We need to stop fat shaming and start fat fighting

At 165 centimetres tall and 118 kilograms, Tess Holliday is the opposite of what society has come to expect from a swimsuit model. With a BMI of +43, tattooed Tess is one of 2.1 billion people in the world who are overweight or obese, yet she recently made global headlines for her #SimplyBekini campaign, posing proudly in her sponsored swimwear while encouraging followers to do the same.

Obesity is a personal and touchy issue. We talk openly of stamping out smoking ($2.1 trillion annual cost) and violence/war/terrorism ($2.1 trillion), yet we're not doing enough to tackle the preventable-yet-increasing problem of global obesity ($2 trillion per year*). So what do we do – fat-shame? Or accept it?

To shame is to belittle and bully. That clearly isn't going to help. Yet to accept is an admission of defeat. That won't do, either.

Here's what we need:

More government intervention

I don't think we should always lean on governments for the answer, but they can give us a friendly nudge in the right direction. The USA's Federal Drug Administration (FDA) just announced they are phasing out trans fats – that's good for weight management and health, and a lead the Australian government should follow.

The food industry is a powerful group, but governments can still look after citizens by pressuring companies to produce healthier goods with less salt, chemicals, and sugar.

Tip: Educate yourself about what's in your food, and cut down on the processed foods by buying fresh.

More dialogue

The anti-smoking brigade is fierce, and it's working. We need more talk (with action) and stronger pro-health messages that tackle obesity. We need groups and dialogue that provide motivation, direction, and a no-bull approach that gets people moving.

Tip: Stock your kitchen with healthy foods and talk to your friends and family about what you're eating. 


More programs

I like NSW's campaign, called . As the group points out, obesity costs the state $19 billion per year, and "over half the adults in NSW are overweight or obese". The website is simple, yet thorough, and provides a no-nonsense approach to weight loss with two variables that get the job done – healthy food and fitness. Free eating and exercise plans are plentiful.

Tip: Get involved with programs such as Make Healthy Normal, Dry July, 30 Days of Yoga, eight-week food/exercise boot camps, or a Couch to 5k running program.

More exercise

From healthier bones, better sleep, weight loss, stress relief, and prevention of disease, the benefits of exercise are plentiful. And a fit body will nourish itself with nutritious fuel – not junk.

Tip: Set daily targets such as 10,000 steps in a day, at least 30 minutes of jogging a day, 1000 stairs climbed, or 2000 skipping ropes. Join a gym or a morning boot camp.

More corporate health programs

Healthier employees are more productive employees, and more productive employees make more money – something everybody business likes to hear.

Tip: Harvard Business Review reported that Johnson & Johnson saved $250 million in healthcare costs due to wellness programs over a 10-year period. Dear HR managers … need I say more?

More personal responsibility

Everybody must recognise that the only person that can lose the weight is themselves. That means staying out of fast food joints, putting away the video games in favour of getting outdoors, choosing water over fizzy drinks, opting for salmon over pizza, and bringing down the portion sizes.

Nearly 30 per cent of the world's population is overweight or obese – that's nearly 2.5 times the number of malnourished adults and children – so examining personal gluttony is a must.

Tip: Only you can make your home and body healthier places to live in.

In 2015, we live in an age of acceptance – which I like – but when it comes to our physical health, we may be taking it to a dangerous level. Victoria has seen Type 2 diabetes hit 300,000 cases this year, with 500,000 more at high risk. Every stat out there screams that we need less obesity acceptance, and more healthy lifestyle change.

Tess Holliday wants everybody to love themselves, and I'm on board with that cause. I just think you can love yourself a bit longer into a ripe old age when you're healthier. I don't see too many 150kg 70-year-olds getting about with smiles and a healthy spark in their eyes.

Somewhere between shaming and accepting is our answer. Yet year after year, the obesity numbers hurt the GDP and our waistlines keep expanding. We are killing ourselves with food, and to do nothing about it in the kitchen and/or gym is where the shame lies.

'Beautiful' is a healthy body, healthy mind, and happy soul. As such , I personally debate if Tess's message of body acceptance is a beneficial one. Gandhi said 'Health is wealth'… and I want everybody (Tess included) to be healthy, normal, and rich as hell.

What do you think? Is big beautiful? Or do we need to be doing more to combat obesity? Let us know in the comments below. 

Passion for lifestyle change is the cornerstone for everything Michael Jarosky does. A Sydney-based personal trainer, he cajoled thousands of 51698009 readers to undertake his 'Cut The BS' diet, and champions a charity weight-loss event, Droptober.

*Taken from McKinsey's 2014 report on global obesity.