The Slippery Slope of Obesity

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The Slippery Slope of Obesity

First, this is not about racial or gender discrimination. Discrimination probably happens every day in all of our lives one way or another. Anyone can be discriminated against for any number of reasons from hair color to age to size to apparel. Discrimination is never a good thing. That’s a given. But once we start giving people special treatment–or making exceptions–isn’t that discriminating in itself?

There may be no easy answer or solution to this. Much of it is human nature, be that right or wrong.

I started thinking about this after reading the article here on Jaquo, called Should Obesity be Classed as a Disability? One of my favorite things is to read an article that inspires me to think more about what was written. Don’t you love that? The author mentions being trapped between two overweight people on a flight. Sounds uncomfortable, doesn’t it? Is it fair for a slim person to be caught between two heavy people who overlap the seats? No, not especially. The question is raised, should they be surcharged at some point?

This is where my mind started off in a different direction from that article, to all the “what ifs” that would accompany that question. My answer first of all would be Yes, at some point a majorly overweight person probably should have a surcharge. If a person requiress two seats, that would seem reasonable. Would you agree? Well, as always with an issue like this, you must be careful what you wish for here.

Because it starts to get complicated. If you charge more for the person who weighs more, isn’t that discrimination? Sure it is. Would it be fair to discriminate? Is it ever? I don’t know.

Tell me, who would decide when the surcharge kicks in? Would the person have to overlap the seat by two inches? Three? Or would only one inch over do them in? What if it only happens when they sit a certain way?

Who gets to decide? The stewardess walking through the cabin? A bit late then, don’t you think? You can’t very well tell someone at that point they owe another hundred dollars. At the check in counter? Or perhaps it is a question asked when purchasing a ticket. But people have been known to lie about their weight. Will someone call them on it? Suggest they may have lied?

Then there is morbidly obese and there is overweight. What is the cut off weight? Would it apply to the large well muscled man as well? The big football player or the wrestler, for instance? And what about height? Should that matter as well?

The only way I can see how it could be done is to ticket according to weight period. Or do it in 50 pound increments, a price increase for 100 to 150, 150 to 200, 200 to 250, and upwards as necessary. Of course that would probably impact more men than women. Uh oh, wouldn’t that be discrimination? If you don’t do it to all, I don’t see how you can do it to any. Which is exactly why we find little old ladies being scanned at airports for explosives, come to think of it.

That is the problem whenever you start giving a benefit or a penalty to one and not another. By making an exception, you will be discriminating against the other. It is that risky slippery slope, and it may be in the hands of two of three people. That can makes it fairly scary right there.

I can see it now, one embarrassed passenger in tears, a thin person smugly pleased they caught an offender. The stewards pulling out a scale perhaps? All that judgment pressing in on an overweight person. It all makes me think I will just drive on my next trip. Or would that be discriminating against the airlines?



Merry Citarella, often writing as Merrci, writes on a wide range of topics. Recently relocated to the Oregon Coast in the northwest United States, she frequently writes travel features on the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She specializes in health and aging, Alzheimer’s Disease, food, lifestyle, and book reviews. For more information you can see her on The Writers’Door. You can read more articles here or at her websites Alzheimers HQ and Simple Living Ideas

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  1. A very interesting dilemma for sure. Maybe the airlines should have different flights by weight class. Wow that could open up a whole new venue for the airlines.

    • It surely would, Sam. Somehow I think there would be outcries though from all parties. Interesting to consider. Thanks for your comments.

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