On air: Are fat people irresponsible citizens?

obesity-harming-planet Is it time that we see being obese as not just a personal choice, but one that negatively affects us all? Why do we ask?

a new report accuses of overweight people of attacking the planet by consuming more energy and food than others.

The British comedian Alistair McGowan gave an interview to The Sun this week arguing that, ‘it stands to reason we are eating more than we need to. Ideally, fat could be sucked out of some people and used to power vehicles. But, seriously, we could all improve our knowledge of the environment – and sensible eating is part of that.’

This Canadian blogger agrees and author Mark Bittman thinks eating right can help save the planet and has even made his own recipes.

– RyanAir is threatening to charge overweight passengers a so-called ‘fat tax’.

It’s not the first time an airline has tried to address the issue of public transport and big people. Is it time fat people paid for the space that they take up? Is allowing themselves to be overweight irresponsible if more space and energy on public transport has to be devoted to them?

– Overweight people use more health-care resources than people who are a healthy weight. Are you prepared to cover that cost? Should they have more concern not just for their own health but for the impact on society’s resources?

Or is this pure prejudice which shows no willingness to understand why some people weigh more than others?

Can we really blame overweight people? This professor says you could put on weight because of a fat ‘virus’.

What do you think, should we eat less for benefit of all of us?

169 Responses to “On air: Are fat people irresponsible citizens?”

  1. 1 Roberto
    April 23, 2009 at 13:34

    RE “” Mark Bittman thinks eating right can help save the planet and has even made his own recipes. “”

    —————- I’m sure Mr. Bittman is a well meaning do-gooder, but if I knew something of his lifestyle, I’d be happy to point out the ways he’s “killing the planet.”

    None of the people in my neighborhood planning meeting are fat. I live in a “young, progressive, eco-friendly” community that has blithely polluted it’s local crown jewel, a storied, temperate, spring fed swimming pool as well as polluted it’s once pristine air, putting the community under EPA guidelines.

    Now my planning community wants to waste taxpayer money and create an even larger carbon footprint by installing unsafe, poorly engineered speed bumps in the neighborhood. That we live in one of the safest neighborhoods, indeed communities in the world doesn’t register with them. These skinny citizens want to feel even safer the 98% of the world they already are and are willing to waste precious public resources to impose on their neighbors.

    Reminds me of the last administration making a complete mess of the world and the US in his quest “to protect America.” Gee, thanks for nothing, guys.

    • 2 Tyler
      April 29, 2009 at 18:35

      I agree with most of Frank’s sentiments. We need to treat everyone with respect and dignity as humans. There is definite biggotry when it comes to people of size. However, I am also a firm believer in individual accountability. Frank admits much of his condition is due to bad personal habits. There are so many resources out there now to become more physically fit (notice how I did NOT say “lose weight, because a lot of weightloss methods are NOT healthy).

      I do get upset with people who blaims their size on “genetics” or “metabolism”. The american population is getting bigger due to poor eating habits and lack of activity, not because our genes are changing. My main issue is that these habits are affecting America’s health, especially heart disease and diabetes. I work 40 hrs+ a week but take the effort to make healthy choices at the store and get a little exercise in. I do not think my healthcare costs should be going up because of other people’s poor choices. If everyone just ate a little less and moved a little more, then the world would be a healthier place.

  2. 3 Vijay
    April 23, 2009 at 13:41

    As far as the UK scenario goes the answer would be no?
    Because fat people eat more carbohydrates ,which are grown locally ,potatos and wheat for example,fruits,vegtables and fish however are mostly imported from around the world(food airmiles,bad for the environment)also beer and whisky are local ,tea and coffee are 100% imported.

    Fat people may not be eating more they are just burning less calories(if calories in are greater than calories out then there will be weight gain).

    Fatter people are poorer people and just like poor people around the world will have a smaller carbon footprint than rich people.

    Fat people are less active and will emit less CO2

  3. 4 Yusef Qaddura
    April 23, 2009 at 13:45

    Of course we should eat less. I don’t want to end up being an energy consuming fat person, and whoever is obese should seriously consider changing that, for themselves and for the planet.
    Fat people are much more likely to use elevators, cars, watch tv while eating fried food, etc. instead of taking the stairs, walking, or eating less processed food.
    Lose weight. Save yourself. Save the planet.

  4. 5 aseel
    April 23, 2009 at 14:21

    actually this is quite interesting. I think that excessiveness in all things destroys the planet and harms the environment , and yes obesity is an example. unless of course it is caused by a hormonal imbalance or some kind of sickness.

  5. 6 Patti in Cape Coral, Florida
    April 23, 2009 at 14:42

    Is the problem what fat people eat, or just the amount, because I know quite a few people that are overweight that don’t eat much meat, and I thought that was the main problem with the environment was the meat eaters. And what percentage of the environmental problem is due to fat people anyway? I don’t know, this seems kind of unreasonable to me, since the reasons for overweight can vary from person to person.

  6. 7 nora
    April 23, 2009 at 15:18

    For years I could not keep fat on my bones. In New York I looked fashionable, in rural California I looked like I was dying. I really doubt that keeping fat off is easier than putting it on. Why judge, unless your neighbors are cannibals?

  7. 8 Anthony
    April 23, 2009 at 15:43

    Oh gosh, a “fat” virus? Great. just another excuse for people who eat too much. Why is it just about EVERY obese person I know or have met has said its “I’m their genes”, thats the biggest load of you know what. Why can’t people just admit they have a problem, admiting is the first step, right?

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  8. 9 Tom K in Mpls
    April 23, 2009 at 15:48

    This is one of the silliest things I have ever heard. What about the aspect of obesity that affects me the most? That would be the cost of health insurance. The simplest and fairest thing to do is to make both obesity and smoking legal factors raising the cost of health insurance for offenders (yes, offenders!).

  9. 10 Jennifer
    April 23, 2009 at 15:49

    Eating right should be a consideration for improving your health; not how heavy someone is. Some people have legitimate reasons for being overweight including thyroid disorders.

    I can see it now. Hey! You are using too much air. Get out of my space! haha

    Why are we more concerned about the planet than the people who have to live day in and out obese? It seems like they should be the priority.

  10. 11 Peter sc
    April 23, 2009 at 17:24

    We fat more than we should. Me included. Reflect b4 yo eat, maybe we will fat right. If the entire developed world fast 4 1day it will save enough food 2 millions of starving people.

  11. 13 Scott [M]
    April 23, 2009 at 17:43


    This is truly the most ridiculous nonsense. I can’t believe that seemingly intelligent people keep bringing this up. Sure people who eat more, eat more! And, that means more resources (somewhere) are used. But you could also eat vegetables all day long and be skinny, and use just as many resources as someone who is fat, and eats clotted cream all day. We have enough problems in a our world with people judging others, we don’t need another one. Especially when it is based on such shaky ground, that we can’t possibly measure.

  12. 14 Jay
    April 23, 2009 at 18:13

    Killing the planet is the wrong word, there is a lot more damage thin people are doing that is not environment friendly, energy consumption, clean water misuse, flying frequently, name it. To save the planet we all need to do as little as we can the basics, switch off that right, unplug your charging adapter, walk to the restaurant and forget the nonsense of US should do more than Africa; obesity people are killing the planet etc. I feel sorry for obese people.

  13. 15 Sanjeev Praksh
    April 23, 2009 at 18:54

    Fat or not, most of us who can eat more than we need to or is good for our health. Eat less to save the world, eat less to save on fuel, eat less to save our aesthetics, eat less to save yourself. Poor people have a terrible time finding enough to eat; surely it is easier for the unhealthily obese to end their obsession with the wrong foods! Surely?

  14. 16 Luci Smith
    April 23, 2009 at 19:28

    I think that this is a new kind of racism.

    Please let’s talk about important things instead of this western body-fixated stuff.
    It is like women shaving body hairs and other stupid issues.
    For lots of Americans, it is an issue to be able to buy healthy food close to where they live and a lot do not know how to prepare it. And that is why so many are obese. They do not have the education or a personal trainer to look like Michelle Obama.

    • 17 Raphael Hoermann
      April 24, 2009 at 18:48

      It’s true eating healthily is expensive and not all easy when your poor. But it’s easy for the middle-classes in America and Europe to pick on the working-classes for being fat.

      I also agree that body fascism is one kind of racism and has to be as severely combated as any other kind of racism.

      With body obsession being ubiquitous in Western culture and media, though, this is a steep task. Hope at least Ryanair will be sued and setenced for their populist racist campaign for a fat tax!

      • 18 Julie
        April 24, 2009 at 19:00

        skinny people can make bad food choices that effect our planet also, we should all eat better and more responsibly fat or thin, what about fast food healthy places where if you eat there you get a discount on health care?

  15. 19 viola
    April 23, 2009 at 19:43

    If you despise fat people for being unnattractive and too lazy to stay slim, just say so. Don’t disguise it with bogus arguments. Personally, I think the problem is too much reliance on grains and other high carbohydrate containing foods. Look at a plate filled with food in any restauant and see how the cheap high carbohydrate containing foods are piled on. Learn to like nutritional meats, veggies and fruits and accept the cost.

    Running behind the dogs on the trapline, and cleaning up after them in the dogyard made it clear that when eating nothing but meat, the dogs produce less crap than when they are fed grain-heavy kibbles. The same would no doubt be true for people.

  16. April 23, 2009 at 20:47

    No fat people are not killing the planet, they are only killing themselves. Secondly, people should eat reasonably the right kind of foods and try to avoid over eating to the extent they feel stuffed up.

  17. 21 gary
    April 23, 2009 at 21:27

    Well no! The planet biosphere is a bit hardier than most folks give it credit. The overweight folks are doing a fair job killing themselves, however. Or maybe they’re simply doing a poor job of keeping a common addiction to food from killing them.

  18. 22 Bert
    April 23, 2009 at 21:59

    I don’t know how significant the effect is, but I can easily see that obese people need more natural resources to remain obese.

    Eating more food means more food needs to be produced, packaged, transported. Obese people easily consume two or more times more than “normal” weight people.

    Obese people tend to eat processed food to a larger degree. That also requires more resources than less processed food, to produce.

    Obese people tend to drive obese vehicles. That for sure consumes more resources.

    Obese people tend to walk less and drive more.

    So sure, it stands to reason that with obesity comes greater use of resources, even without bringing up health issues.

  19. 23 Dennis Junior
    April 24, 2009 at 06:40

    But can we really blame overweight people? (No…to a point….)

    What do you think, should we eat less to save the world? (Yes….)

