Angela Meadows from Never Diet Again UK posted this picture to the Rolls not Trolls community on Facebook. In case you can’t read it, it says “Dear Guests In conjunction with the 12th International Congress of Obesity the escalators will not be operational from 09:30 to 16:00 hrs.”
This is posted in the Kuala Lampur Convention Centre. The ICO website boasts that Malaysia offers “world-class infrastructure and easy accessibility.” That may be true for Malaysia, but thanks to the ICO we can’t say the same thing about the second floor of the Kuala Lampur Convention Centre.
There is good research that shows that movement can contribute to health (though there are no guarantees and no obligations). There is absolutely no research that says that the movement has to be stairs.
I’ve already ranted about self-important blowhards who feel the need to suggest that fat people shouldn’t have access to mobility aids. The ICO has taken things a step further and it’s posturing of the worst kind. What the International Congress on Obesity has done is to convince the Kuala Lampur Convention Center to make life more difficult for people with disabilities, limited mobility, balance challenges, injuries, etc. so that the ICO can posture and preen. (I assume there are still elevators – I can’t find where either the convention centre website or the ICO website discuss accessibility – but they’ll require people to travel farther, since they have to get to the escalators to see that they aren’t working, and now there is shame attached to using the elevators.) And they’ve done it for an idea with no basis in research.
I want to be clear and repeat that there is NO evidence that taking away escalators (or taking away escalators from 9:30am-4pm) as an option will lead to long-term weight loss, or increased health (and let’s remember that weight loss and increased health are two different things) either for individuals or the population at large. The truth is, we have no idea whether more people taking the stairs will lead to better health, weight loss, or just more people falling down the stairs, but it doesn’t actually matter because this doesn’t really have anything to do with health, or stairs, or even weight loss. It’s about ego and posturing.
Note that the sign in the lobby doesn’t say anything about health, or what the ICO hopes taking the stairs will accomplish, they don’t even pretend to offer education because it’s just about the International Conference on Obesity wanting to show off and get their metaphorical fat-free low-carb cookie for their brave work confusing body size with health. If they weren’t so busy posturing they would have probably considered that people can still climb the escalators even if they are operational, so there’s no need to take away options for people with disabilities, limited mobility etc. This is par for the course in a world where the focus is on the ego of the person/people/organizations trying to get their “Save the Fatties Club” membership jacket.
When organizations pull stunts like this, the only thing at which they can possibly succeed is creating an environment that prevents people from, and shames people for, navigating the world in the way that’s best for them and their situation. I think it’s far more important that as many places as possible are as accessible as possible to as many people as possible, than that some people are forced to take some stairs.
Let them know what you think on Twitter: @WorldObesity and #ico2014
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