Fat and Lazy? Yeah, Right!

Starting back in the mid 1800’s, dieting, as we now know it started.  From Diet Blog.com:  “Historians trace the origins of a modern conception of dieting to two 19th century figures: Rev. Sylvester Graham (1795-1851), a New Jersey preacher, and William Banting (1797 – 1878), a London undertaker.

You may never have heard of Rev. Graham, but chances are that you’ll be familiar with his dieting invention: the Graham cracker. Perhaps the first diet food, the Graham cracker was made from flour that was unsifted and didn’t have additives (refined white bread was becoming popular with the middle-classes during the 19th century, who could afford to buy it). Graham saw white bread as nutritionally poor, and he and his followers, the Grahamites, eschewed it – again, we can see the roots of modern diet advice back in the 19th century.  Graham believed in a strict vegetarian and teetotal diet, and saw diet primarily as a means to control sexual urges.

William Banting, by contrast, was interested in diet for the same reason as most dieters today are: he wanted to lose weight. In 1863, he wrote a pamphlet, Letter on Corpulence, Addressed to the Public. His diet plan, based on advice given to him by a doctor, featured:

Four meals a day, consisting of protein, greens, fruits, and dry wine.

Avoiding starch and sugars.

Milk, butter and meat were all permitted.”


Since then the diet industry has grown into a multi-billion dollar business.  Reports abound about the so-called USA’s obesity epidemic, one can follow the money trail.  From News Medical .com:  “ Xavier Pi-Sunyer, who has also received significant funding from the makers of anti-obesity drugs and is currently promoting anti-obesity drug Acomplia made by Sanofi, chaired a key National Institutes of Health obesity panel, which in 1998 instantly cast 30 million Americans into the “overweight” category by changing the government’s definition. That group includes presently “overweight” stars like Will Smith, Pierce Brosnan, Tom Brady, Kobe Bryant, and even (former)President Bush.”

It has become common for obese people to be stereotyped as lazy, lacking will, unhealthy and other slurs to their character.  In reality, there are many causes for obesity from genetic/heredity to other medical conditions such as stress and depression. 

From DrShop.com: “There does appear to be at least an association between heredity and obesity. In a well-known study regarding this issue, adults who were adopted as children were found to have body weights closer to those of their biological parents than their adoptive parents, suggesting that their genetic makeup had more influence on their body weight (and the incidence of obesity) compared to the environment in their adoptive family’s home.

A person’s risk of developing morbid obesity is often heavily influenced by psychological factors. Boredom, depression, anxiety, stress, trauma (whether as an adult or child), and feelings of low self-esteem are examples of psychological factors that could result in an individual’s overeating and under-exercising. Although the psychological aspect of morbid obesity can be difficult to overcome, it is not impossible. Merely identifying the psychological problems can help an individual greatly in his or her understanding of the basis of overeating.

Illnesses can also lead to morbid obesity. Some of these include hypothyroidism, Cushing’s syndrome, depression, and other neurological problems. The use of steroids and certain antidepressants can also lead to weight gain.”

Another aspect of the current trend to think of people as obese is the examples found in the media.  From Usatoday.com: “It’s not surprising that women want to be slender and beautiful, because as a society “we know more about women who look good than we know about women who do good,” says Audrey Brashich, a former teen model and author of All Made Up: A Girl’s Guide to Seeing Through Celebrity Hype and Celebrating Real Beauty…As a culture, we are on a first-name basis with women like Paris Hilton or Nicole Richie,” she says. “The most celebrated, recognizable women today are famous primarily for being thin and pretty, while women who are actually changing the world remain comparatively invisible. Most of us have a harder time naming women of other accomplishments.” The idolizing of models, stars and other celebrities is not going to change “until pop culture changes the women it celebrates and focuses on.”

As far as an obese person being thought lazy, this is patently a false assumption.  For example, look at the adult Amish women who work from dawn to dusk doing manual, physical chores.  Almost all of them are considered medically obese yet work hard. 

In relation to trucking, it is seen in the above that there are many job related factors such as boredom, stress, anxiety and low self-esteem that can enter into a driver not meeting the artificial insurance height weight charts.  Add in long hours, little support from friends and/or peers, constant worry about regulations that might unfairly affect them; a driver might tend to overeat or have a metabolism that promotes his/her body into turning even healthy food into fat.

In no way can any successful driver be thought of as lazy.  The average miles per year for a solo driver are over 125,000 miles a year and if a driver does not produce, they do not last long as a driver.   By stereotyping a driver, or anyone else for that matter, who may be overweight, as lazy, unhealthy or not having will power does not do anything but buy into the prevalent and sometimes erroneous media, governmental and diet industry propaganda.  It is not helping the actual obese person; it is hurting them by adding to their stress levels and perhaps low self-esteem.




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