Those selfish obese!

How could they be so greedy and heartless as to threaten global food security?

It must be true. Scientists said so.

On June 18, 2012, the Irish Times featured an article in their ‘breaking news’ (!) section, ‘Obesity threatens world food security’ (emphases mine):

Increasing population fatness could have the same implications for world food energy demands as an extra one billion people, researchers claimed after examining the average weight of adults across the globe.

Scientists from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) said tackling population weight is crucial for food security and ecological sustainability.

The UN predicts that by 2050 there could be a further 2.3 billion people on the planet and that the ecological implications of the rising population numbers will be exacerbated by increases in average body mass, researchers said.

However, not everyone is obese nor is everyone likely to be obese. Note the words ‘there could be’ followed by ‘will be’.

The words ‘population fatness’ sounds semi-literate, too.  Will this turn into a new buzzword featuring in headlines about obesity? ‘America’s population fatness breaks all records’.

An Irish blogger, Grandad, at Smoking Out The Truth, had this to say:

It has been mentioned in the past that I have a habit of using the words “study” and “scientists” within quotes, and the reason I gave was that I have nothing but contempt for these blatant attempts at propaganda.  I had only read the first few lines of this latest garbage before I started tripping up on the loopholes in their arguments.

The most glaring error is in their comparison of Asian, American and European average weights.  Have they never noticed that there are genetic differences within the Human Race?  Has it not occurred to them that Orientals tend to be shorter and lighter than Caucasians?  Their basic argument is that cattle will go short of food because elephants are eating too much.

So is this the Holy Grail for which they have been seeking?  Is this argument sufficient to denormalise the overweight?  Is this Second-Hand Obesity?

I think they’ll have to do better than that.

Negative reactions to this story — mine included — are not too different from the ones voiced against anti-smoking articles 30 years ago. Most people found the propaganda over the top. Then, gradually, as prohibitionists repeated their message ad nauseam, it began to sink in. Today, no one wants to be around smokers except other smokers.

The same thing could happen with the obese, who find comfort in food. A reasonable person won’t mind: to each his own. However, propaganda has a way of turning reasonable people into authoritarian bullies, even at a young age.

Think of the bus monitor in upper New York State. What did the children taunt her about? Her weight. 

It would be disappointing if we were to witness torment of the obese and their denormalisation. Denormalisation — depersonalisation — of any kind is inhumane.