Saturday, June 30

Racism in Obesity Discrimination

Most folks who have been on a lowcarb eating plan for awhile already understand that individual metabolism is, well, individual and not really predictable. But I think a lot of people wouldn't argue that a predisposition to being lean or overweight might have a genetic basis.

Think a minute about what we mean by genetic. Does that mean that some races of people might be "more" genetically prone to obesity based on the current eating habits of our world, than others?

Yes, that's what it means.

Now think about the rampant and unabashed prejudice levied against obese people culture-wide.

Let us say, just as a hypothesis, that native Americans, known to be genetically susceptible to alcoholism more than most other races, were also genetically susceptible to obesity.

So if we choose to discriminate against obesity, as a culture in a myriad of ways, what we are really doing is "cloaking" racial prejudice in our obesity prejudice, because a disproportionate number of folks from certain races will suffer compared to others.

Sure, people might (maybe) be as prejudiced against white folks who are obese, but the reality is that if someone is arbitrarily deciding whether a person is too fat to adopt or if a child is too fat to be allowed to live with their family or too fat to deserve a job, there is a whole lot of "soft" room for discrimination in there, since obesity is a nice blanket over the top of it.

When Western governments are talking about "intervention" that dramatically invades the privacy and rights of individuals and families, this becomes a radical and racial issue.

Here are some selected quotes from Dr. Jeffrey M. Friedman, head of the Laboratory of Molecular Genetics at Rockefeller University.

Ira Flatow: You said that we don’t have enough data to understand why there’s been a 7 to 10 pound. weight increase. Do you have a hypothesis of your own about why this might be?

Jeffrey Friedman: What I think is happening is this. It turns out that that weight increase isn’t uniform across the population, and there’s actually really good epidemiologic evidence to suggest that. I think that a lot of the weight gain is concentrated in specific ethnic groups.

...I think that what we’re seeing now is ethnic groups that are predisposed to obesity are now getting access to unlimited calories. And I think that has a lot to do with that weight increase. And there’s some evidence to support that but it’s not definitive. Actually a lot of the epidemiologic data that you would really want to understand things like this is lacking. turns out actually that these really obese kids are concentrated in particular ethnic groups and the gene pools are different in different ethnic groups.

So eventually we'll be able to say something like, if you're Native American, your chances of being biased against even by government agencies, is ___% higher than if you were say, Romanian.

If there is a higher chance that someone native were obese than there is that someone Romanian would be obese, then if we pretend a child or parent's obesity is mostly about environment (hence they should receive family "intervention" by the government), we are saying that natives inherently less-deserve to raise their own kids, because more of them are fat than some other racial groups. (Remember this is hypothetical.)

So, if you're white enough (or whatever) to luck into thinner genes, you're probably ok, but we'll have to round up more of the kids from those darn (check one susceptible-to-obesity race)'s kids, 'cause they are just too damn fat so much more often.

Do the cultural leaders of the races most genetically predisposed to obesity realize this? Realize that not taking any issue with "obesity issues," means building-in institutionalized bias against their people?


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