Obesity and Social Media

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When stories relating to obesity appear in the news, they are not always about the results of recent studies. For instance, a comedy series called Fuller House got in trouble over a Halloween episode.

Writer Kara Pendleton consulted an expert, a blogger named Brittany who has personal knowledge of the subject. Brittany’s reaction was,

The scene is of one of the child’s friends saying how “uncool” the Fuller House was for giving out raisins instead of candy, and for handing out Juvenile Diabetes pamphlets… It’s a misconception that sugar causes diabetes and it feeds into the stigma many live with every day. Juvenile Diabetes also known as (Type 1 Diabetes) is an autoimmune disease and can cause serious complications or death if not properly treated.

Childhood obesity is a real issue and raises the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes, but there is absolutely no link between obesity and Juvenile Diabetes or (Type 1 Diabetes).

Apparently, the issue is that some insensitive people blame Type 1 patients for causing their own illness by eating too much sugar. They conflate Type 1 with Type 2, which does connect with obesity, as obesity connects with sugar.

The show’s star, Candace Cameron Bure, used the social networking platform Facebook to issue an apology that included thanks for the correct information. She assured the public that there was no intention to offend, or any hint of disrespect. Pendleton’s article was followed by the inevitable batch of comments, including two from people with diabetes who had not taken any offense from the sketch.

No laughing matter

Comedian and actor Kevin Hart got together with his personal trainer and some friends to start a running encouragement program with special appeal to people who didn’t usually run. He told interviewer Robin Hilmantel that when they used Twitter to recruit participants, hundreds and then thousands of people showed up.

The publicity campaign included several memorable quotations:

I believe there’s an athlete in all of us, I’m committed to helping others believe that, too… Nothing happens without action. You know my one tip — and my main tip — would be: Don’t be a talker, be a doer.

Hart told the reporter he sometimes works 16-hour days, even when traveling, which takes a toll on the human body. He credits his ability to keep up with a demanding schedule to the endurance and stamina gained from running. There is another facet to the entertainer’s devotion to running:

I grew very fond of it because it was something that I was able to use as a meditating technique…. It was just a place for me to go and think and be productive in a mental setting.

Sabrina Barr wrote about a Twitter thread constructed by an artist called Kiva Bay, who is identified with male pronouns but who also seems hyper-aware of the challenges faced by obese women in this society, like the inability to fit into a prom dress.

He talks about the ordeal of eating in public with everyone looking and silently judging. He talks about squeezing oneself into a corner, turning sideways, sucking in the gut and clenching arms to one’s sides in a pathetic attempt to take up less space.

Another sore spot is typical television programming replete with shows that encourage “fat hate.” It is reminiscent of a remark by the controversial Lindy West:

There were occasional fat characters on TV shows when I was growing up, but their function was always to be fat. It would have meant a lot to me to see a fat person presented as a person.

Three more relevant lines from Kiva Bay:

Being fat is being paid less, promoted less, liked less, loved less.

Being fat is knowing beauty is a title awarded by other people.

Being fat is recognizing revulsion in a stranger’s face when you just want to get through your day.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “When ‘Fuller House’ Diabetes Scene Is Slammed by Activists, Candace Cameron Bure Is Pure Class,” IJR.com, 12/18/16
Source: “Kevin Hart Meditates While He Runs,” TIME.com, 03/23/16
Source: “Man Shares Struggles of “Being Fat” in Emotional Twitter Threads,” Independent.co.uk, 06/11/18
Source: “Lindy West is the troll-fighting feminist warrior you’ve been waiting for,” LATimes.com, 05/20/16
Image by @TheMikeLawrence

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Profiles: Kids Struggling with Weight

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OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:

Presentations

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

Food & Health Resources