Fat-Shaming ‘Warnings’ On Sugary Drinks Won’t Make Kids Healthy

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Warning, it says, you might become a big fatty if you drink this. There’s something inherently off-putting about that, not because it’s entirely untrue, but because it makes a controversial statement about what is good and right. Cigarettes carry a warning label because they can cause cancer and we universally agree that cancer is a bad thing no one wants. The same cannot be said of being fat.

There are healthy fat people in the world. There are happy fat people in the world. Scientific evidence increasingly supports the argument that fat is not necessarily synonymous with unhealthy. When you attempt to legislate the use of a product by warning people that they or their children might get fat, you’re making the statement that fat is bad, undesirable, and equivalent to a disease without allowing for other variables, and that is simply not true. Excess weight can be a symptom of ill health, but it is not the sole cause.

I’m in no way denying our food industry is in a sort of crisis mode. I worry as much as any other parent about my kids consuming too much sugar, salt, and other harmful substances. By all means, protect children from predatory marketing practices until they’re old enough to see through the bullshit for themselves. Warn people that a diet rich in processed food and sugary drinks can contribute to diabetes, heart disease and other illnesses so they don’t start their children down a path to ill health. Talk about the real effects of consuming massive quantities of sugar and caffeine. Don’t use fat bodies — which may or may not be unhealthy depending on many factors — to scare the public into paying attention to things that are far more dangerous than a little extra meat.

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