Fat acceptance group rejects AMA declaration that obesity is a disease

Fat acceptance group rejects AMA declaration that obesity is a disease

Fat person sittingWhen the American Medical Association announced in June that it had reclassified obesity as a disease, a collective groan went up from Americans who saw the declaration as misguided. Not all of them were skinny pragmatists, weary of yet another attempt to provide aid and comfort to some group that is its own worst enemy. Some, rather, were members of that group. More precisely, they were members of the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance (NAAFA).

NAAFA is not new. According to its website, it was founded in 1969. Its latest ad campaign is another story. The message, directed at the AMA, is essentially, “Thanks, but no thanks.”

NAAFA makes no excuse for obesity. If anything, the organizers appear to take pride in their membership’s considerable girth. Their goal, it follows, is to combat “discrimination based on body size and provide fat people with the tools for self-empowerment through advocacy, public education, and support.” If anyone has a problem, a statement at the website goes on to explain, it’s not the estimated 65 million Americans labeled as obese. Rather it is “our thin-obsessed society,” which “firmly believes that fat people are at fault for their size…. Fat people have rights and they need to be upheld!” (The statement is ambiguous, but one assumes it is the rights — not fat people — that need to be upheld.)

The posture is certainly a marked departure from the excuses once commonly voiced by overweight people, such as “I’m big-boned” or “I have a thyroid problem.” But are they are a change for the better? NAAFA’s desire to fight, rather than switch, suggests not. At best, their problem (and it is a problem) is a threat to their personal health and well-being. At worst, it is an added strain on already overtaxed health care system.

This observer has little patience with First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign, but mainly because of the draconian and heavy-handed manner in which it has been conducted. Suggesting that people trim down, through diet, exercise, or both, is all to the good. Threatening to use her husband’s clout to force manufacturers of empty-calorie foods to go on “an advertising diet” is not.

In a similar vein, if fat people want to stay fat, that is their prerogative. But if they want to alter the perception of how other people see them, they can either deal with their problem (i.e., by dropping some pounds) or carry a funhouse mirror around with them wherever they go.

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Howard Portnoy

Howard Portnoy

Howard Portnoy has written for The Blaze, HotAir, NewsBusters, Weasel Zippers, Conservative Firing Line, RedCounty, and New York’s Daily News. He has one published novel, Hot Rain, (G. P. Putnam’s Sons), and has been a guest on Radio Vice Online with Jim Vicevich, The Alana Burke Show, Smart Life with Dr. Gina, and The George Espenlaub Show.


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