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HBO Weight of Nation Under Attack: Called Fear-Mongering and Unscientific

With Federal government support, HBO is airing a supposedly civic-minded documentary on obesity. But scientists and health professionals call Weight of the Nation a misguided attack on fat people and an invitation to prejudice.

 
PRLog - May 15, 2012 - EL CERRITO, Calif. -- With Federal government support, HBO is airing a supposedly civic-minded multi-part documentary on obesity this week. But scientists and health professionals call Weight of the Nation less a public service than a misguided attack on fat people and an invitation to prejudice.

In the Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/linda-bacon-phd-ma-ma/weight-of-the-nation_b_1516251.html), nutrition researcher and professor Linda Bacon dismisses the series as "bread and circus without the bread," comparing it to crowd-pleasing Roman spectacles that victimized society's weakest elements. "I shudder to imagine how this will intensify the already rabid prejudice against fat people in this country," writes Bacon, author of the best-seller Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight (http://www.haesbook.com). "Whatever remedies the show proposes won't work, so long as they aim to change the shape of a hundred million or more Americans (http://www.nutritionj.com/content/10/1/9)."

"We may be seeing one of the most misleading and misguided public health campaigns - ever," writes the website of the Association for Size Diversity and Health (ASDAH), "which has set up a site, "Debate the Weight," (http://sizediversityandhealth.org/content.asp?id=167) to address misconceptions in the series. ASDAH blogger Deb Burgard, PhD, a psychologist specializing in eating disorders, prepared a "Stereotype Management" primer to be used by people watching the series. When confronted with statements about disease, for instance, viewers might ask themselves, "does this happen to thin people, too?" Burgard recommends. (She also suggests playing "Fat Hate Bingo" while watching: Hear enough familiar stereotypes and slurs, and you win!)

As Michele Simon, attorney and author of Appetite for Profit: How the Food Industry Undermines our Health and How to Fight Back, writes on the Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michele-simon/weight-of-the-nation_b_1501588.html), "Scientific evidence shows that fat people have enough problems dealing with discrimination, bullying, etc., and the last thing they need is more fear-mongering brought to you by the federal government and cable television."

"The war on "obesity" is a war on PEOPLE!," writes Marilyn Wann in the SF Weekly blog (http://blogs.sfweekly.com/exhibitionist/2012/05/weight_of_the_nation_fat_shaming.php). "The No. 1 threat to fat people? Your unexamined prejudice."

When "obesity" is the target, sound medicine falls by the wayside. Unforeseen costs run from ineffectual medical interventions (like futile advice to reduce) to the collateral psychological damage that arises from stigmatizing fat. Meanwhile, billions of taxpayer and consumer dollars have disappeared in pursuit of a slimmer future.

Rather than a worsening health crisis, size acceptance proponents say, government data shows that people are actually living longer and healthier.  And then there are the many studies demonstrating that a focus on weight loss leads most often lead to weight gain over time and to "yo-yo'ing" weights that can increase risk for heart disease and other illness.

"The data is out there," charges Bacon, "so only prejudice against the aesthetics and 'otherness' of fat people can account for the hysteria behind Weight of the Nation. Movie-makers who truly mean well would do better to shift their lens from fat people to public policy and following the money behind the anti-obesity industrial complex that has emerged in past decades."

Have a weight-related story or question? Contact Linda for critical perspective and connections to additional experts and resources. Linda has been interviewed and quoted in national TV and radio broadcasts, and in blogs, reports and feature articles in outlets including the World News with Diane Sawyer, Good Morning America, New York Times, and Prevention magazine. She has also addressed significant professional gatherings including the American Dietetic Association and the UCSF Center for Obesity, Assessment, Study and Treatment (COAST). More info can be found on Linda's website (www.lindabacon.org) and in her online press kit (http://www.lindabacon.org/PressKit.html).

E-mail linda@lindabacon.org. Or call 510-542-7317.

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Source:Linda Bacon
Phone:(510) 542-7317
City/Town:El Cerrito - California - United States
Industry:Health
Tags:health at every size, obesity, Weight Loss, Diet, dieting
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