LOL. Warning: big long counter-rant ahead!
True, but in the immortal words of Dr Phil people only know what they know. If you've been raised on huge food portions and you gradually start gaining weight in your 30s how are you going to know that it's the portions of food that are letting you down when they never gave you a problem before? The media has this stereotype that all overweight people are happily shovelling fast food down their gobs while glued in front of the telly. Most overweight people I know do not fit that stereotype (hell I was a friggin' vegan who walked everywhere!). In many cases it's a combination of small mistakes that have added up over the years that have contributed to their weight problem and, yes, many of those small mistakes are supported and endorsed by society.
Food portions have grown so much over the years that most people would be amazed at how small a recommended serving of meat or potatoes really is. No-one is going to psychically know how much rice they should eat with each meal before gaining weight. After all we're raised to think that it's only fast food and lollies that will make you fat. No-one looks up portion sizes until someone else tells them that portion sizes - even of healthy food - contribute to weight gain. Expecting people to take responsibility when they don't know what they're doing is wrong is really a case of blaming the victim. We've all managed to gain weight on this forum and most of us didn't realise what was causing it until we were better educated. In that way I think it's correct
to blame society. As you said, San, there needs to be more education out there. And who is going to do the educating if not the government? If people aren't being told how to lose weight, if they're being subjected to advertising that portrays unhealthy food as being healthy (children's cereals or maccas salads anyone?), then it's rather unfair to put the bulk of the blame on the shoulders of people who honestly didn't know better.
We live further from our workplaces than ever before, which is why people choose to drive instead of walk. We have less time to cook, so people choose take-away over cooking their own food. It's easier to get crap food than healthy food. Society has been changed over the last fifty years to support obesity and make it as difficult as possible to get extra exercise or healthy food. Should we just blame the individual for that, or should we also blame society?
Should people take some
responsibility for their weight? Hell yes! But we also need to accept that there is something very wrong with our society when in the course of 20 years the obesity rate has jumped so dramatically. It's not like an entire generation suddenly took leave of its senses, or is genetically more stupid than generations gone by, after all. There's a reason why so many people got so fat all at once and it's largely because our society is designed in a way that encourages obesity.
'Blaming' society for what's going on isn't about taking responsibility away from the individual. It's about looking to the causes of this epidemic and trying to find a solution. If the way we're running our community is contributing towards obesity then it's for the good of society that we should look at fixing those issues to prevent this problem from getting worse.
San, you're right that in the end people make the choice as to what to do. But we need to equip people with the knowledge and the tools to actually do something about it. And that takes a village, not just an individual. Currently our society is sorely letting people down. As well as government funded weight clinics, as you suggested, why not go further and follow the Japanese model of daily exercise classes for all company employees? If it's structured as a part of the working day, people were being paid to do it and it was a way to get out of work I'd reckon people would be very keen about a half hour of aerobics every day funded by the company dollar!