    ~Dennis Junior~

    • 24 Dennis Junior
      April 27, 2009 at 03:02

      In certain cases…Overweight persons should be blamed for their weight on many reasons:

      1)Their poor diets
      2)Not getting the “exercise” they need…..

      ~Dennis Junior~

  20. 25 Anna Bateman
    April 24, 2009 at 12:52

    Large people get a lot of misdirected anger thrown at them. Dennis is right we can’t blame fat people. He is also right to say that we eat too much – it is surely an awful thing that the western world is suffering from unprecedented fatalities from obesity related illnesses and and the third world form lack of food. There are 800 million obese people in the world (WHO stat form 2006) and Malnutrition is estimated to contribute to more than one third of all child deaths (WHO). Yes we need to eat less, but we also need to impose fines of the fast food companies – put a heavy tax of food that is high in fat and sugar. It works to reduce tobacco and alcohol – why not bad food?

  21. 26 Dinka-kampala
    April 24, 2009 at 13:06

    I very single kg should be charge accordingly

  22. 27 gary
    April 24, 2009 at 13:36

    Here’s another thought: The tendency to store fat in times of plenty is evolutionarily essential to survival of the species. When the subject of fat anabolism is being discussed in my biochemistry course. I always say to the class, “Observe the rounder folks in the room. Were this a time of famine, you’d be looking at the survivors.”

  23. April 24, 2009 at 13:50

    Come on Ros,
    We eat less because we don’t have enough, those who over eat it is because they have enough. I strongly believe fat is a gene to some people who eat a little and they are just fat, while some tin people eat more than fat people. I am slim and eat small, but I wish to grow fat.

  24. 29 Jennifer
    April 24, 2009 at 13:57

    Re: It is like women shaving body hairs and other stupid issues.
    For lots of Americans, it is an issue to be able to buy healthy food close to where they live and a lot do not know how to prepare it. And that is why so many are obese. They do not have the education or a personal trainer to look like Michelle Obama.

    HAHA; yeah, that crazy fascination with shaving body hair! I am glad that we have that fascination here! However, not too thrilled about the fascination with Michelle…..horrible fashion sense…….. and yes, not at all in touch with the issues that real people face.

    I agree that there is a lack of resources that leaves some people at a disadvantage when it comes to eating healthy. The best foods for us can be the most expensive.

  25. 30 Apandega Austine
    April 24, 2009 at 13:58

    Well I think having lots of fat is partially the faults of fat people because they tend to eat alot. I know alot of fat people and the problem with them I think they do not abstaining from food just for ten minuites. I think if they could reduce the amount of food intake they consumed for a day which can be used to feed 2-3 people, it will go a whole lot with them. And also if they could reduce the intake of sugary food, the better for them.

  26. April 24, 2009 at 14:02

    There are people who can never get fat even if they eat ten times a day.

  27. 32 Tony from Singapura
    April 24, 2009 at 14:21

    I like the idea of charging fat people for extra space on aircraft, there is nothing worse than sitting next to somebody whose excess fat supply is oozing over into your seat.. let them buy two seats, I dont like to share as the seats are small enough already.

    Vijay mentioned that fat people dont make as much CO2, however I beg to differ, I recall sitting next to a fat fellow on an aircraft from Singapore to Japan. He fell asleep and started emitting a variety of noxious compounds including I guess SO2, CO2, CH4. This guy could easilly have played Amazing Grace on the colostomy-bagpipes without needing to draw breath once.

  28. 33 Kelly, from Chicago, IL, USA
    April 24, 2009 at 14:35

    I think there is a certain amount of responsibility to be taken by the individual. I am an obese person; I don’t take pride in it but I don’t feel ashamed of it either. I eat healthy as best I can. I have consulted my doctors for help handling insulin levels and for suggestions on what sort of a diet to follow. And in general, I follow it. But I lose weight very slowly. I can take responsibility to eat healthy as I can.

    However, I think we should examine culture as a whole. Why are so many more people obese now? Because cheap foods are unhealthy foods, and cheap food is most easy to produce or mass produce and make a profit. It is much more expensive to find actual locally produced foods.

    Additionally, at least in the US, there is such a drive to always be going and doing something. People do not value food enough to NOT eat fast food, or they have to sacrifice good and healthy eating for their jobs and family’s schedules. The best thing to fight fat with is exercise, and I can speak from experience that with a 12 hour work day I have very little energy to exercise after work. I do what I can by walking to and from work and biking for recreation, but it nowhere meets the recommendations.

    In our culture and our economy, being healthy and being eco-responsible is a luxury. Excess is prized and rewarded, whether in jobs or even in the upscale grill I went to last night, where you got your picture put on the wall if you could finish a 2 lb. burger in one sitting.

  29. 34 Robert
    April 24, 2009 at 14:39

    Sometimes maybe yes. But there are some medical reasons for being overweight.

    But simply because they are overweight doesn’t mean they are any less irrisponsible than thin people who leave lights on and fly around the world in jets etc. We in the west are consuming more resources than we should, and not just food.

  30. 35 Roy, Washington DC
    April 24, 2009 at 14:49

    As for the report that blames large people for consuming more energy and food than others, obesity isn’t the problem there. Overpopulation is the problem. This planet only has so much in the way of resources.

  31. 36 Judy Munyoki
    April 24, 2009 at 15:07

    Fat people are not irresponsible citizens, but if they cared enough to consider the inconveniences they cause other people and the earth we are living in (considering climate change) then they would cut their weight.

  32. 37 Russ
    April 24, 2009 at 15:10

    Not all fat people are that way by choice. Some store more fat than others due to metabolic reasons. Others put on fat due to a poor diet consisting mostly of carbohydrates. These types of food tend to be less expensive resulting in poor people consuming higher than usual amounts which result in the body storing the excess as fat. Let’s not forget that our bodies are no different than other mammals. In good times we store fat for use in lean times. Being skinny is not in any way normal.

  33. 38 Anthony
    April 24, 2009 at 15:32

    @ Luci Smith

    No no no, not even close to the new racism. If anything I’ve been looked down upon for thinking that obese people are 100% not attractive. There are actually reasons why also:

    1) Mentally, it shows lack of self control. Also, it’s a potential sign that they could have some “emotional baggage” which NO ONE wants.
    2) Physically, look at all the conditions that come along with that. They are dying faster inside.
    3) Instinctually, men don’t want to be with someone who already looks “used(had kids)”.
    4) Socially, when you go to events/out, they are sluggish, and quick to “go home” because they are exhausted. Can’t go on rides, needs more than one seat at the movies.

    I think these are ALL valid points that NO ONE EVER ADDRESSES!

    And yeah, we all here about the glands, but in the U.S., we know that excuse is garbage 99% of the time.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  34. 39 Jonathan in San Francisco
    April 24, 2009 at 15:46

    Yes, absolutely, fat people have no right to consume more than their share of resources. It’s decadent to indulge individual whims on the grounds of so-called “freedom.” Everybody’s lifestyle is everyone else’s business, and “society” should mandate less food, more exercise, less drinking, no smoking, more sleep, and less casual sex, to start with.

    San Francisco

    (Good to see the Ministry of Silly Topics at work!)

  35. April 24, 2009 at 15:58

    Allow fat people be fat, they have what to eat. I am small but I don’t think I can get fat even if I eat ten times a day and I like fat people.

  36. 41 Jonathan in San Francisco
    April 24, 2009 at 16:05

    @gary — “Observe the rounder folks in the room. Were this a time of famine, you’d be sprinkling them with salt and pepper.”

    Also, re the “tough biosphere,” been to the north polar ice shelf lately? Tell it to the polar bears. Sure, the planet is a tough old bird, but it won’t be as much fun without large mammals, including homo sapiens sapiens.

    San Francisco

  37. 42 Ron S. from Ft Myers Florida
    April 24, 2009 at 16:09

    I by far am not irresponsible. In fact, MY reason for gaining added padding (as I call it) was due to a serious culture change. I went from high-paced NY, to slower-paced SW Florida. I eat the same, if not less, but my activity has slowed significantly.

    Calling overweight folks irresposible seems a tad harsh, in my opinion, as most are NOT by choice. I think the real question should be:

    Does the mainstream media stress beauty,looks and fashion SO much that we have become superficial, judegemental and prejudiced to those who are NOT?

  38. April 24, 2009 at 16:20

    James from Kenya

    They are responsible citizens but irresponsible eaters. I think BBC questioning people loyalty over the bulge is irresponsible. Eat healthy

  39. 44 Valerie
    April 24, 2009 at 16:24

    I can only give an American perspective on the wieght problem. Personally I think some people are just plain lazy due to technology. Our neighborhoods and communities are built not to encourage walking, but driving, video games and computers are favorite forms of entertainment and we spend way too much time watching TV. Most people work long hours which leaves little time to cook a decent a meal, so you eat fast food or at a restaurant that serve enormous portions.

    I do not think it is an overweight person’s fault. What they can do is take responsibility and become more physically active, make a conscious decision not to eat junk, and not make excuses. I think their should be an extra cost to an overweight person’s health insurance, etc. as I should not have to pay for their ailments based on their failure to maintain a healthy weight. The same goes for people who smoke, or other habits that can/may contribute to their future well-being. If I spend time working out, and eating healthy, whay can;t these people make the effort?

  40. 45 archibald in Oregon
    April 24, 2009 at 16:27

    Excluding those who have legitimate physical disorders that cause them to gain weight, most fat people were trained by their parents and schools. Either from being overfed by good intentioned mothers and fathers, being offered high calorie sodas and snacks at schools stress or anxiety eating related to abuse in the home or school or just basic gluttony examples. Thanksgiving is usually a pig out fest in this country, as are many holidays which always encourage overt, excessive consumption on all levels.
    It is a myth, that there is some magical way to prepare “healthy” foods, in fact, highly processed and/or prepared foods are less healthy as a rule. It is our addiction to convenience that is making society fat. Fast food is the biggest culprit of all……..

    @ jennifer
    “Why are we more concerned about the planet than the people who have to live day in and out obese? It seems like they should be the priority”.
    Their gluttony and stopping it before the planet dies is a priority……It is arrogant and delusional to think this planet was put here for us to consume. Maybe a new rendering of the Last Supper should be commissioned in which all are portrayed as fat. A modern portrait, for a modern gluttonous society.

  41. 46 Long_Indian
    April 24, 2009 at 16:28

    I eat once a day, and to 50% of my capacity. I make it a point to eat light, nutritous foods so I can do other things with the energy my body develops than simply digest the food it devours. I drink and smoke occasionally but apart from stress related problems due to the current economic cycle, have no major illnesses or disease. I am 55 years old. I don’t look bad, though that is not the point of the exercise. It is to feel good and be happy. Please try to feel good and be happy too. The world will be a better place for it. Whether there is a ‘fat bug’ or a ‘thin bug’, use willpower to develop good, healthy habits if you are reasonably well-off and middle-class. When your body is in good health, your mind will be too. “Mens sana in corpore sano” – a healthy mind in a healthy body, said the ancient Greeks. Eat well, exercise well, sleep well, and be in love. Let this be your own path to blessedness.

