Monday, September 15, 2008

Humiliatin' the Fat

Mr Eugenides had me, and my entire office in fits of laughter today with his hilarious and irreverent take on news that teams of nurses have been taking to Ayrshire's streets to seek out the obese and give them advice on diet and exercise. I'm sure the excessive guffawing must have burnt off a few hundred calories, so he's probably done us a good public service. Even by his standards, this rant was a fine example of the genre.

It's not often I say this about my right wing friend, but I totally and absolutely agree with him - but maybe for different reasons.

As, to put it mildly, a bit of a porker, I would be exactly the sort targetted by these women. They might well choose to refer me to weight watchers - but I expect I know more about every single slimming club/diet in the history of time than they do. Most overweight people know exactly what they have to do in order to lose weight - it's not rocket science. Eat less and exercise more. There, I have just saved NHS Ayrhire and Arran a fortune.

Can you imagine, though, what it would feel like, though, to be approached by one of these lumimously clad lades, no doubt under a banner with NHS Obesity Busters emblazoned on it and publicly handed out information on diet and exercise? How humiliating would that be? It would be worse than the day I met my daughter's head teacher while standing in the queue in WH Smiths clutching the GQ with the Nick Clegg interview quite openly, not realising that the other headline was "You Porn. The sleazy side of internet sex."

The serious side of this is that many people with weight problems struggle with self esteem too and this sort of public dressing down would cause them no end of distress. I wonder, too, whether this violates nurses' professional conduct in some way. Effectively what they are doing is bullying often vulnerable people. What's next? Going into pubs to take drinks out of the hands of those who have had more than a oouple of pints? I don't think so, somehow.

There are more subtle and effective ways of dealing with the growing problem of obesity - and it is a problem which is going to cost the NHS more and needs addressing. This is not the right way.

Going back to Mr E's article, I do hope that, should he ever need to have an enema administered by a nurse from Ayrshire, that she has never read his take on her and her colleagues.............

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