Obesity rules

Generationnn-xxlI was more than taken aback to read
an official protest from the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance
to the season premiere of The Biggest Loser on NBC.

To cut to the chase, NAAFA believes
The Biggest Loser is harming young, grossly obese children by allowing them to
compete on the show. They say the program underscores a negative stereotype
about overweight kids, forces them to push their bodies beyond acceptable
limits and generally undermines the whole world of fat. Their specific
complaint accused The Biggest Loser of “…trying to profit off the bullying and
stigmatization of fat kids.’

To which I respond: Now, hold on a

Childhood obesity is rampant in
America. And, countless studies have shown that obesity leads to a smorgasbord
of diseases up to, but not limited to, diabetes, heart attack and stroke.

So, why shouldn’t The Biggest Loser
play a lead role in better educating our nation’s youth about the critical role
nutrition and exercise play in leading a long and healthy life? I think the
answer is simple: NAAFA leadership doesn’t want anyone messing with the
lifestyle of its members.  In short, they’re telling NBC to back off,
leave them alone and pass along the bucket of wings when they’re finished.

Just like their fellow merchants of
death at the Tobacco Institute, NAAFA bigwigs (that term had to have
been invented for them) think the status quo is just fine, thank you. They
believe that, if our kids want to clog their arteries and damage their internal
organs by stuffing themselves with Big Macs (avec cheese, s’il vous plait),
then so be it. This is America, after all, and no one should be allowed to tell
us what we should, or shouldn’t do.

In their defense, NAAFA cites
statistics showing obese kids suffer all sorts of humiliation, harassment and
hummus (sorry, I was going for alliteration). And, I’m sure that’s true. It
can’t be fun to be the one, 300-pound kid in a classroom full of 80-pound sixth
graders. But, what better way to show the plus-sized ones a path to wellness
than through TV shows such as The Biggest Loser?

I think the biggest loser in all of
this is America itself.

We’ve allowed ourselves to become a
couch potato nation. And, gosh darn it, we don’t like it when someone suggests
we stop stuffing our faces with mac & cheese, haul our carcasses off the
couch and put in some roadwork. That violates the Second Amendment. Or, is it
the third? I’ll check Wikipedia when I polish off this mushroom pizza (con
extra cheese, por favor).

We’re a complacent nation complacent
to stay complacent.

So, if my gut’s right, NAAFA will
win its argument and The Biggest Loser will yank the kids from future episodes.
Which would be a shame. America needs to shape up in every sense of the word:
financially, environmentally and, yes Virginia, even nutritionally.

So, I say, let the fat kids compete
and become role models for their peers across the Land of the Free and the Home
of the Brave. Because if we don’t counter the obesity trend soon, our
grandchildren will be far too sedentary to even field an army, much less win a
future war.

And a supersized tip o' the hat to Jackie Kolek for this suggestion.

10 thoughts on “Obesity rules

  1. But Julie, there IS something wrong with these kids. Obesity is a life-threatening disease that can and will kill them. Its not about how they look, but the quality of their lives.
    The message that shows like this send to America is that obesity is an illness that can prevented. I feel that it can help those struggling with obesity to see that they can change and live a healthy life.

  2. Jackie – It’s for the same reason that I didn’t like the TV show “The Swan.” We are telling these kids in a public forum that there is something wrong with them that needs fixing.

  3. Julie & Kelsy – what makes you say these kids are being shamed? They are provided with personalized professional health and fitness coaching they could never afford on their own, surrounded by peers supporting and pushing them and their achievements and every pound lost is applauded. Sounds a like the gift of a lifetime to me.

  4. Thanks for the comment, Kelsey. I do agree that parents are fundamental to the issue. And, I’m not suggesting that obese kids aren’t bullied. But, there has to be a middle ground that includes nutrition and fitness education (i.e. The Biggest Loser). These kids need to learn how not to repeat their parents’ mistakes.

  5. I agree, Jackie. Not only have the parents abdicated their responsibility but they’re trying to prevent The Biggest Loser from educating their kids. That’s a sorry sight to behold.

  6. Jackie says “We owe it to these kids to show them they have the power to change.” I agree. However, I also agree with Kelsey: TV is not the forum to shame these children into losing weight. They have enough self-image problems to deal with. They don’t need to be publicly humiliated.

  7. I have to disagree with Kelsey that these kids are being exploited. By addressing the issue head on with real kids sharing their struggles, NBC has the opportunity to help obese kids see that they are are not alone in their challenges and perhaps inspire them to take control of their health and make positive changes.
    While the media tend to focus on appearances, it is so much deeper than that. By allowing children to indulge in unhealthy lifestyles we are setting them for a lifetime of struggles around their health, social life, self image, activity and more. We owe it to these kids to show them they have the power to change.

  8. While I agree that spreading awareness is better than sticking our heads in the sand, I think you’re forgetting NAAFA’s core argument: children are being exploited and bullied. Looking beyond the organization’s dubious name, the big question here is whether it’s moral to use children with health problems to gain ratings in mainstream entertainment. I don’t think it is. Further, I think the core issues in a lot of these situations are the parents. Perhaps we can start with educating them instead of with punishing their children.