Yesterday saw a debate on Good Morning Britain where Piers Morgan and Danni Levy advocated for fat-shaming as the cure for obesity. The conversation continued online:
James Corden has slammed a US TV presenter who claimed humiliating obese people helps them lose weight.— Good Morning Britain (@GMB) September 16, 2019
Is fat-shaming an effective treatment or just bullying?@piersmorgan | @susannareid100 | @CharlotteHawkns | #GMB pic.twitter.com/EmTG73QqRY
The fundamental flaw in this argument is that people choose to over eat and become obese.
Through years of experience we have met thousands of people in clinic whose lives are made miserable as a result of their weight. Very often these people have tried everything to manage their weight but are unable to do so. they are not lazy, feckless people who simply can’t be bothered to eat ‘properly’. Fortunately there is now a growing body of research to show that our weight, like so much else about us, is determined by our genes. Our genes impact on the balance of hormones in our bodies and can directly impact on our hunger and appetite.
Bullying people into feeling bad about themselves when they are probably trying all sorts to manage their weight already is not addressing the problem.
Most of us recognise that maintaining a healthy weight in the modern world is difficult, and to some extent we are all fighting our bodies. What we now know is that for millions of people that fight with their body is much tougher than for other people.
While we wait for new medications to be developed that respond to the latest research on gut hormones and proteins, the most effective treatment of obesity remains weight loss surgery. Millions of people in the UK would benefit from this treatment but fewer than 5000 procedures per year are done in the NHS. We speak to lots of people who are reluctant to have the surgery that would transform their weight and health because they have been made to feel ‘guilty’ about ‘resorting’ to surgery. In other countries the same prejudice doesn’t apply and many more people have weight loss surgery, for example 10 times more people in France have than in the UK.
Fat shaming and bullying is not the answer to this complex problem.