So. Apparently I live in the “third fattest city in Canada”.
According to a report recently done by Stats Canada, St. John’s has the third highest rate of obesity in the country, with about one third of its adults being overweight. This new bit of info was all over the news today, and of course, it was just another occasion for the media to push the “healthy lifestyle”, weight-loss, dieting agenda.
As if we aren’t already swamped with messages promoting the diet-crazed lifestyle our society seems to love.
Everywhere, these ideas are being stamped into our brains. Turn on the tv, and the first commercial you see is likely to be either for a new, lower-caloried snack, or a gym or weight loss program that guarantees results, fast! Flipping through a magazine will assure you see at least a few ads for a miracle weight-loss pill, or sure-fire diet. Going out with friends reinforces the message too – someone’s always trying a new diet or talking about how they’ve been going to the gym a lot more lately. Even scrolling through my Facebook feed, I see way more “fitspo”, progress pics, diet plans, and body-hate than I’d ever want to see (and I do my best to avoid this type of stuff).
It seems like the general consensus is that everyone should be working to improve themselves, and losing weight is the way to do it! Instead of being a personal, private choice, a “healthy” lifestyle is promoted to everyone.
I guess it’s no wonder, then, how many people are (likely in part thanks to this mindset) now dealing with eating disorders. Even in the four months I’ve been attending a treatment program, the number of girls I’ve met who are also fighting some form of eating disorder is scarily high. And that’s just the people who are seeking help to get better; countless others are suffering in silence.
I just find it interesting that so much attention is paid to the issue of obesity, while people at the other end of the spectrum often get overlooked. Although there are terrible health consequences from being both overweight and underweight, the focus is always on how unhealthy and obese our population is, and how we should all be trying to make healthier food choices, exercise more, lose weight. Even a fundraising walk aimed at raising Eating Disorder Awareness last month had zero coverage in the local media. It’s an issue that is, more often than not, silenced and ignored, while obesity and weight loss is at the centre of our news stories.
I understand that most people want to be healthy, and want their family, friends, and children to be healthy. But this diet-obsessed culture is the wrong way to do it. There’s too much focus on weight loss, and too much importance placed on how our bodies look, and it can only lead to negativity.