Monday, September 20, 2010

Logic Fail: Being Poor Causes Obesity

Sorry, a fat rant. I found out a fat person I know is missing work because of their obesity. That is their disability now. Maybe they will come back with crutches or a scooter.

Repeat after me: correlation does not mean causation. A writer does not get it in this article. The title is classic PC victimization speak: "Low-income Californians especially vulnerable to obesity epidemic". This implies obesity is a disease, something you catch. Turning something that you bring on yourself with your actions and decisions into a disease you can catch makes it more an unfortunate event than a deliberate process. The word vulnerable actually means exposed or open to be attacked or harmed. Using it here, it paints obesity as this stalking predator, and the poor people as little kittens shivering in the cold. This removes responsibility from the low-income individuals. They are victims to big business in the writer's eyes devoid of all responsibility. I could not find the source article in the Fresno Bee, but a synopsis does mention that a person is more likely to be obese if poor. It is not the root cause. This is another ploy to bring up socioeconomic inequality, when the control of obesity is in the hands of the person standing in the mirror. This is more infantilization and victimization of regular, American adults.
This is a cop out. We live in such a rich nation that we have fat poor people. Europe is catching up to us in fattitude, but we lead the way. It is not due to poverty. It's too little self control and too much sitting on your ass. The author has the cop out that poor people don't have the time to cook a meal. Correct me if I am wrong but a box of Kroger pasta and a jar of Kroger sauce costs less than $2 and can feed a family of four in 20 minutes. You mean to tell me it is quicker to load up the car, drive to Mickey D's and cheaper for a family of 4 to eat there? BS. Look at the average number of household workers by income quintile (here). Richer households are more likely to have two workers; poor households more likely to have one. One worker and poor households don't have the time to cook a meal? Come on! My parents both worked and somehow found time to cook. They must have been miracle workers. Oh wait, the poor people don't have time to cook since like good average Americans they spend 4.7 hours watching TV (source).
A two pound container of Quaker Oats costs less than cereal. Yeah, it ain't Cap'n Crunch, but you're poor. You don't eat Cap'n Crunch, and that denial of Cap'n Crunch makes you want to not be poor so you can afford it's sweet, cut your mouth goodness. Wow, 40 packets of instant oatmeal costs $11. Add tap water and that deal is 40 breakfasts for $11. Oh, the horrible oppression of big business! I could panhandle in Boston one day and make $11. We have to stop making excuses. You're fat because you take in more calories than you burn, and you've done so over a long period of time. Choice is all around us. We make little decisions every, single day. Some of us take the path of least resistance. Others get their ass off the couch and away from the Tv long enough to make a meal. Others take 5 minutes out of their day to prep for tomorrow's life. It is their choice to be fat. They should not be excused nor treated like children.

Ray Bradbury (read Farenheit 451 & look around), Orwell and Huxley (Brave New World and Farenheit 451 jockey for most accurate) were all right in certain ways about the future, but all three had a blind spot. They never predicted a future where over 1/4 of adults would allow themselves to be obese.

Here's some obesity stats broken out by race and trends in general.

I had to wake up and be in for a 7am meeting. I am fired up.


Whitney said...

This post seems quite ignorant in addition to cruel. There are few people living on minimum wage salaries able to afford a healthy, balanced diet (and far fewer educated enough to even know what such a diet consists of), and like it or not there IS a direct correlation between poverty & obesity far more substantial than your anecdotal and speculative claims. It IS highly concerning, not for the reasons you seem to postulate (fat people are just inexplicably offensive to you, apparently?), but for anyone with a modicum of compassion for others and concern about the health & welfare of the nation's poor. The fact remains, whether one lives on three meals of instant oatmeal a day or not, that the foods with little to no nutritional value are also the cheapest. It's disingenuous to suggest that every poor fat person spends their supposed hours & hours of free time watching tv rather than cooking healthy homemade meals, as you so self-righteously claim. I mean, I can play the anecdotal speculation game, too: an impoverished and exhausted single mother of four small children, after working a 12 hour day at a thankless minimum wage job, is not going to come home to cheerfully set about preparing a feast of healthy-but-expensive organic foods and magically fit in an hour on the treadmill before settling down to research new health food recipes on the Internet before bed. She's going to grab Burger King or Taco Bell on the way home or throw a frozen meal into the microwave. That is reality, and it's a reality that needs to change. Organic foods shouldn't be a luxury, fruits & vegetables shouldn't cost three times as much as chips & cookies, low income neighborhoods shouldn't be crime-ridden (where do you expect exercise to happen for poor people, by the way? Should low income children play in a park where drug deals take place? Should low income women go for a jog through an alley crawling with gang members? Should low income men steal to be able to afford a gym membership?), etc etc etc. Maybe if privileged, well-off white men like yourself viewed the horrible binds impoverished people of all ages, races, and body types so often find themselves in through a lens of compassion rather than condemnation, with a desire to help rather than judge, we'd ALL be a lot better off.

