Academics at the University of Illinois Chicago School of Public Health quietly published a policy brief in November 2021 advocating for dumping the word "obesity" in favor of the term "people in larger bodies."
The report titled "Addressing weight stigma and fatphobia in public health" also argues an "association between racism, weight, and health," the Daily Mail reported on Friday.
The academics, led by University RD and LDN Amanda Montgomery, wrote that tackling obesity without addressing the root cause – which they attribute to racism – is unjust.
"Fatness and differing body characteristics were used to justify lack of civilization, marking fatness as "uncivilized behavior" while thinness was "more evolved," the researchers said.
"This idea was maintained throughout the United States in the 19th and 20th centuries ... to justify slavery, racism, and classism and to control women through 'temperance.' This ideology has perpetuated Desirability Politics – where thinness and whiteness are given more access to social, political, and cultural capital."
The brief further concludes that the body mass index (BMI) system of measuring healthy weight is "flawed" and that scientific "evidence shows that diets don't work."
"If the goal is to find the most ethical and effective strategies to achieve optimal public health, there needs to be an alternative to 'obesity' and weight-focused approaches and a shift in [the] understanding of weight stigma as a social justice issue," the brief read.
According to the research, there also exists racism within the food environment, causing disproportionate obesity among minorities.
"The U.S. food system is built on stolen land using stolen labor from Black and Latinx indigenous people," the brief read.
"Not only has this created a large-scale food apartheid and trauma for people indigenous to this land, [but] it has [also] caused a disconnection of indigenous people from their cultural practices and identities."
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