Today in Fat Hatred: U.S. Fatties Doom the World

[Content Note: this post contains referenced to eliminationism, obesity myths, and dehumanization of fat people.]

Today, Think Progress put up a post titled "Due To U.S. Obesity, Global Population Is 17 Million Tons Overweight," which begins:

Although the United States represents just 5 percent of the global population, it contributes to almost one-third of the world’s global obese weight, researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine concluded in a study released today. The U.S.’s rising obesity rate may lead to a future food scarcity problem, the researchers warned.

The study calculated the weight of the global population at 316 million tons, and estimated that about 17 million tons of that figure is due to the growing numbers of people who are overweight. Increasing levels of fatness around the world will threaten future food security, since current levels of obesity could have the same impact on global resources as an additional half billion people.

Yiiiiikes. Where to start?

Should I mention the scientifically problematic assumptions about the relationship between eating and obesity? (See: Fatsronauts 101 # 4). With nary a mention of any other causes for obesity, nor of the harmful effects of food restriction as a "treatment" for obesity? Or how about the eliminationism implied by the posited relationship between "obesity rates" and global starvation? (And it's fatties who will be TOTALLY RESPONSIBLE for higher food prices in the future, mind you, not those nice bankers speculating on food commodities!) Finally, you gotta love the tiresome and repetitive and dehumanizing use of the headless fatty illustration. (By "love" I mean, of course, "regard with deepest contempt.")

Think Progress is a leading source for progressive news, so it is especially depressing to see it miss the mark on FA and HAES. There are serious concerns to be raised over global food supply and food prices, but giving uncritical space to a study that demonizes fat people based on some questionable scientific premises is not the way to do it.

Normalizing fat hatred has real-life consequences. To name only a few examples, it makes it harder for fat people to receive medical care and insurance coverage (both public and private), more acceptable for assholes to threaten and harass us, and easier to justify all kinds of discrimination against us. The list could go on, but the point should be clear: perpetuating fat hatred (or any other oppression) in the name of a "progressive" concern is not, in fact, terribly progressive.

We can do better. I am a human being, and I expect more.

[Hat tip to Liss for the link.]

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