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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 April, 2004, 09:03 GMT 10:03 UK
'Keep fat-phobia in perspective'
By Amy Lamé
Writer and broadcaster

Amy Lamé
Amy Lamé is a model and writer
As experts warn obesity levels are spiralling out of control have fears about weight led to an unhealthy obsession with body image?

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.

If... we don't stop eating
Wednesday, 7 April, 2004 at 2100 BST on BBC Two

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.

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"
Sales assistants have made it clear to me that nothing in their shop would fit my ample frame.

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.

Planning, 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?

Somebody better get the (butter) ball rolling before we are all suffocated by our own corpulence
Surely it is a combination of all these factors and more.

In the 1980s the government approved the selling-off of school playing fields.

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.

"Fat tax"

And the present government doesn't fare much better; school playing fields are still being sold to property developers.

Amy Lamé
Amy Lamé currently tips the scales at 18st 2lb
Still local councils across the nation approve fast food chains on high streets.

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 round.

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.

The 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.

Information and advice
06 Apr 04  |  If


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