The War on Obesity Is Counterproductive. Why Not Focus On Better Eating and Living for Everyone?
BY ABIGAIL C. SAGUY|DECEMBER 17, 2013
Why is First Lady Michelle Obama supporting the humiliation of fat people? Ms. Obama, who has made fighting childhood obesity her signature issue, recently appeared for the second time on the television show The Biggest Loser. She was on as part of a campaign launched by the Partnership for a Healthier America to encourage people to drink more water. Encouraging children (and adults) to choose water over soda and other sugary drinks is a good thing. But Obama would have been better off conveying that message without endorsing a program that uses the fear and loathing of fat people to scare Americans into adopting these behavioral changes. The First Lady’s endorsement of this abusive show—and its enduring popularity as its 15th edition marks its mid-season finale—is indicative of all that is wrong about the broader “war on obesity.”
In this episode, Dr. Abigail C. Saguy joins us to talk about her excellent new book What’s Wrong with Fat? Abigail is an Associate Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles and the Chair of the ASA Section on the Sociology of the Body and Embodiment. We discuss the difficulty of talking about fatness, the way being fat is framed as a problem, the potential for removing the stigma, and what can be learned from coverage of Chris Christie’s lap band surgery.