Apparently, being fat is contagious, at least according to results reported in the latest issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. The study reports that a thin person is 57% more likely to get fat if he/she has a fat friend. The risk is 40% with a fat friend and 37% with a fat spouse.
In the NY Daily News article on the study, Dr. Louis Aronne, a weight management doctor, is quoted as saying that there may be an unintended result of publishing the study:
“There’s a danger that people will be biased against the overweight even more than in the past,” Aronne said. “Is a mother going to say, ‘I’m not going to let my kid play with an overweight kid because it’s going to make my kid overweight’?”
Gee, you think? In our modern age where parents screen and regulate every possible contact or influence in their child’s life, how can they hear about this study and not freak out? I can hear the conversations now: “Y’know honey, that Smith kid is a polite, well-behaved, fun boy, and his parents seem very nice as well. But I don’t think we should let Junior play with him anymore. He’s fat and it might rub off on Junior.”
Although I am fat, I am not a “fat rights” advocate. I am not going to whine, weep, and wail over alleged “discrimination” against the overweight. I don’t blame my genes or my potty-training. It is my problem and my responsibility to fix it. And in most cases, I think this goes for others. Except for those who have an illness or disorder, everyone is responsible for their own physical condition. If you are fat, then it’s on you, not your fat friend, sibling, or spouse. Having said that, I do take exception to those who presume to judge my character or intellect by my weight. If you are heavy, there is an unfair tendency for people to think that they know everything they need to know about you on sight. This is the root to the behavior of avoiding fat people as job candidates, friends, and significant others. And frankly, my Christian brothers and sisters, you are some of the worst to judge and look down your noses at heavy people. Everyone has a struggle, a bad habit, something about themselves that they want to change. Fat people are at a disadvantage because our struggle is visible to everyone around us.
I have a story about this, of course. Several years ago my mom and brother both happened to be in town visiting and went to church with me. A well-known church of Christ preacher (one of our progressive brethren, no less) was the guest-speaker that Sunday. My brother, like me, is a large man. When my mother, brother, and I were walking out of the auditorium, we went through the door where the guest speaker was greeting members. My mother was ahead of us, so she introduced herself to him and introduced my brother and me as her sons. No kidding, this well-known progressive preacher looked at my brother and me and said to my mother, “You must be a good cook.” I asked him if they had stopped teaching manners in preaching school. The look on his face was worth taking the insult.
If you think I have a chip on my shoulder about this, you are absolutely right. 35 years of this crap will do that to a person. I can’t speak for everyone, but for myself I can tell you that I don’t want anyone’s pity and I won’t tolerate anyone’s rudeness or condescension. And finally, all of my thin friends: if you start to get fat, don’t go blaming me.