Double Edged Sword

by Jason Fredin

Some problems are difficult to solve and some solutions have unintended consequences.

One that jumped out at me today is the obesity issue. With the current education strategy, making people aware that being overweight is bad for your health, it makes me wonder if it is increasing bullying.

For example, statements like the following are widely accepted as true, and it likely is.

“We solve obesity, we solve the health care problem.” – Donnie Deutsch

I have heard it many times before and healthcare expenses related to obesity have certainly risen. Eliminating those expenses would definitely relive much of the stress on healthcare.

But wait…

As we undergo this urgent campaign telling people they need to shape up for better health, we may also be vilifying those people we are trying to help. I can’t help but assume the more we get told being overweight is wrong, the more body issues are going to get picked on.

According to a 2006 Toronto District School Board student census for Grades 7 to 12 (pg.21), students were primarily bullied because of body image…

As much as 38% of bullying in grades 7-8 is body image related!

Yes, I know that being overweight isn’t the only body image reason those kids got picked on. The bullying could be for being too tall, too short, too thin, freckled, blonde, or red-headed amongst other things. People can be mean when you don’t ‘fit in’.