Perhaps it was inevitable that during the era of the politically correct presidency that one group after another would claim that they have “rights” that should be legally protected. Now it’s fat people, who are throwing their weight around in the great healthcare debate of 2009, as reported by Susan Saulny in the New York Times:
Marilyn Wann is an author and weight diversity speaker in Northern California who has a message for anyone making judgments about her health based on her large physique. “The only thing anyone can accurately diagnose by looking at a fat person is their own level of stereotype and prejudice about fat,” said Ms. Wann, a 43-year-old San Franciscan whose motto in life is also the title of her book: FAT!SO? : Because You Don’t Have to Apologize for Your Size.
Hers has been an oft-repeated message this summer and fall by members of the “fat pride” community, given that the nation is in the midst of a debate about health care. That debate has, sometimes awkwardly, focused its attention on the growing population of overweight and obese Americans with unambiguous overtones: fat people should lose weight, for the good of us all.
Heavier Americans are pushing back now with newfound vigor in the policy debate, lobbying legislators and trying to move public opinion to recognize their point of view: that thin does not necessarily equal fit, and that people can be healthy at any size.
Extra weight brings with it an increased risk of chronic disease, medical experts say, and heavier people tend to have medical costs that are substantially higher than their leaner counterparts. As a result, Congress is considering proposals in the effort to overhaul health care that would make it easier for employers to use financial rewards or penalties to promote healthy behavior by employees, like weight loss.
Other less-scientific arguments have also gained traction on blogs, chat shows and editorial pages since talk of the overhaul began in earnest, with the overweight cast as lazy or gluttonous liabilities and therefore not entitled to universal health coverage because of poor personal decision-making. As that thinking goes, a healthful eater should not have to pay for the consequences of someone else’s greasy burger binges.
Either way, heavy people — characterized as over-consumers of health care or as those who should miss out on discounts because of their size — say they have been maligned throughout the debate…