  42. 47 Andrew in Australia
    April 24, 2009 at 16:52

    Undoubtedly they are, for all the reasons and more outlined in the story brief. It is generally something that can be avoided and is totally your choice. Strangely enough you will hardly find anyone who has sympathy for drug abusers yet there are many enablers out there who are ready to come to the aid of the obese with excuses and plenty of sympathy. The health aspect aside there are any number of reasons why obesity is not such a good state to exist within but people are either too lazy, ignorant or selfish to put in the effort to rectify their situation but will pound on the door of medicine to come up with a quick fix to something so simple. (I will remind you – energy/energy out, it is that simple). After all, this is your body, how much effort will you put into satorial satisfaction or grooming but can’t be bothered to improve your basic state of health and well-being. Something so fundamental yet often dismissed. And yes fat people are consuming more resources and causing problems associated with that as are the wealthier people who amass material possessions and fuel environmental degradation.

  43. 48 Patti in Cape Coral, FL
    April 24, 2009 at 16:57

    If we consume less food, buy less food, etc, will we be adversely affecting the economy at time when we are being urged to have confidence in the system and spend money? :0)

    I remember growing up on mostly rice, beans, occasional meat and fish, plaintains, yucca, eggs, and salad, because they were the cheapest and most filling foods to feed a family of 12. These are very healthy foods, but very starchy and may cause overweight. Even though we all grew up on the same food, some of us are obese, and some of us aren’t, so I don’t think a blanket statement about fat people being irresponsible is fair.

  44. April 24, 2009 at 17:00

    Consider the life styles of people in various countries and you will find in the United States the main topic of conversation is business and food. The way people live there is that most of the time they rather eat out for breakfast, lunch and Dinner. Since the advent of Television the family usually like watching programmes and whilst they do so they view advertisments which appear frequently, encouraging them to eat burgers and various foods. This encourages them to go to their kitchen obtain food so that they can sit eat, drink and watch TV. In comparison to Europe and other countries lifestyles people are more active, go out more and find other interests to pass their time, they walk a lot more and so forth, and food is not of main interest to them. In the United States people mainly use their cars and walk far less.
    As regards Mark Bittman’s thinking he is not alone about eating right, even people who are overweight think the same, but unfortunately for them they have cultivated a weakness and a desease to eat too much. Regarding his thoughts about eating right could save the planet, thats a lot of nonsense and untrue, he is trying to promote his own recipes. Overweight people do not realise by eating a lot they are expanding their stomach so that if they do not eat to feel full up, they would otherwise feel hungry.
    To eat moderately and not get to be overweight is right and is beneficial for every one to do. By eating too much, becoming fat and overweight by far, is not at all killing the planet, but killing oneself.

  45. 50 deryck/trinidad
    April 24, 2009 at 17:12

    Crazy debate I hope we don’t become cacomorphobic- fear of fat people.

  46. April 24, 2009 at 17:12

    On one occassion I have seen a grown up family of five in Los Angeles Airport who were so fat that I do not think two seats in an aircraft for each of them would suffice for them to fit into comfortably.

  47. 52 Carole Ann Geronimo
    April 24, 2009 at 17:19

    I am really sick and tired of people who are villainizing fat people. Does Ryanair weigh carry-ons? My son is very slim but finds airline seats very uncomfortable. That’s not about obesity but profit. What about the very tall person who may weigh more than the obese short person? Being overweight has nothing to do with choice, more to do with genetics, environment and perhaps, psychological issues. Maybe more obese citizens would exercise, watch what they eat, not hoard food, etc., if citizens didn’t snigger when they’re jogging in public (I just saw a young man who was traumatized by similar uncouth behavior in college), question what you eat, etc. As a parent I learned that the best way to change a habit is to reward, not to punish, to praise good behavior, not to denigrate and harp on prior bad acts and to love whatever that person might be. Maybe if print ads showed actual real people (not obese, just healthy), the obese would not perceive the gap between a healthy and unhealthy weight as a chasm. This is a very troubling and chaotic environment that we live in. Marginalizing the obese person will only heighten their own self loathing. Embrace and smile at the next large person that you see. They will get a lift that might make them think about that donut that they are craving.

    Let’s make the bankers, etc., the next pariah.

    • 53 Leslie
      April 24, 2009 at 18:43

      I’m sorry, but I am so sick of hearing people say it’s not your fault if you’re obese! We’re told these days that it’s our genes, or the evil corporations, or the government that is at fault for people being massively overweight in America. Do you really think someone is forcing you to be obese? I don’t know how much this trend is carried over to other countries, but in the US there is an acceptance that being overweight is the norm and it’s never the fault of the obese individual. This is ridiculous! I would like to eat chocolate all the time but I don’t because it’s not healthy. If you make the choice to lead an unhealthy lifestyle, that is YOUR CHOICE. Don’t try to pass it off on others and then insist that everyone else make concessions because you’re overweight. It’s time for people to take responsibility for themselves.

      Yes, some people are larger than others naturally, but someone weighing 500lbs is not that big just because of their genes.

  48. 54 ecotopian
    April 24, 2009 at 17:37

    To put it down to irresponsibility is itself irresponsible. There are so many factors that have led to the expending waistlines we see. We must look at them instead of just saying people can’t control themselves.

    Here’s a blog post from the NY Times: http://tinyurl.com/cvvazd (using tinyurl because the url is really long) It was written last year and it seems to indicate that all the convinces we now have have created a situation where obesity can flourish. When you take all these factors as a whole, it’s no wonder we’re getting huge.

  49. 55 saad , Jaffrabad Pakistan
    April 24, 2009 at 17:41

    Obesity is the mother of all diseases. We should eat less if we want to live more. Eating more is not good socially,morally and economically.

  50. 56 Patti in Cape Coral, FL
    April 24, 2009 at 18:09

    Are anorexics a drain on the system because of the healthcare and psychiatric care they require? Oh, but I guess they’re not a drain on the earth…

  51. 57 Andrea
    April 24, 2009 at 18:13

    People are assuming that all overweight people are fat because they eat too much. Many people who are overweight are that way because of medication or genetics. I know larger people who eat much better than thin people, eat less, exercise more, etc. but are still bigger. I think that everyone should withhold judgment.
    If we’re talking about carbon footprint, etc. one could say that the many thin, ultra-consumers that we see in magazines consume much more of the world’s resources.

  52. 58 Anthony
    April 24, 2009 at 18:15

    This women seems afraid of the truth.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  53. 59 Tara
    April 24, 2009 at 18:16

    This is going to sound extremely offensive, but fat people enrage me. While I understand that many people are overweight becuase of medical conditions or perhaps from medications that they take, HOWEVER, at least here in the U.S. there are THOUSANDS of morbidly obese people who CHOOSE to be that way. They eat like fat people and live like fat people, and they WASTE RESOURCES. Sure there are people who are overweight who can’t help it but most people can. It is as simple as not overeating and eating healthier and getting off your fat butt and exercising a little bit! Should we all be skinny? No. Should people weight 300+ lbs? Definitely not. While some people may become slightly overweight because of medical conditions or illness, or medications, there is only ONE reason why a regular person becomes hugely overweight, and that is from overeating, eating junk, and not doing daily activities or exercising. We should all focus on eating and being HEALTHY and fat people just aren’t healthy. It’s factual. We should work as a community, as a people, to help those who are overweight to become more healthy, and therefor help our societies and our planet become more healthy too.

  54. 60 Andrew in Australia
    April 24, 2009 at 18:17

    I was just waiting for someone to mention bone structure. You would have to have bones like a dinosaur to explain obesity. As for the comment on air by Carrie, don’t criticise the scientific researcher when you make claims you cannot back up and just substantiate with your opinion! Judging by the fact we do not want to use the word fat shows that the issue is being avoided.

  55. 61 Scott [M]
    April 24, 2009 at 18:17


    What about the depressed, the genetically predisposed? Depressed persons are statistically sicker then many other groups of the population, so should we charge them a premium. Some races have higher incidences of certain diseases, should we charge them more? This whole thing is so pathetically stupid and pointless. It is embarrassing this has made it to the mass media.


    Gay people probably use more health-care also. I think there is a fairly high incidence of depression among this group.


    Don’t they generally weigh more? Do Midgets get a discount?


    Statistically they must add extra weight. Mandatory reduction surgery.

  56. 62 Roseann in Houston, TX
    April 24, 2009 at 18:17

    I live in Houston, Texas – one of the ten fattest cities in the country, and I work for a Medicaid HMO where I work directly with disabled people, many of them fat. Fat does have a financial impact on the Medicaid system and on the medical system. Medicaid is paid for by taxes and comes out of the state of Texas’ general fund.

    The airlines have started charging for checked baggage because he cost of fuel is going up and more baggage weight uses more fuel…by that reasoning it is fair to charge fat people more for plane tickets.

    I have heard the “addiction” arguments, that alcoholics and drug addicts and gambling addicts just have to completely avoid their addiction, but food addicts have to eat 3 times a week so they can’t be expected to control their addiction. I say an addict is an addict, treat them all the same.

  57. 63 Christa
    April 24, 2009 at 18:17

    athletes also have a much higher bmi. they’re not usually fat. AND people are in general getting taller, which would also increase average BMI.

  58. 64 christian
    April 24, 2009 at 18:19

    Everyone seems to misunderstand how scientific studies work. They are not absolute they are about percentages and averages. The study is clearly not saying that all fat people are consuming more, it is just saying on average they are. There were many logical fallacies that were because of this misunderstanding.

    Corporations spend tons of money advertising which is why it is their fault. We could be using that money to repair our system but we use it to sell bad products.

    High BMI people are more likely to be higher consumers.

  59. 65 Doug
    April 24, 2009 at 18:21

    Yes, we are fat and getting fatter. This is likely due to our eating too much. Eating too much requires over-production of food. Over-production of food is an ineffecient use of resources (as well as an unequal distribution). Well, Duh! You’re study is another example of our ineffecient use of resources.

