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Even as the issue of obesity continues to occupy an increasing part of the American debate, a new and probably politically incorrect take on the subject is taking shape…

The New York Times had a piece the other day saying that the war against obesity is taking on the unfortunate texture of a morality play.

The NYT wrote that “a growing group of historians and cultural critics who study fat say this obsession is based less on science than on morality. Insidious attitudes about politics, sex, race or class are at the heart of the frenzy over obesity, these scholars say, a frenzy they see as comparable to the Salem witch trials, McCarthyism and even the eugenics movement.”

These researchers, according to the NYT, “don't condone morbid obesity, but they do focus on the ways the definition of obesity and its meaning have shifted, often arbitrarily, throughout history.”

And both the NYT and USA Today profile Paul Campos, a University of Colorado law professor who has come out with a new book, “The Obesity Myth,” in which he argues that obesity is a political and cultural issue, not a matter of health.

Campos writes: "Contrary to almost everything you have heard, weight is not a good predictor of health. In fact a moderately active larger person is likely to be far healthier than someone who is svelte but sedentary." The new national ware on obesity, he writes, "is unique in American history in that it represents the first concerted attempt to transform the vast majority of the nation's citizens into social pariahs, to be pitied and scorned."

And, he writes, “There is no good evidence that significant long-term weight loss is beneficial to health, and a great deal of evidence that short-term weight loss followed by weight regain (the pattern followed by almost all dieters) is medically harmful."
KC's View:
We understand the point, and think there certainly is merit in the argument that people should not be treated like pariahs just because they’re overweight. And there certainly have been studies done suggesting that the addiction to food resembles the addiction to drugs…which means that to wean people off fatty foods can be akin to getting them into some sort of rehab program. It isn’t always just a matter of self-control.

But to dismiss all the talk about obesity and the nation’s expanding waistline as moral posturing and latent discrimination strikes us as equally unfair. It is a kind of “I’m okay, you’re okay” approach that requires no judgment, no choices. Well, guess what? Sometimes we’re not okay, and we ought to do something about it.