The Consequences of Being Fat

By: Matt Lisk

It is truly amazing how much information is thrown at Americans on a daily basis about nutrition and exercise - newspapers, magazines, nightly newscasts, websites, e-mails. You would think with all of the eating and workout information available to Americans today that we would be a very healthy collective society - yet almost three out of every four American people are fat! Are people just ignoring what they hear? Too stupid to understand? Too lazy to care?

My suspicion is that we as a society are simply overloaded with bad information. Let's be realistic - parking farther away from the entrance to your work building or the shopping mall will NOT help you lose weight. You would need to walk to Arizona - from New York - to burn off the burger, fries and soda you stuffed down for lunch.

I also think that Americans fall victim to a "not me" attitude when it comes to fitness - or should I say fatness. You may wake up in the morning and feel pretty good. Maybe your clothes are a little tight, but that is nothing that a trip to the mall can't fix. You never get sick. In general, you feel pretty good so there is really no need to worry about the fact that you are carrying around too much fat. Your wife or partner still loves you "for who you are", so why put in the effort? Because that significant amount of fat is killing you...literally.

If you were like me, you skipped your yearly check-up with the doctor because you were a) in your late twenties and virtually indestructible or b) knew he/she was going to tell you that you need to lose weight. Thanks Doctor Obvious!

Here's the problem with that scenario. First, fat and obese people have increased risk of:
- High blood pressure
- Osteoarthritis
- High cholesterol/triglycerides
- Type 2 diabetes
- Coronary heart disease
- Stroke
- Gallbladder disease
- Sleep apnea and other breathing problems
- Some cancers (such as endometrial, breast, and colon)

Second, hundreds of studies have shown that the medical community does not look highly on, or hold much hope for, the obese. The negative attitudes and reluctance of physicians, combined with the negative body image and embarrassment of an obese person, lead to the hesitation of the obese to seek medical care. In women, who need preventive screenings such as breast and pelvic exams, pap smears, etc. this is especially troubling. By not getting the preventive services offered by medical professionals, the obese are putting themselves even more at risk than they currently are.

Perhaps just as concerning are the social consequences of being fat. Studies have shown that bias against fat people is already formed in children 8 years old!

Obesity has linked to higher incidences of:
- Poor grades in school
- Denial of jobs and promotions
- Lower wages for the same job duties
- Loss of opportunity to adopt children
- Higher insurance premiums for the same benefits
- Public humiliation (such as teachers weighing children in front of the class and announcing their weight)
- Firing or pressure to resign
- Rejection from college
- Less financial support for college (even from their own parents!)
- Expulsion from school (nursing student)
- Discrimination in apartment rentals
- Price discrimination (Southwest Airlines requires fat people to purchase a second seat).

The National Education Association has gone on record as saying "for fat students, the school experience is one of ongoing prejudice, unnoticed discrimination, and almost constant harassment" and that "from nursery school through college, fat students experience ostracism, discouragement, and sometimes violence."

Believe it or not, you haven't read the worst yet. Let's try the general perceptions of fat people that have been very well documented across several studies. Non-obese people associate the following characteristics and qualities with obese people:
- Lacking self-discipline
- Low supervisory potential
- Poor personal hygiene/professional appearance
- Sloppy
- Less productive
- Less ambitious
- Less determined
- Lazy
- Less conscientious
- Less competent
- Disagreeable
- Emotionally unstable
- Slower mentally
- Poorer attendance records at work and school
- Poor role models
- Non-compliant
- Hostile
- Dishonest
- Lack of persistence in the face of adversity
- Low achievers
- Have family problems
- Lack willpower
- Compensating for lack of love or attention
- Unintelligent
- Worthless
- Unpleasant
- Ugly
- Awkward
- Repulsive
- Sexually unskilled(!)
- Undesirable marriage partners

Are you infuriated yet? One study of teachers...educated people...people who shape the futures of our that study 28% of responders said that becoming obese is the worst thing that can happen to a person. So, I have to ask...why would anyone voluntarily put themselves in a class of people who are so biased against and perceived so poorly?

Of course, I am not talking about the extremely small percentage of people who have medical conditions that cause obesity - for example, the people who really do have a thyroid problem, not the ones who use it as an excuse. I am talking about the ones who willingly continue to eat themselves into bias and discrimination - the people who, according to Dr. Kenneth Walker in his nationally syndicated newspaper column, should be "locked up in prison camps".

It has been said over and over again...obese people are the last acceptable targets of discrimination!

Are you sufficiently fired up to make an honest effort to lose fat?

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