Well, things are on an upswing for the Tennessee Obesity Taskforce. Wait, time out. Can we pull a Jon Stewart, and have y'all meet me at camera three? You know, just for a second, away from the prying eyes of the Tennessee Obesity Taskforce? OK, listen: Personally, I would not make "taskforce" one word. But the Tennessee Obesity Taskforce has done exactly that, so they can give themselves a catchy acronym — TOT. Yes. Look at their website. TOT. As if we needed further proof that there are no actual obese people on the TOT, it would have to be that they've given themselves an acronym of a delicious deep-fried potato product.
Lord almighty, I had to wipe tears from my eyes I was laughing so hard at that. Tennessee Obesity Taskforce, your lips say, "have a salad," but your name says, "Yum, tater tots would be good."
Anyway, like I said, things are looking up for the TOT. They've got themselves a fancy new website that not only doesn't make fun of obese people, it includes no obese people at all, so that you can envision how aesthetically pleasing Tennessee will be when you don't have to look at fat people anymore. And they had a successful trek to the State Capitol on Wednesday to promote their "anti-obesity" bills.
But here's the thing I don't get.
The bills they're pushing are a good idea. They want to focus on school health funding, do more to address food deserts, and increase fines in school zones so that it's actually safe for kids to walk home from school. But wouldn't these be good for us as a state, even if we were all normal weight? Is it somehow OK if people don't have adequate access to fresh foods, if their kids' school meals are not nutritious, and if their neighborhoods are unwalkable — as long as they're thin?
I have huge problems with this anti-obesity nonsense because I think it's a moral panic disguised as concern about people's health. But I have secondary concerns about tying community health so directly to anti-obesity initiatives for this very reason. Let's say the TOT is able to reduce Tennessee's obesity rate so that we all resemble the people on their website. Would it then be cool for the state to cut funding for community health? Or would making sure that people can get adequate exercise and don't live in food deserts still be important goal?
I think it would still be an admirable goal, and I am sure that the TOT would also think those are important things to continue to address. So why do we have to make fat people the problem in order to do it?