January 30, 2023

It’s a shame what Bill Maher has to say about the obesity epidemic. Back in 2019, Maher literally asked people to be more “ashamed of being fat” than him HBO Show “Real Time with Bill Maher”. This was kind of like telling people to bully others more, as I covered Forbes. Now, on the last episode of his show, Maher complained that America “has gone from chubby acceptance to chubby celebration.” Maher also claimed that “there is a disturbing trend going on in America these days of rewriting science to fit ideology or just to fit what you want reality to be,” as you can see in Maher’s following tweet and accompanying video:

Just to clarify, Mahir is not a scientist. Nor did he present any real scientific studies during his time and no real scholars and experts on the subject came to this exhibition. So, hmmm, was he presenting the actual science or rather his ideology or what he wanted reality to be?

Maher went on to say, “To see yourself as giving up as a point of pride? We were trying to be fit and healthy, and society praised those who succeeded. Now the term ‘body positivity’ is used to mean, ‘I’m perfect as I am because I am.'” Um, who said that Body positivity is supposed to say, “I am perfect as I am because I am?” While some people may have misrepresented this message, real health professionals who are experts in the area have not said that anyone should believe that they Perfectionists. Life is about constantly trying to improve. It’s not as if doctors tell patients, “You’re perfect, don’t do anything,” or science journal articles say, “Everyone’s perfect. The end.” No matter your body mass index (BMI), your current lifestyle, or your general health, you always have room for improvement.

Instead, body positivity is about understanding that one size or shape does not fit all. For example, if everyone was supposed to look like LeBron James, Maher would have a lot of work to do. Rather, body positivity is about understanding that someone can do everything right, such as eat healthy and exercise a lot, but still have the same body size as anyone who can eat a diet full of hot dogs and pizza and yet still seem Like Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy.

So, when Maher continued the phrase “Healthy at any weight” is an undisputed lie people tell themselves so they can go on and eat whatever they want”, he wasn’t accurately portraying what the phrase was and what it meant. First of all, the more established term is “Health in All Size” (HAES). This does not mean that you can just eat anything you want, not exercise and add extra weight without any consequences. Rather, it means that body size (or weight) is just one measure that may not necessarily reflect a person’s health Otherwise, a person who is just skin and bones and eats nothing but paint chips all day is considered to be the healthiest of the healthy.

Later during his raucous talk, Maher asserted, “At some point, acceptance becomes possible. And if you participate in any way in this joyous celebration of gluttony that continues now, you have a bloodstained point.” Again, who exactly is the one who has a “Celebration of Gluttony Joy?” Have any real obesity experts said, “Cool, gluttony?” Maher called Ted Kyle, RPh, MBA, Founder of Conscience, “a fat activist”. But advocating against bias and discrimination based on weight and body size is not a “fat activist,” which sounds like someone is actually pushing the interests of adipose tissue. Here Kyle explains to American Journal of Managed Care (AJMC) How stigma hinders proper treatment of obesity:

Maybe next time Mahir can bring Kyle on his show so everyone can hear what he’s saying straight from Kyle?

Maher’s talk also included the following statement: “Nike, Sports Illustrated, Victoria’s Secret, companies specifically interested in fitness, however, promote people who clearly don’t get in shape.” Well, the fitness company might not be the first thing you think of when you mention Victoria’s Secret. Many of their underwear may not have been specifically designed for the spinning class or the 100m hurdles. Moreover, in this statement, Maher was doing exactly what anti-bias warned against doing: assuming that a person of a certain body size is “obviously unfit.” Maybe Maher should go visit some NFL workers and tell them to their faces that they’re not in shape because they’re over a certain weight.

Throughout his speech, Maher continued to promote stereotypes of those who may have larger body sizes or higher body mass indexes (BMI), which infuriated those on social media such as:

Towards the end of Maher’s talk, Maher acted as if he already knew how to solve the obesity epidemic and that it was simply about telling people to be less gluttonous. This way you oversimplify the obesity epidemic and overlook the many scientific studies that have shown many other factors that may contribute to the obesity epidemic. As I wrote many times before for ForbesAnd the The World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) InternationalAnd the Nutrition ReviewsThe obesity epidemic is a systemic problem, not a problem that can be solved with one simple solution: asking everyone to eat less and exercise more. This was attempted in the 1990s, 200s, and again in 2010. Blaming individuals simply ignores the fact that so much in our society has changed since the 1980s when obesity rates began to rise as our food supply has more and more processed foods. With more and more additions. Some on Twitter wondered aloud (because you can’t silently wonder on Twitter) why Maher didn’t say more about the food industry like this:

Food composition may play a major role. But he may not be the only culprit. Anytime a major public health problem continues to exist, a system of different factors is involved. In the past several decades that coincided with the ever-rising rates of obesity, there have been other changes such as people being exposed to all kinds of new chemicals in the environment, towns and cities becoming less walkable, and work becoming more sedentary. Furthermore, the obesity epidemic coincided with the emergence of other health problems such as other chronic medical conditions, loneliness, and mental health issues that began in the 1980s and continued on an upward trend in the ensuing decades. So the odds are that some of the same factors contribute to each of these different trends.

This certainly isn’t the first time Maher has talked about a scientific issue but he didn’t include real scientific experts on the show. During the Covid-19 pandemic, he criticized the use of vaccines and face masks while talking about the use of ivermectin for Covid-19. One Twitter user pointed out that a lot of the things Maher said in his latest show were a bit shameful:

Maher was right about one thing: “The alarming trend in America these days is to rewrite science to fit ideology or just to fit what you want reality to be.” Would an example of such a trend be a talk show in which the host talks about a scientific topic but doesn’t bring in certified scientific experts to talk about the topic?

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