Why is America so Fat

You’re Fat?… It’s your Fault

As reported in the Daily Telegraph, British politician David Cameron openly declared war on the “culture of moral neutrality” by “calling on the obese, the idle and even the poor to accept some responsibility for their plight.” (see video here)

Going further, Cameron says that “Britain risks creating a society where nobody is prepared to tell the truth about what is good and bad, right and wrong… Society has become far too sensitive to people’s feelings with no one prepared to say what needs to be said…. Instead, we prefer moral neutrality, a refusal to make judgments about what is good and bad behaviour, right and wrong behaviour. Bad. Good. Right. Wrong.”

About obesity in particular, Cameron said “We talk about people being at risk of obesity instead of people who eat too much and take too little exercise. We talk about people being at risk of poverty or social exclusion. It’s as if these things – obesity, alcohol abuse, drug addiction – are purely external events like a plague or bad weather.”

He went on to speak about personal responsibility – “We have seen a decades-long erosion of responsibility, of social virtue, of self-discipline, respect for others, and of deferring gratification instead of instant gratification.”

Wow, strong words indeed. I can only imagine the nasty emails in his Inbox after this went public.

If the comments from this blog post are any indication, then the honorable Mr. Cameron will definitely need a shovel to clean up all of the @$%#& and &$%#@* and ^#$$@& when he is finished sifting through his Inbox.

So, Is He Right or Wrong?

IMHO, he is…

  • 100% politically incorrect and…
  • 100% right on the facts.

Barring any genetic abnormality, such as a congenital leptin deficiency, we ARE responsible for our weight gain.

  • We choose which food we eat
  • We choose which beverages we drink
  • We choose how much we eat
  • We choose when we eat
  • We choose where we eat
  • We choose how much physical activity we get
  • We choose how long we sit on our butts
  • We choose our leisure time activities
  • WE CHOOSE…no one else chooses for us.

So…is this the end of story? Is it all my fault? your fault? the lady with the morbidly obese kids’ fault?


And NO.

Obesity is not the same as alcohol or drug abuse. I don’t need to drink or smoke, but I do need to eat.

I just don’t need to eat bacon and Bagel-fuls and processed food-like products and high fructose corn syrup and Big Macs and Beefaroni and Slurpees and Frosted Flakes and triple latte mocha sugar bomb coffee desserts and……

And while it is 100% my fault if I choose to eat obesogenic processed foods, there is a systemic problem that contributes to the obesification of modern humans.

Tax dollars.

Western governments have decided to subsidize the production of obesogenic foods with your tax dollars. This has allowed big food producing companies to become giant food producing conglomerates able to pump out cheap calories that are nutrient deficient leading to a perpetual hunger for more cheap calories.

And those tax subsidies are unlikely to ever be repealed. The American (processed) food lobby spends a LOT of money and applies a LOT of pressure on government representatives to keep pumping tax dollars toward the big food corporations. This keeps the price of processed foods artificially low and the price of healthy foods comparatively higher.

Which…if you are on a strict food budget (and have kids addicted to processed food), makes it difficult to break the habit of buying obesogenic food.

Difficult…but not impossible. It is still YOUR choice to buy food that makes you and your fault that your kids are fat and unhealthy.

NOTE: In addition to voting with your wallet, feel free to combat the lobbyists by writing all your political representatives a “sternly-worded” letter threatening to organize a campaign against their re-election unless they start taking the health of your kids into consideration.

Or…like most of us, you can do nothing and be surprised when your kids become fat & unhealthy.


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0 thoughts on “You’re Fat?… It’s your Fault

  1. I agree that personal responsibility plays a major role (if not THE major role) in a person’s health status and body weight, but societal issues can’t be ignored – such as the price and availability of high-fat foods compared to healthier options. Our long-term solution has to address both personal and environmental factors.

  2. Chris,

    Excellent comment. Your point of view is reasoned and well thought out.

    No ‘caring’ society should allow the health of it’s members to suffer if there is an effective and available solution.

    Many governments have mandated policies such as the pasteurization of milk products, iodine in salt, folic acid in bread, vitamin D in milk, fluoride in the municipal water supply.

    Governments decide the age at which you are allowed to purchase alcohol. Or mandate which drugs are legal and which are illegal. Or tell you where you can and cannot smoke tobacco.

    Or which agricultural products will receive massive government subsidies and which won’t.

