It’s a shame what Bill Maher has said about the obesity epidemic. In 2019, Maher literally asked people for “fat shame” more about being HBO show “Realtime with Bill Maher.” This was like telling people to bully others more like I covered before Forbes. Now, on the latest episode of his show, Maher lamented that America “has gone from big acceptance to big celebration”. Maher also claimed that “there’s 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 the accompanying video:
To be clear, Maher is not a scientist. He also didn’t present any real scientific studies during his segment and didn’t bring any real scientists and experts on the subject to this show. So, hmmm, was he presenting current science or rather his ideology or what he wants reality to be?
Maher went on to say, “to see yourself let go as a point of pride? We used to try to be fit and healthy, and society praised those who succeeded. Now the term ‘body positivity’ is used to mean: ‘I’m perfect the way I am because I’m me.’” Umm, who said body positivity should be about saying, “I’m perfect the way I am. Am because I’m me?” While some people may have twisted that message, real health professionals who are experts in the field have not said that anyone should believe they are perfect. Life is about constantly trying to improve. It’s not like doctors say to patients, ” You are perfect, do nothing,” or articles in scientific journals say, “Everyone is perfect. The end.” No matter what your body mass index (BMI), your current lifestyle or your general health, you always have room to improve.
Instead, body positivity is about understanding that one size or one shape doesn’t fit everyone. For example, if everyone had to look like Lebron James, Maher would have a lot of work to do. Instead, body positivity is about understanding that a particular person can do everything right, such as eating healthy and exercising, but still never have the same body size as someone who can eat an all-hot dog and pizza diet and still have it. as Big of the Guardians of the Universe.
Therefore, when Maher went on to say “‘Healthy at any weight’ is an undisputed lie people tell themselves so they can continue to eat what they want,” he did not accurately reflect what the phrase really is and means. First of all, the more established term is Health at Every Size (HAES). And this does not mean that you can just eat whatever you want and not exercise and add extra weight without consequences. Instead, it means that body size (or weight) is just one measure that by itself doesn’t necessarily reflect a person’s health. Otherwise, someone who is just skin and bones and eats nothing but paint chips all day long would be considered the healthiest of the healthy.
Later in his diatribe, Maher claimed, “At some point, acceptance becomes possible. And if you somehow participate in this joyous celebration of gluttony that is happening right now, you have blood on your hands. Period.” Again, who exactly is having a “joyful feast of gluttony?” Have real obesity experts actually said, “Yay, gluttony?” Maher called Ted Kyle, RPh, MBA, founder of Conscience Health, a ‘fat activist’. But advocating against weight-based and body size-based prejudice and discrimination is not a “fat activist,” which sounds like someone is actually pushing for the interests of adipose tissue. Here Kyle explains for the American Journal of Managed Care (AJMC) how stigma hinders proper obesity treatment:
Maybe next time Maher can bring Kyle on his show so everyone can hear what he said directly from Kyle?
Maher’s rant also included the following statement: “Nike, Sports Illustrated, Victoria’s Secret, fitness-specific companies are nonetheless promoting people who clearly don’t like fitness.” Okay, fitness business might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you mention Victoria’s Secret. Much of their lingerie is probably not specifically designed for spinning or the 100m hurdles. Moreover, in that statement, Maher did exactly what anti-bias advocates warned against: assuming that someone of a certain body size is “obviously not in shape.” Maybe Maher should visit some NFL linemen and tell them to their face that they clearly don’t do fitness because they exceed a certain body weight.
During his diatribe, Maher continued to put forward stereotypes of those who may have larger body sizes or higher body mass indices (BMI), which angered people on social media, such as:
By the end of Maher’s diatribe, Maher pretended he already knew how to solve the obesity epidemic and that it was just a matter of telling people to be less gluttonous. In this way, the obesity epidemic is made too simple and many of the scientific studies that have shown the many other factors that may be contributing to the obesity epidemic are overlooked. As I have written many times before Forbes, the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) Internationaland Nutrition Reviews, the obesity epidemic is a systemic problem and not one that can be solved with the simple simple solution of telling everyone to eat less and exercise more. That was tried in the 90s and the 200s, and again in the 10s. Simply blaming individuals ignores the fact that much has changed in our society since the 1980s, when obesity rates began to rise, such as our food supply with more and more processed foods with more and more additives. Some on Twitter wondered aloud (because you can’t silently wonder on Twitter) why Maher didn’t say more about the food industry, like the following:
The composition of food can play a major role. But it’s probably not the only culprit. Whenever a major public health problem persists, a system of several factors comes into play. In recent decades, which have coincided with the continued rise in obesity rates, other changes have taken place, such as people’s exposure to all kinds of new chemicals in the environment, cities becoming less walkable and even more sedentary. In addition, the obesity epidemic has paralleled the emergence of other health problems, such as other chronic medical conditions and loneliness and mental health problems, which started in the 1980s and continued in the decades since. So chances are the same factors contribute to each of these different trends.
This is certainly not the first time Maher has ranted about a scientific problem without involving real scientific experts on the show. During the Covid-19 pandemic, he criticized the use of vaccines and face masks while speaking about the use of ivermectin for Covid-19. A Twitterer pointed out that many things Maher said on his most recent show was a bit of a shame:
Maher was right about one thing: the “disturbing trend going on in America today of rewriting 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 where the host talks about a scientific topic, but doesn’t really attract verified scientific experts to talk about that topic?