A bioethicist has called for an “edgier” strategy for promoting weight loss: shaming fat people. This got fairly wide coverage; here’s a typical article, featuring a faceless fatty:
For example, he advocates public posters with questions like “If you are overweight or obese, are you pleased with the way that you look?”
Then the clue phone rang, and the caller reminded us that American society has been doing this for decades and it hasn’t worked yet. Recent examples occurred in Georgia and Los Angeles, but there have been many.
Of course, this expert claims that it worked with smokers, except that what actually worked was laws banning smoking in (for example) restaurants. Can you imagine banning eating in restaurants? Also, fatness is a condition, not a behavior as is smoking. These campaigns really amount to saying, “Stop fatting it up! Just stop doing fatness, you fatties!”
Anyway, what research does he cite? I looked at his paper (I don’t really want to link to it, but you can find it on the Web), and he has 15 references, but most of these are ethics papers, not research. There’s an article (not research paper) saying that programs to reduce childhood fatness “seem to work”, and four research papers that are not actually about public health campaigns. So no actual evidence.
Quips ASDAH and NAAFA member (and our hero) Deb Burgard, “For him to argue that we need more stigma, I don’t know what world he’s living in,” and “He must not have any contact with actual free-range fat people.”
Also, isn’t bioethics supposed to actually consider, um, ethics? What exactly is ethical about saying nasty things to fat people? About deliberately hurting people “for their own good”? Here’s a hint, dude: Even if it works (it doesn’t), IT’S STILL WRONG!