Fat advocacy group protests Boy Scout Jamboree exclusion of obese scouts

Fat advocacy group protests Boy Scout Jamboree exclusion of obese scouts

Boy scoutsIf you thought the Boy Scouts of America was evil because up until two months they discriminated against gays, you don’t know half the story. The Scouts are not only historically “homophobic” (a word which, I am pretty sure, means “fear of being the same”). They have also been — and still are evidently — guilty of “sizism.”

In case you’re unfamiliar with sizism, you won’t get much help from The Council on Size & Weight Discrimination (CSWD), which employs the term on its website but doesn’t really define it. Maybe “prejudice based on weight,” which the group also finds objectionable, is close enough.

You might have never heard of CSWD if it weren’t for an announcement by the Boy Scouts on Monday that this year’s national Jamboree would be off limits to scouts with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher. In short, morbidly obese kids need not show up.

The Scouts’ reasons for the decision seemed sound enough. This year’s copy of the annual confab is being billed as the “most physically demanding” in the organization’s 100-year-plus history:

There’s rock climbing, rappelling, whitewater rafting and biking. And Scouts will go about the sprawling, hilly landscape the old-fashioned way — on foot.

What fat Scout worth his — well … salt would want any part of that sort of outing anyway?

Not the point, said the CSWD in a statement that “deplored” the Scouts’ decision, calling it “an unfair and discriminatory policy.”

There are boy scouts who are heavier than average but extremely fit and capable of strenuous physical activity. At the same time, it is patently absurd to assume that just because a boy is thin, that means he is capable of a three-mile hike up a mountain.

The argument is based on the apples-and-oranges claim that plenty of professional athletes have abnormally high BMIs. The case of Michael Jasper of the New York Giants, who last season boasted the league’s highest BMI at 45.64, is held aloft as Exhibit A.

Fine. Any fat Scout who can play nose tackle for an NFL team should be allowed to attend the Jamboree.

The real problem with the CSWD’s complaint is that while “highly trained athletes may have a high BMI because of increased muscularity rather than increased body fatness,” as the CDC notes on its website, that’s seldom the case with seriously overweight kids. What’s more is that childhood obesity has long been viewed by the CDC as a ticking time bomb. Obesity during childhood dramatically increases risk for type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and other lifestyle-related health problems.

David Ludwig, an associate professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, determined that childhood obesity could decrease life expectancy by two to five years. Obese children, moreover, have excess fat in their liver, which could lead to hepatitis, cirrhosis or liver failure.

If anti-fat discrimination types want to claim that “all people, no matter what their weight, deserve respect,” they get no argument here. If, moreover, the Scouts want to heed the advice of registered dietician Patricia Bannon, who advocates allowing the obese kids to participate in the Jamboree “in some modified way,” again no complaints.

But if the Scouts are required to allow some severely out-of-shape kid to endanger himself by taking on exercise that is too strenuous to satisfy some zealots, then “Houston, we’ve got a problem.”

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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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