    Or which foods are banned – i.e trans fats.

    At what point does this stop being an issue about health and nutrition and start becoming political or even philosophical?

    Mr. Cameron lays the responsibility at the feet of the individual.

    At one level, I agree with him. No one forces someone else to overeat, under-exercise, do drugs or drink to excess.

    But what kind of society would let the obese, drug addicted and/or alcoholics suffer if they could offer them a hand?

    Suddenly this issue becomes much more complicated.

    If we are going to help prevent obesity from becoming an even bigger problem, what do we do?

    Do we ban certain food products?

    Do we tax food products differently based on some gov’t approved nutrition quotient?

    How do we decide what is healthy and what is not?

    At times, we have been told that low fat eating is the way to go to prevent obesity – then it was high fat & low carb – cut calories very low, wait don’t do that, and so on…

    So what do we do?

  3. Good post, and even better questions raised in your comment.
    Is it our responsibility to know what is good for us and too only buy those things? Most people “know” what is good for us, but most don’t translate that knowledge into action.
    I agree that prices for healthy foods are high, but there are ways to work around it. Prices at farmers’ markets are now comparable to those in grocery stores, so why not support the local farmers?
    Or take a look at your budget. What items can you move around? Would you rather buy designer clothes that cost way too much, or healthy food that will help you live a better life (and help you fit into your clothes in the first place).
    This is a very complicated issue because it’s a combination of personal responsibility and social responsibility from the government. Should we give freedom to people to choose to eat what we know is unhealthy? People do love their freedom, but should they be free to be obese?
    No one actually dies from obesity, but instead they die from the complications that arise from obesity, such as heart disease. Well, no one also dies from smoking itself, but rather from the consequences of smoking. The government doesn’t stop people from smoking; they decide for themselves to continue smoking despite the knowledge of the dangers that come from smoking. Should the same hold for obesity? Or is obesity a totally different monster?

  4. If I were president I’d ban all processed sugars, and tell the fast food industry to blankity-blank.

    Then I’d set up a “fat tax”. Anyone over 15% body fat (or 20% for women) would have to pay $75 for every % unit that they are “over”. If they can’t afford it, they’d be mandated to go workout 5 times a week, at a FREE fitness center (it’d be just like community service) until they drop all that blankity-blank unnecessary fat.

    Finally, for those “hard losers”, I’d ship them off, FOR FREE, to some of the most impoverished and famine-stricking parts of the world like Sudan or Burma. I’d bring them back once they get thinner (probably take like 90 days, tops).

    Seriously though, intentionally-obese people blankity-blank.

  5. lonetruth,

    As I like to hear all sorts of opinions, I really wanted to include your comment as written, however, I have reserved the right to modify some of the more colorful language.

    My virgin ears were burning.

    If you feel that my modification has spoiled the point you were trying to make, let me know.

    I am curious to see the response to your “Survivor” theory of weight loss.

  6. Thanks for commenting on my post http://riseuprochester.org/2008/07/09/the-new-pariahs-obese-in-the-usa/–this was a really interesting post to read. I think personal responsibility is a huge part of many social problems and not many people like to hear that, however, we all know that every issue has multiple sides.

    We can’t entirely blame people for their weight when the majority of inexpensive food out there has high fructose corn syrup. If the FDA allows this stuff to be in food, why should people believe it’s bad? Most people don’t have the information to buy healthy foods (i.e. whole wheat/whole grain bread). Also, I think part of this whole anti-fat people thing is just a general disgust for the obese being disguised as concern–people just view those who are fat as lazy, when that is often anything but true. My sister works out several times a week and eats better than most people I know and has always struggled with her weight.

    I absolutely disagree with “fat tax.” If it is people’s personal responsibility to lose weight, why should the gov’t interfere? We don’t need government regulating all aspects of our lives. Wanting to live a healthy life without being taxed should be enough incentive to eat right and stay fit. Is the government also going to give us paid time off for time spent at the gym? How far can you take that argument on government incentives and penalties, really?

    I think it has been the gov’t’s job to approve certain foods to be out there, but often they do more harm than good…it seems to me that is the only way they can get involved…this is a tough one, for sure.

    What does Cameron want–an acknowledgment from a representative of the world obese that it’s no one else’s fault?

  7. Or Prader-Willi syndrome or an inability to produce leptin or a tumor of the hypothalamus or some other as yet undiscovered genetic abnormality.

