"Fat-shaming," a practice that casts judgment on overweight and obese people with slogans like "Are you pleased with the way you look?" is the cure to America's obesity epidemic, according to a well-known bioethicist.
Daniel Callahan, a senior research scholar and president emeritus of The Hastings Center, believes upping the social stigma associated with obesity will motivate people to lose weight, NBC News said.
This "edgier strategy" would promote public health awareness of obesity with posters that would pose questions such as, "If you are overweight or obese, are you pleased with the way that you look?"
Critics are reeling from the outline for fat-shaming that was published in the January/February issue of the Hastings Center Report.
Callahan likens his approach of using social pressure to get results to the one used to curb smoking.
"As a smoker, I was at first criticized for my nasty habit and eventually, along with all the others, sent outside to smoke, and my cigarette taxes were constantly raised," he wrote. "The force of being shamed and beat upon socially was as persuasive for me to stop smoking as the threats to my health. Why is obesity said to be different from smoking?"
People are outraged by Callahan's proposal, calling the plan "unethical."
"No amount of teasing, probing questions about what they wish they could do, or medications seem to help," Dr. Tom Inge, a childhood obesity expert at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, told NBC News. "So if one is proposing to help them by more stigmatization, that would seem at once both antithetical and unethical."
In 2008, medical costs associated with obesity-related health problems tipped the scale at $147 billion in the U.S., according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Drastic measures are necessary in a nation where a third of adults and 17 percent of kids are considered obese, Callahan maintains.
"Only a carefully calibrated effort of public social pressure is likely to awaken them to the reality of their condition," he wrote. "They have been lulled into obliviousness about their problem."
“For him to argue that we need more stigma, I don’t know what world he’s living in,” Deb Burgard, a California psychologist specializing in eating disorders, told NBC. “He must not have any contact with actual free-range fat people."
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