Bill Maher May Be Right About The Need To Fat Shame
It Worked For Smokers, Saving Lives and Many Dollars - Expert
Maher ridiculed that movement which excoriates anyone who criticizes a person for being fat - accusing such critics of suffering from fat-phobia and sizeism.
But shaming smokers - making them feel, in their own words, like "social pariahs" - was tremendously effective in helping smokers do what most already wanted to do, says public interest law professor John Banzhaf
While there may be little comparable data proving that similarly shaming people who are obese helps them to lose weight, if it worked to help people with a hard core addiction to a deadly and highly addictive drug like nicotine, it might likewise help people who absentmindedly pile more food onto their plates than they really need or is healthful for them, suggests Banzhaf.
The initial antismoking messages, which largely stressed the health dangers of smoking, were of only limited effectiveness, he says.
But when the messages switched to deliberately shaming smokers, the messages proved to be far more effective, especially among young smokers, notes Banzhaf.
A recent study concludes that the "total cost of chronic diseases due to obesity and overweight was $1.72 trillion - equivalent to 9.3 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP)," although the CDC's estimate is lower.
So anything which might help slash the prevalence and huge unnecessary costs of obesity - which, unlike with smoking, are continuing to rise - might well be worth trying, argues Banzhaf.
At a time when some companies are actually refusing to hire people who are obese and/or charging them far more for their health insurance, shaming the great majority who can control their weight by eating more healthful foods, reducing portion size, and getting a bit more exercise seems far less extreme, especially if it provides a much needed additional incentive for fat people to do what most already want to do - stop being obese.