Last night I forced Meeester to watch a programme on the telly that he had not wanted to watch at the time, so I had recorded it. He didn’t want to watch it because he said that doing so would be voyeuristic. This is after we had watched that bird off Shameless nimbly chew her own toenails on Celebrity Big Brother. Hmmm. The programme was “The Half Ton Son” about Billy, a nineteen year old from Houston- not the Scottish Houston, which has no drive in MacDonalds, to my knowledge but the US Houston which most certainly does.
Watching this documentary segued neatly in my brain to a debate that was raging over at Canadian Blogger Extraordinaire, Ex-Urban Pedestrian’s place about whether obese people should pay for an extra seat on an airplane or whether they should be allocated double seats as a matter of course. My comment was quite hardline. I claimed that being obese was effectively a life choice. Not a choice to be fat, but a choice to overeat, a series of choices made every meal time, every snack time, to ignore your better judgement, to ignore the signals given to you by your body, and eat more than you need. Watching the documentary about this boy last night who, at his peak, weighed over 67 stone, has done nothing to change my mind on this issue. Billy’s greed and eating problem was made doubly worse by a mother who was an enabler of his greed and a willing provider of too much food for her mollycoddled, spoiled son. She was as much to blame for his life threatening size as he was, if not more so. And he was quite happy to devolve responsibility to her.
Now according to the scales on WiiFit, just about everyone is obese, but how many people on a daily basis do you come into contact that are morbidly obese. Me, I used to work with someone who is. Yet, I never saw him eat. Other than that, no, it’s still not really that common to see people in the UK who have massive folds of fat hanging over their front bottom area, are wheezy just walking down a corridor, or who genuinely would need two seats on an airplane.
However in the US, it is extremely common, and I never really saw horrendously morbidly obese people until I worked in New Orleans in 1990. I was shocked and horrified at how human beings could morph into the size these people were. I genuinely had never seen people who looked like that before. And I live in Scotland home of the sliced sausage and the deep fried pizza! What were they doing that was different to the rest of the world?
As I worked in a restaurant which offered a limited selection of “All You Can Eat” items, I served a great deal of obese people. To a man, they all ordered Diet Coke with their 10 consecutive plates of deep fried shrimp or barbecue ribs. The first time I took someone’s diet drink order in this situation, I nearly choked from surprise. I thought they were taking the piss out of me.
The other waiters had a name for this type of customer, they were called “Salads”.
“Why ‘Salad’?” I asked.
“Because they always order a side salad and never touch it” said my colleague.
“Like some kind of coverup,” said another.
“Like the diet drink order?” I said. “Yes, like that. That’s a cover up too”.
People can be fat all over the world, but the level of obesity that I saw in the States horrified me. And running back and forth with the 7th consecutive plate of something that most people would only manage two of, for someone nudging 30 stone, yes, has made my opinions hardline about this. Little choices, mounting up to becoming something that becomes a health problem, which then becomes an addiction, which then becomes a human rights issue, which then becomes someone else’s fault for offering “All you Can Eat” items, or “Supersize” items, or no extra seat on an airline.
But this all started with little choices. Theirs, their mother’s, whoever...but choices all the same.
Not often we have a serious debate on the Misssives, but what do you think?
Stop Press: Gordon McLean of top blog Informationally Overloaded, who commented earlier here, has written his take on being fat. Read it.
Stop Stop Press: And XUP has opened the debate ever wider. This one will run and run...Read that too.
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