The Immorality of Obesity

Last week, media mogul Rupert Murdoch pissed off a whole bunch of people with the following tweet about a woman in New York who suffered injuries when the sidewalk she was walking on collapsed out from under her.


Obesity apologists all around the twitterverse were freaking out…hunting and pecking out expletive-filled anti-Murdoch tweets and blog posts. It was a veritable orgy of obese indignation.

And yet…it got me thinking.

  • Why is it that so many people in our society feel free to mean so damn nasty to fat people?
  • Why is it a character flaw to be fat?

We all have bad habits. We all do things that aren’t 100% healthy for our bodies.

Even personal trainers like me.

For example, this past Saturday night, I spent about 5 hours…

  • sitting on my butt
  • watching Hockey Night in Canada
  • and drinking beer with friends and having one heck of a fun evening.

Does this make me a bad person?

Would it have made me a bad person if (instead of being an uber-healthy personal trainer) I had been that 400 lb woman who fell through the sidewalk?

Maybe it’s time we create a little separation between people and their actions.

Obesity and related lifestyle medical conditions ARE a significant medical problem….costing millions and millions of dollars. But instead of being a giant A-hole like Rupert Murdoch or a Fat-Apologist like the Jezebel blogger I linked to, maybe we should focus on the actions that have led to increased rates of obesity, type-2 diabetes, heart disease, etc…

  • Maybe we have a little more sympathy for people who make poor decisions,
  • And a little less sympathy for people who exploit those bad decisions for financial & political gain



  1. Further more I believe that it is not helpful to judge people based upon their level of obesity. I struggle with it and am fighting it but I am not on aide of any sort. His biggest flaw was assuming that because she was 400 pounds that she did not make enough to self fund her bad habits. Also regardless of her weight that side walk should not have collapsed. What if 2 or 3 ‘normal’ sized people had bee standing there? It probably would have been worse.

  2. WOW how did I miss this??? Who’s more insulted? Fat people or Democrats? Murdoch is making both a moral and political statement. You’re probably aware here in the US that Republicans have decided anyone who is liberal (AKA Democrat) is a “taker” who wants a handout. Bill O’Reilly accused Obama supporters of all wanting “free stuff.” So there’s THAT. But Murdoch made this connection by applying the long-standing and vicious stereotype that very overweight people are all lazy, weak, out of control gluttons, hell-bent on a path of self-destruction and too stupid to do anything about it.

    Doug, I like your blog because you point to the systemic issues that need to get addressed. America has created the most obesogenic culture in history and we’ve spread it throughout the world. You also point out the BULLSHIT! Nothing will improve if we keep buying “bottles of false hope” as you’ve written.

    I add my voice to your views to round out what we’re really facing here. We accept that it’s natural for some people to be thin and have little interest in food. It MUST follow then that it’s natural for some people to be larger and to have high cravings for food. I am one of those people! It’s going to be a MUCH tougher road for me and people like me to take our weight under control and shaming us won’t work. Telling us to go on Jenny Craig and “love the food” won’t work either. Obesity porn and scare tactics won’t work! If desire was all it took, nobody would be fat. We have to let go of this assumption that “if you want it badly enough, you’ll do it.” Believe me, I spent much of my life not just WANTING it but being TORMENTED by my desire to feel in control of my body!

    It will take innovative and creative new ideas on how to guide and support larger people and insight into what we deal with! I hope I am making a difference with my book! You’re making a difference with this blog, for sure!

  3. Hey Dagny

    I hate to admit it, but I think that a lot of the people talking in the media about obesity see this as some sort of moral/character failure and are more interested in blaming & making fun than searching for an actual solution.

    Aside from the intellectual laziness, the whole “better than thou” vibe pisses me off. (pardon my french)

  4. I’ve struggled with weight on and off over the years. I’m in the process of getting back into healthy eating and healthy lifestyle. What bothers me is when I go to a wedding or other party and have budgeted and worked hard all week because I know I will want that piece of cake or pastry. And when I am eating it I get nasty looks from some people like “no wonder she’s fat, look at what’s on her plate”.

  5. Maybe we have always been this way, but to me…it seems like most of us have morphed into a species of judgemental A-holes in the past decade or so. Everyone is fair game for mockery, derision and outright hatred.

    And as much as I see the explosion of obesity & related lifestyle disease as a big probem for our society, I don’t get why people have to be so hateful. It’s one thing to give someone some tough love and call them on their poor lifestyle choices…while simultaneously offering support. It’s another to judge a person’s worth by their amount of adipose tissue.

    I know it’s easier said than done Lise, but try to ignore the nasty looks. You have to know that a happy person doesn’t feel the need to hurt others. I’m not saying that you should feel sorry for them, but there is probably a big ball of pain, fear, sadness, etc deep inside them that is driving their hatred of obesity.

  6. I am a nurse practitioner– and I can tell you first hand that NO ONE who is obese– likes having this problem. Many have tried every diet- & excerise program in the world– only to gain back the weight. I truly believe their will be a scientific break through sometime soon of the true cause of obesity– whether is be a hormone or enzyme lacking or a combination of many problems for the millions of people who suffer from this disease. Certainly our culture has gotten quote ” Less active” kids play outside much less than they did 40 years ago when I was a kid. But to blame or finger point at people is not helping anyone. But one thing for sure this joke of a Congress that we have– is not helping matters in regards to research into this issue for the many other things that need further research. Let’s just try to work together– or play nice in the sandbox PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!

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