  60. 66 monine
    April 24, 2009 at 18:21

    we need to make a distinction between people who are gluttonous and people with a certain bone structure. people who get fat by exploiting resources ARE a waste on resources and should assess the emotional and spiritual reasons behind their habits. being big boned is not a drain on the environment. f

    • 67 Michelle
      June 15, 2009 at 16:00

      I hate this myth. As someone in the field of medicine I have decided to blow it out of the water right here. There is no such thing as BIG BONED!! All bones are equally the same size from individual to individual, with a slight variance based on height, and age. There is no such thing as an extra big bone in one person verses another, just like many of our organs are the same size with little variation i.e. the adult kidney.The term big boned was invented as a so called “politically correct” term for overweight people.

  61. 68 Anthony
    April 24, 2009 at 18:22

    @ Roseann in Houston, TX

    Are you serious? Just because medicaid is paid by taxes, doesn’t mean no one pays for it. We the people pay for fatter peoples problems.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  62. 69 Nathaniel
    April 24, 2009 at 18:25

    I am a student from a fairly depressed state in the US (Indiana) and I am wondering if there is a solution to this growing BMI issue, is it possible that the solution could not harm the global economy, or if there is an innovative solution which could even facilitate some growth.

    • 70 Sandra
      April 24, 2009 at 19:14

      Many people are food addicts. They need the same help as an alchaholic – a 12 step program. Food Addicts in Recovery is a organization

  63. 71 loser, loser loser
    April 24, 2009 at 18:25

    My Mother in Law says that a calorie is a calorie no matter which food group it comes from. Is there wisdom in that? In other words even if you are not eating lots of fats or sugars you still have to watch the AMOUNT you eat. For instance I frequently see fat people in the sushi bar and i think they may be ordering too many plates! Also I have noticed that even with a lot of strenuous exercise I still have to feel hungry much of the time in order to lose weight.

  64. 73 Jason
    April 24, 2009 at 18:27

    We( in western wealthier countries), over consume, period. Corporations are culpable, governments( especially ours in the US) are culpable, and we are culpable. It takes energy to feed, cloth, and transport EVERYONE. I think this story is being marginalized by this whole ” they’re attacking fat people” tack. We over-consume, that’s it.

  65. 74 Christopher
    April 24, 2009 at 18:28

    The problem of a higher average BMI is one primarily of infrastructure and privilege. I can afford a gym membership, I live in a town where I can easily travel to both a gym and place to buy fresh vegetables and healthier food. How many hundreds of thousands have to walk a few miles only to be able to buy highly processed food at a convenience store?

    Chris in Portland, OR

  66. 75 Lucy Spain
    April 24, 2009 at 18:28

    I think it also has to do with our attitude to waste, the millions of pots of yoghurt thrown out annually in the uk. In the UK we through away tonnes of food which all has been produced with its impact on the enviroment would have more of an effect than overweight people would impact.



  67. 76 Al North Carolina
    April 24, 2009 at 18:29

    Yes gluttony is one of the greatest problems confronting the world and its environment. But why not start with the most glutinous entities first, ie the global corporations! The sociopath, Fat cats of these corporations are running the planet for their own profit. Of course, people need to be self responsible about their eating and health. But to waist time pointing blame toward the individual is crazy when we live in a world lead and controlled by corporations who promote over consumption.

  68. 77 Jane
    April 24, 2009 at 18:29

    I’m fat, but it’s not from over eating it’s from lack of exercise! I really cannot fathom why overweight people are being blamed now for using up the world resources and global warming. Totally wrong…it’s those skinny people who keep popping out children that are consuming the world’s resources…take China for example and India!

    I recycle as much of the waste my household produces, I compost, I drive a diesel truck which I use bio-diesel, and I don’t do conspicuous consumerism. I’m easier on the environment that probably 20 so called healthy or normal weight people! My blood pressure and cholestrol is better than most of my skinny co-workers and I get sick less and go to the doctor less than they do.

    You can not judge or condemn every overweight person for the ills of society!

  69. 78 Cris from El Paso, Texas
    April 24, 2009 at 18:30

    Is the term “fat” really the most accurate way of talking about this issue? As societies engage in larger amounts of consumption and use of energy, fatness is not the only result. Larger levels of muscles on bodies and the methods of achieving this consume and use lots of food and energy as well but we would not say these people are fat. Are we not diverting our focus away from the complexities of consumption by placing fat people as the image of over consumption?

  70. 79 Lisa in Portland Oregon
    April 24, 2009 at 18:32

    I was born in Canada and currently live in the US.

    What is happening to our populations worldwide is the disconnect between where our food is grown and where it is consumed. Much of the North American diet is processed because it travels so far to reach population areas. Healthy foods are local and sustainable and therefore seasonal. Culturally here in North America we demand year round availability and accessibility, generating decades of processing methods that make it possible for food to travel great distances and sit on the shelf for weeks, months and years.

    We have started to change how we eat and where we get our food and are fortunate to live in an environment that has variety and bounty within a couple hundred miles.

  71. 80 Geoff, Alberta
    April 24, 2009 at 18:32

    As a former obese person I never thought that I was irresponsible. I chose to lose weight because I was tired of the social stigmas attached to being fat. I am aware however that being fat was fully my fault because of choices I made in my food intake excess fast food and lack of physical activity. Being over weight is really choosing a lifestyle that is more sedentary, rather than active. If you watch the energy levels in your food you can really eat whatever you want it is just self control and will power that is missing from today’s society. If people saw that dollar signs attached to their food maybe they would skip that second big mac, being fat is expensive.

  72. 81 A.J.
    April 24, 2009 at 18:33

    I think this whole issue is just too complicated for simplistic answers and uninformed debate. The overweight and obese are as such for so many different reasons and affect themselves, others and the world in many ways. Resources may be unfairly meted-out leaving some with less, medical difficulties are increased and in turn affect healthcare costs for all, and so on. Are we to judge others at all for their choices or biologically inherited tendencies? And if so, we must offer help, not just criticism or ridicule. Some have serious problems while others choose a lifestyle and habits that increase their girth. It is very complicated and a subject that should be broached with caution and sensitivity. Not all overweight people care to change a thing and some struggle every day. Who is to decide what SHOULD be done?

  73. 82 gary
    April 24, 2009 at 18:33

    We are converting fossil fuel into not only increased individual mass; but into increased numbers of bodies. As long as oil is available, this will continue. Wthout oil, humanity will find itself above Earth’s holding capacity, and will then change its eating habits. This discussion, and any number of additional ones as well, will not alter the path. Human nature is not broken; it just cannot be fixed.

  74. 83 Cee Denney
    April 24, 2009 at 18:33

    I am a woman who weights 100 lbs and who can EAT ANYTHING and not gain an ounce. MOst people I know who are overwieght because they eat highly processed foods and do not exercise.
    Eating is a right. Eating healthy to have healthy minds and bodies is a RIGHT.

    Organic food is too expensive for the populous to afford.

    Change our relationship with food and you will see a change in the earth.

    IF we respect our land and animals that make up our diets it will all change!

  75. 84 Richard in Amsterdam
    April 24, 2009 at 18:34

    I agree change your environment. I don’t know anyone without a car who is overweight. If you want to loose weight sell your car and walk or buy a bike even taking public transport uses a lot of energy, then turn your heating down and eat what you like.

  76. 85 Jason
    April 24, 2009 at 18:34

    We need to come to grips with the idea that our society over- consumes. This is NOT about ” fat people”. It’s about wealth and our culture of wealth.

    Perhaps then we can begin to really affect issues such as global warming, global fair wage issues, fair health care( especially here in the US).

  77. April 24, 2009 at 18:36

    In the discussion of obesity, one fact is never mentioned. Anti-depressants are notorious for causing obesity. What percentage of people who are obese are on anti-depressants?

  78. 87 Kathy
    April 24, 2009 at 18:37

    I am considered a “skinny” person, but it is my choice to be this way. I can gain weight easily, but feel better and healthier at a lower weight. I exert a lot of self-control and discipline to not gain weight. I also exercise regularly. Heavier people make comments like “no wonder you’re so skinny” to me all the time when they see me eating a salad and fruit for a meal. I work in healthcare and see the results that obesity can have on a person’s health. It is my responsibility to keep myself as healthy as possible and not allow marketing and easy access to food to influence how much I consume. It is up to me.

  79. 88 christian
    April 24, 2009 at 18:37

    People need to eat locally. Stop eating from chains that ship their food from around the country.

  80. April 24, 2009 at 18:38

    healthy lifestyle is dependent on education, at home and at the school.
    i was lucky to have had a mum who taught me many sports, took me hiking from my early age. i was lucky to find friends later at school who were also keen on sports and we did sports together. it is still part of my life – it is difficult to go one day without doing sth. if you do sports you are more likely to eat healthy, too.
    problem: healthy food is MUCH MORE expensive than trash.
    television is also a problem that is ruining our life. try doing without tv for one month and be selective or throw it out altogether.
    i have not gained a single kilo in the last 30 or so years, am 63 now.
    so: more, quality education, less TV is the simple solution. AND making healthy food cheaper and more available.
    i am abhorred to see all these young people still flooding to mcDonnalds, drinking poison(coke etc.)
    and abhorred to see al these ads that proclaim: with THIS tablet – and it is always sth. new (big business) you will lose weight and you CAN EAT ANYTHING YOU WANT: these ads should be forbidden but they are not.

  81. 90 Jason Stevens
    April 24, 2009 at 18:38

    There’s a big difference between looking at individuals, and looking at society in the aggregate. Individuals may be skinny or fat, by their own choice or not. But the data from the report don’t describe individuals; they describe whole populations. If society as a whole is getting fatter, it’s fair to conclude that this is because we are eating more food, or at least more food of the type that makes us fat. And if food production, especially of this latter type, causes climate damage, then that’s a problem that is fairly linked to our society’s eating habits. It has nothing to do with fat people; it has to do with the trend of people as a whole becoming fatter.

    I think it’s a red herring to say that the report blames fat people for environmental damage. It’s more accurate to say that it links the choices that all of us make, collectively, to the problem – because after all, it is we as consumers who are creating the demand for these foods. Should we blame the businesses who supply what we want? When’s the last time you wanted a cheeseburger, but chose to eat carrot sticks instead?

  82. 91 Greg Clapp
    April 24, 2009 at 18:38

    I agree that healthy food is far more time-consuming to prepare, but it’s really only slightly more expensive than cheap, fattening food. It doesn’t have to be a choice between pizza or hamburgers, or highly expensive, organic, hormone-free foods. People just need to start shopping in the produce section more and actually preparing their own food, rather than stopping at McDonald’s for family dinner. Every supermarket has reasonably priced healthy food, such as produce, meats, beans, etc. You don’t have to shop at health food stores and spend tons of money to eat healthy meals!

  83. 92 Ralph B in Brooklyn, New York
    April 24, 2009 at 18:39

    I’ve managed to lose a fair amount of weight by virtue of a lower-carbohydrate diet. (Not a fanatical, absolutist diet, just one with a generally lower glycemic index.)

