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University of Illinois Chicago Compares ‘Fatphobia’ to Racism

'This ideology has perpetuated Desirability Politics — where thinness and whiteness are given more access to social, political and cultural capital... '

(Headline USAThe University of Illinois Chicago’s school of public health compared “fatphobia” to racism in a new report and claimed that referring to people as “obese” is discriminatory.

The report, written by dietician Amanda Montgomery, claims that race scientists used “Fatness and differing body characteristics” to classify black people as “less civilized” and “justify slavery, racism, and classism.” 

“This idea was maintained throughout the United States in the 19th and 20th centuries, as a way to justify slavery, racism and classism, and control women through ‘temperance,'” the brief reads.

“This ideology has perpetuated Desirability Politics — where thinness and whiteness are given more access to social, political and cultural capital.”

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Montgomery also argues that encouraging obese people to lose weight “has detrimental effects on our physiology” and claims many people cannot lose weight due to “uncontrollable genetic or environmental factors.”

The report goes on to argue that the U.S. food system is built on stolen land with labor from “black and latinx indigenous people,” which has created “a disconnection of indigenous people from their cultural practices and identities.”

To combat this, medical professionals should refer to obese people as “people with larger bodies” instead, since “obesity” is an “extremely stigmatizing” term. Teachers are also encouraged to replace assignments connecting obesity to health.

“Appreciate that bodies come in all different shapes and sizes, and that fat people can be just as healthy as thin people,” the article states.

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“Remember, you cannot tell someone’s health on the inside by looking at their size on the outside. It is the responsibility of those in public health to create environments for every person to thrive in whatever body they live in.”

Obesity leads to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancer, and early death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The U.S. has the highest rates of obesity out of every other Western country: more than two out of five Americans, including half of the black population, are obese.

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