Friday 2 December 2016

Obesity is our last great prejudice

In 2016, it's not acceptable to discriminate against nationality, religion or sexuality, but weight is still an issue

Mike Gibney

Published 29/05/2016 | 02:30

'This prejudice extends to the health care industry where some doctors, nurses, dietitians and physiotherapists display an entirely different attitude to the overweight and obese than they do to lean patients. Doctors simply cannot hack obesity'
'This prejudice extends to the health care industry where some doctors, nurses, dietitians and physiotherapists display an entirely different attitude to the overweight and obese than they do to lean patients. Doctors simply cannot hack obesity'

Over the years, we have faced up to many of our national prejudices involving ethnicity, sexuality, religion, suicide and more besides. There is one prejudice that is rarely addressed and one that affects a very large proportion of our children and adult population. It is the stigmatisation of fatness.

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Even nutritionists are not immune to such prejudice either. I was recently at a self-service restaurant in an international airport when a member of our group slammed down their tray muttering under their breath. When asked what bothered them, they commented: "That stupid fat woman, with layers of chips and other fatty foods and of course the token can of diet fizz, spent an age rummaging in her untidy bag for her purse and then proceeded to sift through endless coins to pay her flaming bill. So annoying was that fat woman." Spoken like a true bigot.

My colleague hit on several of the typical fat bigot buttons. The fat lady was stupid, she ate badly, she was untidy and, altogether, she was not very 'with it' as they say. At no stage did my colleague note that because the lady was fat she had a higher than average energy requirement and needed more food to maintain her weight.

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