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Superstructure for the Super Sized

By Mike Jeffreys - 2 September 2014 18

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I took part in a panel discussion Friday on Channel 9 Mornings where one of the topics that provoked a strong reaction was the decision by Canberra Hospital to include reinforced ceilings strong enough to support the super obese in their special harnesses to help them get around in the four fully equipped bariatric rooms.

Chief Minister Katy Gallagher told news.com.au: “Three of them are for people up to 250 kilos with lifting devices for people of that size. The other room is the ‘super bariatric’ room. It’s for patients who weigh up to 500 kilos.”

Some might say Canberra Hospital is to be commended for planning ahead: 250 kilos is huge, 500 kilos is world record size.

Is this really what the future holds if we don’t change our ways?

Increasing numbers of the grossly, morbidly obese?

According to several sources, the fattest woman in the woman in the world as at April of this year is Charity Pierce from Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

She weighs 347 kg.

There have been heavier human beings, but they’ve either lost weight or are no longer with us.

A quick Google search will show you just how enormous Charity is.

You can also find other women who hope to surpass Charity and become the fattest in the world.

One force feeds herself 5000 calories a day through a funnel.

Presumably not everyone who ends being enormous set out to be that way, but reaching these great weights would seem to be as a result of a fairly deliberate process over many years.

The Chief Minister is quoted as saying “It’s hard to get your mind across the impact that being that size would have on your lifestyle. You wouldn’t be able to walk or move easily, so imagine how humiliating it would be in a non purpose-built room. At least this gives some dignity to people.”

With the best will in the world, I would suggest Ms Gallagher is about half right.

It’s certainly true so say “You wouldn’t be able to walk or move easily”.

But as to dignity, consider this comment from 33 year old Susanne Eman, now married to the chef who is helping her achieve her dream of becoming the fattest woman in the world: “When we go to the store he shops for me. He helps me in and out of the car. He encourages me to do my exercises. My aim is to never become bed-bound. As long as Parker keeps taking me out to the park for waddles (my italics), then I know I can keep moving.”

Someone whose goal in life is to be the fattest woman in the world and talks about going to the park “for waddles” does not have dignity as her main aim.

In fact anyone who eats to the size we are talking about is probably not primarily concerned with maintaining “dignity”.

We’re putting these reinforced roofs in at considerable expense to the taxpayer to make us feel like we’re doing the right thing – and we are – in the short term.

Used to be cigarette smoking was cool and glamorous.

But now government (especially in this country) goes to great lengths to persuade us all that it’s a filthy and increasingly expensive habit.

The message of how horribly our health can be affected is pushed relentlessly in all media, including on the side of the packs with those gruesome depictions of how certain body parts will end up if you don’t quit.

If you used to smoke and now have emphysema I’m not saying you shouldn’t receive appropriate medical care – you should.

And anything we can reasonably do to help our medical professionals to that end, we should provide.

But let’s not pretend you didn’t know the habit was doing you harm over time, anymore than an individual suddenly wakes up one morning to discover they now weigh 250 kilograms.

Some years ago I walked past a large woman scoffing chips by the handful at a food court just in time to hear her say “You know I can’t seem to lose weight – it’s my glands.”

Well maybe.

I’m not a doctor and even if I was I certainly didn’t know enough about the lady to tell you here and now that it wasn’t her glands.

But Billy Connolly’s comment “Water retention? More like chip retention” did come to mind.

I suspect strengthening ceilings at Canberra Hospital is one of those quiet but significant landmarks which will hasten a societal shift.

So expect that pretty soon overeating will increasingly get the same kind of treatment smoking now does: special taxes imposed in the name of curbing obesity; more restrictions on advertising particular foods; dire health warnings paid for with the taxpayer dollar.

Will any of it make a difference?

Readers are invited to comment and/or suggest solutions.

 

What’s Your opinion?


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18 Responses to
Superstructure for the Super Sized
Antagonist 11:08 pm 03 Sep 14

Maya123 said :

What did saying ‘lefties’ (or righties for that matter) contribute to the conversation? It’s just a throwaway.

The comment makes perfect sense if you understand what ‘left-wing politics’ means.

Maya123 7:00 pm 03 Sep 14

HenryBG said :

Maya123 said :

I agree with airlines charging per kg. Why say should a 50kg person be charged for excess luggage weight for it being a little over weight, while the 100km person in the queue after her is not charged anything more, because their luggage was not overweight. Weight costs money for airlines, but at present smaller people are subsidising larger people. There is a lot of discrimination against smaller people. It would be nice if for once they got a bit of positive discrimination. It might also encourage people who fly frequently to loose some weight.

The lefties won’t have a bar of this as this would constitute – to use their jargon – unconscious bias against those ethnic groups whose members tend to be bigger than others.

