This article—which is really more of the author’s personal history with weight loss and Weight Watchers—does not cover the usual topics of this blog. But the author brings up an excellent point about the weight loss industry and obesity politics today. Her argument doesn’t just apply to the weight loss industry; it applies to any social change issue. Weight Watchers and similar organizations will never do enough on their own to create change. Holistic and collaborative approaches from the private and public sectors, in addition to individual accountability, are needed to address the “eating like garbage” problem. Likewise, social change initiatives won’t be successful through organizations and individuals alone, and must include changes in policy and private sector practices.
Weight Watchers, and programs like it, focus on fat people, but ignore the issue that, as a country, we’re eating like garbage. That’s all people, not just the fatties. We now want to push our citizens into programs like these — programs with very high failure rates that quantify success with a number on a scale — but we don’t want to, you know, stop subsidizing shitty crops and serving up crap school lunches. Programs that focus on weight loss above all else make it easy to shift the conversation away from the things that matter — food justice, government subsidies, pesticides, hormones — to extremely difficult individual accountability in the face of a system that pushes everyone, not just fatties, to consume garbage.
If we really wanted to make a difference in national health — from WW to fat kids — we’d be focusing on health. Weight would not be a factor. Programs like “Weight Watchers” would be “Health Watchers” (or, er, something catchier?) and we’d focus on eating fruits and veggies, moving our bodies, and loving ourselves at whatever weight. We’d also be encouraged to be more active in food justice for all and diets that are exciting and delicious, as opposed to scary and fraught with hysteria.