Sunday, 3 March 2013

Why Isn't Being Fat Illegal?

It's law that you must wear a crash helmet when riding a motorcycle. It's law you must wear a cycle helmet when riding a pushbike on public roads. The final price of cigarettes is 62% government tax, to raise revenue to compensate for the extra cost on the health system. So why, with type 2 diabetes being the fastest growing disease in developed countries, are  there not more regulations for fat people.

Not fatty foods.. fat people.
Taxing fatty foods would be unfair to those who eat fatty foods responsibly, and maintain good health.

There is no doubt among health professionals the connections between being overweight, and pathologies leading to high blood pressure (hypertension), high cholesterol (hypercholesterolaemia), and many forms of cardiovascular disease (including increased risk of heart attacks, atherosclerosis, diabetes, etc).

It would seem like discrimination to impose a constraint or duty on a type of people, but it's not (at least, not in the sense of criminal discrimination).
A distinction has to be made here, between bad discrimination, and regular discrimination. Regular discrimination occurs all the time, the hefty tax on tobacco products, the different price of movie tickets for adults/ children / concessions/ students, lower income taxes for low income earners. These are all types of discrimination that make sense, and are legal.
Bad discrimination would include treating people differently because of ethnicity, skin colour, gender, sexual orientation, or some other condition beyond the control of the individual. This type of discrimination is illegal and rightfully so.

However being fat isn't beyond the control of the individual. Everyone has choice over what they eat and how much they exercise . Being fat occurs as the result of a higher caloric intake than calories burned off, over an extended period of time. This is indisputable science.
Therefore, discrimination against obese people is ethical, and fair when compared to the scenarios in the opening paragraph. Obviously there are certain medical conditions (Hypothyroidism) that cause uncontrollable weight gain, and allowances would be made for these conditions.

Obese people put themselves at risk in the same way not wearing a seat belt puts you at risk. Also, there is a cost to the taxpayer through public health claims and subsidized medications which treat conditions ultimately caused by being obese.

It is a double standard to punish one group (smokers, people who don't wear helmets/ seat belts, people who use illicit substances), and not obese people.
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