Fat people: Victims or Gluttons?
A really large person squishes themselves down the narrow aisle of the movie theatre looking for their seat. What is the first thought that goes through your mind? Do you smile up at them invitingly? Or do you cast your eyes down and start praying that they walk past you and sit down next to the poor shmuck a few seats down?
The truth is, no-one wants to sit next to a fat person. Not in an aeroplane, a bus or in a movie theatre. You just know that your personal space is going to be invaded by their ample girth. The thing is, even if this discrimination goes on behind their backs, fat people are acutely aware of the prejudice, wherever they go.
- They just need to eat less and exercise more
- They need to stop eating so much junk food
- They need to stop being such a glutton
- They only have themselves to blame
- They are weak and have no willpower
But are fat people perhaps being convicted of a crime they didn’t commit?
For years I exercised religiously, didn’t eat any junk food, controlled my portions and counted calories. I diligently followed the advice of dietitians advocating the standard food pyramid. Yet despite all my exercising, eating low-fat food and including 10 servings of healthy whole grains into my diet, I just got hungrier and fatter.
I know there were probably many people who looked at me and judged me. I am sure they thought that I was stopping by KFC or McDonald’s every day, or eating 3 doughnuts for breakfast. And I obviously never exercised. They judged me without walking a day in my shoes. I don’t blame them. They were just ignorant of my reality and what really causes obesity. I was too.
What causes obesity?
Well, first of all, it is not as simple as eating too much and exercising too little. Obesity is a hormonal disorder involving an abnormal insulin response to carbohydrates with the result being excess fat accumulation. The more carbohydrates we eat, the more insulin we will secrete and the more we will store fat in our cells instead of being able to burn it off as fuel. The relationship between food, hormones and enzymatic reactions in our body is incredibly complex and scientists don’t have all the answers yet.
Obese people aren’t fat because they are eating too much;
they are eating too much because they are fat.
– Gary Taubes
Fortunately, not everyone gets fat from eating carbohydrates. It has to do with how sensitive your cells are to insulin. There is a genetic component involved here too. Fat moms will often have fat babies who turn into fat adults. Your predisposition to being fat starts in the womb. That being said, I don’t believe this knowledge has to sentence us to a lifetime of obesity. It does however give us some tools to start fighting back.
So listen up you larger than life people ……
Life is just not fair. Yes, it is torture having to watch your thin friend wolf down a large slice of chocolate cake and you gain 2 kilos just by looking at the darn thing. But if you are predisposed to getting fat and you want to be lean, you have to restrict carbohydrates (especially the sugars). All those delicious foods like pasta and fresh bread, cakes and sweets need to be tossed out the window. Thin people are very good at processing carbohydrates into usable energy – fat people aren’t. So you can either wallow in self-pity or you can take this information and make it work for you.
And to all you skinny people out there…..
Next time you come face to face with a fat person who is about to park their very large behind next to you, think about what you have just read and don’t be so quick to judge them. They aren’t all gluttons and sloths – they are more than likely victims of crappy genes, bad dietary advice and a hormonal disorder.
Hopefully, in the very near future, science will provide us with some definitive answers and solutions to the scourge of obesity. In the mean time I am going to do what I can with the information I have available. What’s the alternative? Sit back and do nothing? Not a chance!
Please watch this very moving 15 minute TED Talk by Dr Peter Attia. I promise you, if you are a fat person then this video could liberate you from years of self blame. If you are a thin person, then chances are you will never pass judgement and condemnation on fat people ever again. Its powerful stuff!
- Why we get fat and what to do about it, by Gary Taubes.
- Watch this 7 minute video clip: Why we get fat? by Gary Taubes now.