Fat Prejudice: Myths & Facts About Obesity (VIDEO)

This video, from the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University, is 17 minutes long and very well worth watching. It talks about the true causes of obesity — genetics play a big role — and the awful prejudice against fat people in this culture. The narrator is a high school student.

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13 Responses to Fat Prejudice: Myths & Facts About Obesity (VIDEO)

  1. avatar S0journer says:

    This is an amazing video. Beautifully done. (I just wish all the doctors portrayed were not so thin…oh well.) For anyone who has been teased in school, and not just for being overweight.

  2. avatar Andi says:

    Wonderful video, painful to watch. Erica is so engaging and open. How many of us have had prejudiced and ignorant thoughts even if we never said anything to someone who is overweight? The video really challenges us to confront our beliefs and our need to feel better at someone else’s expense.

  3. That video brought back a lot of memories for me from when I was in high school. I was naturally a little heavy – not a lot heavy, not even as heavy as the girl in the video, but not as thin as my naturally thin mother, who placed a very high value on appearance. My eating was basically healthy and I was a ballet dancer – I was very strong and fit. But my mother was constantly pressuring me to lose weight. She’d say, “You’d be so pretty if only you’d lose a little weight”. That sounds supportive on the surface, but it’s not. She didn’t understand that that was just how I naturally looked. The effect of the criticism was to make me eat more – I gained weight. And that is always what happens. That’s how emotional eating starts. Fat prejudice creates a toxic cycle. You’re a little heavier by nature, fat prejudice causes emotional eating, and then set point biology kicks in so losing becomes next to impossible.

    I’m working on an article about this – physiology of weight, what consitutes a “normal weight”, and how weight prejudice and processed food can cause a small amount of natural fat to morph into a full fledged problem with emotional eating and obesity.

  4. avatar Bridgitte says:

    What a wonderful woman – it made me cry to watch. I have felt the prejudice, and I have the ability to judge too. My obsession with my weight leads me to constantly compare my size to others either positively or negatively, depending if I am bigger or smaller. What a waste of time and energy this process is! And hurtful to myself and others. THis is why I am in NE – to lose the obsession.

  5. avatar Lisa says:

    I am very, very impressed with Bene. She is so bright and self-possessed that I wish she could have made a video about something unrelated to her appearance, although I understand the urgency of her chosen subject.

    In high school, I ate completely normally, was on the cross-country team (ran 3 miles a day), and wore a size 12-14. My freshman year of college, I gained 10 lbs. and it was the combination of remarks from relatives and my natural insecurity that pushed me into binge eating, then anorexia, then bulimia. I still miss those absolutely carefree attitudes about food that I had until age 18.

  6. Yep – me too, me too! It was my natural tendency to be a little heavier than society thinks is normal that sparked the criticisms that pushed me into weight obsession and emotional eating. I suspect this is extremely common, and it’s incredibly sad.

    I was able to get back to eating normally (and you can, too!). I’m a size 12 and that is my normal weight. It might be nice to look like Miss California, but I have other virtues. 🙂

  7. avatar Marzena says:

    Sad indeed.And the saddest part of all is that teacher. What does he think he is doing, perpetuating and accepting that sort of behaviour towards Bene? This is all happening during his class, why does he not put a stop to it?
    Reminds me of a book I sav reviews of recently and would like to read. Title like Rescuing the Overweight Child. This is not about diets for children, but about their emotional welfare. The awful thing is that their Quality of Life surveys come out similar to children with cancer receiving chemotherapy. How sick is that.
    To me this video has also been very evocative of high school days, and especially one aspect of it: I was continually encouraged to treat the abuse as a joke and share in it. That was almost worse than the original taunts.
    Really hope Bene grows up fine; I am afraid that this kind of emotional scarring is almost impossible to heal for good, even when one is very brave and self-loving.