    But these cases are a very small minority of the entire obese population.

    And even in the case of hypothyroidism, a diagnosis does not guarantee obesity. Supplementary Thyroxine, along with a healthy diet and exercise can help avoid obesity.

  8. There are lots of factors that affect obesity, like poor food choices due to ignorance, advertising, the media who constantly tell us one week that one food is good, then a month later it causes cancer, the million diets from the weight loss industry that promise us that their diet is the one that will work. Lack of patience and the lure of a quick fix fools us into buying into the latest informercial product when common sense should tell us that the results promised are lies. Thats why they always put “results not typical” as a disclaimer. People are sick and tired of dieting and also…tired. Many people don’t get enough sleep and try to compensate with food for extra energy. Emotional eating also doesn’t help, neither do the habits we have from our childhood. Ultimately, yes it is up to everyone to be responsible for what they put into their bodies, but we cannot ignore the fact that there is an awful lot of misinformation going on. We are passing on bad habits to the next generation so its time for us adults to step up and realise that health is pretty much everything. Without it, we cannot achieve our dreams and goals of being truly happy.

  9. I was 325 lbs a year ago and through hard work i dropped 80 lbs in one year. Being fat is a choice. I chose to eat fast food every day and not exercise. The i chose to start eating right and exercising. And guess what…When I did that i wasn’t fat anymore.

    Losing weight and being healthy is a choice we all make. Trying to blame it on your social status or income level is complete crap. I didn’t have a lot of money but CHOSE to buy healthy foods rather than super processed cheap crap…ITS A CHOICE.

  10. The argument from ignorance is bull. “If only people had the information to know wheat bread is better for them than white…!” Please. We have better, faster access to more information at this moment than at any other moment in human history.

  11. When we consider the treatment of obesity from a fault-centered perspective rather than a solution-centered perspective, I think we get ourselves nowhere. To break the epidimic into a smaller example, I could easily say my parents fed me gobs of ice cream and cookies as a child, which led to me being a pudgy kid and an obese adult. An endocrinologist might say that insulin and my hypothyroidism is the issue. A geneticist would add that I have a family history of obesity and was born quite overweight. Ayurved says too much wind, too little fire. Psychiatrists say it’s a suppressed history of cultural and family trauma. And of course a trainer would add that my issue was a lack of exercise. After hearing all that, it turns out they’re all kind of right and wrong. The solution had to come from within me, and when it did, I became emotionally and physically healthy with the help of all the above information. But after so much money and time getting that information, I myself was the last piece of the puzzle

    I’ve worked with local activist groups on small projects to help communities and I’ve learned one thing: communities make their own changes. If a small town is absolutely against seeing coal mining in their town, they will do what needs to be done to get the mining out, and they use the support of outsider communities to help their cause. But it’s never effective to have a bunch of outsider activists going to a town to protest mining in a town that isn’t interested in protesting for themselves. Similarly, individuals who are obese need to advocate for themselves. Until they do, we won’t see a change

  12. Healthy foods are so much more expensive, on the whole, than ‘bad’ foods. To feed a family of four fresh fruits and veg for snacks, for the whole week costs DOUBLE what it would be to feed snacks of crisps, biscuits and sugary things.
    Bring the COST of healthy living down and maybe OBESITY will decline too.

  13. Good post…strike that….great post!! It amazes me that so many don’t want to accept responsibility for their actions. As far as the pitiful “bad food choices” argument goes, eat as much as you want, just exercise more. But wait…that takes personal responsibility AND hard work. Tough combination, but doable.

    I’m glad someone is willing to spread the truth 🙂

  14. I do think that more people need to express what should be said rather than worry about being PC. I also think that gyms should be free, I think a lot more people would work out. I know I would. I agree that healthier food should be cheaper, I think the govn’t should subsideze farmers who produce health foods and nutrition should be somewhat universal and tought in schools. If kids in schools only had healthy food option then I know that a obsiety would be less of a problem. And gym class should happen everyday. My kids have gyme ONE time a week. Fast food should be a thing of the past. America, well people in general, need to delay gratification. It makes what one wants worth so much more. There is too much selfish behavior and it is affecting our health.

  15. An overweight person is only partially to blame for their weight gain. Children, for instance can blame their parents for not providing nutritious food. As for overweight adults, a disproportionate amount of poor and minority people are overweight due to the fact that bad food is cheap! Like the article says, you have to eat and you eat what you can afford which for some people is limited to unhealthy but calorically high food. I do not think you can blame all people for being overweight.

