Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Heavier Americans Lobby Group

I fall in the middle on this article. Valid point: it certainly not right to disparage people for being fat, and it probably would not be fair or right to penalize someone in terms of heatlhcare premiums solely for being overweight. On the other hand, the likely tendency of this lobby will be to decry any references that cast overweightness[1] in a negative light. And that would definitely be going too far. Because while they are correct in asserting that the real social goal is fitness and health--not thinness thinness' sake--the fact is that overweightness is very strongly correlated with health problems.

Which brings me to my next objection to the article: like almost all articles I read on the subject, it almost completely glosses over the importance of exercise. Yes, there is one nod to the importance of "movement" (movement--talk about euphimisms!), but that's it.

Overlooking exercise is a very unfortunate omission. Because unlike dieting--which is very, very, very hard to sustain because it feels like permanent deprivation--exercise is a positive good. So exercise is far more sustainable than dieting.

In my 20+ years of regular gym attendance, I have very, very rarely seen a confirmed, dedicated exerciser who is severely overweight. Some of us exercise addicts may be bulkier than others, but almost all have weight reasonably under control.

[1] Using the term "overweightness" rather than, say, "fatness" would be the kind of thing that an interest group might push. I typically detest that sort of euphimism-promulgation by the langage police--detention center for jail, landfill for dump--and would normally resist it. But in this case I think it is justified. "Fat" is a pretty loaded, pejorative term. Likewise for obesity, and anyway, it only properly describes the extreme of fatness. So awkward as it sounds to the ear, "overweightness" seems like the best term available. (Heaviness doesn't really cut it, because it is absolute, not relative--Yao Ming for instance is quite heavy, but hardly fat.)

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