Who benefits from the media obsession with obesity?

moneyI’m writing a feature for the magazine about fat. Not that Beautiful magazine is all about that, it’s not. In Beautiful magazine we cover a diverse range of subjects including celebrities, food, reviews, fashion and beauty to name a few. But you know our policy is to only show models size 12 and over and to ban diet advice etc etc. So the way we view size and body image is my thing. I’ve been a body image coach for five years so it’s what I write/think about most. I’m compelled to write and speak out about it.

I know a lot about why people eat too much or too little and I know about the role that weight plays in the problem of food regulation. I understand what’s going on in the mind of an overeater because I am one and an undereater because I’ve been there too, but also because I’ve spent 20 years reading obsessively about it and five years talking to hundreds and hundreds of women about their thoughts and feelings on food, eating and body image.

It’s my specialist subject and I’m a writer so I do write about it a lot.

I read about it a lot too and I’ve known that with the way the media is in fat hatred frenzy I’ve always got plenty to read. I just didn’t realise how much! A couple of days ago I set a Google alert with the word ‘obesity’. Google alerts just let you know the daily news on any subject of your choosing. So if you type in the word ‘goldfish’, you’ll get a list of all the news that contains the word ‘goldfish’ delivered to you in an email every 24 hours. I’ve got quite a few subjects of interest Google Alerted but none have delivered like the one for obesity.

Today’s obesity alert has delivered the following news:

Bicycle charity joins fight against childhood obesity

Moms Talk: Is There a Link Between Childhood Obesity and Exposure to Food Ads?

Fast food outlets face ban in drive to tackle child obesity

Obesity and pregnancy guidelines stir debate

Obesity Raises Risk for Early Death in Nonsmoking Women

US Military Fights Battle of the Bulge

US study on cutting rates of Pacific childhood obesity

Fat Tissue Provides Clues to Treat Obesity-related Diseases

Meat, potatoes cause obesity?

How Do Food Prices Affect Childhood Obesity?

It’s like this every day. There’s no other subject that delivers like this one. And because I know a great deal about the subject I can also see that much of the news on obesity is twisted and misunderstood. A lot of people make a lot of money from propaganda about obesity and it has consequences. Let’s just take one of these headlines at random and look at it closely to see how twisted it is and who loses out and who benefits.

Obesity Raises Risk for Early Death in Nonsmoking Women.

Actually, I can’t. I’ll have to come back to this because it is so stupid and so dangerous and full of misinformation and half truths that it’s making me too angry to write. It’s not too far-fetched to say that if this ‘news’ report stops just one person giving up smoking or drives a non-smoker to take up cigarettes because they think it will help them to lose weight, it could be directly to blame if that person dies of a smoking related disease. More than one person will give up their plans to stop smoking after reading this so the likelihood is that the report will be responsible for more than one death.

If you smoke because of this irresponsible journalism, you won’t lose weight, you’ll just become a smoker of the same weight you are now. Think about who benefits from this ‘news’. Here’s a clue, it’s not you.

 

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