, and the outright perniciousness of the diet industry.

The entire article is worth reading, but this Q&A effectively sets out the theme:

Megan: So why is the public health community so set on this issue as the major driver of our health care costs?

Paul: Because we're in the midst of a moral panic over f**, which has transformed the heavier than average into folk devils, to whom all sorts of social ills are ascribed.

And here are some highlights. Campos too often concentrates on material grounds for people's behaviours, whereas material concerns are only part of the issue - and not even the most significant part - but many of his observations are spot on:

There are three big problems with attempting to control health care costs by reducing so-called "ob*****." First, it's a fake problem. Second, the solutions for the problem are non-existent, even assuming the problem existed. Third, focusing on making Americans thinner diverts resources from real public health issues...

There is literally not a shred of evidence that turning f** people into thin people improves their health.

...people with BMIs in the mid to high 20s actually have the best overall health and longest life expectancy -- more so than those in the so-called "normal" BMI range...

...a huge factor in all this stuff is the desire to get the next generation of diet drugs through the regulatory pipeline. That's the goose that will lay the golden eggs for so many interested parties.

But there are two items in particular that I want to single out as very significant observations:

The current stigmitization of f** kids is essentially child abuse as government policy, and the people behind it are, as far as I'm concerned, either incredibly stupid or very evil or in some cases both.
YES. It is truly appalling, and testifies to the cruelest streak in human nature.

Also, note this:

In this culture f**ness is a metaphor for...lack of self-control, and other stuff that freaks out the new Puritans all across the ideological spectrum, which is why the war on f** is so ferocious -- it appeals very strongly to both the right and the left, for related if different reasons.

Brilliant point - noting that this Puritan impulse crosses political lines. Weight bigots are astonishingly maniacal in their beliefs, like the worst kind of religious zealots, and voluptuousness seems to offend both modern political morality and traditional religious morality in equal measure.

I've often read statements at this site referring to the modern minimalist standard as "the aesthetics of guilt," and Campos's statement amplifies this point.
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