What did saying ‘lefties’ (or righties for that matter) contribute to the conversation? It’s just a throwaway.
As for certain ethnic groups being larger, Samoa Air acknowledges this and already charges by weight. The following is worth a read and could be followed by other airlines. They realised that a lot of their passenger were large and something had to be done.

http://www.samoaair.ws/index.php/booking-2/pay-by-weight

milkman 7:00 pm 03 Sep 14

How about we change income tax rules so everyone pays exactly the same?

What’s that? We’re all a bit different? Whaaaa…?

dungfungus 6:22 pm 03 Sep 14

Maya123 said :

Southmouth said :

Bring on the social engineering. Start with airlines charging per kg and a tax on the quantity of sugar in refined food

I agree with airlines charging per kg. Why say should a 50kg person be charged for excess luggage weight for it being a little over weight, while the 100km person in the queue after her is not charged anything more, because their luggage was not overweight. Weight costs money for airlines, but at present smaller people are subsidising larger people. There is a lot of discrimination against smaller people. It would be nice if for once they got a bit of positive discrimination. It might also encourage people who fly frequently to loose some weight.

At least smaller people have legroom flying economy class – tall people have to pay double for premium economy or triple+ for business just to get that legroom that used to be there in economy class 20 years ago.
That’s discrimination.

HenryBG 4:08 pm 03 Sep 14

Maya123 said :

I agree with airlines charging per kg. Why say should a 50kg person be charged for excess luggage weight for it being a little over weight, while the 100km person in the queue after her is not charged anything more, because their luggage was not overweight. Weight costs money for airlines, but at present smaller people are subsidising larger people. There is a lot of discrimination against smaller people. It would be nice if for once they got a bit of positive discrimination. It might also encourage people who fly frequently to loose some weight.

The lefties won’t have a bar of this as this would constitute – to use their jargon – unconscious bias against those ethnic groups whose members tend to be bigger than others.

Maya123 11:44 am 03 Sep 14

Southmouth said :

Bring on the social engineering. Start with airlines charging per kg and a tax on the quantity of sugar in refined food

I agree with airlines charging per kg. Why say should a 50kg person be charged for excess luggage weight for it being a little over weight, while the 100km person in the queue after her is not charged anything more, because their luggage was not overweight. Weight costs money for airlines, but at present smaller people are subsidising larger people. There is a lot of discrimination against smaller people. It would be nice if for once they got a bit of positive discrimination. It might also encourage people who fly frequently to loose some weight.

Southmouth 6:13 am 03 Sep 14

Bring on the social engineering. Start with airlines charging per kg and a tax on the quantity of sugar in refined food

Mike Jeffreys 8:05 pm 02 Sep 14

This may be relevant – from The Daily Telegraph online late today: THE former ‘Brick with Eyes’ turned Palmer United Party Senate leader Glenn Lazarus believes Australia needs to look at “tax incentives” to combat obesity. He called for tax incentives, concessions and other types of incentives to be looked at to target the behaviour of consumption. http://bit.ly/1B9Bv51 (Coincidence I assure you – never met the man).

screaming banshee 7:36 pm 02 Sep 14

Wall-e comes to mind

knuckles 6:54 pm 02 Sep 14

I’ve never understood why we as a society have reached the point where we state that if you don’t eat enough and classified as anorexic, it is then acceptable to consider that you are causing inappropriate damage to your health/body, you are therefore not capable of making rational decisions for yourself and can legally be detained against your will in a mental health facility so that you can receive help for your problems.

However, if you eat way too much and are causing inappropriate damage to your health/body, we put more resources into looking after you while you continue to gain weight and become less healthy.

HiddenDragon 4:39 pm 02 Sep 14

This is at the extremes, but it’s a useful reminder, nonetheless, that there are downsides to the extent to which we collectivise medical costs in Australia – a system which made individuals, and their families, more responsible for the financial costs of health choices might have benefits beyond the immediate savings in health budgets and health insurance premiums.

Mike Jeffreys 2:16 pm 02 Sep 14

Excellent point. My adult sons – both really fit – tell me about 80 year olds they know of who are in such good physical shape they can coach others on fitness. I suspect they’re not the norm. More detail in the figures would be useful.

Maya123 12:38 pm 02 Sep 14

People talk about the problems with an aging population. I read some statistics that indicated the biggest problem was with the aging overweight and obese. They are far more likely to need medical help and have difficulty with mobility than the normal weighted aging. But unfortunately the statistics on aging are all included together; even if problems are caused more by excessive weight, rather than just the aging process.

Mike Jeffreys 12:13 pm 02 Sep 14

You’re right – we are adapting. My question: will we continue to do so by simply spending more and more to accommodate the obese or can we expect the kind of social engineering with food that cigarette smokers now experience? Cigarettes cost a dollar each as of yesterday…

ScienceRules 11:55 am 02 Sep 14

Not sure there is much controversy here as far as the health system is concerned. ACT Ambulance have had a Bariatric vehicle for years now as some patients simply can’t be accommodated in a regular vehicle.

It is a concerning trend in the industrialised world and probably isn’t going to go away any time soon. I guess the health system (as well as the rest of us) will have to adapt.

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