    While I believe that the diet works by managing total satiety and so lowering my total calorie intake, I dare say that my carbon footprint is greater now, because of a greater reliance on animal products that require higher levels of energy to produce.

  84. 93 Timotheae
    April 24, 2009 at 18:40

    I think responsibility is split between the individual and government – food is just like fuel usage, we can choose to drive less, buy efficient cars, but it also helps if the government sets higher fuel standards. It will take action from both sides to create any real change.

  85. 94 Sujata
    April 24, 2009 at 18:40

    People who work are too busy in the US, thanks to the long hours culture, to shop and cook fresh and healthy meals for themselves or their family. It is a stressful life which naturally leads to quick-fix ready-meals or take-away meals which tend to be higher in fat than homemade food.

  86. 95 Jane
    April 24, 2009 at 18:40

    One positive thing about being a fat person…I can survive longer than a skinny person can in freezing water or cold weather!

    Ha! Take that you paranoid skinny people!

  87. 96 Andy M.
    April 24, 2009 at 18:41

    Both the professor and the moderator somewhat agree with the lady in Chicago struggling to get unprocessed/organic foods because of the prices. Further, the professor added that governments promote or allow these measures for processed food and availability of unhealthy foods in lieu of available healthy foods.
    I live in washington, D.C. I commute to school everyday for 45 miles, because it costs too much to take the public transportation (train). This would also be something that the government allows. So then we have to continue to blame governments for policies that contribute to the problem. In one case it is promoting unhealthy or “Fat” people and in another contributing to carbon emissions via driving automobiles to work as opposed to public transit.

    At what point do we stop blaming governments and step in and make a difference.

  88. 97 ben in San Francisco
    April 24, 2009 at 18:41

    In wealthy countries POOR people are more likely to be fat than rich people. Being overweight is about lousy food choices we make as a society. By the time a person gets involved they are choosing between lousy and limited options.

  89. 98 Jim
    April 24, 2009 at 18:41

    I tend to agree with the professor, but I think one important point is missed. The problem is not fat people, it is over consumption. However, we cannot measure consumption easily, so we use the mildly crude measure of weight to measure consumption. I think we should discuss if weight is a good measure of consumption!

  90. 99 Susan
    April 24, 2009 at 18:42

    We need to be very careful with this. We must anticipate that a perfectly ncessary and innocent scientific study such as this one can have unanticipated consequences. One of these is to set up people who are especially overweight as convenient scapegoats for any food supply and climate problems we may face. As we try to face these problems, we have to move on that one at the same time. The human brain is wired to find scapegoats, just as it is wired to eat too much if available. Maybe we ought to stop talking about “fat people” at all, and start focusing on corporate advertising. Advertising is obviously manipulative and obviously effective. Companies wouldn’t pay for it otherwise. Advertising tells me constantly that I need to buy highly processed unhealthy food in large amounts to be satisfied, and especially some higher-priced groceries like meat.

  91. 100 Nicole
    April 24, 2009 at 18:44

    I fear that we are missing the doctor’s point. He is talking about populations and the messages that come from developed societies that create and maintain obesity. Stop with the blame game on obese individuals and look at the true causes. It’s society’s problem of course because society created it.

  92. 101 Evan (Oregon, USA)
    April 24, 2009 at 18:44

    It has as much to do with diet as activity.
    I live about a mile from work. Usually I ride a bike, sometimes I walk. I’m in pretty good shape for a 40-year-old. I have coworkers who drive less than four blocks, and then take the elevator up a single floor. And guess what? Most of them are overweight, if not obese. I have done no official study, but my personal observation tells me that overweight people are lazy, and obese people even more so. Regardless of how much they eat, they go out of their way to avoid physical activity.

    Is it any wonder that when I travel abroad I can spot Americans by simply looking at their waist line? One bonus of being a thin American (although less so with our current President): when I do travel abroad, because I’m not overweight people don’t assume I am an American. I think they actually treat me better, with more respect. No kidding.

    Because I am active and fit, I can eat more. I just choose not to.

  93. 102 Kelly, from Chicago, IL, USA
    April 24, 2009 at 18:44

    I was a little nervous on the show, but I hope my point got across okay.

    While an individual would have to be a moron not to know when something is unhealthy (like pizza, cheeseburgers, etc.) and you can eat healthier, eating GREEN and healthy and really getting safe foods is above my financial ability and above a lot of other people’s too.

    I think the stereotypes about fat people are pretty bad. Besides, who do you know that is fat and does not WANT to lose weight? There is so much shame and cruelty directed at fat people, how can people actually choose that life? I certainly don’t. I try my best to be healthy according to my finances and my time!

  94. 103 Tom D Ford
    April 24, 2009 at 18:45

    Thirty some years of descent into Conservatism has resulted not only in an unhealthy economy, but in unhealthy lifestyles, unhealthy food, fatter people, unhealthy consolidation of businesses into big fat conglomerates, unhealthy politics, etc.

  95. April 24, 2009 at 18:46

    Professor Roberts misses the point in presenting his theory. He appears to be criticizing The Establishment, but at the same time he represents that Choice in regard to what one eats and the amount of one’s food intake is an individual responsibility (he praises individuals for making an effort to adjust their eating habits). By presenting the two together (the fault of the Establishment AND the choice of the individual), HE creates the confusion that implies “fat people are being irresponsible”. The appearance of scapegoating a particular group in society does not help the debate of his topic.

  96. 105 Nettie
    April 24, 2009 at 18:46

    Fat populations don’t eat more than skinny populations they eat different foods than skinny populations. Skinny populations eat diets composed mostly of things like rice, vegtables, corn , potatoes, beans, etc. Fat populations eat lots of animal products and processed refined foods. As populations become richer thay switch to the diet of affluence and become fatter and sicker. Heart disease , cancer , obesity, diabetes, etc are markers of these richer populations eating the richer diet.

    I am a thin vegan, and not only do I eat vegan but I also aviod all the vegan junk food and stick to whole foods of fruit, vegtables, grains and beans. I started out in life eating the rich diet and started getting fat at age 12. Now at age 53 I am slim. I am vegan for compassion and oppposition to cruelty and exploitation but the side effects of being thin and healthy are great too!

    Nettie in Corvallis Oregon

  97. 106 Arjun Kolhatkar
    April 24, 2009 at 18:47

    I agree with the professor Ian Roberts because when i came here from India, i put on weight. And the reason for that was that the type and quality of food (in terms of how healthy it was) was not available to me. The organic food stuff here was too expensive, and the food that is presented to me as a consumer is the regular fatty fast foods etc. I think it IS a societal problem because the country makes it easier and cheaper to eat something that’s less healthy for you (like what you can get in WalMart), however, in India we generally eat healthy because that’s the nature of the food that’s available to us (like rice, naturally grown vegetables, etc). One thing that disturbs me here in the US is that most things come in packets, cans, boxes, and bottles….hardly any of it is in its raw, and probably, healthier form.

  98. 107 Sandra
    April 24, 2009 at 18:47

    Over eating is an addiction problem – I’m a food addict, it is like being a drug addict. I need help just as a drug addict does.

  99. 108 Catherine
    April 24, 2009 at 18:47

    Discussions such as this should not focus on the exceptions like: I’m fat because it is genetic. This is quite rare. I come from a family of very large people who used to be thin, if I had not educated myself and made nutrition and lifestyle I too would be obese, without a doubt. I made a choice, however, to be healthy. I will also teach my children – as I was not – about how to make these choices. Weight and eating are choices by and large.
    I don not think this scientist ever meant to make a sweeping survey of global warming that had fat people be the ultimate reason for this phenomena. The response that colors his study as doing this are symptoms of a problem of lack of personal responsibility. Fat people consume more, it is a fact, especially when it comes to health care. Educate yourself, take control of your life. This will have a benefit effect on the world in incalculable ways, including the environment.

  100. 109 Jason in Memphis
    April 24, 2009 at 18:48

    I am an Iraq veteran who lost half his foot and has serious damage to my right leg. Since my wound I have a constant struggle with my weight but manage to keep myself at a 36 inch waist. I have had to learn new ways to exercise and adjust my diet.

    Because of this I hate it when people say they can’t lose weight. The excuses always amaze me. They range from “I don’t have time to eat properly or exercise” or “my joints hurt too much to exercise”. Everyone has time to eat properly it just takes planning. And if there is one thing I have learned there is an exercise ANYONE can do.

    People these days blame their weight on anything but themselves. We have the medical community/pharmaceutical companies coming up with new syndromes or illnesses that give people something to blame their weight on other than themselves.

  101. 110 Scott [M]
    April 24, 2009 at 18:48


    Why should we care about the future? What logical/philosophical reason is there to do so? Who says life must continue? Life in general is a drain on the planet, perhaps it should all end. It is so precious, sentimental and egotistical to think it must continue—as if we, or it, was so special.

  102. April 24, 2009 at 18:49

    Dear World Have Your Say Friends

    Here in Argentina the National congress has approved a law that force the government to provide a free health service to help people with overweight stop eating. I think this is a good idea, helping people to become more responsable.

    I hope my comment is useful for your program

    Thank you very much.


    Santiago from Argentina

  103. 112 christian
    April 24, 2009 at 18:49

    I find it interesting that many non scientist love to define what is or is not science. Most of them don’t even know basic critical thinking or know what constitutes a logical fallacy.

  104. April 24, 2009 at 18:49

    Ok, it’s completely utterly ridiculous to generalize this. I’m sure that overweight individuals may use more resources but that doesn’t suggest that there’s a complete irresponsibility on their part as well as justifies anyone putting blame on them for environmental issues. I hear him say the BMI is creeping up everywhere; yeah it is because as humans we have changed our lifestyles completely. We are ay more sedentary, we sit in our offices/cubicles for work; we just drive through for food or drive to the store. I am surrounded by heavy people everyday (look up Indiana’s ranking in obseity…top 5) and I live a very green lifestyle, I call myself very environmentally conscious/social conscious and I would never put the label on overweight people like Prof. Roberts is doing…to be honest we are all irresponsible in regards to taking care of the world in someway.

    It’s big in America b/c its always discussed in America…weight and body image is a big deal here.

  105. April 24, 2009 at 18:49

    This idea of blaming “society” for people’s bad behavior is ridiculous. People are not mindless automatons without the power of personal choice. I live in the US and in a state with an extremely high percentage of overweight people, yet I’m trim and healthy–because I CHOOSE to eat well (and cheaply, I might add), I CHOOSE walking as a means of transportation, and I CHOOSE to exercise daily. Just because there’s a McDonald’s on every corner doesn’t mean you have to go in there and eat that stuff.

