The Limits of Fat-shaming (and fat-glorifying)

Recently, someone invoked a statement often repeated by prominent Indian immigrant Dinesh D’Souza, who argues for the greatness of the United States by talking of a friend in India who says of the USA: “I want to live in a country where the poor people are fat!”[1]

I have heard Dinesh D’Souza say that his friend “wants to live in a country where [even] the poor people are fat.” Dinesh D’Souza (aka his “friend”) does not understand that millions of people who are obese—they are also malnourished.[2] Half-informed people know obesity only as a disease of affluence, where a person “eats so much” that they become fat.

Meanwhile, there is the real world…

Malnourishment arises often during over-consumption, when foods that have:

(1) high calories,
AND
(2) low nutrients.

Malnourishment can cause obesity.[3] Many an uninformed person will frantically strive to feel full on a nutritional level—but they have the eating habits of someone who learned about food (by the instinct of hunger and by bad enculturation) only on a caloric level.

Consider certain times of famine. Frequently, people who are dying of hunger will eat cotton, or eat mud,[4] etc.—in hopes of feeling less of the pain that occurs when someone is starving to death. Filling their stomachs with that non-food reduces the symptom of pain—but they are still starving: still dying through non-nourishment.

Malnourishment often arises as “obesity,” when immune dysfunction is a cause and consequence of malnutrition.[5] One example is when non-food elements of highly processed foods bloats the body, through the body’s massively important inflammatory response,[6] as the body frantically tries to:

(1) survive,

while

(2) protecting the body from infection and injury that occurs when eating non-food,

AND while

(3) protecting the body from infection and injury that occurs during starvation.

Now consider countless “obese” people born into a system where high-calorie, low-nutrient food provides less and less of what the body needs to survive—while also masking the pain symptom of starvation by mimicking one of the many effects of real, whole, seasonal, unprocessed food: in such a system, people WILL overeat.

Often enough, overeating occurs unconsciously or semi-consciously, but in any case: the over-eating is a desperate attempt to get enough nutrients from nutrient-poor food. Malnourishment results from the low nutrients—AND obesity arises by the high calories.

Now, to that chaos, add two insults to injury:
(1) people who mindlessly “fat-shame” malnourished people as “self-indulgent;”
(2) people who mindlessly glorify malnourished people as “healthy at any size.”

Fat-shaming is counterproductive.
Fat-celebrating is counterproductive.
A malnourished, obese person—like any other starving, dying person—will benefit from information and access. They will not benefit from insults nor encouragement.

Notes

  1. Dinesh D’Souza, What’s so great about America (Townhall 2007), available at https://townhall.com/columnists/dineshdsouza/2007/07/02/whats-so-great-about-america-n1077391
  2. World Health Organization, Double burden of malnutrition (n.d.), available at https://www.who.int/nutrition/double-burden-malnutrition/en/
  3. Michael Via, The Malnutrition of obesity: Micronutrient deficiencies that promote diabetes (NCBI 2012), available at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3313629/
  4. Rory Carroll, Haiti: Mud cakes become staple diet as cost of food soars beyond a family’s reach (The Guardian 2008), available at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2008/jul/29/food.internationalaidanddevelopment
  5. Bourke, et al., Immune Dysfunction as a cause and consequence of malnutrition (NCBI 2016), available at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4889773/
  6. Taylor, et al., The effect of malnutrition on the inflammatory response as exhibited by the granuloma pouch of the rat (NCBI 1967), available at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2138394/

One thought on “The Limits of Fat-shaming (and fat-glorifying)

  1. ‘real, whole, seasonal, unprocessed food’ — 2 months of this and my acne has completely gone.

    Also relevant: turned on the water tap this morning and water came out.

    Liked by 1 person

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