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I am fat, I caused my own covid. Those who slammed "fat shaming" you caused covid too

Tom Winnifrith
Wednesday 10 March 2021

I accept that I am fat. Far too fat. I could happily lose three stone without anyone beginning to worry that I was anorexic. Being fat is bad for me and it is bad for society. There I have said it. We should all say it but for the past few years “fat shaming” has been not quite as bad as transphobia or all the “isms” but it has nonetheless been bad.

You have not been allowed to say that a person who is morbidly obese is, ceteris paribus, less sexually attractive than the same person if they shed a stack of pounds although it seems that objectively this is a truism. We like our movie stars to be thin not fat and there is a reason for that. But the slating of fat shamers means we cannot discuss such matters in the same way that my wife, of Indian origin, and I are now not allowed to speculate on what colour our kids will grow up to be as that is now, according to Oprah and Meghan Markle, a racist thing to do.

Those who have slated the fat shamers, insisting that it is cool to be fat, have, I suggest, blood on their hands. Covid blood.

Why, I ask you, is covid more of a problem in rich countries (mainly the US and Europe) than poor ones such as those in Africa? In part, it is because covid tends to strike the old and the poorer places have younger populations. But even on an age adjusted basis the poor countries see fewer deaths. Maybe folks in poorer places spend more time outdoors. But then richer countries have generally offered more treatment. So perhaps there is another factor: fat!

The other day, the World Obesity Federation issued a report showing that there is a clear link between being fat and COVID-19 mortality. I quote, being overweight was a “highly significant predictor of developing complications from COVID19, including the need for hospitalization, for intensive care, and for ventilation. Overweight is also a predictor of death from COVID19.”

The report showed that in countries where less than half the adult population was classified as overweight, the risk of death from the coronavirus was about one-tenth the level found in nations where more than half are overweight or obese.

Two case studies are Mexico and India which have roughly the same age breakdown but Mexico’s death rate is ten times higher than that in India. In Mexico, 28.9% of the population is obese. In India, it is sub 4%.

That seems clear. There is also data from the US where according to the CDC, the obesity rate among African-American adults is 49.6%, among Hispanics it is 44.8%, among whites it is 42.2% and among Asians it is 17.4%. Those really are shocking statistics and I suspect they also show that those most likely to be obese are poor folks in rich countries – who eat more junk food – as opposed to middle class and rich folks in rich countries or anybody in poor countries. Now guess how each ethnic group in America fared in terms of deaths. Yup, African Americans fared worse, followed by Hispanics, followed by whites with Asians way, way behind.

And I suggest the evidence is there for you to see when the BBC shows you pictures of those in the UK who have died. Overwhelmingly, you look at them and say “he or she was old” but with those under retirement age my recollection is of thinking “gosh they all look rather fat”.

Being fat is bad for you as it makes you more likely to die not only of covid but a raft of other diseases. I suspect that I got far more severe covid than the Mrs not because I am a diabetic but because I am fat. I am, of course, diabetic because I am fat!

We can, as a society, pretend that it is fine to be fat, that fat is somehow beautiful and that it is a personal choice which does not affect anyone else. But, with respect, that is bollocks.

There will be some who say the Government must tackle this. But as Dominic Frisby shows in the introduction to one of his many excellent books when discussing male life expectancy in Glasgow, the more the Government spends, the bleaker the picture becomes. He and I are not saying that Government spending on health education makes folks fatter, just that it fails to make them thinner – it is money down the pan.

If folks want to be fat, let them be so. Let’s not pretend that it makes them sexy. It makes them less sexy. But let us also be honest in stating explicitly that it will cause an entirely self-inflicted earlier death.

And what of me? Well for what it is worth I am now on a very low carb diet which I hope will cause me to lose weight and reverse diabetes. In an Indian household, not eating rice is hard but we are managing by eating stacks of vegetables instead.

I drink almost nothing. And naturally I am off all sugary foods. I am starting to up my exercise levels. I had tried some appetite supressing drinks but I do not have the willpower so from the same stable, today saw the delivery of some milkshakes with microbiome from Holland & Barrett which will be my midday meal going forward. You can order them HERE and I should say I own shares in the company behind them so I hope I shall gain a few pounds while losing a stack more.

I may not win this battle and might stay fat and diabetic but that is nobody else’s fault but my own. And I am all too aware of what that results in.

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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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