Editor note: Please welcome Greta, a new contributor to Disordered Times!
What do you think is the fattest city in America? Detroit? Phoenix? Kansas City? Los Angeles? Well, according to Men’s Fitness Magazine, Miami takes the cake. Surprised? I have to say the results made my face respond in such a way that could drive some women to dash out for a shot of Botox. If the issue simply is about exercise and eating right, with the cornucopia of health food and exercise options, there isn’t a reason why sun-soaked Miami should be on the list…or maybe there is. Besides being appalling on many levels, the fact that there is even a title, “Fattest City in America,” reflects the existing epidemic of obesity in this country that’s acknowledged in the public’s eyes to the extent that it makes headlines for a day, yet isn’t explored on any deeper levels.
When I was in school for social work, we skimmed the surface of the obesity epidemic, as it related to culture, education, and the intertwining social and governmental institutions. From our studies, the class deduced that the epidemic is caused by an existing cultural poverty, and because of this, people lack the funding and education to buy nutritious food and exercise. Oh, and it could be genetic.
While I agree that the validity to this assumption holds a lot of weight in sociological circles, I think there is another level. First, not everyone who’s obese is part of a cultural poverty, uneducated, or has an “obesity gene.” Second, even if people were part of this presupposed faction, couldn’t living poorly and working for pennies warrant depression and binge eating? I think so. Couldn’t bingeing contribute to their financial issues, therefore, creating a vicious cycle similar to other eating disorders and addictions? Not once in our discussions, did anyone, besides myself, question if this cultural issue could be tied into an eating disorder, like Binge-Eating Disorder.
What’s appalling is that while anorexia vacillates between public scrutiny and glamorization, stealing all of the attention, people ignore the other end of the spectrum because of the stigma attached to people who are overweight, which, sadly, is reflective of our societal values. Consequently, there hasn’t been enough research completed about the underlying issues with people who are overweight or obese to publicize it. Case in point, Binge-Eating Disorder is such a new topic that when I looked it up in my DSM-IV-TR, it’s listed under “Criteria Sets and Axes Provided for Further Study.” Further study? I’ll say.