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Is being fat a choice?

(471 Posts)
notevenamum1 Tue 14-Jul-20 22:14:33

This has all been triggered from a post I read on here the other day that was based around how short men must feel how fat women do when it comes to dating. There was a comment made about how it was worse for the men because they had not chosen to be short. Now this blaze comment about how being fat is a choice really sent me down a rabbit hole.

I think this is probably easy to say if you are someone who has never struggled with weight before but if you are someone like me who has struggled and yo-yo’d with their weight their whole life then they would beg to differ. I am both tall and fat, I have in the past been slim(mer) but it was a hell of a battle to get there and was unsustainable to stay there. Even now I am 5ft8, 14stone and convince myself that I am a size 14...I have to be mindful of what I eat every day, and exercise regularly or I would be even larger than I am now.

Do people look at me and think I am fat because I have no self control? Do they think this is my “fault”?

Is being “fat” a choice?

OP’s posts: |
PinkiOcelot Tue 14-Jul-20 22:17:58

I think for some people it is a choice. They choose what to put in their body, they choose no exercise etc. However, for some people, being fat could be down to medical conditions and out of their control.

Emeraldshamrock Tue 14-Jul-20 22:19:09

No I wouldn't.
Unfortunately everything we do in life is a choice from taking a wee to wearing underwear.
No one actively decides to be unhealthy as humans we like to treat ourselves and often put things off until tomorrow.

Mummadeeze Tue 14-Jul-20 22:22:58

I am like you. I am 13 stone and a size 14/16 and I try SO hard to not be fat. I can not eat more than two meals a day without putting on weight. I exercise properly everyday. I could be and have been much bigger than I am now. So it definitely isn’t a choice for me. My size in relation to my effort is definitely one of life’s injustices!

Crunchymum Tue 14-Jul-20 22:24:06

It's a very complicated issue for some and is a genuine eating disorder.

It just doesn't garner the same sympathy and people who have never had weight issues (being overweight) just do not understand.

Eat less, move more is correct but when you cannot pick your body and soul out of the gutter it isnt so easy.

Fat people overeat but the issue is WHY do they overeat and 99% of the time there is a triggering / sad / situational reason.

MN is not friendly or supportive to fat people so I expect (if you've enabled voting) the vast majority will say it is a choice, whilst judging the discusting fatties sad

Brieminewine Tue 14-Jul-20 22:24:21

Of course it is. I love food and wine but I don’t want to be fat so I watch what I eat and exercise/diet to counteract when I’ve eaten too much. Obviously with certain disabilities/medical conditions it can’t be helped but otherwise yes it is a choice.

lukasiak Tue 14-Jul-20 22:25:25

I'm a thin, active compulsive eater, and for that I say yes and no. Mainly yes. If I brought junk food, I would be the size of a house. In fact, I wouldn't fit in my house. If it's in my house, I must eat it until it's gone. I mentally do not have the control to ration junk food. So, I simply do not buy it, and if I do buy it I do so with the full knowledge that I AM going to eat it all in about 20 minutes flat. So if you're like me the simple solution is not to buy it. You cannot eat what you do not buy. However, I acknowledge that there are some people out there who for whatever reason also cannot stop themselves from buying it, and as a compulsive eater myself, I feel a lot of sympathy for those people.

AnnieMaul Tue 14-Jul-20 22:27:17

It'll vary from person to person, but for me, if i'm honest, at this point it is a choice I suppose.

I choose to keep buying crap food, or takeaway or not getting up to exercise even when I have the time to do so. I choose not to address feelings which make me turn to food. I choose not to try and change my habits. I choose to "treat myself" even when I haven't really done much to warrant a treat. I choose food as that treat as opposed to other things.

I have lost 3 stone over the course of a couple of years, so I know I can do it and I know it is possible, but it's my own choices preventing me from slimming any further. I am only around 1 stone over weight now, but I initially put on weight due to depression and turned to food. The depression wasn't a choice.

I would certainly never look at someone else and judge it as being a choice. I don't know enough about them to make that judgement a lot of the time. I know that for me, I absolutely have to be in the right frame of mind to lose weight and commit to doing it. If I am depressed for example, it just isn't going to happen.

Literallynoidea Tue 14-Jul-20 22:27:37

Being fat is the result of LOTS of choices - what to eat, how much to eat, whether to exercise, how much to exercise.

Rarely is it anything else that can to be controlled.

Literallynoidea Tue 14-Jul-20 22:27:53

*cannot be controlled

BetNoir Tue 14-Jul-20 22:28:33

I doubt anyone actively chooses to be fat. A person's size is about a million times more complicated than just choice.

KobeWan Tue 14-Jul-20 22:28:37

Ultimately, in all areas of life, you choose your behaviours.

picklemewalnuts Tue 14-Jul-20 22:29:47

I'm now morbidly obese. I have a large frame, so was never small/slender. My rib cage is more man size than woman size. I carry my weight well, therefore but there's no getting away from it. I would feel better if I lost weight.

To lose weight I have to think of nothing else. It has to be my one priority in life. I can't do that. I have done, and lost 2 and a half stone at a time. The moment I take my eye off the ball it creeps back up again though.

I can't make eating and not eating the only thing I think about for my whole life. I just can't.

BetNoir Tue 14-Jul-20 22:29:52


Ultimately, in all areas of life, you choose your behaviours.

