Tackling the obesity crisis

If you accept that their is a Western obesity crisis, which unsurprisingly most people do, then what is the best way to deal with it? Well there are plenty of people giving this a go. Whether it is creating new ways to make healthier food taste better, or shaming overweight people through the power of social media, we are seeing a real effort to tackle this problem. 

I guess this comes down to two real questions: Which method is the most ethical? And which method is the most effective? I’ll let you decide which one of those questions should be answered first, but let me give you an example. I’ll use the two scenarios I mentioned above. If you look at someone like Joe Wicks, better known as the internet’s Body Coach, you have a clear example of somebody who is tackling this issue by promoting healthy eating that is packed full of flavour. Is it effective? Well based on his growing stature in the industry and the countless success stories you would probably seem foolish to say no. Then look at somebody else like Katie Hopkins for example, who uses her equally powerful social media presence to shame people who are overweight in the hope that they make a change. Is that effective? Well of course you would be fooling yourself if you believed that nobody ever got fit because they hated the way that they looked but this is far more difficult to measure.

Then you have to consider the second question: is it ethical? As far as I can tell, using Instagram like Wicks and many others do to promote healthy nutrition presents no immediate ethical concerns, right? So that’s the easy one out of the way. How about people like Hopkins? Firstly you have to consider their motivation. If people like her are doing this because they genuinely care about the physical wellbeing of their fellow human beings then it is difficult to call it unethical. But consider instead that their main concern might be the financial burden that healthy people have to pay to support healthcare for the unhealthy and then it becomes slightly more complex. Although I would like to stress at this point that is a genuine concern that needs to be addressed.

So once you do all that are we actually any further along in knowing what the best solution is? Educating people and hoping that they see sense eventually is a popular solution for most problems like this, whether we are talking about overeating, smoking or binge drinking. So using social media in the way that The Body Coach and many others have to increase the visibility of that education is essential and I hope that is what I am achieving with this blog.

But yet again the more complex questions arise from the debate surrounding fat shaming. Would you prefer to be overweight and ignore it or be overweight and doing something about it only because you feel so ashamed when you look in the mirror? That is the question that needs to be answered here. And the only way you can justify the methods of Hopkins and thousands of people like her is if you side with the latter half of the question. As for me? I think using the power of social media to spread healthiness as a message far and wide is so more effective.

Gone are the days when you can live in ignorance of a healthy lifestyle; we are all exposed to it on a daily basis. Simply put, nobody live an unhealthy lifestyle and doesn’t know about it. And with all this new social media interest comes countless more sources of sound information that can help anyone get on the right track to improving their own physical fitness!

Ollie Lawrence