Obesity is a prevalent reality within the American culture. An L.A. Times article from 2016 provided stats that as many as 38% of adults and 17% of kids are considered obese.
We all know obesity is a problem, but are we slowly forgetting that.
THE NEW NORM?
Whether it be positive to promote health, or negative, the social acceptance of overweight persons has always been looked upon as a problem. The ‘ideal” has always been the ripped athlete or the lean bikini model. Times seem to be changing.
Within the past decade, a phenomenon known as socially acceptable body weight has come about. Now, let me divert really fast here to say that teasing, body shaming, and the alike are and always should be wrong. However, this is not about being negative, but rather a health crisis becoming so prevalent that it is now become part of our society.
Researches from Florida State University did a study on obesity that found the rise in obesity has occurred so rapidly that people’s perceptions of what is a healthy body weight has shifted. While there is no quote, perfect body image, the prevalence of obesity has made us as a culture accepting of it.
Even the fashion industry who has long been associated with shunning overweight persons has begun to expand, diversify, and upgrade their plus sized offerings.
IS SOCIALLY ACCEPTED BODY WEIGHT A BAD THING?
The short answer is yes and no. Yes, in that as people, we should accept each other for their moral and ethical attributes and not the aesthetic.
THE BAD PREDICATES THE GOOD
Socially accepted body weight is a positive view on aesthetics and acceptance but also comes with risk. Research has found that fewer overweight Americans have been trying to lose weight. This trend has caused obesity rates to increase.
Dr. Jian Zhang from Georgia Southern University recently concluded that the more accepting we get, the less we believe we need to do anything about it.
A study lead by Dr. Zhang looked at 27,350 adults comparing stats collected from over 25 years.
Percentage rates in increase of obesity jumped 13% while desire to lose weight dropped 6%.
Study authors felt that the longer adults live with obesity the less they will be willing to attempt to lose weight.
While Zhang feels that socially accepted body weight is good in that it will help people feel less ridiculed but will also increase risk for heart disease and diabetes.
THE REWARD AND THE RISK
Any opportunity to limit discrimination (in this case weight discrimination) is a big boost to our society and a huge step forward.
While socially accepting body weight we should also accept health concerns. The difference is whereas something like tattoos have become more socially accepted, tattoos don’t come with inherent health risks or contribute to premature death rates.
The right thing to do is to socially accept body weight as a foundation to promote better health. This acceptance tells us we don’t need to look like extras from Baywatch, but we do need to assure this this, and future generations do not succumb to preventable and unnatural causes of illness and death.
Acceptance should be proactive. If you or someone you know is overweight or obese use acceptance as a tool to encourage better habits. It is a natural human reaction to be resistant to attacks which is why body shaming fails to provide desire to change. Supporting who a person is, is a much better foundation in which to encourage the benefits of fitness and nutrition as well as making the health concerns the factor and not the opinionated aesthetics.
As a takeaway here is a list from the CDC of health risks related to being overweight and obese.