What is the Canadian Summit on Weight Bias and Discrimination and why should you care about it?
What is it?
The organizers believe thatÂ discrimination of the obese is “widespread among the public, health professional, media, policy makers and employers”.
They also believe that this discrimination has profound effects upon the health of those struggling with excess body-fat – leading to increased vulnerability forÂ depression, low self-esteem, anxiety, suicide, eating disorders, an avoidance of physical activity, poor outcomes inÂ behavioral weight loss programs and a reluctance to seek health care services.”
In essence, our discrimination of the overweight/obese leads to a further increase in their overweight/obesity and creates an ever-worseningÂ cycle of obesity and poor health.
And that’s why you should care….according to the summit organizers.
Here’s why I think you should care.
People discriminate….they discriminate for a lot of reasons – weight, race, beauty, income, sex, music, Â preference for body piercings, etc…
And not all discrimination is a bad thing.
For example, my ability to discriminate is what keeps me from watching crappy tv shows like Two and a Half Men. That’s good discrimination.
Unfortunately, there is also bad discrimination…discrimination which involves the prejudicial treatment of an individual based upon some personal Â characteristic – weight, race, sexuality, etc…
The kind of discrimination where someone doesn’t get hired for a job because they’re fat or black or gay.
So, yes, I agree with the organizers of this summit that discrimination based on overweight/obesity is bad.
And, I also agree with themÂ that people (doctors, media, policy makers, etc) who think that losing weight is as simple as “Eat Less & Move More” have no idea what the heck they are talking about.
Obesity is much more complex than that.
And yet….even though I agree with the two main ideas behind this little get together, I have to admit that I am more than a little concerned about what they are NOT saying in their promotional literature.
What’s got me creeped out is this little voice in my head telling me that there is a hidden agenda to not just shine a light on “the last socially acceptable form of discrimination”, but an intention to normalize obesity…to invalidate Â personal responsibility…to create a protective bubble of victimhood around every obese person.
For the vast majority of people, obesity is a result of poor lifestyle choices.
Telling them that they are victims isn’t doing them a favor. It infantilizesÂ them. It encourages them to give up on themselves.
And while we can argue that obesity is a disability, it is a disability that can be reversed.
But reversed by whom?
My concern is that by turning obese individuals into victims, we strip them of their self-control and give that control over to the health professionals and policy makers who organized this summit in the first place.
And that’s why I think you should care about theÂ Canadian Summit on Weight Bias and Discrimination.
And don’t think that because you’re not Canadian, this doesn’t apply to you. The world is a small place for the political correctness police.
Note: Keep in mind that my little voice of dread could be totally wrong. Everyone involved at the summit could have the best of intentions and I am just being paranoid.
Either way, seeing as they cancelled the press conference to the summit and are restricting access to the event itself, we will have to wait for post-summit press releases and any coverage given to the event by the big mainstream media companies.
When I know more, I will report back.
Bye for now.