Son of Brock Landers said...

I noticed you never said I was wrong, just lacking compassion & sympathy.

Read above: I agree, correlation between poverty/obesity yes, but causation no. Our views and goals are not that different, you just are a bleeding heart idealist and I am a cold eyed realist. I used stats & facts for household earners, cost of food and TV watching. Nice anecdote of the single mom, my heart does go out to imaginary her. The NY Times could use her to make others feel guilty. The post was a rant and yes it was offensive. It's OK to offend. I do find obese people who perpetuate their obesity and their kids' obesity, sluffing off responsibility, offensive.

I wish that the world was a better place, but in the end, people will make decisions on their own. How many years have people known smoking kills yet 17-20% of adults still smoke? You think people dont know how to eat right? How did my dirt poor grandparents with 11 kids raise them with none being fat kids? We can't treat adult fatties like children. Weird use of organic, but I get your point. Organic food is bad for the environment, it takes 2-3x as much acreage as regular crops. I get it, you live in Cali & eat good.

Not all poor fatties live in the inner city, look at the maps I linked to, so don't use that crutch. I'm not going to touch your comment on crime in low income neighborhoods because I've stopped buying the Jean Valjean idea. People with low ethics commit crime. We can discuss that another time. As far as fitness in the inner city, I have no answer (pepper spray?). That truly is a problem of environment. I'm sorry for them.

You hate stereotyping but then stereotype me because I'm a white male. I'm so heartless I only organized two food drives on my own while you were freaking out over Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows (not to mention my $thousands in donations to United Way). It was successful enough that it shamed my company (1000+ people big) into doing a Thanksgiving-Christmas food drive. It felt right to help those less fortunate rather than to blame the patriarchy/big business/'them'. I'm a result driven doer, you just seem to whine. Do you want to cast blame elsewhere and never hold anyone accountable or do you want to give some tough love and help where you can? Coddling fat people and removing responsibility for their actions will not solve the problem.

One bit of advice: next time you feel the urge to bitch about the patriarchy, I want you to call up a woman who started working in the 60s-70s. Thank her for trailblazing, making tough choices in a man's game & making your future career easier. You realize they'd kill to start life in your era, yet you keep bitching about the patriarchy.

College must be working as your writing has improved. Beautiful rhetoric to end that comment (despite the quasi-insult of being a privileged, well off white man, woohoo, I made it, Mom). I've lost a lot of that idealism, and it shows. I'm being honest and not sarcastic, your writing is better.

Whitney said...

If you're going to say that people can make decisions on their own, then let them make those decisions on their own; I don't understand why anyone cares what lifestyle choices other people make unless a) it's negatively affecting others in a meaningful way or b) it's out of genuine non-invasive concern for their well-being. What's the point of an intentionally offensive 'rant' like this, then? There's a difference between taking 'stats and facts' and using them to support pre-conceived ideas about what those lazy poor people are doing wrong and how they SHOULD live their lives and approaching those stats from an empathetic POV, with an eye on WHY such dismal stats exist and WHAT can be done to change them. I just don't see how something like this is productive or positive for anyone.

Inspiring story, bro. Are we playing 'who's done more charity work' now? I'd really rather not, but rest assured I do plenty to decrease worldsuck in between talking about HP on the Internet.

