Monday, 02 August, 2004

National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance

The National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance, according to their web site, "is a non-profit human rights organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for fat people."  Their Information Index page goes into much detail about what the organization does and how.  Their primary goal appears to be "to eliminate discrimination based on body size and provide fat people with the tools for self-empowerment."

That's fine as far as a stated goal, but I question some of their methods.  In particular, I disagree with their dismissal of the large body of evidence indicating that being grossly overweight is unhealthy.  The correlation or weight with medical problems is very strong, and for the NAAFA to dismiss it with a couple of feel-good paragraphs is just short of criminal.  Research has shown that being "healthy" (i.e. exercising regularly and eating a sensible diet) is more important than being thin, but research also indicates that people of average weight have fewer health problems.

I'm always suspicious of "activist" organizations, but I do like their stand on dieting, stomach stapling and similar crash weight loss schemes, and the diet industry in general.  I'm also impressed that they came out against Medicare's recent decision to have fatness declared a disease.  I am disappointed, though, in their stated position on weight reduction dieting, which they strongly discourage.

The NAAFA has some good points and I think what they're trying to do is, in balance, good.  They have many decades of social prejudice to overcome, though, and turning a blind eye to studies that disagree with their stated positions is not a good way to do it.