If trays on trays of holiday cookies and a few too many celebratory New Year’s beverages have left you feeling a little fluffier than normal, don’t fret too much about that extra jiggle resting on your hips. Being overweight or obese, as more than two-thirds of Americans are, is 100 percent normal, and not really your fault at all! As illustrated by the billboards put up in Northern Indiana by St. Mary Medical Center, which display the words “Obesity is a disease, not a decision,” the idea of what a normal, healthy body weight is has changed as the weight of the average American continues to climb.
The attitude change in favor of the thinking that the St. Mary’s billboard displays, that weight, and in turn, a healthy body image and lifestyle are not something one can control, may be more accepting of obesity than in the past, but dangerously so. It is clear even in the verbiage concerning body types that we as a society are headed down a self-destructive path. There is no longer an obesity trend, but an epidemic. It is as if some widespread horrible disease has kidnapped our will power to put down the cheese puffs and get to the gym. Being curvy has become desirable, embraced and often promoted by celebrities. While there is no denying the attractiveness of such curves, they should be natural and healthy rather formed from sitting on the couch.
Obviously, just like any other difficult issue like global warming or the sparse availability of Diet Coke in Eastern Europe, obesity is a complex issue. However, obesity itself is not simply a disease, as the billboard and a growing group within America suggests. The major factor that prompts obesity is a decision: a decision to forget about what your body needs to thrive healthily, and to throw another supersized combo down the hatch. While being overweight is a personal issue, society as a whole can feel the effects of the movement towards the acceptance of obesity. If you disagree, consider who pays the medical bills of an uninsured obese person with heart disease, or those who search through the Juniors section at a department store because of size inflation. Most importantly, consider the consequences for future generations. Setting the example for children that they cannot control their own weight is to set them up for a lifetime of incompetence and poor decision making.
On the bright side of things, whether it’s the beautiful sprawling campus we traipse across on a daily basis, ensuring a good couple speed walked miles, or an attempt to stand out to one of the very few eligible bachelors, it seems that most Indiana University students are in better shape than their average fellow American. So, are college students challenging this new bigger normal the rest of the country is embracing? Or are we just a few keg stands away from joining the crowd?