  16. Katie,

    I agree with everything you said in your comment. There are a multitude of factors in our society (environment, both parents working, processed food, peer pressure, advertising, etc) which increase the probability of obesity.

    And yet there are people who make the conscious choice to feed their body healthy food. It’s not an easy choice, it’s not the popular choice, but it is a choice.

    It is possible to eat healthy on a budget..

    It is also possible to apply public pressure on food manufacturers to stop producing cheap crap. It’s happening as we speak
    It’s also possible to reclaim broken down public parks and give our kids a place to exercise/play.
    It’s also possible to shift public opinion and nudge gov’t & business towards promoting health and producing healthier food

    At the end of the day, we all have limitations imposed upon us. How we choose to deal with those limitations is up to us.

  17. I believe that yes poor nutritional choices affect weight, but the major cause is a lack of physical activity. People need to stop pointing at things such as the food they eat and start pointing at themselves. Trying practically anything EXCEPT exercise is the reason they don’t lose weight.

    I’m not talking about little exercises, but stuff that actually gets the hard pumping!! I have been eating all the shit foods my whole life but I’m still skinny because I have always been physically active. All my friends would look at me like I’m crazy but I had more energy because I was always active. The difference between me and the new generation is they DON’T exercise. The kids just play their video games with their friends. I see so many fat kids now its ridiculous, and the fast food is still the same as when I was a kid.

    The more you exercise the more energy you have, the less you exercise the less energy you have. There are a whole bunch of arguments about the best way to lose weight and what exercises are better than others, but I don’t care about that. I hate when people say they try to lose weight but then give up so easily. Its not something a magic pill can fix, you have to work for it through EXERCISE. I will admit, there are exceptions and some people just can’t control it, but that is NOT everyone else. Too many people try to point fingers at everything but themselves. They blame the food, they blame their genetics, and more.

    Most of my cousins are fat. Its not like they all have genetic issues that I luckily didn’t get. And I have heard obesity runs in the family (other people talking). Of course it will if they all DON’T EXERCISE and eat shit.

    I would like to point out however, that technology is a big cause for less exercise. Technology makes so many things easier that we can physically work less. This includes not having to walk as much, machines now building things for us in factories, even all the little things like rolling up the windows in the car require no energy because of a simple button. I have literally seen a kid get a ride to school from across the street. That is just outright lazy. Like I said before, its a lack of exercise.

    To make it short, I believe THE main factor in weight gain is the loss of physical activity. People need to start taking responsibility and stop blaming others for their weight gain.

  18. It took me awhile to go through all the posts but this is a really interesting thread. I agree with most of the points that you all make, except for lonetruth, as that was just odd.

    I agree that the responsibility falls to us as individuals, specifically adults who can make choices. Unfortunately, children are at the mercy of their parents and by the time they have the mental, emotional, and financial means to understand that being overweight is unhealthy, it’s usually a huge challenge to change all those years of bad eating and attempt to lost the weight. And although I don’t feel the government needs to have their hands in determining everything society can and cannot do, I do believe they have a responsibility to public safety, health, etc.

    My mother smokes. It pisses her off that the government (in various states) have passed laws that makes it illegal to smoke in a car with children. She feels it’s her right to smoke. I feel she has the right to smoke too. But not at the expense of someone else’s health, especially a child who is not capable of defending themselves. With that being said, I believe the government does have a responsibility to step in when people like my mom are too damn stupid and/or stubborn to see it from someone else’s point of view (especially when it comes to the health and well-being of children).

    I’m shocked that the FDA allowed Aspartame to get through – let alone some of the other crap they approve. So, sometimes the government doesn’t get it right either. This is truly a double edged sword. I really agree with what Mary said about how we have access to more information now than ever before. For that reason, I feel the ultimate responsibility is ours. We all have choices, like Doug (HealthHabits) said, to eat a Big Mac, do drugs, not exercise or whatever. People can also choose the healthier alternatives.

    On a personal note, in response to some of you that like to blame being overweight on the old “calories in, calories out” mentality, I’d like to share some personal facts. I was very athletic: played softball, volleyball, and took Tae Kwon Do before having my daughter. I participated in and completed the MS 150, and I love to work out, especially lift weights.

