Sunday, June 6, 2021

"My 600-lb Life" obesity shows food is socially acceptable addiction

Rising obesity rates prove some oddly variant perceptions of addiction. Substitute "alcohol" "or "drugs" for "food" in these statements (taken from the reality TV show "My 600-lb Life") and you'll see why. 

"I live for food (drugs)." 

"Food (alcohol) is my best friend." 

"I can't go 15 minutes without food (drugs)"

"Food (alcohol) comforts me."

The usual response to admitted food addiction is a sympathetic nod. The folks on "My  600-lb Life" can make these outlandish statements because they know it's acceptable. But drug or alcohol addiction would get a cold stare, harsh criticism, ostracization and very probably a police or APS call...if someone actually had the courage admit drug reliance. 

If someone was staggering down the street drunk or stoned, we'd be horrified. We even shame marijuana use when it has proven health benefits and is debatably safer that most OTC meds. It's definitely safer than prescription painkillers and opioids. But we think nothing of obesity. It takes a show like "My 600-lb Life" to wake us up to the fact that food addiction is every bit as dangerous as drug or alcohol addiction.  

Why the disparate responses to drug addiction and obesity? Because being overweight is socially acceptable whereas being drug addicted is not.  We get food addiction and overeating. Many of us are overweight and struggle with the same thing. And we shame what we do not understand. 

This blog explores how I lost 100 pounds. And I found that even weight loss is less understood than being overweight. When you lose weight, people treat you differently. Some genuinely admire your hard work. But others express jealousy. It's as if weight loss is a commodity with limited access. 

So what's my point? Shame doesn't fix any addiction. A little empathy goes a long way, as long as it doesn't turn into enabling. And about weight loss? The good news is that everyone can lose weight if they want to! I lost 100 pounds and while it wasn't easy, it wasn't as difficult as being overweight.  

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