You refusing to acknowledge patriarchy as the root of most societal problems in addition to recognizing your own various societal privileges is your problem, not mine, and the fact that things were even worse for women a few decades ago does nothing to negate the fact that things are still shitty now. In any case, I don't know why you're getting defensive - I wasn't attacking you, just noting that you can do more to help others from your position of social power as a white/straight/economically stable/cisgendered/able-bodied man than most people can from more disadvantaged positions.

I appreciate the compliment on my style; I would hope I'm continually improving.

Son of Brock Landers said...

Kiddo, fatties do affect us in meaningful ways, health care costs and now even SS as obesity claims are popping up for SSDI. As the underclass gets fatter & poorer, we'll have mega health problems on our hands. It's here already.

I'm not going to do the charity pissing game, but for fucks sake, white men donate plenty of money to charity. Note conservative voters (evil white men usually) give more to charity than lib voters.

I ask that you don't stereotype me as part of the vile patriarchy. I'm not defensive; I'm annoyed. It's incredibly annoying. It would be like me starting & finishing every discussion with you with "but through your eyes of child-victim of divorce with daddy issues". I don't do that because 1. it would be mean to a good kid, 2. it would hurt your feelings and 3. you're an interesting, three dimensional girl who can't be pigeonholed as a daughter of divorce, 20 yr old college student regurgitating Womyn's Studies lines. It would be unfair of me to do that in the middle of discussion. I am a 3 dimensional person.

If the Patriarchy still exists, they need to reform family court law. The patriarchy is happy women make money now and want to raise kids as single moms, men can fuck & run and not pick up the tab! To the point, I can and do use being an awesome, magnetic personality who happens to be a white male to help others.

Root of many of our problems is big business/big government/the elites sedating the populace with bread, circus and a social welfare system that allows for bad decisions to go without consequences. Consider what they unleashed on kids with prozac/lithium the last 15 years. The elites want this and are best personified as a sexless, raceless person granted a degree from the right school. The circus stays the same, only the clowns change.

Whitney said...

I've never taken a Women's Studies class & my parents divorced last year, biatch. I had the most idyllic childhood imaginable. Know before you throw.

I disagree with most of what you're saying but I'll let it be.

Son of Brock Landers said...

I'm sorry for stereotyping you based on your comments (see its wrong to do), and you already sound the indoctrinated women's studies reader. Imagine you in one.

Look up stats though before you totaly disagree. It's good to disagree w/my opinion, disagreement is OK. I know at UCLA you usually find similar thinking young libs to agree with or wishful thinking boys you can bat your eyes at & make agree with you.

Whitney said... prob mannn. I've never gotten 'daddy issues' before, so that was amusing. If anything I have 'mommy issues'. Is that a thing?

If ONLY eyelash-batting was enough to make stupid little college boys see the light - I'm banned from two frat houses on campus, one of them for getting into a heated public argument with literally five furious frat bros (how's that alliteration?) over gay rights, so I'm disinclined to agree with that particular assessment of yours based on experience alone.

Can't wait to check in again after I finally get into a women's studies course!

Son of Brock Landers said...

3 things:

1. Stay out of frat houses. You'll get Roofied. I have a post on that coming up.

2. photoshop that bruise on your leg on your facebook profile pic.

3. Watch Mommy Dearest for the best female mommy issue movie ever.

w said...

Uh-oh, the evil patriarchy.

Feminism is the worst thing ever to happen to women. And children.

beauty sale shopper said...

Sorry I'm behind in reading your posts, but I will say that I totally agree with you. I am a single mom, and honestly, it's much less expensive to buy healthier foods, and actually prepare meals than to eat out everyday. I don't rely on a little plastic 'government crutch' card, nor do I get any form of child support - yet we survive and my child is not obese or close to it. Making smart decisions and being a resposible parent (and human being) is not a 'priveledge' or reserved for the wealthy. Seeing children so large they look as though they'll burst out of their skin sickens and worries me. I'll go so far as to say it's abusive.

Anonymous said...

"Making smart decisions and being a responsible parent (and human being) is not a 'privilege' or reserved for the wealthy."

Love that!