Fat and Not Afraid

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Obesity Bigger Killer than Malnutrition: Avaaz

December 19, 2012

For a long time I've been an activist; it began with speeches back in gradeschool and highschool oratory contests and being a member of my highschool's OSAID club (that's Ontario Students Against Impaired Driving). My final year of highschool I did the Vagina Monologues for the first time, and did it for 2 more shows after that. University opened up a whole new world for me of people who were interested and active in all kinds of things, and I just kept going with those that interested me-during that time I also discovered the Fatosphere thanks to a friend. Last year, for a bit, I was a member of my local Occupy chapter, until the Manly Men who ran things just made it too uncomfortable to stay. Online I stay busy keeping up with Amnesty International (I've done 3 or 4 Write for Rights events with them), Food and Water Watch, Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood, Mothers of Change BC (I'll be their blog editor come January), The Association of BC Midwives, various climate change and/or environmental groups, and Avaaz.

A crowd of people at a rally and a sign reading "Stop Hate Crimes"

(My view at a rally in Thunder Bay I attended in support of a local man who'd gotten the shit kicked out of him for being gay.)

Avaaz put up a big post today on their site about how global hunger is no longer the leading cause of death in the world. Can you guess what supposedly is? If you guessed cancer, heart disease, diabetes or stroke, you were wrong. If you guessed FAT, you win! You win a steaming helping of sensationalist headlines and correlation that doesnt' equal causation. From the post:

"Two decades ago, childhood malnutrition was the world's leading cause of early death. Now, the top global killers are diseases related to obesity.

That's one of the many startling findings of a new, far-reaching report on global health."

Avaaz is taking a 7 part study that covers 20-40 years of data and focusing on 1 hot button topic; obesity. Except that's not what the report is about at all. Globally what they've discovered is that people are living longer, and that's changing the picture of what health is for a lot of folks. It means lives lived battling long term diseases, instead of dying in our 50s and 60s, and living into our 80s and 90s. Things like infectious diseases, maternal death and no access to fresh water have all been improved over the last 20 years to the point where they're no longer killing people, especially children, in droves. They're still a HUGE problem in some area, but overall they're less-so.

The report (you can read a bit about it HERE) shows that 'rich country' diseases, like heart disease and cancer, are now the biggest world problems. Thing is, heart disease and cancer affects people of ALL shapes and sizes. I should know, I've lost enough people to them. Anectdotes aside, it's not FAT that's killing folks in large numbers, if you'll forgive the pun; it's a society that forces the majority of us into an inactive lifestyle that's also high stress and full of toxins in our environment and food that are actively bad for us. All of those things  have been going up the last 20-40 years too, but it's just so much easier to say "People are getting fatter, so people are getting sicker and dying more" than look at the big picture. Oh yeah, and AIDS is still around and a HUGE FUCKING PROBLEM.

I'm really disappointed in Avaaz on this one and will be sending them an email saying so. Usually their campaigns and alerts are about things of real significance, not picking on a certain demographic.

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