  106. 115 Barbara in Oregon
    April 24, 2009 at 18:50

    I wonder if you or your guest is aware of the lawsuit I heard about on the issue of the unavailability of healthy food. A mother and son in a low-income area in Los Angeles don’t have easy access to a grocery store, only fast food establishments. This reflects the lack of good public transportation, the lack of grocery stores in low-income areas, and the prevalence of fast food establishments.

  107. 116 Patti in Cape Coral, FL
    April 24, 2009 at 18:50

    I need some numbers, how much of the environmental problems are caused by obese people consuming too many resources? I haven’t heard anything concrete.

  108. 117 christian
    April 24, 2009 at 18:50

    Apples are not a dollar in America. I buy apples organic way cheap at local farmers markets. No one buys locally or it would be cheap to eat organic.

  109. 118 JJ
    April 24, 2009 at 18:50

    WHYS… WHOA… Hello! I live in OR. That women in Astoria is talking nonsense. I am a mother, work full time and fix dinner for my family EVERY NIGHT consisting of lean proteins and veggies.

    Getting back on topic – as a whole, the planet needs to be healthier because it does cost us all (medical, environment, etc). Every person needs to do their part. I try to eat right, I walk to work, and don’t eat fast food etc. However, America specifically, is geographically HUGE. We don’t have the options that other countries do with smaller localized living centers. I have lived overseas and it was much easier to live without a car, shop every day, etc. Here, I find it much harder to “live local” (and thus healthy). I am lucky to live in a city like Portland that really tries to make that shift but we still have a long way to go.

    Can’t wait for you to come to Portland!

  110. 119 Sandra
    April 24, 2009 at 18:51

    What would the impact on the world if every one ate 3 pieces of fruit, lots of cooked vegitables and a big salid every night?
    Wouldn’t it take a lot of energy to produce good fresh fruit & vegitables for everyone?

  111. 120 Jacob Haugen
    April 24, 2009 at 18:51

    Responding to Janice, I live in Portland, Oregon and I believe she’s touched on an interesting point. 1/3 of the state population lives in Portland and there is an interesting dichotomy that exists between obesity and good health. On one hand we have a strong community of people who rely on locally grown foods, acquired through farmers markets or local grocery stores; utilize mass transit or bike for their primary mode of transportation; and are very aware of their ecological impact on the community and world at large, much more so than the majority of US cities. On the other hand, there is a plethora of sedentary obese individuals attributed to our frequently overcast skies (necessitating indoor activities); our diverse variety of restaurants and eateries; and the general level of acceptance obese people receive here. I think the important point to note is that a definite psychology exists, one of the immediate that completely affects our willingness to take the time required to live healthy lives. Biking to and from a farmers market to gather local produce to prepare at home is a much longer endeavor than driving around the corner to a fast food stop that will serve you in 10 minutes or less.

  112. 121 Rita
    April 24, 2009 at 18:52

    I think overweight is a personal responsibility, because each person is given a body to live in, and it’s our responsibility to care for and maintain it. Of course there are many more temptations now to eat nutrient dense, processed food than there was in earlier generations. But the processed food generation(s) also coincide with an “if it feels good, do it” philosophy of life. Nobody talks much about withstanding temptation these days.

    I’m about 20 lbs overweight, and I struggle daily to lose some, and not gain more. My biggest problem is a too-sedentary lifestyle, the abundance of bad food all around me, plus being addicted to carbohydrates. But it’s still my choice what I eat, and how much.

  113. 122 Dan, DC
    April 24, 2009 at 18:52

    Food here in the US is incredibly expensive for the quality and quantity you sometimes get. Unfortunately, it seems fatty foods cost less. A package of ground beef with a ratio of 20% fat to 80% meat costs at least $1.50 less than beef with a ratio of 10% fat to 90% meat. There is often no other choice but to buy the fat.

  114. 123 Tom D Ford
    April 24, 2009 at 18:52

    Professor Roberts is right all around

    Remember back in the 1990s when Conservative Republicans gave huge tax breaks to people who bought big gas guzzling SUVs that weighed over something like five thousand pounds, 5,000 lbs? They not only defeated better CAFE (Mileage) standards, they gave tax cuts for gas wasters. They could well have given tax cuts for bicycle riders, to people who walk or run to work and back.

  115. 124 Tori
    April 24, 2009 at 18:52

    In the West, portion sizes have steadily increased at home and in restaurants, nearly every processed food contains high fructose corn syrup which is highly addictive, our meat is pumped full of hormones which affect the metabolisms of those who eat the meat, we are less active than we have ever been and daily stresses are playing havoc with our bodies’ ability to metabolize sugars and fats in food. Organic, healthy foods are expensive and unhealthy food is cheap. Is it any wonder we are growing fatter and unhealthier with every passing day? People, stop judging each other, stop the attitude of superiority and put the blam where it belongs—on the huge agribusinesses who gain monetarily from our increasing weight gains.

  116. 125 George
    April 24, 2009 at 18:52

    I have two sons who lost 100 lbs each after college. One did it by moving to the Dominican Republic where there are no fast food restaurants or processed foods. The other did it by sheer will power. Both have kept their weight off for at least a year.

    I think people in the US can easily gain too much weight because of the excess of fatty foods and plethora of fast food restaurants or restaurants in general. This make it incredibly tempting in a society where fast is rewarded with more dollars. My wife and I choose our food carefully but it costs two to three times more to eat healthy than to eat the processed junk!

  117. 126 Lynn in Portland Oregon
    April 24, 2009 at 18:53

    I’ve lived in Oregon for 10 years and there are a stunning number of overweight people here. A sorry sign that obesity is being normalized is that so many teens are overweight, despite this they wear skimpy clothes with their “spare tire” hanging out. They see this as normal.

    I hope that obesity becomes like tobacco use and there is a general recognition through out the sommunity that this is a leading cause of early death and disabliltating disease.

  118. 127 Cullen from Kentucky
    April 24, 2009 at 18:54

    The problem is not necessarily just an indiviuals. The problem comes down to the fact that the price of healthier foods are much higher than that of the unhealthy foods with massive advertising campaigns promoting the unhealthier foods. Personally as a college student the prices of healthy foods makes it more difficult to eat healthy. Transitioning to healthy foods because of the amount of time invested in cooking and the amount of money spent on healthier foods is very difficult for anyone to do let alone a college student strapped for time and money.

  119. 128 Jay
    April 24, 2009 at 18:54

    One word: Amphetamines.

  120. 129 Michael Dane
    April 24, 2009 at 18:55

    Concerning Fat people and their responsibility. I think it is a bit oversimplified in the forum it is being presented.

    My mother spent her adult life morbidly obese, fought against it every day and lost. The roots in her case were psychological, but the system, government society contributed.

    Steroids in our food here in the US are underestimated in contributing largely to obesity. Just look at a chicken or a cow in a “thin” civilization. Ours are dinosaurs by comparison.

    About consumption. I am considered very fit and slim although I eat a tremendous amount of food and burn those calories in the gym, while my mother, for instance, who died last year, probably consumed the same amount of calories, and fat as I did. She was ridiculed daily and I am praised daily for the same practices.

    Our culture of obesity, is a disease of sorts. Many people compensate or escape into eating and it’s on every corner and every commercial, being sold as tantalizing morsels, when in reality they are mostly deadly processed bits of heroin sold as food. Think of it in terms of drug addiction, we penalize the consumer, but the suppliers are equally at fault and the pushers, in this case the commercial selling of bad food, should shoulder most of the blame.

  121. 130 Tom D Ford
    April 24, 2009 at 18:55

    These fat callers are not hearing Professor Roberts, they are claiming victim hood when he has not attacked them. I wonder what the psychology is here?

  122. 131 anne
    April 24, 2009 at 18:56

    In the us, we need to point the finger at the government.

    Meat is subsidized, vegetables are taxed. Fix the farm subsidies!

    Fast food is encouraged. Food choices in America are disgusting.

    Fat people here are very defensive because thin people are mean to them. Lets work together instead of being punitive.

  123. 132 Dee in Chicago
    April 24, 2009 at 18:56

    I think too many people (over-population) is a bigger problem that fat people.

  124. 133 Jason
    April 24, 2009 at 18:57

    This issue is systemic. Wealth distribution and consumerism is at work here. Highly processed, high fat food is marketed more heavily, sexier and CHEAPER.

    The working poor in the US buy more fast food, don’t have adequate healthcare or mass transit infrastructure to facilitate healthier lifestyles.

    Produce and healthier foods are more expensive and less profitable than highly processed foods. Our healthcare insurance system values profit and intervention over prevention. This is a reflection of our culture of consumerism.

  125. 134 Meredith in Oregon
    April 24, 2009 at 18:57

    This issue is far more complicated than taken at face value. Living in the United States and working in social services, I must say that I have seen first hand how systemic poverty has a huge hand in weight issues here in the United States. It is far cheaper for a family in the United States to eat processed food, heavy in corn syrup and carbohydrates than a lean, produce laden diet. I see mothers trying to feed families of five at the grocery on the limited food stamp allowance – their carts are full of carbs, ground beef, et cetera. These types of foods are the cheapest to buy. Not to mention that lack to equal, quality education in the United States further contributes to the disparity between healthy eating habits, so often the privilege of the well-to-do.

    Furthermore, as many other listeners have pointed out, there are various medical conditions that lead to weight gain in some individuals. My partner suffers from Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, which leads to her being overweight despite the fact that she goes to the gym four times a week, and eats a lean diet heavy in organic produce.

    As the old saying goes, don’t judge a book by its cover.

  126. 135 Katy
    April 24, 2009 at 18:57

    While we’re at it — can we also say that crippled people with electric wheelchairs use more electricity? And people on life support may be consuming more than their fair share of carbon?

  127. 136 Andrea in Portland, OR
    April 24, 2009 at 18:58

    Regarding the comment about the price of apples from the woman in Detroit. Yes, apples, as an example, cost a lot of money. Here in Portland, quite near where most apples come from, I am still paying at the very least 79 cents/pound for apples. Most organic apples that I see at the store are at least $1.99 per pound and quite often $2.60+ per pound.
    It does cost more to eat healthy, to eat organically (thus lessening carbon footprint even more).
    We need to get back to encouraging local consumption and gardening. Vegetables grown at home are quite cheap.
    Another woman called in talking about the poor eating habits in Oregon. I have exactly the opposite experience. Healthy living and eating are prized here in Portland and I believe that there is definite peer pressure to eat well and commute by bicycle. Even with this our obesity rate is very high. This is because the poor are not supported. We need healthier food in schools.

