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Health Expert Daniel Callahan Thinks Shaming Obese is Cure to Epedemic

One leading health academic believes the way to cure America of obesity is to "shame and socially beat upon" those who are overweight. 

Daniel Callahan, 82, wrote an article explaining that overweight people should be treated like smokers. Callahan believes negative attitudes toward obese people will force them to give up the unhealthy habit of overreating. 

Callahan is president emeritus of The Hastings Center, which is a New York "think-tank" that specializes in health policy ethics. 

While Callahan thinks his plan is "edgy," many experts in eating disorders and obesity think his plan is ignorant and damaging. They believe his proposal "advocates the playground bulling of children."

He said many people are not aware that they are overweight, so they need other people to bring them to the "shook of recognition." 

"Only a carefully calibrated effort of public social pressure is likely to awaken them to the reality of their condition," Callahan wrote. 

"They need to be leaned upon, nudged, and -- when politically feasible -- helped by regulations to understand that they are potentially in trouble. They should not want to be that way, nor should others."

The former senior lecturer at Harvard Medical School knows that the issues of obesity are manifold, but he believes "negative public opinion" is the only way to bring quick results and halt the epidemic.

"It is hard to imagine that much progress can occur toward solutions for obesity unless we bring some form of social pressure to bear against it," he wrote. 

Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, assistant professor at the University of Ottowa and author on obesity, said negativity will not solve the problem.

"If guilt and shame were sufficient to fuel long term weight management, the world would be a very skinny place indeed. Obesity is mulch-factorial and driven by the world in which we live," Freedhoff said. 

Peggy Elam, a psychologist specializing in eating disorders, said Callahan's article is "horrifying."

"It is mind-boggling and on so many levels ignorant of actual research," she said. "Smoking is a behavior, fatness is a body condition."

"This kind of bullying has a tremendous impact on peoples lives. We've seen in the past decade or two a rise in the hospitalization of children under 12 with eating disorders. On a humanitarian level it is shocking he is encouraging bullying."



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