What’s All This About Fat Being A “Chronic Lifelong Health Condition?”

I got a question emailed today from reader Renee. “I’ve been seeing articles that say that being fat is considered a “chronic lifelong condition.” Can you explain what’s going on to me?

I’m happy to try! The word is getting out that intentional weight loss doesn’t work to make fat people thinner or healthier, and that almost everyone gains their weight back long-term. That’s not great news for the diet industry, including companies who sell “treatments” that are extra dangerous and extra expensive, like drugs and surgery.

So these companies have been pushing a narrative wherein being fat is, in and of itself, a “health condition” regardless of health status (Gary Taubes recently, tragically, showed us how this is done.) . And that it is “chronic and lifelong.” They’ve pushed this narrative though many channels, perhaps the most insidious is through organizations that claim to be “advocacy groups” but are, in fact, fully funded by (and function as lobbying arms of) the drug and surgery companies (looking at you, OAC.)

This narrative provides a lot of benefits to these weight loss peddlers, including:

1. Expanding their market (to literally anyone who is fat)
2. Helping them make a case that health insurance should cover their dangerous and expensive “treatments”
3. Helping the drug companies work around the fact that as soon as people go off the drugs they gain their weight back
4. Allowing drug companies to sell drugs to people for their entire lives

There’s just one itty bitty problem…it doesn’t make any sense. There are people of the same weight who have vastly different health statuses, and there are people of vastly different weights who have the same health statuses. And blaming health conditions on fat bodies rather than on the weight stigma, weight cycling, and healthcare inequalities fat people experience is beyond dubious.

While this concept drives a ton of profit to the weight loss industry, it drives a ton of harm to fat people. There is absolutely no shame in having a chronic lifelong health condition – or health conditions of any kind. There is no shame in getting treatment. This is isn’t that. Pathologizing a body size subjects fat people to “interventions” that drive profit to the weight loss industry while risking our lives and quality of life, all under the guise of “healthcare.”

So if someone tries to tell you that simply existing in a fat body is a “chronic, lifelong health condition,” you might tell them that whatever they’re selling, you’re not buying it.


Dealing With Fatphobia At The Holidays

Between in-person and online family gatherings, work parties, New Years bashes, New Years Resolution, and a ton of diet ads… the holiday season can be a perfect storm of fatphobia. Plus this year all the talk of COVID-related body changes adds another layer of nonsense All that diet culture can really get you down. In this workshop we’ll talk about tips, tricks, and techniques to help us deal and have a happy holiday season on our own terms – whether we celebrate any holidays or not.

Full details and Registration: https://danceswithfat.org/monthly-online-workshops/
*This workshop is free for DancesWithFat members – login info is on the member page
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Book Me!  I’d love to speak to your organization (and I can do it remotely!) I speak to healthcare, college, corporate, and general audiences about topics including weight science, weight stigma, and the Health at Every Size paradigm. You can get more information here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org

2 thoughts on “What’s All This About Fat Being A “Chronic Lifelong Health Condition?”

  1. Puke-inducing, but not so much new as getting national support. I think they all secretly believe sick-fat-fatties do it to themselves All Their Lives. They want to Be Rid Of Us, All Their Lives, and getting it diagnosed, pathologized, and funded keeps them happy and continues increasing the ever-burbling font o’ wealth into a few very rich peoples pockets. It is a Win-Win to paint fat people as a diseased race. Wait till they start considering us the disease itself…

  2. Yup. They’re admitting you won’t keep off any significant amount of weight for any significant amount of time with their products… while trying to guilt/bully you into buying them anyway. And what reason can they give you to buy a weight loss product if you’re not going to, you know, lose weight with it? “Because you have a chronic lifelong health condition! You’re not supposed to cure it, just manage it! And our products are what you manage it with! …what do you mean, ‘what do they actually do, then?’ They manage it!”

    Yeah, no. I’ll pass.

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