  128. 137 Scott [M]
    April 24, 2009 at 18:58

    ATHLETES, clearly consume more. And generally aren’t fat. They probably consume more then fat people.

  129. 138 Toad Toed Princess
    April 24, 2009 at 18:58

    I’m thin. I’ve always been thin. The professor is not going to change those who are overweight by “preaching” this way. Give tools to help people change their lives. If you make people mad they will not listen, no matter how “right” they are..Apples are not $1.00 in Oregon.Keep moving. .Stop the video games and so much inside activity. Move.

  130. 139 Mary Nolan
    April 24, 2009 at 18:59

    I’m not surprised that so many people — program hosts, included — are spinning this to bring it down to a debate over individual behavior. It’s very clear to me, however, what Professor Roberts is saying; that social environments set populations up for certain kinds of conditions, in this case being overweight or obese. And furthermore, those social environments have ramifications for the natural environment. He is most clearly not blaming overweight people and their individual choices.

    I would have liked you to bring in Barry Popkins’ (http://www.cpc.unc.edu/projects/debe/team/popkin) work on the global rise of obesity. In his book, ‘The World is Fat’, he paints a portrait of social, political and economic practices that are causing a global epidemic of obesity, and fits well with Roberts’ report. Far more people in the world are fat than starving, and this does have detrimental consequences for us all.

  131. 140 Cullen from Kentucky
    April 24, 2009 at 18:59

    While healthier foods are more expensive this does not mean people are not responsible for there own weight. People must consider the ramifications of their own actions. Being fat is considered only to affect oneself not society as a whole.

  132. 141 Jonathan in San Francisco
    April 24, 2009 at 18:59

    Professor Roberts is too charitable in saying “government does next to nothing.” It does a lot, almost all of it bad. In the US, the government industrialized agriculture by restructuring farm subsidies in the 1970s, and the obesity explosion began. Corn subsidies and price protection for the sugar industry led to high fructose corn syrup in place of sugar.

    The notion that individuals have an obligation to society to be thin is repellent to anyone who values liberty. My comment earlier was meant to be ironic. I do not actually think that “everybody’s life is everyone else’s business.”

    A browser malfunction has prevented me from reading Prof. Roberts’ article, but I applauded his advice against “dumbing down” for the radio audience. I look forward to reading it, in the knowledge that it will provide a more nuanced perspective.

    San Francisco

  133. 142 Jav
    April 24, 2009 at 19:00

    Overweight and obesity is hands-down a multi-faceted problem;

    Heart disease
    Medical emergencies

    @ Marilyn, writer of Fatso
    How is a nation that is 5 billion pounds overweight NOT using more gas to get around? Nobody’s solely blaming fat people for climate change, broaden your scope for a minute. This isn’t some idle wild theory based on a distaste for fat people.

  134. 143 Tom K in Mpls
    April 24, 2009 at 19:01

    The most obvious problem with the industrialized and insured world is that it removes the possibility for us to take responsibility of our actions in this area. We all forced to pay a fixed amount regardless of our personal choice. Therefore, out of frustration, others hand out the label irresponsible to those that are overweight. Some are complacent and deserve the label, others are happy and would pay more if allowed.

    We need to empower the individual and quit placing the blame on some faceless group. We need to support individual choice. Two other things, any diet can be reasonably healthy *if* we balance it with a proper amount of exercise. Also, the two most medically respected diets sold in the US point out the worst things you can eat is processed sugars and starches, and meat is encouraged.

  135. 144 Julie
    April 24, 2009 at 19:04

    I think so to, people who don’t have kids should get a tax cut.

  136. 145 Luci Smith
    April 24, 2009 at 19:09

    I think Jason has a good point.
    While visiting Dallas, Texas, I find that it is virtually impossible to get around the city on a bicycle. The air conditioning and electricity and water in the apartment is FREE.
    This is a case of- and causes over-consumption in a society.

    Societies need to be put together so that it is possible to transport yourself by walking or riding a bicycle without being overcome by diesel and gas fumes.

    I think that it is much more important that we get from issues like eating disorders and women shaving their body hairs to talking about universal health care (in the US) and bike paths and where you put grocery stores that sell fresh food (i.e. not in the peripheries but in the centers of big cities) and then get on to talk about infrastructure and carbon capping and the use of – and overuse of ENERGY.

    I will be back in Copenhagen soon and getting ready for the U.N. conference on the environment and energy in December. I hope that everybody puts pressure on YOUR politicians to set better goals. We need to change our habits and find new and energy-efficient ones – including locally sourced food and availability of exercise for free where you live.

  137. April 24, 2009 at 19:10

    Interesting how we often look to “punish” others instead of cultivating understanding…

    Punishing people is the reason why much of the health clubs in this country are failing. People believe that they need to punish themselves by avoiding food, while being yelled at by a personal trainer to crank out more reps. Health clubs have never been more successful and technology in health and fitness is ever-expanding, however we are fatter in the US than we’ve ever been.

    The system is not working.

    What we really need is to help cultivate this understanding that a human being is a bio-psycho-social animal and health should come from helping each other out in a communal effort. Start organizing walks during lunch breaks at your work, learn to cook quality food, play with your kids, help support local farmers instead of american agri-business…these are just a few examples that would help solve obesity in this country. Taxing people for being overweight is another form of punishment that will just make people more negative, cynical, and thus compounding the problem. As my grandma always says, you can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar…

    Concomitantly, there are people in this country who are skinny that suck our health care system dry just as well as obese individuals. What about bodybuilders who are, by BMI standards, considered overweight and obese as well, however they are often idolized for their size. Why them and not fat people? Obesity is a result, the tip of the iceberg in a global problem that is largely sitting far below the waters of health in this country.

  138. 147 Dan
    April 24, 2009 at 19:10

    I find the discussion about the report from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine very discriminatory. So far I haven’t been convinced that there is any scientific base to support the validity of the report correlating that the consumption of resources is directly proportionate with the health of the world population. Here in the United States of America I find just as many stores that specialize in health and fitness conscious people as those that may be viewed as catering to an unhealthy lifestyle. Healthy and fitness guided products are processed as much as unhealthy and convenience-increasing products. Because of these simple facts I find this a very narrow-guided correlary and as such I find that this report only promotes controversy.

  139. 148 Sylvanusman
    April 24, 2009 at 19:10

    I’m a big guy. 240 lb. and 6′ 4″ so a bit over weight, perhaps 10 lb. for my height. For the last 40 years I’ve done a personal study on fatness and fat people and heavy populations out of curiosity. I’ve found, in my experience, these things to be nearly universally true.
    1. Fat people are extremely defensive about their fatness.
    2. Fat people seem to always change the subject to include incorrect assumptions.
    3. Fat people always seem to be very aggressive about their fatness and its correctness/pc and deny responsibility.
    4. Fat people refuse to actually “diet”, that is, cut back caloric intake to less than 1000/day.
    5. Fat people lie about their effort to lose weight.
    6. Fat people seem to popularize/frequent cheap deal/fatty food restaurants.
    7. Fat people eat a huge amount of food at these restaurants.
    8. Fat people often have their fat children with them at these restaurants and encourage them to over eat.
    9. Fat people more frequently drive aggressively.
    10. Fat people feel sorry for themselves and avoid culpability.

    They should stop deceiving themselves and anyone they can fool into believing their excuses.

  140. 149 Tom D Ford
    April 24, 2009 at 19:10

    With food businesses being consolidated into giant corporations we have actually lost many of our choices in the foods we eat, I have noticed that over the last 30 years of our backsliding down into Conservatism.

    I used to buy chicken livers or hearts, even beef liver for liver and onions, but those are no longer available. There is less variety in produce with monoculture taking over. Now tomatoes taste like cardboard because they hold up better for shipping.

    I am more and more attracted to the French idea of many varieties of regional foods and very small portions of various tastes. I think that is also the Spanish idea of Tapas and the Japanese idea of Sushi.

    I think we are better off with many small local farms and small local businesses, even if that is less “efficient” for profit grubbing giant industrial “food” (alleged food) corporations.

  141. 150 Gabi
    April 24, 2009 at 19:11

    I think the excess consuption of goods by fat people is a point worthy of our consideration. Obesity has been a growing problem in America despite the social stigma and it is a relevant fact that they are putting an excess strain on our society by consuming more.

    That is not to say that there are not MANY other sources of excess and waste. Skinny people are not all that innocent, I think americans in general have far too much food waste. We buy too much food and weather it gets eaten or thrown away makes no difference, since it has been purchased.

    While it is a good point that overweight people put a strain on our resources, I think we should be more concerned with our waste of resources which everyone could help to reduce. I think it would make a much bigger difference than fat people eating less would.

  142. 151 Sati Banerjee in Santa Clara, California
    April 24, 2009 at 19:11

    A large part of the reason why we have a population that is growing fatter is that people don’t realize their portion sizes have ballooned over the years. Governments do have a responsibility in ensuring a non-obesegenic culture by mandating nutrition values to be printed alongside foods sold in fast food restaurants and other eating places. This way at least even if people don’t know what a serving size is, they will be be aware of the quantity and quality of calories they are ingesting.

    Spiraling obesity puts pressure on the health care system and is diminishing the quality of life of the people who are obese. This is especially tragic in children who don’t know a way of life other than what their mis- or un-informed parents are demonstrating to them. Putting sanity back into the serving/portion sizes and nutrition values would be a step towards a solution to the problem.

  143. 152 Clint Johnson
    April 24, 2009 at 19:12

    Have the researchers considered that since eating less extends lifespan, populations would just extend their reduced carbon emissions over a longer period of time, resulting in a zero net reduction of impact on the environment? Sounds to me like over population is the real culprit.

  144. April 24, 2009 at 19:12

    I think that in the calls we are hearing, we can see that society, particularly American society is twofold responsible.

    First, compare the energy cost of picking a tomato out of your backyard garden with eating tomato sauce on a pizza at your local eatery. Energy cost for the tomato is however much it cost to acquire the seed and rinse the tomato. For the pizza sauce, the tomato was picked at a factory farm, trucked to a processing plant, canned, and shipped to the distributor and restaurant, where it was prepared. Embedded in the tomato sauce is the energy cost of building and maintaing all the structures and vehicles used along the way. Most of the food consumed by fat and thin people in America follows the second route, so the energy used is a societal problem benefitting all the companies who benefit from selling that pizza.

    Second, eating more food uses more energy. Skinny people can eat alot and stay skinny, but more generally-the more you eat, (especially processed food) the heavier you are. All of the callers calling the professor’s report fat-hating are a product of another societal problem, inability to take responsibility for your own actions. Being skinny should not be as hard as it is in our (the United States) culture, but an individual’s weight is solely based on the foods he/she chooses to eat and the activity he/she decides to do on a dialy basis.