  8. avatar Annie~ says:

    I was really moved by this young woman, and horrified that the adult teacher did not advocate on her behalf in the classroom. I realise that I can make assumptions on someones health based on their weight, and yet I know this is but one of many factors that determines someones health. I judge myself also at times, and feel the internal conflict between my work in the natural health field (which includes nutrition) and my own struggles with consistently eating in a healthful manner. I know that knowledge does not necessarily equate to behaviour change. It was good to be reminded that weight is a complex issue and nobody has the right to be cruel to anybody.

  9. This video has two very important messages. One is fat prejudice, but the other is just as important – our ability to control the amount of fat we have is limited by our genes, our setpoint, and other biological factors (even what your mother ate while you were the uterus). Many studies estimate that 70% of our weight is determined by factors outside of our control.

    There is hard research to document this – many twin studies of different types, published in places like the New England Journal of Medicine. And yet popular books written by doctors (I’m thinking of one in particular that’s way high on the bestseller list right now) insist that what we weigh is 100% determined by calories in and calories out (diet and exercise). It simply is not true.

    Even perfect eating – 100% nutritious foods, no dessert ever, never eating except for hunger – will not make some people skinny because it’s not just what you eat, it’s what your body DOES with what you eat.

    This is a hugely important point that goes to the heart of fat prejudice, and also how people feel about their own bodies. Being persecuted for weighing a little more than our crazy culture says women should weigh is what starts many women down the road of emotional eating, or full-blown eating disorders. They can’t accept themselves the way they are – they are trying to be what they cannot be. What could be more damaging to your self esteem? It’s also damaging to your body. The emotional eating turns a small amount of natural additional fat into a large amount of unnatural additional fat, which is then hard to lose because of setpoint biology.

    I plan to write about this more in the June newsletter – describe some of the studies.

  10. avatar Tova says:

    I’m pretty sure this is a scripted video written by a someone who is trying to influence a particular idea. Mostly because I’ve done audio/video classes, workshops and some work on independent movies. I’m sorry, but there is no way that one commercially available camera could pick up such crisp audio. Even reality television shows have to rerecord dialogue that was lost in the original filming. I hate to say it, but this is not a truly unscripted, off the cuff, report from a teenager. You’ve all had your emotions manipulated by a scripted movie not a genuine documentary. Whether there is truth behind the message doesn’t change the fact that this video is pretending to be something it’s not. Try to be more discriminating about what you believe, please.

  11. avatar John says:

    I agree Tova, but I wouldn’t feel so deceived – I think they made the documentary videos to help raise awareness and get these urgent messages out there. I imagine that these documentaries are used in high schools, etc..

    From the Yale Rudd Center website at http://www.yaleruddcenter.org/what_we_do.aspx?id=254

    “Each video uses both expert commentary and dramatic representation to address the obstacles obese individuals face with weight bias in American society. The videos also present strategies to help combat this rapidly growing problem.”

    I did some searching, and Bene appears to be a student of theater and music. I think she’s very bright and going places!

  12. avatar Elizabeth says:

    Definitely scripted, and somewhat inaccurate. Overweight people, unless they are in the process of losing weight, are not eating bananas and apples for breakfast, salad for lunch, and a healthy dinner with no snacking – and taking two heart-pumping walks a day. It’s not scientifically possible. If you burn more calories than you take in, you will lose weight – end of story. I think there are serious pysychological factors that prevent overweight people from taking the steps to lose weight – but let’s be honest about our eating and excercising habits. Denial will not help us.

  13. avatar Anna says:

    On the contrary, I was eating half a grapefruit and a boiled egg for breakfast, an apple and peanut butter sandwich for lunch, and an egg and salad for dinner and wasn’t losing anything! I told my friends, “there has to be something wrong with me. Why aren’t I losing any weight?” A few months later I discovered that I was hypothyroid =which means my body runs very slowly and that I needed thyroid replacement hormone. So yes, there are some people who try and despite everything cannot lose weight unless they’re diagnosed and receive help. Not everyone who is heavy eats like a pig! As my Grandma would say, “If you haven’t got anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

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