There is a difference between recognizing that a condition is unhealthy and demonizing people who live with that condition. Many dedicated scientists, medical professionals, therapists, and others are vitally interested in helping people escape from morbid obesity. This does not mean they hate or look down on people who are overweight or obese. But somehow, the very existence of anti-obesity programs brings out a hostile defensiveness in a segment of the population.
A small but eloquent number of “fat acceptance” advocates seem to view anyone who tries to reduce obesity as the mental twin of a dictator committed to ethnic cleansing and the moral equivalent of a tyrant who plans genocide.
In “Fatlogic’s Power to Cloud Minds,” we looked at the difference between rationality and rationalization, and unpacked the observation Dr. Pretlow once made about a contact:
One parent vehemently claimed that her 250-pound 13-year-old needed 2,800 calories per day for his weight.
That is a delusional mother, working on the assumption that her responsibility is to maintain her child’s present weight. Or maybe it is only a case of poor education. Maybe from a doctor or a TV show, the mother grasped the principle that alcohol and drugs affect people differently depending on their size. A 250-pound surgical patient needs a certain amount of anesthesia to knock him out. Therefore, a 250-pound son requires a certain amount of food to keep him going. It makes sense. In the fatlogic universe, this is how things work.
To maintain the fatlogic mindset, a person must be able believe two things that can’t both be true. The ability to engage in cognitive dissonance is a uniquely human trait, and a certain amount of it is necessary for humans to survive. It probably demands a heavy psychological price, because deep inside, most of us know when we are lying to ourselves. This awareness does not stop us from deceiving ourselves, but adds another layer of guilt. In “Genetics and Fatlogic,” we reviewed first-person accounts from grownups who wish their parents had not brainwashed them into believing such a harmful philosophy.
Growing Up in Fatlogic Land
In “Fatlogic and Self-Deception,” we examined the fine art of kidding the self and made, not for the first time, a case for early intervention. The earlier obesity and fatlogic set in, the more difficult they are to reverse. How early should intervention start? Before a child’s conception. How can society convince women to make sure their bodies and minds are healthy before they even consider getting pregnant? Whoever answers that question will be the hero of the century.
Of course, individuals are not the only proponents of fatlogic. Giant, planet-encompassing corporations do their share. Coca-Cola
makes news for several reasons, like the sketchy attribution of research funding. The company is quite the fatlogic cheerleader. It supports research to prove that caloric intake is meaningless, and co-opts dietitians and nutritionists who can be persuaded to tell the public that Coke and similar products are good snack choices. In publications, the company places “sponsored articles” that are nothing more than advertisements inflated with extra prose. It even employs experts who attest that the nature of a sugar-sweetened beverage somehow magically changes if the beverage is consumed from an itty-bitty can.
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Image by Martin Lindstrom