By Amy Lamé
Writer and broadcaster
As experts warn obesity levels are spiralling out of control have fears about weight led to an unhealthy obsession with body image?
Amy Lamé is a model and writer
Writer, broadcaster and star of Celebrity Fit Club, Amy Lamé says there is no shame in being fat, as long as you are fit.
I am fat. I have been fat my entire life.
As an American, it seems to be
part and parcel of being born in the USA. My Italian-Irish heritage has
ensured I love my food and drink, and I have had a brilliant time getting
to the size I am... or should I say, was.
I currently tip the scales at 18st 2lb, down from 20st 11lb. when I started Celebrity Fit Club nearly three months ago. I was happy being fat, and indeed I am still happy being (a bit less) fat.
But I knew I wasn't fit, and last summer I hit crisis point.
I was on
holiday in Sicily and nearly drowned because I couldn't lift myself out of
the water into a small boat.
It was then I vowed to make a change. But
should a scare be a revolutionary fitness catalyst?
For some, waiting for
a shock may be too late.
Fat seems to be everywhere. The media are obsessed with it, which in turn
makes the government obsessed with it, which in turn makes the great British
public a collective object of chubby angst.
If we don't stop eating by 2010, one third of Britons will be clinically obese. Already in the last 20 years obesity in adults has trebled.
While the government decides how to tackle our expanding
waistlines with proposals for a "fat tax", threats of denying healthcare to the extremely obese and general bullying, we are just getting on with our lives.
And "getting on" means eating fast food, doing little exercise and
ignoring the government's health warnings.
I have been called every name you could think of to insult a fat person. I have had London bus drivers slam doors in my face telling me I wouldn't fit on a crowded bus.
Sales assistants have made it clear to me that nothing in
their shop would fit my ample frame.
I have been called every name you could think of to insult a fat person...
I have been refused a menu in a restaurant because I "don't need to eat dinner" as I'm "too fat already"
I have been refused a menu in a
restaurant because I "don't need to eat dinner" as I'm "too fat already".
I could go on and on... This isn't meant as a pitiful cry for sympathy,
but rather an insight into the type of behaviour that is deemed acceptable
towards fat people.
Discrimination, bias and just plain rudeness is
directed towards a group of people who are too often regarded as stupid,
lazy, ugly and ultimately responsible for their overweight state.
I am not letting my fellow chubbsters off the personal responsibility hook.
Much of the problem - and solution - to the state of the nation's weight
problem lies in individual empowerment and old fashioned willpower. But we
cannot do it alone.
Losing weight is difficult because it is a full-time job.
preparing and cooking wholesome meals is time consuming. Exercising takes
time, too. Combine these factors with the nation's longest working hours in
Europe, expensive childcare and an increase in single parent families.
Everyone is stressed to the max, and when it comes to food, accessibility often overrules quality. In 2001, we ate two billion fast food meals in the UK. Is it any wonder we are fatter than ever?
But who - or what - is to blame for the obesity epidemic? Is it fast food?
Couch potato culture? Just plain laziness?
Surely it is a combination of
all these factors and more.
better get the (butter) ball rolling before we are all suffocated by our own
In the 1980s the government approved the selling-off of school
It was property boom time, and many cash strapped schools
took advantage and sold land at lucrative prices. School lunch programmes
were also privatised and profit-focused companies took over from
home-cooking dinner ladies.
But the ultimate price paid has been the
health of the nation. Kids who had their PE classes curtailed and after-school sports teams abolished are the overweight thirty-somethings of today.
We are a lost generation of fatties who had our health sold off in the
name of big fat naked profit.
And the present government doesn't fare much better; school playing fields are
still being sold to property developers.
Still local councils across the nation
approve fast food chains on high streets.
Amy Lamé currently tips the scales at 18st 2lb
We have been threatened with a
"fat tax" on calorific food, which is an easy way for the government and food
manufacturers to turn a tidy profit, but does nothing to increase the
availability and affordability of wholesome, fresh food.
A fat tax will
just make us all poorer AND fatter... thus increasing the obesity problem all
There has been talk of denying the profoundly obese access to health care,
as it may be just too costly for the NHS to bear.
The notion that obese
people should not have access to equal health care is absurd. One of the
greatest assets this country has is the National Health Service.
We all pay
our contributions to benefit the common good of society, and access to
healthcare is a fundamental right and privilege. For those that disagree, I
urge you to study the American model.
Millions of Americans have no health insurance, no doctor, and limited health education resources. America is the fattest nation on earth. Got it?
The knowledge and expertise of our NHS professionals should be directed towards
health education and obesity prevention I hear collective cries that the
NHS is already over stretched.
Then again, so are our bellies. Somebody better get the (butter) ball rolling before we are all suffocated by our own corpulence.
But we must keep all this fat-phobia in perspective, too.
There is nothing wrong with being fat... as long as you are fit. We all know bone-lazy, rail-thin people who can stuff their face full of burgers and never gain an ounce. Are they any fitter than an active but overweight person?
It is possible to be fat and fit; not everyone is meant to, or can, be thin. The scourge of modern society is not obesity, but body fascism.
What will happen if we don't stop eating? Remember the horrific, if
comedic, image of Mr Creosote from Monty Python's Meaning of Life film.
idea that just one thin mint could push the extremely obese to exploding
point is aversion therapy writ large.
Stopping eating isn't the answer;
eating healthily and well is.
So let's get up off our collective fat behinds
and do something about it.
Amy Lamé presents the BBC London 94.9 Breakfast Show with Danny Baker every weekday morning from 0600 to 0900 BST.
If... we don't stop eating was broadcast on Wednesday, 7 April, 2004 on BBC Two.