    Other than being slightly heavier than I would have preferred (by 25 pounds) and being unable to shed it no matter what I did, I was fairly happy with me. Until I had my daughter. Three months after her arrival all hell broke loose, to say the least. I started gaining weight (65 pounds total), my hair started thinning in the front, my skin became severely dry, I was extremely exhausted, I had trouble sleeping and my cycles came back with a vengeance.

    Now you’re probably wondering why I’m telling you this on a post about being fat? Well, because there is sometimes so much more to be overweight than just eating less and working out more. I do take thyroid medication now, but even that didn’t correct all my ailments and certainly didn’t affect my ability to lose weight. But recently I saw an expert in biodentical hormones and am now being treated. One of the things I’m being treated for is very low progesterone (also have messed up cortisol levels, adrenal fatigue, medium to high testosterone and very low DHEA). Even though my estrogen is normal, having very low progesterone leaves it unopposed and allows it to dominate my system. Lot’s of (unopposed) estrogen = lot’s of fat!

    Now, for the last seven years, I would have loved for my weight to be fixed with something as simple as eating less and working out more. However, I believe I am part of a small group that can blame my extra weight on my thyroid and estrogen dominance. Even with those issues, I never gave up on eating healthy and daily exercise. Due to my adrenal fatigue and crazy cortisol levels, I’m prevented from doing strenuous exercise right now. But I still walk rather briskly, I do yoga, and I do mild strength training. Because I was eating right and getting regular exercise, I KNEW something else must be at play in my inability to lose weight. But there are a lot of people out there that are sabotaging themselves.

    I know of people who say they want to shed the pounds, but they still eat fast food. They love their potato chips and sugary sodas and don’t exercise. It is these people that are living a lie that only hurts themselves. I believe some people are just lazy, period. But there are others who have mental and emotional issues that they satisfy with food. We are all very different individuals and there are many reasons as to why any one of us may be overweight. All I can say is don’t take your health for granted and be a little more understanding/empathetic of those whose lives you know nothing about.

  19. There is nothing inherently wrong with eating bacon
    Natural saturated animal fat is something we’ve been eating for millennia. It doesn’t make us fat. Stop the low-fat nonsense and do some reading about the lipid hypothesis before continuing to spew the same old (and very wrong) tired crap.
    Excessive carbohydrate (grain) intake created high glycemic loads in the body. That is what makes people fat. Excessive insulin production is extremely unhealthy.

  20. 1. Have we been eating bacon for millennia?
    2. Is the lipid profile of a industrial pig the same as that of a wild pig?
    3. Do nitrates & other food processing chemicals have a positive effect on human health?
    4. If you look at my conclusion (below), you might notice that except for bacon, all of the “bad” foods I referenced were high-carb processed foods

    “Obesity is not the same as alcohol or drug abuse. I don’t need to drink or smoke, but I do need to eat. I just don’t need to eat bacon and Bagel-fuls. or processed foods. or high fructose corn syrup. or Big Macs. or Beefaroni. or Slurpees. or Frosted Flakes. or triple latte mocha sugar bomb coffee desserts. or…”

    5. Thanks for commenting

  21. Maybe not salted and smoked. But pig or boar belly? Sure. I always buy locally pastured pork belly. Nitrate free, made with sea salt. Not everyone eats bargain bin bacon bro.

  22. “Not everyone eats bargain bin bacon bro.” ….only 99.999% of us

    BTW, I eat “healthy” bacon too

  23. I did weight watchers for two years and got “thin” everyone thought I looked hot but I guess I don’t care because all men suck anyways I STILL had all my relationship problems I was still poor as hell so who caresyou don’t like me because I’m fat fuck you all i hope you wake up in your next life as me because mine was really special I thought I was doing pretty well since at least I don’t do drugs and people who are not fat have plenty of problems you can’t see yep your THE BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE see you in hell 😉

  24. Judging by your response, being fat isn’t your problem. It’s your horrible personality. No, all men don’t suck, its hilarious you have relationship problems but accept zero responsibility. Relationships are 50/50. And being poor is your fault too. You can achieve anything you want, if you don’t expect to sit on your ass and everything will come to you, as you think. I’ve never met you, but you sound like a dick, and that has nothing to do with your size.

  25. EVERYONE thinks they are in “the small minority”. Sorry, but you need to exercise, and take in less calories than you expel. Own it. I was huge and thought the same for 10 years, I’m in shape now, and it was hard as hell.