I strongly disagree with this.

maildaily Tue 14-Jul-20 22:30:46

Really @Literallynoidea hmm my life threatening illness for which I have to take steroids which make me fat is a choice? And no, my illness is not as a result of lifestyle choices or genetics just bad luck

Pipandmum Tue 14-Jul-20 22:30:56

Some people are definitely more predisposed to put on weight and be heavier, and consequently have to work all that much harder to be leaner. My teenage son exercises every day and is careful with his food yet some of his mates eat non stop and do no formal exercise and are bean poles. It's unfair but it's life.
It is a choice though - you either acknowledge you need to put the effort in and accept it, or just accept you will be larger. I don't think a size 14 at your height is fat, though people do carry weight differently. I also don't think it's worth all the work to be a size 10 (for example) if it means you are miserable.
Only you know what size you are comfortable at and as long as it is not causing any health issues then stop caring what others think.

Throwitthen Tue 14-Jul-20 22:30:58

It definitely isn't a choice for me. I have a binge eating disorder. Fully diagnosed and accessing treatment. I desperately don't want to be fat (I am much bigger than you OP and would be thrilled with being a size 14) I hate myself for the relationship i have with food and one day, I WILL beat it.
For me, it's the same as saying someone chooses to have a mental illness. They don't. Trust me, I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.

Obviously eating disorders don't affect everyone who's overweight and there are many reasons for being so, just my person opinion smile

OnlyFoolsnMothers Tue 14-Jul-20 22:31:22

No not necessarily a choice.
Genetics: since having my daughter I can honestly say I’m shocked how much genes play a part. My daughter is not overweight, I can though see she has my legs and thighs, very stocky, all her weight she will carry low down. My niece is the complete opposite, bambi style legs etc.
The love of food and indulging can also be influenced by ones family. If you grow up where food is a treat and enjoyed then you will always have that mind set. That’s not really a choice.
Then there’s emotional trauma. I was fat as a young teenager, having lost my mother and brought up by an alcoholic father. I wouldn’t say I had a choice to be affected in such a way.

PhilSwagielka Tue 14-Jul-20 22:32:15

Yes and no. Part of the reason why I gained weight was becoming disabled and the meds I was on - I've lost weight since I changed them. Some of my weight gain is down to not exercising as much as I should and comfort eating, but it's not exactly a case of laziness. I remember my dad gained weight when he was on steroids for terminal cancer as well. Some meds do have that effect.

notevenamum1 Tue 14-Jul-20 22:32:33

Very interesting to get everyone’s views. I do not have a medical disorder but I track what I eat every single day on my fitness pal which is incredibly tedious. I aim for 1500 a day but on my worst days I get 1800. I am always honest with myself and log even if I go over so I can look back and see where I have gone “wrong”. I also tend to overestimate how many calories I have consumed. I walk min 10k steps per day and when the gyms were open I also went min 4 x per week on top of that. At the weekends I enjoy long and challenging hikes. I am not unfit but I AM fat. I look like a stuffed sausage sad and every single day is just a struggle to not be even larger than I am now. Sometimes I wonder if this is my bodies natural set weight and I’m fighting against nature to be any smaller. I do think it’s disheartening to hear that some people would look at me and think I am this way because I am greedy and lazy...i know nobody has said that directly and you’re all very good with your words...but I also appreciate the honesty.

OP’s posts: |
ShesMadeATwatOfMePam Tue 14-Jul-20 22:32:43

It's perfectly possible to have an eating disorder that manifests as over eating as well as under eating, but not many people judge anorexic people for "choosing" to be thin. Unfortunately there are large swathes of the population who believe that being fat is a choice. It's easy to believe that, because then people can say they'd never choose that, so they're protected. It won't happen to them. In reality, there's not much protection from mental health problems, ill health, poverty, lack of choices and education which can all lead to people being overweight. It's not all because you're greedy and lazy.

Not only do i have a binge eating disorder as a result of ptsd, the medication I'm on for my mental health causes both weight gain and increased appetite. I don't care if people look at me and judge me for being fat. There's very little i can do about it this moment in time.

Pipandmum Tue 14-Jul-20 22:34:19

I add the caveat that I'm not meaning people with eating disorders or health related (medicated) gain, I mean the vast majority who, like you OP, are just dissatisfied with their weight, feel judged, but (presumably) do not have any underlying factors.

SchrodingersImmigrant Tue 14-Jul-20 22:34:27

Was a choice for me. I chose to have that extra there and there and this "treat" which basically isn't a treat if you have ot every day...
Was a stupid choice, but it was all me.

maddening Tue 14-Jul-20 22:36:08

I have antibodies attacking my thyroid - losing or even maintaining weight is an horrendous effort, it really is shit.

Adoptthisdogornot Tue 14-Jul-20 22:39:29

There is SO much more to it than people blithely assume. How you were fed as a child, even down to what your mother ate in pregnancy and if you were formula fed or breast fed, contributes to how susceptible to obesity you are. Hormonal imbalances play a huge role, and mean that 2 people with identical activity levels and calorie intakes can have vastly different metabolisms and body shapes. Most people who are fat eat too much, and eat the wrong things, yes. But why they eat those foods, what they were raised on, what they can afford, their understanding of nutrition, what their cultural attitudes around food are, and whether certain foods agree with them or not, disability or illness meaning they can't exercise or are depressed, psychological problems around using food as a crutch etc etc all of these factors vary hugely, and it's not easy to unpick it all. Looking at an overweight person and just thinking they're greedy or lazy is so narrow minded, ignorant and judgemental, and lacks compassion. It makes me really sad, that overweight people don't get more sympathy. If it was easy, people wouldn't be fat would they?

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