An Open Letter To The Times


Matthew Parris is the journalistic equivalent of the naughty boy in class. The one who says stupid things just to get attention. His latest click bait contribution is a prime example but his ignorance is dangerous and has the potential to do real harm.  

It appears that his research for this piece has been largely confined to a car park in Derbyshire so it’s no wonder that his ideas about weight and health are outdated and incorrect or that the complexities of this issue have been ignored.

There is no acknowledgement or understanding of how the body processes food and the vital role that our genetics, sex and age plays in this intricate bio-chemical process, let alone the fact that for most people their weight is to a great extent, predetermined.

If Parris intends to lead this war on obesity by example will we see another pocket notebook survey from him about the effects that him fat shaming his friends have on their weight, their mental health, their self esteem and his popularity?

Shaming people is bullying and it’s not an effective treatment for anything and justifying bullying on the basis that you’re saving peoples lives and/or the NHS money is wholly irresponsible. This attitude is actually preventing people from adopting an active and healthier lifestyle, rather than encouraging it. 

Instead of obsessing about weight, we need to stop assuming that thin is fit and fat is not and focus on our health and overall wellbeing.

Instead of regurgitating outdated and incorrect information about fat, weight and it’s relationship to our health, we need to educate ourselves and look at the countless new evidence and research which dispels these myths about our bodies. 

Instead of demeaning people, we need to empower them, encourage them to have an active life, give them role models, show them the fit, fat people who are taking part in sport, get our children involved and make it easier for fat people to take part in activity and feel included.

Instead of putting big business in front of people and treating the symptoms, not the cause, we need to get a proper grip on big foods relentless, unhealthy contribution to our diet and start telling people the facts about what they are eating. 

At best it’s thoughtless of The Times to publish a piece which is factually so incorrect and which condones bullying, but their attitude is typical of our broken society - fat remains the last bastion of the haters and the trolls. Whatever steps we take towards an inclusive society, it’s actually still OK to lambast people if they are fat.

Instead of shaming people, everyone responsible for this article should be ashamed of themselves.  

We suggest that Mr Parris takes the time to do some further reading into this topic before writing misinformed and harmful content. Some resources we propose: 

Why We Eat Too Much: The New Science of Appetite (2020) – Dr Andrew Jenkinson

Metabolical (2021) – Dr Robert Lustig
The Diet Myth (2015) – Prof. Tim Spector

Read the original article here.

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