Bev Benda, Grand Forks, letter: ‘Obesity awareness’ efforts can make things worseI believe the focus on weight harms more than it helps. If it helped, then all the talk about the “epidemic of obesity” would have cured our nation by now. Instead, the trends have gone the other direction.
By: Bev Benda,
GRAND FORKS — Thank you to Dr. William Haug for his excellent letter promoting “People First” language, which describes people not by their medical conditions but rather by who they are as multifaceted human beings (“Focus on the person first, not the label,” Page A4, Nov. 29).
If I could add to this discussion as a registered dietitian, I would ask people to not identify others by weight status.
Let’s stop using such identifiers as “overweight child,” “obese adult,” “fat lady,” “chubby kid” or “huge man.”
And please, no more instant nicknames especially given to babies (yes, I did say babies!) and children, such as “Big Guy,” “Linebacker,” “Porker,” “Two Ton” and so on.
Those names tend to stick — and they hurt.
With the extreme media press on the “epidemic of obesity,” I am concerned that people are being ostracized and placed into camps of “overweight” and “obese,” and these labels have somehow overtaken their identities.
I do not believe there is such a being as an “overweight/obese individual.” Instead, each person simply is “an individual.”
It is time to stop categorizing people by weight and start putting their personalities, character strengths and diverse abilities at the forefront, recognizing people for who they are, not how much space they occupy.
I believe the focus on weight harms more than it helps. If it helped, then all the talk about the “epidemic of obesity” would have cured our nation by now. Instead, the trends have gone the other direction.
Surprised to hear this from a dietitian? I am not the only dietitian who feels this way. I am one of many in my profession who, early last year, wrote letters and supported a dietitian-led campaign to Congress asking them to please not pass a resolution designating September as “National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month” out of concern for children who already are being bullied for being larger than their peers.
We asked Congress to replace it with Family Healthy Eating and Lifestyle Month, a much more positive name.
Rather than focusing on limitations, let’s put our energy into what is positive, fulfilling, inspiring, awesome and hopeful. Let’s build each other up as People First and watch amazing things happen in all of us.
Benda is a life and wellness coach.