Wednesday, April 9, 2003

You don't have to accept being obese

Adonica Jones-Parks: Local Voices

In January, a federal judge in Manhattan threw out a lawsuit that two obese teens filed, claiming that McDonald's made them fat. The teens claimed that the restaurant did not provide sufficient information about the health risks associated with the food it serves. The judge dismissed the case (and he should have) because the plaintiffs could not prove that Mickey D's had engaged in deceptive practices designed to undermine consumers. If anyone was at fault, it was the parents of these teens who continued to allow their children to eat the highly caloric meals.

Several weeks ago, I was watching a talk show and there were several women on the panel who were 400-plus pounds and wanted to be socially accepted, regardless of their size, and said they were happy with themselves. What a crock! I speak from personal experience, and I will be the first to tell you that I am not happy being obese. I am not worried about other people's acceptance or non-acceptance of my condition; I do not accept my condition. Obesity is a serious disease and can lead to death. Obesity is one condition that should not be accepted.

Obesity is a complex disease that causes excessive body fat. Physiological, biochemical, and genetic factors make this disease complex, so it is not just about "having willpower" and "pushing one's self away from the table." Obesity can kill a person. Heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure are several possible results of being obese, and these ailments can lead to premature death. If obesity doesn't kill, it definitely affects one's quality of life. Simple things become a burden: going up the stairs, working out, going to work, and enjoying life. An obese person experiences constant pain in the joints, hips, knees, ankles and feet. Psychologically, obesity wreaks havoc on the mind and soul, causing depression and stress.

I have had a weight problem for most of my life, and I am not about to blame anyone for my condition, sue restaurants that I have frequented, or make excuses. What I decided to do is not accept my condition, so I sought out a solution that would work for me. On March 11, I had gastric by-pass surgery, a surgical weight loss procedure that is irreversible. It is a major procedure and like any procedure, it has certain risks. However, I was willing to undergo this life-changing surgery because I was at risk by not doing it, and I have had no complications and it has been one the best decisions I have ever made. I am losing weight, learning how to eat healthy, and soon will be able to work out.

I made a choice to live a better life and have no regrets. And I will never believe that an obese person is happy or has truly accepted himself or herself. There is nothing remotely healthy or attractive about being obese, and I encourage anyone who is struggling with this disease to find a permanent solution that works for them.


Adonica Jones-Parks, Northside, teaches in the Cincinnati Public Schools. Jones-Parks is a member of the Enquirer's Local Voices panel, which contributes columns to the opinion pages twice a week.

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