Sorry, no thinkee – I Fatty

Once upon a time, before I became too disillusioned with the industry, I was a journalist. I had some fun – I met some amazing and fascinating people – but the majority of the job was slog dedicated to filling the upcoming news bulletin. ‘Real’ news, the big and/or interesting stories, happen far less frequently that one is led to believe. Most of the time your average hack is reduced to the ‘old faithfuls’ – subjects that are always topical and commentators who are constantly ready and willing to provide a soundbite. These days obesity (PANIC!) falls into the former category and there’s a slew of ‘personalities’ who fall into the latter, so I wasn’t really that surprised to see the headline Hefty price as Kiwis get too fat on the Stuff website yesterday morning.

Most of the article was par-for-the-course; a recent report from the OECD apparently shows New Zealand is the third fattest country, behind the United States and Mexico, out of thirty measured. (I haven’t read the entire report so I’ll take it’s finding with a grain of salt at this stage; certainly it looks from the article as though the figures used were all from different years so it was hardly a proper comparison – and we all know that the BMI, which is most likely to be the measurement used to define obesity, is seriously flawed. That is especially true for Pacific Island ethnicities.) There was the usual guff; politicians trying to score points, scare tactics about how obesity causes all ills, and the standard rent-a-crowd of kill-joy fatty haters (yeah, Robin Toomath*, I’m looking at you) but the kicker came towards the end where obesity was linked with stupidity.

I kid you not. The actual quote is even better:

“Public health nutritionist Bronwen King said the Government’s decreasing commitment to preventing obesity would “ensure we continue to enjoy the status of being one of the fattest nations of the world”.

Current trends to eat more processed foods would lead to obesity and undernourishment, resulting in children unable to reach their full intellectual capacity, she said.” (Emphasis mine).

Ok, let me just put away my Bachelors degree and graduate studies for a minute to address this point. Firstly Ms King relies on the oldie but goodie that fat people stuff themselves full of junk food. Leaving that aside (it’s such nonsense that I can’t even be bothered to refute it here) if one reads the words strictly as written and takes them on face value they refer to more than just junk food. The words she uses are “processed foods” which is a rather wide group… and includes such things as low or non-fat products. Now, there I tend to agree; I think feeding our children food which has been fiddled with in order to remove the fat is a travesty. And yet it is the norm these days – the current recommendation is that children should start on low fat dairy products at the tender age of 2. So-called health ‘professionals’ would prefer we stuff our kids full of chemicals and sugar (which is often used as a filler in such foods). How is that healthier than the occasional soft drink?

Whoops, what am I doing – questioning what I’m told? I can’t do that – I’m fat, and therefore thick as 2 short planks!

(*= Robin Toomath’s comment in the article was equally amusing – she said that with the current Swine Flu ‘epidemic’ the people having the most trouble were the obese, as apparently they find “… coughing and keeping their lungs clear is a real mechanical problem.” Yeah, Robin, thanks for the tip: I’ll add it to the increasing list of things I’m apparently not able to do because of my size. Because of course, Skinny You would know more than Fatty Me about what I can and can’t achieve in my day… I’m just lying, after all. And you’re not worth wasting an eyeroll on.)

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