Comment Is Free rant
I read The Guardian online every day and I enjoy reading CIF. Theres lots of interesting perspectives on there. Today there is an article on the links between poverty and obesity which triggered me to write a rantette in the comments.
One point is to remember that there are much higher rates of disability in poorer communities. I'm from an ex-mining area, with very high rates of deprivation and long-term poverty. Industrial illness is unfortunately common, such as cancer, lung problems and mechanical Arthritis. As some families stay in the same area for generation upon generation, the same families marry. Certain disabilities, such as Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and Autism are more common in some areas due to this.
This has a myriad of knock on effects. I'm pretty middle class, educated, can cook well but am disabled. Someone who wasn't taught to cook or hasn't the ability to access knowledge the way I can is at a serious disadvantage. Combine this with depression, which is extremely common among people with long term disability, and you have a big problem of people not taking care of their health as well as they could.
Being disabled brings a host of problems around eating, exercising and diet. Things such as a lack of ability to learn to cook safely, problems with fatigue or memory which make it unwise to cook a meal, to living on a low income as care costs are so high, are all part of a disabled persons life. I get high rate DLA care and yet I can't afford to have a carer, nor will Social Services fund any care for me. I'm not considered to have high enough care needs for their budget. This is exceedingly common. The majority of disabled people have to rely on family, partners and friends for their basic care.
I am considered unsafe in the kitchen. I regularly burn myself, forget food is cooking, forget to eat, forget to take my medication, can't physically open, carry or prepare foods, can't use knives or cutlery several days a week, can't wash up or even open food in packets or cans. It's not that uncommon to have these issues. In fact the lower rate care component of DLA is mostly given to people who can't cook or prepare food due to disability.
So I have to rely on my partner to buy food each day that I can easily prepare in the microwave while he's at work. I also have to have food around to feed my ten y/o son while I'm in charge of his care. As you can imagine, simple choices of meals that I can actually manage are very limited. We try to have balanced meals and I enjoy making good food with supervision, but it's much easier to rely on junkier foods. We end up eating much more takeaway food that I'd like, although we're careful in our choices.
This not an uncommon situation. I was a single mother for years and have had to manage alone feeding myself and my son since he was a baby. He's healthy, fit and active. He's also learning to cook as and when I'm well enough to teach him. Thankfully I've managed to introduce him to a very wide variety of foods so he has pretty broad tastes, which make it easier to feed him.
I am fat. I have been fat since I was a child. I have an actual hormone disorder, PCOS which is extremely common in women (between 5% and 10% of women have it) and causes Type II Diabetes. I had early puberty which meant the PCOS started when I was six. This causes weight gain. Again, not uncommon.
If you're too disabled to be able to walk or move any distance without being in significant pain or fatigue, how are you meant to lose weight? I can't swim (disability), I can't use a gym (disability), the most I can manage to walk over a whole day, on a good day, is about a mile. This is with lots of breaks and sitting down. Weight loss medications don't work. They cost the NHS a fortune and the rates of failure are astronomical.
I am not unique. There are disabled people throughout society in every part of the country. Most disabilities are invisible. You can't tell if the fat person you are looking at is disabled, if they can actually 'eat less and exercise more'. How do you know what their food choices are? How do you know what their diet is? How do you know they aren't eating disordered? Are you involved in their medical care? No. So stop judging when you have no idea who they are or what their life is.
I've lived on less than 800 calories a day in the past for several months at a time as an attempt to lose weight and not lost a pound. I started doing that when I was seven and 5' 5" tall. I was wearing a size 12 women's clothes. Being bullied for being so physically different doesn't help to form healthy attitudes to food and weight. Calories in does not always equal calories out. I have an actual consultant Endocrinologist who treats me and agrees.
The world doesn't always break down into your nice ablest ideas. There are thousands of disabilities that affect diet and weight. YOU CAN'T TELL BY LOOKING. So try reading and finding out other people's perspectives.'www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/may/11/obesity-epidemic-uk-poorest