Natalie forwarded me an audio clip (below) today compiled by Christopher Connelly at the University of Santa Cruz about the politics of obesity. The clip focuses on Wellspring Academy, a school designed for children and teenagers who are overweight or obese. Some of the kids appear to be happy with the school, but one concerned parent voices her qualms about focusing so much on calories and weight loss. “You’re swapping one eating disorder for another,” she says. Her daughter is afraid to eat, particularly anything with fat. These kids typically have 7 to 9 grams of fat per day — a very low amount.
After reading Rethinking Thin by Gina Kolata, I am more skeptical than ever about these programs. To a certain extent, there are studies showing that obesity is dangerous to one’s health. But the obsessive component of this school’s approach is unnerving. These children should be getting good, healthy fats (such as Omega-3s) for brain and nerve development and sound nutrition advice — not calorie-counting extremism.
There is such a repulsion to obesity in our society that we’ve all but marginalized people who are heavy. The psychological implications for these people are terrible: they feel ashamed, embarrassed, depressed and suffer from low self-esteem. Wouldn’t it be better if we focused on healthy habits rather than on weight loss alone?