Fact Check: Popular Author And Activist Claims Obesity Isn’t A Choice

Fact Check: Popular Author And Activist Claims Obesity Isn’t A Choice


Photo: iStock

Obesity occurs when a person’s body mass index is 30 or greater. Popular author and activist Dr. Adeshola Mos-Shogbamimu says obesity is a disease, not a choice. 

Black Americans are more likely to suffer from obesity than their white counterparts. 

Four in 10 Americans, totaling about 100 million, live with obesity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Among African American adults, nearly 48 percent are clinically living with obesity compared to 32.6 percent of whites, health news platform Stat reported.

Some “people in the Black community have normalized obesity, justifying an unhealthy weight and lifestyle in the name of body positivity. While there is no place for fat-shaming, there is no place, either, for obesity-normalizing, in light of the chronic and deadly nature of this disease, writes Dr. Shamard Charles, an assistant professor of public health and health promotion at St. Francis College, ​​in theGrio.

Obesity can lead to other health concerns, such as Type 2 diabetes. Treating obesity and related conditions costs the U.S. $1.4 trillion every year.

There is a school of thought that people are obese because they choose to be.

Professional poker player Doug Polk tweeted a photo of a plus-size model in a swimsuit along with the text: “Being obese is a choice, and it will harm your quality of life significantly…This is not healthy and it isn’t beautiful.”

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Mos-Shogbamimu, a British Nigerian activist, political commentator, author and lawyer, responded.

“1. She is NOT Obese. 2. Obesity is NOT a choice. 3. Yumi Nu IS beautiful. 4. No woman gives a damn about Doug Polk’s opinion of ‘beauty’ 5. She’s on Sports Illustrated cover – He is NOT,” Mos-Shogbamimu tweeted. He is a regular speaker on women’s rights, law, politics, diversity, inequality, and exclusion.

The American Medical Association recognized obesity as a disease in 2013. It is a cause of death for nearly one out of five adults in America, according to a blog post on the University of Delaware website.

“People who are obese are not bad or lazy; instead, they are fighting their biology,” Dr. Giles Yeo, who has 20 years of experience studying the genetics of obesity and brain control of food intake, told King’s College London.

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Several factors can lead to obesity, according to Harvard University. Consuming more calories than you burn is one but genetic influences also play a role.

According to research, genes account for just 25 percent of the predisposition to be overweight for some people, while for others, the genetic influence is as high as 70 percent to 80 percent.

Environmental influences are also a factor. For example, babies of mothers who smoked during pregnancy are more likely to become overweight than those whose mothers didn’t smoke.

Study results also indicate that people who live in a food desert are at an elevated risk for obesity. A food desert is an urban area where it’s difficult to buy affordable or good-quality fresh food. Food deserts are most often in Black communities.

Lack of exercise can also lead to obesity. Government recommendations are an hour of moderate to vigorous exercise a day. But fewer than 25 percent of Americans meet that goal, according to Harvard University.

While the facts show that obesity is a disease and not a choice, it is a leading health problem in the U.S.

Obesity is found in almost one-third of U.S. adults and 17 percent of U.S. children ages 2 to 19, according to the American Heart Association.

Photo: iStock