As expected this initial push for fund raising, and attention is absolutely the hardest push of them all. I am aware that once I actually start to walk, or even get closer to the departure date some of this initial push will get easier.
The reactions I get to my plans vary hugely between excitement, admiration and also an awful lot of apathy. While those who gets excited about my trip fuel my passion, the ones who respond with apathy or even downright uncaring attitudes makes me equally sad. Tonight, I suppose, the sadness demands an expression.
While this last week started with excitement, it ended with apathy. I spoke with an awful lot of pastors and church ladies, and some of them told me that really obesity was not something they cared to talk about, think about or care about. When I told them that 300,000 people died last year from obesity, I was told that it wasn’t something that touched “me”.
Another lady asked me several times today “well, how will the community benefit from your walk”. I tried my best to explain my vision.
The vision that with increased awareness about what obesity is, or is not, we can challenge the rampant discrimination against obese people which will decrease shame and isolation, and increase empowerment for those who struggle with obesity. With a foundation in my own struggles with obesity, and weight loss throughout this walk I have a chance to reach out to others, inspire, be inspired and create some weight loss magic.
And finally, with an increase in focus on obesity will come an increase in funds available to offer qualified help to those who needs it, and with an increase in qualified help comes a lot more people empowered to lose weight. It makes sense to me.
So, tonight, I will be honest and say that I think the apathy masks discrimination. The idea that obesity is exclusively lifestyle based, that it is a choice to be obese, and really, we do not need to care about those who are obese because they brought it on themselves. I think a lot of people are not even fully aware how discriminatory and incorrect this attitude is. It is an attitude that is fueled by the media, and so far I do not see any challenges to this attitude.
Obesity is complex, and certainly life style is one aspect of obesity. Interestingly enough, the absolute biggest predictor of obesity is poverty. If you struggle with money then you are 20 times more likely to also struggle with your weight. Genetics plays a huge role in obesity, and I suspect this is because of hormonal fluctuations. Hormones decide if we are “one of those type people” who can eat 5 burgers and 10 chocolate bars and not gain an ounce. Or, if we are among the unlucky that gain 5 pounds from the smell of the grill. Hormones that impact obesity are: Estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, insulin, thyroid hormones, adrenalin and cortisol. Emotional issues, depression, anxiety, and a sense of overwhelm often accompany obesity, and makes weight loss a lot more complex.
So, I will repeat myself. An awful lot of people die from obesity each year. In spite of the staggering number of deaths there are zero fund raisers and very little promotion or true awareness given to obesity. Discrimination is rampant, media fueled and unchallenged by laws or awareness campaigns.Unless we want to continue to see the number of deaths from obesity increase we need to change this, and we need to change it now. So, why should you care? Because the deaths from obesity are increasing. Because those who deal with obesity deserves qualified support. And finally, because those who die are your friends, your mother’s and father’s. Your sibling’s and cousin’s. They are people you love, and if you continue to think that they brought it on themselves so therefore this is not a conversation worthy of your time then more of the ones you love will die.