Memes, trolls and cartoon drawings often mock obese/overweight people. Such individuals are often stared at, disproved of and seen as a pain in public places and travel modes. How would you like to sit near an overweight/obese person who occupies more than 50% of your travel space too during train or flight journeys? We hate it and all the more, there is no solution for such problems. Either we get off the vehicle or the person reduces weight-both of these are not immediately feasible options and we are forced to bear the brunt of the problem. During one of my flight journeys, I was destined for the middle seat in a three-seater. I quickly boarded the flight and waited in anticipation to meet and greet my fellow passengers. Alas! I was squeezed in between two hefty people who were completely sorry for me, kept apologizing repeatedly but could do nothing more. Such situations are unavoidable. I cannot question on the weight of my fellow passengers near the security check nor there is an option to give my choice of seating (if this was available, every man traveling alone would even insist on sitting besides a beautiful lady 😊). So, what is the solution to this problem? Increase seat space and accept obesity? Though this seems to be an unfair solution, this is the current scenario!
Increased Seat Space
Many hospitals and restaurants are now having bigger chairs and sofas to accommodate bigger people. These chairs and sofas are almost double the size of what is a normal-size chair. Plus-size clothing brands such as Mustard, All and much more have sprung up and made themselves visible in every mall we travel. Fat people are not cursed and they do need to wear classy and stylish clothing. But, there are some women who feel that they have shifted from size 10 to size 8 even when their weight remained unaltered and the dress size still seemed like size 10. What has happened? Brands are standing by their brand value and customer satisfaction-satisfy your customer at any cost, even when it takes you to hide the truth! These brands love to provide mental satisfaction to their customers and make them feel good (in reality, they are still obese and too heavy).
These examples clearly show that we are trying to accommodate larger people in all possible aspects of life. A theatre or theme park built today is designed to accommodate overweight or obese people. Seats are bigger, weight load is enormous and so on. Once I remember visiting a theme park and standing in line for a water ride. The ride had a weight restriction of 75 kgs and the gentleman ahead of me was extremely upset after being rejected for the ride. He would have easily weighed more than 90 kgs. If the gentleman is still maintaining the same weight, he could easily go for a water ride in the present-day theme parks as they are engineered to accommodate hefty people as well (one way of attracting more people and minting more money). All these lead to the one question of fat acceptance. Even some celebrities, models and fashionistas support obese people, say that fat is normal and must be accepted unanimously by all. They strongly oppose against discriminating, shaming or showing bias against overweight/obese people.
Common But Not Normal
The problem at hand is interesting yet intriguing. There is a need to resize the world. No point building chairs on which people cannot fit. Airlines face this problem quite often when people hoard questions and complaints over them when they don’t have a comfortable seat to sit after paying thousands of rupees.
Taking a stand against shaming fat people is ok but arguing that fat is normal is not ok. Obesity/overweight is the cause for numerable health problems in our country and worldwide. More than one-third of the world’s population weigh in excess due to urbanization, poor diet and inadequate physical activity.
Obesity causes diabetes epidemic, arthritis problems and cardiovascular issues. Journal studies show that increasing number of people are dying from problems related to obesity such as cardiovascular disease. More than 2.2 billion people were obese/overweight in 2015 of which 710 million were classified as obese (this included 5% of all children and 12% of adults). 40% of the 410 million dying due to weight-related (higher BMI) issues were not yet obese but chances of death occurred as often in those considered overweight as in those classified as obese.
If we think that body shaming is going to do the trick and make these people take the right action towards becoming thin, then that’s not going to solve the problem. Neither do we have evidence that shaming somebody asking them questions such as “Are you not embarrassed to order for a burger despite being overweight?” or “Don’t you feel guilty occupying my space too?” works out and helps them lose weight. Individuals must take the right step towards curbing obesity epidemic by eating healthy food, doing exercise and leading an active lifestyle. Getting in touch with a registered dietitian nutritionist at www.firsteatright.com can help to ease this process and make it workable. That’s the way to manage obesity epidemic and not fall a prey to the fact that fat is normal. It might be common, but it is not normal.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.