  145. 154 Cee Denney
    April 24, 2009 at 19:18

    How many resources are being used to produce food that have no nutritional value?

    From snacks to cereals to soda. The U.S. masses eat foods high in fat, that also take more resources to produce, and more resources to band-aid the problem of a growing obese populace and their health care issues.

    Ask the question why do we over produce and over consume and you will find the answer as to why we can’t produce healthy fruits and vegetables and grains at a resonable price for the populace.

    Healthy bodies and minds are a choice. But when those choices are determined by big corporations that are more interested in turning a buck than putting out a healthy product then there is a problem.

    This is no different than the Wall Street bailout issue. It started out as greed.

    As a human living on a planet that is dying at our own hands-at what point do we take back our RIGHT to live and eat and breathe good air, water and food?

  146. 156 Tom D Ford
    April 24, 2009 at 19:19

    “RyanAir is threatening to charge overweight passengers a so-called ‘fat tax’. ”

    I wonder how that will go over. They would have to measure and weigh people and I can’t imagine people putting up with that.

    • 157 Tom K in Mpls
      April 24, 2009 at 19:43

      Not measure, only weigh. Along with their luggage, sounds good to me. The word ‘tax’ here is presented to trigger an ‘anti’ response.

  147. April 24, 2009 at 20:03

    I would like to congratulate you Professor for the courage to do the study altogether and to publish it.

    It takes few courageous people like you to do the unusual to bring us all to a realisation that we so often ignore or simply believe do not exist, and much too often to our own detriment as well as others.

    Well done! Prof.

  148. April 24, 2009 at 20:23

    This is a longer than usual blog, heavily laced with smug people venting their disgust about obesity. Quite right, whoever said this is the new racism. There are many causes for being overweight. For a start, we were not all meant to fit into the same lean frame.

    Consider this: a girl has a gymnastic accident in her teens, which dislocates her spine permanently. She’s warned against all sports and suffers years of pain. Thus her sedentary interests develop. Fast forward fifteen years. She can’t lift her children (or any heavy weights) with her damaged spine.

    She’s a good cook, nutritionally savvy, uses basic ingredients and never eats fast food. She’s a little overweight from lack of exercise and as she gets older, she gets heavier. She’s bipolar and needs mood stabilisers, blood pressure tablets too. She struggles but fails to lose weight. Her calorie intake is reasonable but lack of physical activity combined with weight gaining medication is a real problem.

    She air dries her washing, recycles, switches off heating overnight, drives a modest car with good mileage, lives economically and is concerned about climate change.

    Should she be an object of derision? Criticised for her lack of self discipline? verbally attacked and denigrated, accused of greed in using more than her fair share of the world’s resources, and to cap it all, charged excess rates to fly?

    I’ll show you my carbon footprint if you’ll show me yours.

  149. 160 Justin from Iowa
    April 24, 2009 at 20:28

    Hrm, its been a long time since I’ve posted, how are yall doing? I only skimmed the 150 or so responses, but I didn’t see this mentioned in what I skimmed… Here in the US, or in Iowa at least, between the hours that I work and my travel time from work to home (something I’m working on, but putting together enough money for a home near by where I work is difficult as well!) there just isn’t that much time in the day. When I get home, I am TIRED. I just want to curl up with a book. Coming home to do more work among all the other household chores is hard to keep yourself motivated for.

  150. 161 steve
    April 24, 2009 at 23:38

    Next time I go grocery shopping I will take pictures of fruit/veggie prices to prove an apple doesn’t cost as much as the caller claimed they do. You can afford to eat healthy foods, though organic foods are better, though those do cost more than nonorganic foods.

  151. 162 Kyle Looper
    April 25, 2009 at 03:42

    I listened with interest to some of the ideas expressed in this segment. At one point, a quote was made about how much extra fuel is used for every pound that people are overweight. This leaves me with some questions:

    1) Why just overweight? Does it cost more fuel to transport a 6’7″ person who is at their ideal weight of 230 pounds than it does to transport a person who is 5’1″ and morbidly obese at 200 pounds? I doubt it.

    2) If being overweight is irresponsible, then is being underweight hyper-responsible? After all, anorexics probably use less fuel than persons at their “ideal weight.” By this line of reasoning, the Nazis were acting very responsibly by starving Jews in the concentration camps. Maybe we could do this for all Americans. Sounds good to me.

    3) Muscle weighs more than fat. Do we throw muscular people in with the irresponsible? They also consume more calories to feed their muscles. Should we next be singling out bodybuilders and their irresponsible behavior? Ridiculous.

    Doesn’t this boil down to labeling people with a scarlet F because they aren’t as cool and attractive as some other people. I find this line of argument rather specious.

  152. 163 Des Currie
    April 25, 2009 at 06:36

    Taking the consolidated weight of all the fat people on the planet is not going to increase nor decrease the weight of the planet at all. So no, it does not matter ecologically either thin or fat or anywhere in between.
    Des Currie

  153. 164 James Loudermilk
    April 25, 2009 at 06:52

    You have really hit on one that gets me worked up! I have no sympathy for most fat people. As a matter of fact they make me sick and mad! Yes I know that there are some people who have medical conditions that cause them to be fat, but true cases of that are very rare. Most fat people just use that medical explanation as an excuse, along with excuses like, “I’m just a big person” or “I’ve got big bones.” How dose having big bones give you a high body fat percentage?
    Fat people have no self control and or just don’t care. They are gluttons! They are a drain on society and our world. There should be a higher tax on what I would call “trash food.” It’s all luxury food anyway. Chocolate, sugar, and all those empty calorie items are trash and a drain on resources.
    Of course fat people are a drain on health care. I mean I don’t know for sure but I would say that diabetes is at an epidemic level and most diabetics are over weight.
    I just want to scream when I see a fat person wheeling around in an electric chair, chewing on a funnel cake or some other trash fried or sweet item. I would say that in many cases the “fat chair” as I call them are paid for by public funds.
    No I don’t feel sorry for fat people at all. All they have to do is exercise, eat right, don’t drink alcohol and or smoke.
    When I see fat people come into the gym, walk past all the exercise equipment and go straight to the tanning beds I really want to pick up a weight and throw it at them! Especially when I see them throw down the cigarette, on the ground, just before they come in the door, dragging that smoke smell through the door with them. They stink the whole place up!
    Tax the heck out of alcohol, tobacco, sweet stuff, fried stuff and anything that has empty calories!!!

    James Loudermilk

  154. 165 carrie bleiweiss
    April 25, 2009 at 07:22

    The professor is definitely tuned into principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine with regards to “nutrient rich foods”. There are “bland” foods (define: dilute) foods which require lower energy to produce and which sustain the body: i.e.: rice, noodles, green veg. Then there are “condensed” foods which must be taken into the body in lesser amounts, because they have a greater effect upon the body as well as the planet. These foods are meant to be a condiment, but are over-consumed as a way to entertain the tongue and supplement the organs: meats, cheeses, spices, salt, pepper, vinegar, oil, and other similar intense or fatty foods.

  155. April 25, 2009 at 13:44

    Will Ryanair reduce the price of his flights to the slimest guys? I don’t think so! The “fat-tax” is only a new form, an excuse, to make money. I have travelled in planes in which the people who is not fat, are fitted and inconvinient in the seat. The airlines want more people in the plane because this means more money in the pocket. The fat people are not profitable.

  156. 167 Jim Newman
    April 25, 2009 at 14:48

    Hello again
    I think that when discussing obesity one should always depart from the assumption that nobody is happy being obese. So what are the factors that cause obesity and therefore the unhappiness of so many people?
    First of all which countries have the densest concentration of obese people?
    Your visiting health magician seemed to think USA, Britain and Germany.
    That being the case, and being true to our assumption that people are not obese voluntarily, then obesity must be the side product of something.
    The health magician seemed to say that the food corporations pushed unhealthy food down people’s throats because it was profitable, using cunning advertising. (my words but I think that was the gist of his message).
    So obesity is the side product of profit.
    Cunning advertising we could rename as brainwashing.
    Why think about any thing when all one’s problems are solved by a snappy phrase or a jingle. Especially when brainwashing is so loud and so frequent that one could speak of people being brainwashed out of their minds.
    To conclude I would like to say that profit uses brainwashing to make people obese, to make people hate other people who they know nothing about, to send people to war etc…..
    One could say that the number of obese people in a country is a good indicator of it’s collective mental state. Why the USA, England and Germany?

  157. 168 Dessi from Bulgaria
    April 25, 2009 at 17:05

    Hey, have you thought of governments policies in nutrition? If you check the food pyramid you’ll see it recommends 11 serving of carbohydrates a day! Why is that? Surely, because the food industry needs to sell. And they do sell, and sell a lot. In the US the standards for food are not as high as those in Europe. Think of that. Most of my friends who’ve moved to the US have gained 20 – 30 kilos without changing their lifestyle drastically, i.e. they’ve kept walking and exercising. Who should we blame for that? I doubt it it’s all their fault. The same happens when obese Americans move to Europe – they lose weight.
    I know obesity is a problem all over the Western world and I agree that we’re eating too much. However, we, who are trying to eat healthily, are having a very difficult time finding food that is healthy. Most of the available food is flown from somewhere, or contains preservatives, sugars and what not that we cannot avoid unless we live on a farm and prepare all our food. At least this is the situation in Bulgaria, where until a couple of months ago dairy producers sold dairy containing primarily vegetable fats and only admitted to that when they were forced to. I’m still not sure what’s in my cheese as quality control is almost nonexistent. The same goes for wholegrain bread, which usually is white bread coloured with rye or coffee and the list is endless.

  158. 169 Kelley
    April 26, 2009 at 15:08

    I’m sure the same could be said for the ‘poor’. There is an astonishing amount of abuse of those who don’t work to those who do.

    In regards to the irresponsibility of fat people: Coming from an American perspective, I do believe that for this airline to charge an extra tax is justified. The airline corporations have a standard policy on the amount of passengers to seats they commission to each plane. Their job as a company is to make a profit. If this is an inconvenience to the larger person, then they should find a more suitable outlet, like first class. Maybe now would be a good time for an airline to launch a “larger seat” line?

    On another note, if you are stating that a larger person clogs up the hospitals and blocks those from obtaining much needed care, then I ask you to take a look at crack addicts and drug abusers. A hospital does not limit it’s care to those who wish it just as an airline will not (for the most part) limit its services. By taxing the client for their obese demeanor instead of charging for an extra seat, they are able to provide comfort to all passengers big and small while staying true to their company’s profit concerns.

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