A Novel Eating Disorder Revisited: Pathological Obesity

Although most people consider eating disorders to be solely based on eating behaviors and weight, the central problem with these illnesses is psychological. The relentless thoughts about food and weight and the incessant negative, punitive thoughts about oneself are torturous for people with eating disorders. With help to combat those thoughts, changing behaviors and full recovery are both very possible.

The newest and least talked about eating disorder is a result of societal pathologizing of being overweight. Medicine insists that obesity is the cause of endless health problems and in the end an issue with an easy solution: just lose weight. Rather than seeing weight as a complex variable with a plethora of possible causes, doctors approach weight as an easily fixable issue that is at its heart a dire medical concern. 

The public has followed this conclusion and pathologized weight long enough to create a large group of people plagued by constant doubt, shame and self-loathing. Since diets and weight loss plans are almost universally unsuccessful, people attempt to follow prescribed solutions, feel constantly like failures and are obsessed with food and weight instead of trying to live their lives. 

From a psychological perspective, the experience of these constant thoughts are synonymous with an eating disorder. The primary cause of the problem isn't eating or weight. Instead, it is the manifestation of a society excluding, isolating and shaming a population into a submission. In effect, sanctioned prejudice against overweight people has created a psychiatric condition and worsened the growing public health issue of eating disorders. 

The real solution to the problem is to stop pathologizing weight. Overweight people can also be healthy and medically well. The myth that a higher weight is directly linked to poor health is steadily being debunked by research. People deserve to live their lives fully and feel like complete, valued human beings no matter their weight. 

The growing movement of weight acceptance demands that people identify and question the bias towards those who are overweight, a very ignored and tolerated prejudice. Acknowledging the unfair treatment of this population is a big step towards challenging the accepted norms. It is no more acceptable to say one doesn't like fat people as it is to not like people of another race or sexual orientation. 

The best treatment for someone with pathological obesity is to work towards self-acceptance. Rather than believe life isn't worthwhile without weighing a certain number, healing comes with the growing idea that someone has as much inherent value no matter their size. Personal acceptance of that statement needs to accompany a more general belief that bias against someone because of their weight isn't acceptable in any form.

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