I write a blog which is, very loosely, about trying to lose weight with Weight Watchers. So a story in the news about GPs being advised to send obese patients to a local slimming club is, of course, going to attract my attention. But having dipped my toe into the hornets nest (talk about your mixed metaphors...) of British journalism, I almost wish I’d stuck to my usual lunchtime routine of celebrity gossip and blogs about lipstick.
My oh my but people love to fatty bash, don’t they? Some of the vitriol spewed out in the comments section of these articles is quite, quite remarkable. “Just put the cake down, fatty” is, I think, almost a direct quote from someone on the Guardian website. Wow. If only someone had told me that years ago I would have been saved a lot of time and trouble.
It saddens me. It saddens me to think that people whom I have never met are making judgements – that I am lazy and stupid and that I might not even deserve access to the free healthcare that is my right as a UK citizen and taxpayer. It saddens me that instead of having an open dialogue about what can be done to help people solve the problem of their obesity, a swathe of the population just want to have a go. It saddens me that it doesn’t even surprise me all that much. Fat people are easy targets. We are programmed to be repulsed by flesh – nearly every article in the UK press on this topic was accompanied by a stock picture of rolls of fat hanging over the top of a pair of elasticised trousers, as if that added any weight (pardon the pun) to the debate.
I have said it before but it bears repeating; the reasons that people are overweight are varied and complex and include, although are not limited to, lack of education, chronic poverty and debilitating mental health issues. The majority of people who are overweight do not actively choose to be so. They do not sit at home, mainlining cream cakes, smugly congratulating themselves on their lifestyle choices. Many of us with weight issues will battle our entire lives, and may ultimately be unsuccessful. Some of us may, at some point, just stop fighting because it is exhausting – it is exhausting to be constantly monitoring what you put in your mouth, to bargain with yourself for every indulgence. Food issues, unlike other substance abuse issues (and yes, I think that I am using the phrase advisedly) can not be overcome by complete abstinence.
Personally, I am unsure that referring patients to slimming clubs is the best answer – certainly it is not the only one – but if it helps even a small percentage of the obese population to learn about how to lose weight, then what harm? Yes, I hear those of you in the corner screaming in outrage that your tax pounds are going on aiding the tubtubs (another lovely phrase picked up from The Guardian's comments section), but where do we draw the line? Do we refuse treatment to those addicted to drugs and alcohol? To the smokers? What about the people who injure themselves running marathons, or break a leg skiing? The plethora of injured people who flood into our A&E departments every night after a few too many? Are we basically saying that unless your illness or injury is entirely genetic then sod the hell off? No, we are not. We help our own. We help them even when we know that for many, it might be hopeless. We continue to talk about alternative solutions. We don’t give up on an entire sector of society because they have made the wrong choices, even if they make them again and again and again.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I am going to go and jump into a pool of full sugar Coca Cola. I have a BMI of over 25 so that must be how I spend my evenings, right?