We all know that the Americans have a reputation for being a bit chunky but apparently one in five Britons are now clinically obese too.
I heard on a radio programme recently that overweight people find it difficult to get jobs. The opinions and experiences of the interviewees ranged from just a general feeling that they didn’t get the job because they were fat, to a case where one woman didn’t get the job and was told quite explicitly that she could have a job if she lost weight.
In the latter case the job was in the “beauty” industry and the woman was well qualified, but the employer felt that an overweight person did not project the image which the company wanted to portray. Fair enough? I don’t know; what do you think?
Rumours have abounded in recent years that some airlines are considering compelling grossly overweight people to buy two airline seats. Well, I’m not in favour of airlines screwing their customers any more than many of them already do. But!… sometimes I do think it’s a little bit unfair that I can’t have a little bit extra cabin baggage. After all, even a 30kg bag and I together would still weigh less than some of the larger people on the plane. So why quibble that my bag is a little over the 7kg limit? Don’t get me started about airlines…
Why do people become overweight, anyway? The obvious reply is that they eat too much and don’t exercise enough. This seems to be particularly true of North Americans, and Brits too, perhaps. I know very few Thai words and phrases but funnily enough after “hello” and “thank you” one of the next things I learned was “pom pui” meaning “fatso”. Most Westerners are big and fat compared to the Thais.
We’ve all heard the news stories which tell us that some research suggests that it’s genetic, and that some people appear to be congenitally disposed to put on more weight than others following a similar lifestyle. That may well be. But in certain societies (some of the Pacific islands, for example) fatness is considered physically attractive.
Being fat can also be seen as a status symbol in some places, particularly Asia. It’s a display of wealth. Those of you who live in India, Thailand or Bangladesh will know that you don’t see many fat poor Indians, Thais or Bangladeshis. (It’s not at all uncommon to see fat “poor” Britons or Americans. Poverty is relative, of course; how many people in the West are trying to live on less than a dollar a day?)
And in the West particularly, but elsewhere too, the growth of obesity has spawned the massive growth of a whole new industry looking at ways to lose weight: the dieting industry. So not only do we waste money on making ourselves unhealthily overweight, we now waste even more on futile attempts to reduce weight without going to the bother of eating healthily and exercising enough.
It seems quite simple to me – don’t eat too much in the first place, then you won’t need to spend a fortune on dieting products. Easy to say, I know. I’ve heard it said that the easiest way for a fat person to lose two stones of ugly fat is to cut their head off.
Some people complain about smokers and how much money they cost the health system. OK, but I don’t drive or have children, and I’m not fat. So I’m saving the health system quite a bit too. Live and let live?
If you’d like to read more about what’s made it possible for obesity to be so prevalent these days, here’s a post on the subject:
Obesity – where did it spring from?