Our governments, health professionals, and now personal trainers-cum-TV-celebrities have joined in the fun of detailing the personal failings of fat people.
And where has this united effort of moralising and scorn got us? Well let’s just say that the United Nations has declared obesity to be epidemic and our politicians are bandying around phrases like ‘the war on obesity’.
The latest entrant in the fat shaming contest is the West Australian government’s health promotion body WA Health with its recently-launched LiveLighter anti-obesity campaign.
Piggybacking off the success of the graphic drink driving and anti-smoking campaigns, the LiveLighter campaign features graphic images of fat, labeling it toxic and portraying it as disgusting.
One poster features a man grabbing his gut alongside organs covered with fat emblazoned with the alarming message ‘GRABBABLE GUT OUTSIDE MEANS TOXIC FAT INSIDE’.
The campaign booklet notes ‘At times, it’s graphic and confronting, but it has to be. We need everyone to realise that achieving and maintaining a healthy weight should be a priority right now — and not something that can be put off “until tomorrow”.’
While urgency is all well and good, WA Health, along with their campaign partners The Heart Foundation and The Cancer Council might have taken the time to look at some evidence. If they did, they’d have realised that these kinds of shock campaigns, which have been running all over the developed world for decades, have not led to long-term weight loss. In fact, as we are repeatedly told: we’re getting fatter.